Community college libraries: Ready to serve

By Tabitha Whissemore

With scores of online resources and online help from librarians, community college libraries are well positioned to serve students.

Today’s college libraries offer extensive online resources available 24/7, which is a benefit as community college courses across the nation move from in-person to online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In this unprecedented move to transition almost all classes online, I believe we are well-positioned to serve the instructional needs of both students and faculty,” says David Wright, chair of the National Council of Learning Resources (NCLR), an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Wright also serves as associate dean of learning resources at Surry Community College (SCC) in Dobson, North Carolina. He says that, because of statewide online resources, students at rural SCC have access to more than 200,000 ebooks, most provided by NCLive, a statewide network for all libraries.

The college also has its own ebooks that have been purchased for academic programs.

A growing number of online library-related vendors are providing greater access to their specific resources during the current health situation, adds José Aguiñaga, library faculty at Glendale Community College in Glendale, Arizona, and NCLR’s vice chair.

“Even some college bookstore vendors are providing access to the e-version of textbooks to students,” Aguiñaga says. At Glendale, for example, Follett is now providing electronic access to some textbooks.

Getting personal help

Access to librarians also is expanding. SCC announced the availability of “chat reference” services, shared the email addresses of librarians, and has spread the message that “we are ready and able to answer questions about our online resources,” Wright says.

“We also posted a message to faculty about our availability to conduct instruction on the use of online library resources via Blackboard Collaborate,” he adds.

In fact, most community college libraries are integrating their online services through their institution’s learning management system. Various libraries also are revising their main library web page to simplify access, Aguiñaga says.

What helps

Having a dynamic website that can easily be updated has been a big help at SCC, Wright says. It allows him and his colleagues to communicate quickly with instructors and students.

Coordination with the IT department is crucial as well, according to Aguiñaga. And working with online library vendors helps to assure robust access to online resources.

“This truly is a collaborative effort among internal and external partners for this spring semester,” he says. “Therefore, support and encouragement from all is desired as we continue during these times.”

Wright echoes that. His message to faculty and students: “Realize that the library staff at your college is ready to assist you by email or phone or by virtual chat service. We can work together to help you finish your course work.”

This article originally appeared in CC Daily.

Tabitha Whissemore

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.

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