Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Library Changes and Challenges

For those of you who have visited our library lately, you may have noticed that some things are missing, like the rather large bookcases and shelves. No, we didn't have a midnight robbery! We decided to shift many of the books and videos in order to make room for more tables, and hopefully more computers! Most of the reference collection has now been merged into the general collection, and videos are now on the wall. It looks a little strange (for now) but it will be changing soon.

The subject of "change" is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, not only here in the library, but in my personal life as well. I have a son who is graduating from high school in a few weeks, which will bring about great changes in our family and in my son's life. Over the past year, he has been looking at a variety of schools, trying to decide on the best course for his future. No pressure from Mom (of course) but the subject of money kept creeping into our conversations, and maybe going to NCC might be the best choice for him, even if it was temporary or until he decided on which school to attend.

My opinion, although biased, meant little until the deadlines on putting deposits on a dorm room came up, when the FAFSA revealed what we would have to contribute, and all of the incidental expenses getting ready for college really entailed. Suddenly NCC seemed like the most practical, economical, and best decision he could make. I raved to him about the faculty and staff, on how impressed I have been over the past few years with the rigor of the courses, the caring atmosphere that he would find on campus, and of course, about our wonderful library services!

On several other college visits, I did manage to take a look at the campus libraries. I noticed interesting things about who was using the library, and what they were doing there. Libraries and librarians have had to make changes in how they provide services (24-7, right?) and what type of environment works best for their students. If you have visited our library, it's not very quiet, it's usually pretty busy, and students are doing all sorts of tasks--studying, getting on social sites, reading email, printing papers, making copies, browsing the stacks, or watching videos (and eating their lunch or a snack--hey, why not?). This is drastically different from the libraries I remember as a child, where the tomes and silence were almost scary, and the librarian was on an unavailable perch behind the desk. This is why change is good, and the students are the ones who have helped us make the transition to a 21st-century place.

I hope you will stop by and take a look at our "new" space, and let us know what types of changes you would like to see--and in the fall, I just may see my own son sitting at one of the computers. I promise not to point him out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's a Ghost Town

Ahh, Spring Break! A time for college students to forget all their cares and worries, and spend some time relaxing on a warm, sandy beach. Instructors, assignments, exams--all brushed aside as they unwind with their friends in a exotic tropical locale...except, that only happens in the movies, or if you paid the big bucks to go to a prestigious 4-year university.
The students at our community college have much more on their minds besides drinking contests and the limbo, and spring break for many of them is a break, of sorts, but not from their daily lives. Many of our students are parents, so time off from classes means a little less daycare, a little less hectic schedule, and maybe a little more sleep, since they aren't up until all hours of the night doing homework. For those students at our school who are still single or without children, it probably means that they get the chance to work a few more hours at their job, or they traveled to their homes to see their families. And, for some who are close to graduation in May, spring break gives them the chance to finalize their career plans with job interviews, or to visit schools that they may transfer to in the fall.
A few lucky students (and faculty) will take advantage of this carefree time and fly off to a balmy island or tourist town, and those of us left behind (ME) are just a tad jealous of their ability (and funds) to be able to do this. But, I would like to point out that those of us still here "holding down the fort" find this to be one of the most productive times in the semester. We are happy when the students return, even with their suntanned faces and newly cornrowed hair.
Spring break also means that the end of the semester is not far away, and for those who have procrastinated in their studies, it's only a short distance to the finish line...
So, to get back into the "real world" after spring break, here are some suggestions on how to make the rest of the semester a success!
  • COMMUNICATION! Most of the problems we see come from a lack of communication, or miscommunication on assignments, due dates, or attendance. Instructors don't bite, so just ask!
  • READ, READ, READ! Of course, read what you enjoy, but if you don't exactly look forward to reading those 58 pages of your text, break it into small chunks, highlight, take notes--do whatever strategies you can to make the material understandable. One tip that I often use for reading articles: at the bottom of the page, I write one sentence that has summarized the entire page. Then, as I go back through the reading, I just read those few sentences to refresh my memory. Try it...
  • GO TO CLASS. Sounds relatively simple, right? Students are often dumbfounded when they get their final grades, and they don't seem to "add up." But, when you miss class, you miss the entire experience, including notes, conversation, assignments, lecture, quizzes, etc. Most instructors are understanding if you have a reasonable excuse--see #1
  • USE RESOURCES. You didn't think that I would leave out the library, did you? Use all of the resources that are available, including the library, the learning center, STARS, your adviser, other students, or your instructors. If you don't succeed while you are here, we do feel somewhat responsible, but if you haven't taken the steps to find out what you need--it falls on you.
Whether you are reading this as you lay on your lounge chair, soaking up the sun and sipping on a smoothie--or if you are like me, looking out the window at the melting mounds of snow as the geese fly overhead, I hope you enjoying your break!

From the stacks,


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Trial by Fire, or Blog

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Can I quote Charles Dickens if I don't use proper format here? What is the APA or MLA rule for blogging? Post if you know the answer.

Blog Entry #1 (#1!!!)

I have been a little slow in joining the "blogging world", and I have a feeling that the majority of our students may think we are a little behind the times. My mother told me I didn't always have to do things that "everyone" else was doing, but sure enough, here I am. Just like that time in high school...

Even the reputable media have been taking blogs seriously, and the authors of these blogs, not surprisingly, are amazed at how news reports, research, court cases, and other media have been including them in the analysis of world events. It is, after all, just one person's opinon on a subject, and whether or not that person is an authority is questionable.

I certainly don't claim to be an authority on anything, but as I tell students, I may not know the answers, but I can figure out where to find them. This will be a posting of those questions, problems, or concerns, that may cross my desk on a daily basis. Controversial? Scandalous? I don't know if I will be shaking up the media, or our campus with my posts, and whether or not you choose to take my ponderings seriously (I am a librarian with a sense of humor!) is up to you. Some of the topics may be of a serious nature, but mostly about the happenings at our little northwest Iowa library, our surrounding communities, and our world, on occasion. If you have suggestions for issues you would like to read about, I will do my best to accommodate. If it's an emergent need, you might want to email or call--but remember (as a wise woman once told me):

"No one ever died from a library emergency."

Blogging through the stacks-