Community College Library: A Day in the Life

by Amy Barlow

As evidenced by our banner, the authors of Chasing Reference will follow reference and information trends, each of us writing from a unique professional point of view. I’m Amy Barlow, a Reference and Instruction Librarian, and I’ll focus on community college librarianship.

Don’t fret: You will not get stuck reading long, boring commentaries that defend publicly funded two-year institutions. The worst that can happen is a short, boring commentary.

My day in the life post will not make sense if I chronicle a real eight-hour day. As a member of a tiny library staff, professional roles often blur, leading to wildly unpredictable days and nights. A big-picture To Do list is a much better reflection of my role on campus. Like Temple Grandin, I think in pictures.

thinking in pictures

  1. The web-scale discovery project: Connecticut community colleges and state universities are getting together to request funds to purchase a shared discovery tool. I’m on the task force. Disclaimer: We do not endorse Summon, nor does Summon endorse us. I (not my real name) just needed an image.
  2. Choice magazine: I indulge in collection development on Fridays, as a treat.
  3. Dressing for success: I spend a lot of time searching for unobjectionable blazers. Doesn’t this one make me look fierce?  (Thank you, Emma Stone, for looking a lot like me, only way prettier and much younger.)
  4. Situational irony: When I try to teach students how to find good books in the stacks, they often tune me out, selecting the books that they want, and reading them.
  5. Sketches and poems: During the spring semester, I preside over a popular poetry contest at the college. I use the contest as an excuse to make drawings and use desk-top publishing software.
  6. One Book, One Campus: This semester we’re all reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I host a Reader’s Circle Series.
  7. Info Lit: I spend a lot of class time showing students how to identify common features on websites. They need to recognize the features in order to cite websites as sources of information. It’s dull work when you do it every day, but I finally found a way to use the time wisely. I take screenshots of favorite blogs and mark-them-up in class, so that I can catch-up on my reading while students learn to cite sources. It’s a win win.

(Image sources: 1. University of Michigan Libraries; 2. Choice; 3. “Under Cover” at Vogue; 4. QVCC Website; 5. Personal copy; 6.; 7. Screenshot of The Man Repeller.)


4 thoughts on “Community College Library: A Day in the Life

  1. I’m trying to assess how many community colleges are using a discovery tool. Is it needed in a community college?

    • Hi Susan,

      Our statewide public college/university system, in CT, does not have one yet, but we’re beginning the process of shopping around to find the best fit. A discovery tool would make research less intimidating for our new students, and provide consistency between their research experiences at the community college and the four-year university into which they transfer.

      • You make a good point. At Suffolk, over 60% of our students go on to 4 year colleges and it would certainly help them. Right now we are going to change our page to have a quick search which would federate all of our EBSCO databases. Anyway this discovery tool thing is definitely one way to look to the future. Also if we can ever get a discovery tool that would enable us to get rid of the native OPAC. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Pingback: Chasing Reference: One Year Later | Chasing Reference

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