I am an online reference librarian. I started a couple of weeks ago, and have been intensely learning chat and email.
Yesterday, I went live and started to answer students’ emails. Today, I got my first thank you! It made me feel really good. I was really worried about clarity in my emails, but I said,”I am a librarian, and I can rock this!.”
I miss sitting and laughing with the students at Wright. Of course, I am still helping students, and it is just as rewarding.
I emailed a student, and she decided to call me. I guess she said forget this email I need to talk to a person. Some people are like that, and others prefer to chat and email.
So, I decided to make blue and white cupcakes, because those are Wright College’s colors. I came in the revolving door this afternoon carrying the blue cupcakes covered in plastic wrap. Soon as I entered the building students were asking for cupcakes. I told them to go to the library. A student arrived at the desk before I did, and was asking for cupcakes. I did even get a chance to put them on a platter. It was so funny. I have baked about 75 cupcakes this week, and I am done. Image from: wilton.com
I have applied for 65-70 jobs at academic, public, and special libraries. I have applied to work at for-profit schools, too. Half of my job interviews have been with for-profit schools like Kaplan University.
It took me some time to warm up to the idea of applying to for-profit schools. They get so much bad press, and you never hear the success stories. I recently watched Frontline’s College, Inc., which does not depict a rosy picture. I personally do not know anyone who has attended a for-profit school. So, I am really relying on what I hear about these schools, and what turns up in my research. I read several comments and postings on blogs from students at for-profit colleges discussing their experiences. I decided the students were having the same experiences as students at public and private universities.
Tuition increases, struggling to pay for school, taking out$100,000 in student loans, struggling to find a job in their chosen field after graduation, and changes in curriculum and requirements in their field. I think higher education is too expensive all around whether you go to a for-profit, private, or public institution. Honestly, when I was a college student some of the people I went to school with were not prepared. They chose to go to a private institution, and did not know how to write a basic essay. Enrolling more students, and making more money is a goal for almost every institution of higher learning.
I think some student grievances with for-profit schools might be valid. For example, getting stuck with loans they did not want, or nursing students suing over lack of accreditation. There was a similar case at Virginia Western Community College. I saw a television special where nursing graduates from a for-profit school never stepped foot in a hospital. Of course, I do not know what was on their mind not questioning why they never went to a hospital as part as part of their training.
Despite all the bad press there are librarians out there that need jobs. You get to a point where you stop being choosy, and need to pay your bills. If you are really willing you can have an impact on students. This goes for all institutions of higher learning. I believe helping students find authoritative information, providing them with the skills to do ethical research, and teaching them to do research on their own is the most important part of my job. Image from: lakelandlocal.com
A student signed up for Friday’s workshop, but did not show up. No surprise. Fridays are very quiet on campus. I have no plans of doing a workshop on a Friday ever again!
Friday I put tent signs on all the study tables in the library to advertise the workshops. My supervisor sent an email announcement to the person that sends announcements to students and faculty. Hopefully, she will send it out in the next day or so.
Now, it is midterm time, and students have exams. Most of the workshops are scheduled for late April and early May when research papers are due. I hope attendance will increase when the students are freaking out about their papers. Image from: http://grlonthemuv.blogspot.com/
I love helping the students. Some of them just want to get the minimum amount of info and run. Of course, some students flourish their faithful librarians with a thousand thank yous! They make it all worthwhile.
Yesterday, I began to help this student with research on the Coqui (frog) of Puerto Rico for her Speech class. She showered me with thank yous. Then a few minutes she returned worried she was disturbing me. Of course, I was happy to get a question at the reference desk. She was having trouble with her PowerPoint. She wanted to embed a YouTube video. Librarian to the rescue! She commented how I was so good at everything. I told her I was a student, and just graduated from Dominican U. in River Forest. She wants to go to school there, but was concerned about paying for tuition. I told her not to let that be an obstacle, and apply for scholarships. I suggested she call Dominican U. Again she showered me with more thank yous.
Since student goals for success have been incorporated into the Presidents’ of the City Colleges of Chicago job description I am always thinking about the students. I got the go ahead with the workshops. Now, I want to hold a workshop about financial and scholarship resources at the end of the semester. Also, get together a list of local 4-year colleges and the programs they offer to distribute.
Image from: aloveheart.com
The recent news of the national search for new Presidents for six of the City Colleges of Chicago has led me to think about many issues. Four goals for student success have been injected into the new job description of the Presidents of the City Colleges of Chicago. Those four goals are:
- “Increasing the number of students who earn college credentials of value.”
- “Increasing the rate of transfer to bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation.”
- “Significantly improving outcomes for students requiring remediation.”
- “Increasing the number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses.”
After receiving this news in my inbox I began to think about how I could improve student success. As a librarian and an Adjunct faculty member of the City Colleges of Chicago it is my responsibility to make sure our students succeed as well.
I interact with students ever time I come to work. I help them with their assignments, teach them how to use library resources such as databases, and try to motivate them. I am beginning to think I can do more. I sit at the reference desk and I do classroom instruction when requested by faculty members. Why don’t we do workshops? Workshops about writing citations and bibliographies, teaching students how to use new technologies such as social media, how to do research on the internet, or use Microsoft Office. I help students on an individual basis, but making it known to all students I am here to help.
Okay, just spoke to Head of Reference and it is on. The workshop idea has been well received. I am thinking workshops at the end of my shift would be more beneficial students. Students will be getting off of work, or out of class.
I started to give instruction sessions to students a couple of weeks ago. My first session went well. They were foundational students that needed to know the basics. They needed to know how to log into Blackboard, get their assignments, post assignments, comment, and send their classmates email. A few of them did not know how to access their email. So, I showed them where to log in on Wright College’s website. This was necessary because their professor would be sending them emails about the course. I gave them a tour of the library which went well. At first a few of them were talking, but as I got more involved they started to pay more attention. Luckily, they had an assignment so it made it easy to show them how to search the databases and library catalog. The assignment was African-American biographies. I taught them how to search Biographies Plus Illustrated for background information and peer-reviewed articles.