Endings & Beginnings

An image of a split fortune cookie with a fortune that reads,

June 1 marked my third year at UC Merced, and it was the same day I was offered a Reference Librarian position at Merced College. If you’ve been here long enough, I worked for Merced College before but at the small campus one hour west in Los Baños. My first day at Merced College will be August 6.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work at UC Merced. During these last three years, I learned so much from my instruction colleagues, and I have become a more confident teacher. I’m now ready to take on the challenge of leading and expanding research education at the community college where I started my professional career just a few years ago. I’m excited to pursue some of the goals my former/soon-to-be current colleagues and I could only dream about six years ago.

I’m back.

Celebrating Student Re$earch

selective focus photography of multicolored confetti lot

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I love graduation season. I love seeing pictures of folks in caps and gowns and reading posts about gratitude and accomplishment. (If you or a loved one just graduated, congratulations!) In the spirit of celebration and reflection, I started thinking about the library award committee I have been chairing the last two years and discovered that I never blogged about the first award cycle for the Abresch-Kranich Library Award, and the UC Merced Library just finished awarding the second set of scholarships this spring.

In 2018, we had two winners, Melissa Becerra and Nathan Parmeter. Each student received a $500 scholarship thanks to our donor, Arlene Kranich. You can read more about the award and our student winners in “New Scholarship Pays Homage to Persistence and Research.”

Last spring, my former Central Valley colleague Ray Pun also interviewed me about the award for the Credo Reference blog for the HIP (high-impact practices) in Action series. You can read the interview in “HIP in Action: Undergraduate Research & Awards.” It was great exposure for our library and UC Merced, and I hope the interview helped inspire other libraries.

In 2019, we also had two student winners, Marisela Padilla Alcalá and Sarah Lee. You can read more about our student winners in “Two Students Honored for Excellence in Use of Library Resources.”

After the second award cycle, I have a better idea of when and in what specific areas I need to ask for help. I also have ideas for changes to the workflow. I’m currently on vacation, but before I left, I started drafting my process with changes I might want to make regarding the timeline. The review and reception happens during the busiest time in the instruction season, and the process will go much more smoothly if we can open and close the application earlier. Currently, it opens Nov. 1 and closes Feb. 1, but opening it on Oct. 1 and closing it in mid-January will help me get the applications out to the five-member review committee more quickly. After a quick chat with the university librarian, he agreed with the earlier deadline, and we also determined that we should hold the reception before spring break, which is always in March. There are also some other changes I want to make, and I’m very thankful that two of my colleagues who have helped with reviewing student applications are interested in helping me streamline this process, which may also involve changing the award rubric. We’ll be doing this work in June.

Does your college or university library have a research award of some kind?

Integrating Intersectionality into Library Instruction & Programming

I’ve had a very busy summer in terms of conferences. I came back from ALA Annual 2018, and right as I was finally getting caught up at work, I was off to Library Instruction West 2018 at Colorado Mesa University. To present! I’ve not been very active in terms of presenting, and this has everything to do with imposter syndrome and having difficulty coming up with a topic (the irony considering how much I like teaching about this), but I took the plunge and was so pleased to have been selected as a presenter.

I worked with Christal Young, Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Southern California, to lead a discussion about incorporating intersectional themes in instruction and outreach work. The abstract reads:

Incorporating critical librarianship into daily practice may initially seem daunting due to varying demands and constraints. Given these challenges, how can we help first-year students develop more complex understandings of social issues that they may be researching and writing about in their composition courses? How do we reach first-year students who may have overlapping identities find resources and support during their time at the university? Join two academic librarians who will introduce the efforts they have made to incorporate intersectional themes into instruction and educational programming on their respective campuses. Librarians attending this roundtable discussion will brainstorm and share ideas for engaging in first-year instruction and outreach efforts that promote intersectionality.

We do plan to add on to the initial guide we put together throughout the year.

I was happy to receive nice feedback about our talk while at the conference, and I was also surprised to see it circulate on Twitter a bit via the ACRL Instruction Section and individual librarians. (Thank you!)

I hope our librarian colleagues find our slides and guide helpful.

I will write more about the other presentations and workshops I attended in another post. I really enjoyed this conference, and I learned a lot from my colleagues.

 

Combating One-Shot Fatigue

This semester, we geared up to teach quite a few mini workshops. Previously, most of our workshops focused on RefWorks, and attendance has always been low (it’s hard for students to come to something that is voluntary when their schedules are jam-packed!), but we decided to try something new. While most of the workshops were 20-minutes each, a few were 50 minutes.

