Speaking for us?

I just got done reading “Spotlight on EDI in Community Colleges” addressing how community colleges are approaching equity, diversity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, rather than find a community college librarian to write the post, it was written by a university librarian. There are many qualified community college librarians who could speak to how we are addressed these important issues within our libraries and on our campuses. These are topics that come up often in discussions about how to meet the varied needs of our students; needs that go beyond the classroom.

Community college students are diverse. This is a fact. What diversity looks like at one college may be different at another college. But we all can agree that our students come from different backgrounds, races, ages, economic classes, abilities, etc. And we have to acknowledge all of that mix and find ways to serve everyone where they are and where they want to be.

If any librarians in higher education can ill afford to maintain neutrality, it is community college librarians. We must stand on the side of our students and support them. We need to be vigilant and examine our own policies, procedures, and practices for ways in which we exclude people whether it’s overt or not. We should continue to educate ourselves about how to better provide service and who are students are so we can respond with empathy and compassion.

I hope the discussion on EDI continues among community college librarians. I hope those in other areas of higher ed listen to what we have to say, because we have valuable insights to share. Our students are worth listening to as well.

Planning ahead

planningIt’s getting to that time of year – budget writing. I’ve been thinking about the next fiscal year for awhile. Honestly, I probably start thinking about the next year around the time we work on our amended budgets in January. At that point, I’m already starting to get an idea of how things might look in terms of increases for our databases, future needs for equipment, and possible travel for conferences and workshops for staff in the next fiscal year.

Now I’m in full planning mode. Like any manager could tell you, it’s complicated. There are many pieces in a library budget. I’m looking at different lines for our databases, print materials (which have two different budgets – books and periodicals), salaries for our student employees and part-time librarians, supplies budget, professional development line, etc. As the college has implemented a new strategic plan, we are doing some planning in the library for how our work will align with goals and objectives. I’ll be looking at how to more closely align our budget with some of our plans for the next year. As we are becoming more involved in various ways in different events throughout the college, our budget needs to reflect this.

Something I’ve been exploring more in depth over the past few years is how to use data to make budget decisions. An invaluable resource going forward will be Financial Management in Academic Libraries: Data-Driven Planning and Budgeting by Robert E. Dugan and Peter Hernon.

I don’t believe in doing more with less. It simply isn’t possible. We can’t provide materials or resources if we don’t have the money to support those things. In general, I’ve been very fortunate to be at a college that does provide what I need in those regards.





What this librarian wants you to know

Before you think I’ve lost my sense of humor, I haven’t. However, I don’t think you have to make jokes at the expense of others, particularly if those people are the ones we, as librarians, want to help. The snark was strong in a recent column and I felt like a rebuttal with some compassion and kindness was in order.

As National Library Week ends, there are a few things I’d like my library users to know.

I will always try to greet you with a smile. Smiles are a lot like yawns. It’s hard not to smile back when you see someone else smile.

Forgot your library card? We may be able to work with you so you can check out the materials you need. 

We understand life gets in the way sometimes. We can renew your items over the phone or show you how to renew yourself online.  If you get a fine and paying might be a problem, talk to us. 

Feel free to bring a snack or drink with you. We also have vending machines. There are garbage cans and recycling bins located conveniently around the building where you can dispose of your trash.

Phone calls are fine. All we ask is you are considerate of others. Keep them short, speak quietly, and keep your ringer at a low level. We do ask that you don’t take calls in our silent zone or in the computer lab.

That physical card catalog you remember from years ago is gone. We’re happy to show you how to use the online catalog. There are some great features, like book reviews and suggestions for related titles, that we’d be willing to show you.

Please do come and see me when you have a question. I may not realize a snap, whistle, hand wave or other signal is meant for me. 

We enjoy seeing children in the library. We know it can be boring for them. We do have coloring books and crayons and a great collection of children’s literature.

Damaged books happen. We won’t yell at you. But we are going to ask you to pay for a replacement.  

We will always try to treat you with respect. Please do the same. We want to hear what you have to say, but talking is better than yelling.

We announce our closing time ten minutes before the service desks shut down. We are very appreciative when people take those announcements to heart and pack up. 

There are carts at the end of the shelves where you can put books and other materials when you are done using them. Don’t worry about putting things back on the shelves. We keep track of what is being used and you’re helping us out by using those carts.

We will not judge you based on your clothes, what questions you ask, how clean your fingernails are, etc. We want to help you with your information needs no matter what they may be.

We don’t require gifts. Most of us won’t eat the cake. If you are able and you want to support the library, we’ll let you know how you can donate money to our Friends organization. Better yet, become a Friend.

Most library users are good people. I don’t think it serves us well to point out the failings of the few. I hope my list is a good counterbalance to those librarians who would rather focus, rather humorously or otherwise, on the few bad apples.


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