I wanna hold your hand

by Amy Barlow

Big news for two-year colleges: The New Community College at CUNY (NCC) is ready to open its doors on August 20, commencing its mandatory bridge program, which will prepare its first class of freshmen for their fall semester. Last week, the New York Times Education Life section ran an exciting story that highlighted CUNY’s experimental approach to community college education. The plans include:

  • A mandatory, non-credit summer bridge program.
  • An inflexible First-Year Experience curriculum, with flexible scheduling options (choice of either a 6 or 12 week “semester”).
  • Full-time enrollment status for all freshmen.
  • No remedial (e.g. developmental) coursework as prerequisite to college-level classes for students that test below Basic Skills Assessment cut scores. Continue reading


by Amy Barlow

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*Insta.zibit /ˈin(t)-stə ˈzi-bət/ n. An exhibit created in under 30 minutes using Instagram. [Latin instans – urgent, end of the semester, pressure, get it done].

What you need to make an Insta.zibit:

  1. Physical or virtual real estate, on which you may mount an exhibit of images and books.
  2. iOS device or Android and the Instagram app.
  3. Students willing to have their images plastered all over the library and online (easy!).
  4. Publicity release forms, at the ready, to authorize the use of the images. I always keep a stack of blank forms in a folder near my desk.
  5. 30 minutes.

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. Oprah.com; 7. Screenshot of The Man Repeller.)