The 20-minute workshops were my boss’ brainchild. Last fall, we tried to do a Research Starters series, and while we didn’t an uptick right before finals, we opted to try them again in the spring but throughout the term, both before and after spring recess. While I’m not saying we had sky-high attendance this semester, it did help that a few writing professors gave students some extra credit for attending up to three workshops.

In addition to teaching a few of the Research Starter workshops, I had planned to teach a whole slew of other workshops. I was very excited at the beginning of the semester, but after some mental health issues, I had to take a step back and reduce my load. I am going to try to teach the LGBTQ+, women’s, and race/ethnicity research workshops I had wanted to teach in the coming fall (I plan to team up with the apropos Student Services programs for these.) I did, however, teach two additional workshops, including one on Google Scholar and online consumer health information (the latter one needs a little more work; I did run out of time when planning for it).

When I worked at a community college library, I read Green’s “Library Instruction for First-Year Students: Following the Students’ Path” in C&RL News, and it really stuck with me. I know that not everyone loves GS, but, let’s face it, we all use it. Like Wikipedia, I use it before almost every research consultation. I also like to help students understand a tool that they will encounter if they haven’t already. The Google Scholar workshop I designed was 50 minutes, but I plan to adapt it to a 20-minute workshop in the fall. The students who came to the workshop had never used it before but the name recognition made them curious! I loved that. One of the students who attended had actually emailed me a few minutes before asking me if there was still room–of course!–and she literally threw on her shoes and walked over from the dorms. *praise hands*

I know it can be frustrating to create workshops that are not highly attended, but I love working with undergraduate students and getting more face-to-face time with them. And, sometimes, one-shot instruction can get old and feel limiting when working within predominantly faculty-led outcomes. I felt so much freedom when reading Nicholson’s “‘Taking Back’ Information Literacy: Time and the One-Shot in the Neoliberal University” in volume 1 of Pegowsky and McElroy’s The Critical Library Pedagogy (2016):

Information literacy allows the library to demonstrate return on investment to stakeholders in the form of outputs and impacts; the one-shot is important because numbers on spreadsheets make our work visible. Information literacy is, in no small part, a matter of fiscal survival. [Johnson cites Drabinski’s “Toward a Kairos of Library Instruction,” which I have read; read it for an overview of how info lit fits into the curricular changes in the 1980s. It is behind a paywall.] Nevertheless, moving away from an exclusive or predominant focus on teaching within the curriculum to explore ways to engage students and faculty outside of it–even when these activities aren’t seen to count as much as minutes in the classroom–would alleviate frustrations and stress.

I’m not saying I’m engaging in #critlib with Google Scholar, but I am definitely addressing the limitations I feel with my teaching by planning and giving workshops on a variety of topics.

Abrescy-Kranich Library Award for Student Research Excellence

Over the summer, I was part of a team that helped develop a new undergraduate student research award, the Carter Joseph Abrescy and Larry Kranich Award for Student Research Excellence. The award recognizes an undergraduate student research paper or project that was completed within the last 12 months for a credit-bearing course that demonstrates effective use of library resources and services. We will either award one winner with $1,000 or two winners with $500 each. We researched several library research awards from different institutions to create the criteria. Students will need to submit an abstract, their paper or project, bibliography, and a reflective essay about their research process. We also developed a rubric for reviewers to use when scoring the applications.

We hit a bit of a snag when it came to the money side of the initial set-up, so we got behind schedule for the launch. We were able to work with Financial Aid and Scholarships to use their undergraduate scholarship system to house the award application materials. Working with Financial Aid and Scholarships has been a great experience! The Scholarship Coordinator is very patient, and she does prompt work.

In s surprising turn events, I’m now chairing the committee. My colleague has several big projects, so she and I switched reins about three or so weeks ago. I’m a bit nervous chairing something like this, but it’s the next logical move for me in terms of committee work and event planning. My supervisor, who was also on the planning group, has been very helpful with my questions and in offering feedback.

Originally, we were going to begin advertising the award in October, but since the financial side wasn’t ready, it’s going to be a very tight turnaround during this initial year. I’m pleased to report that we were able to launch the award the Friday before finals. Whew! Applications are due Monday, Feb. 12, and the winner(s) will be announced by March 15. The award ceremony will take some time in mid-April. Our communications coordinator put out a quick email message to the campus community about the award, and she’ll be working on a larger campaign when students return from winter break. We are very fortunate that the scholarship system alerts students who have previously applied for scholarships about new scholarship opportunities, so over 1200 students received an alert. I’ve also made some other strategic contacts about the award.  Now that the award is live, we can be begin advertising earlier in subsequent years.

Right now, I’m working on recruiting members for the selection committee. The selection committee is a team of five: three librarians (as chair, I’m not one of the reviewers) and two faculty members. The faculty members, we hope, will be representatives from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) and Undergraduate Council. The chair of UGC has been in contact with me and has some good ideas.

I’m looking forward to seeing our submissions and awarding a student (or two!) with a prize for their research. I’m also curious about working with Development for the awards ceremony.

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is upon us! I’ve written about organizations worthy of donation before, and I wanted to mention some of these again, as well as other organizations/groups in my work and home communities that are worthy of your consideration.

Libraries

Earlier this month, my fellow community members voted to renew the 1/8 cent sales tax for the Stanislaus County Library system’s 13 branches. It will go up for renewal again in 12 years. The volunteers behind the Save Stanislaus Libraries campaign worked tirelessly to get the word out, and Measure S was passed with over 80 percent approval.

Say Yes to S yard sign

I encourage you to donate to your local library foundations and friends group or consider donating to EveryLibrary to help other communities’ libraries that are on the ballot.

Now, I haven’t talked to anyone about this yet, but I really want to take part in ALA and REFORMA’s new Adopt a Library program for the Caribbean. If you have a willing organization, this may be a good project to take on!

Colleges & Universities

Going to college was a big deal for me. I recently attended a reception as an alumni of the Rogers Scholars award, which has been in place at my alma mater since 1991. The students’ stories really resonated with me.

Rogers Scholars Luncheon & Reunion invitation

A couple of years ago, the plant my dad worked at closed down, so he took an early retirement. Up until my dad retired, both of my parents were cannery workers. As in they operated machinery. My dad was a dryer operator, and my mom runs a machine that covers fruit cups with plastic film. My mom is an immigrant from Mexico who received little education; she went up to the equivalent of the eighth grade. Growing up, I knew I needed to go to college to have more options than my parents, but I was so stressed out about the cost, I opted to go to school locally. I was able to finish school with zero debt by living at home and receiving scholarships and grants.

I know what a difference scholarships can make in a student’s life, which is why I give to my undergraduate alma mater’s One Purpose campaign. When I worked at Merced College, I also made monthly contributions, and now I give to student scholarships at UC Merced. I also need to start making donations to San José State University, my graduate alma mater, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). A very generous HSF donor contributed $11k to my graduate education, and I had also received a scholarship from HSF as an undergraduate. I feel passionately about investing in young people. I hope you’ll consider donating to your alma mater or a local college or university.

Information Sources

I also contribute to my local NPR station, Capital Public Radio; Creative Commons; and the Internet Archive. However, I also want to contribute to Wikipedia. I just love these sources that much. Do you donate to any information sources?

Faith-Based Organizations

When I worked at the Stanislaus County Library, I discovered our town’s local World Relief office, which works to house refugees. A volunteer was showing an Ethiopian man around the library, and I thought it was awesome.  (Bonus: If you’re interested in libraries and refugees, check out Libraries Serve Refugees.)

Hometown Gems

This could get long, folks, but I also wanted to share that a few years ago, a friend and her husband had a wedding anniversary party at our town’s historic State Theater, and, as gifts, we made donations to the theater. A friend of mine recently got married, and, in lieu of gifts, he and his wife chose two organizations where friends and family could donate in their honor–Merced County Courthouse Museum and the Humane Society of Stanislaus County. If you’re in Modesto, consider giving to the McHenry Museum. What are some hometown gems you can’t live without?

Do you have #GivingTuesday plans? I know not everyone is in the place to give, but if you can, do!

Title Change

I just got back from ACRL 2017 in Baltimore late on Saturday night, and I’m definitely feeling the jet lag! I’ll write more about the conference later this week, but I wanted to update on my job. We’re getting another instruction librarian position, so our access services librarian is going to make a lateral move at the beginning of the fall semester. This afforded an opportunity for the instruction librarians to update our job descriptions a bit. We all do more or less similar things, and while we don’t have subject specialties, we decided to have one or two things in our descriptions that are slightly different.

I’m now the Instruction & Outreach Librarian, which is really exciting! Though we all do this type of work in our liaison areas and in other work that we do, my title change reflects a new job duty: “Collaborates with Student Affairs to increase students’ awareness and use of library services and resources.” I think my personality and creative spirit are really well suited to this kind of work; I’m just still getting used to our library culture, and I don’t think the various folks in Student Affairs will be used to the idea of partnering more closely with the library, but I hope to build some bridges. Creativity is really important to me, and I’m happy that I have some more wiggle room for it in my work.

This is also a very timely change because Jen Park at Mount Saint Mary College and I are starting our roles as co-conveners for ACRL’s Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group right after ALA Annual in Chicago.