Stress Busters Week


Tis’ the season when the two-word phrase that college students often dread more than any other is Finals Week. Students rush to get last minute projects in, study like crazy and get ready for the seemingly never ending exams.  I clearly remember when I was in college the craziness and the emotional stress a student goes through at this time of year. Throw the holidays on top of it and well you have quite the lethal combination of meltdown and insanity. The difference  from when I was in college vs. now is the role libraries are playing to help assuage the anxiety many students feel this time of year. College libraries across  the country are now throwing what some fondly call “Stress Buster Week”.  Depending on the library activities  these can range from coloring pages (a big hit in my library), legos,  and Play dough to rock climbing walls and Xbox gaming. These are things students can do that require no cerebral thinking or analyzing. The library has not only become a place to study but a  place to go to  just simply exist and not to have to think to hard. Many libraries also offer tea, coffee and hot chocolate with snacks to fuel those all nighters.  This year I am re-branding  my library beverage table as  the Sheldon Cooper’s Hot Beverage Station. If I could play ‘Soft Kitty”  gently in the background I would.

Some libraries are lucky enough to bring in therapy dogs  into the library. I have spoken to several librarians who do this on their campuses and this is a HUGE hit with the students.  Another cool feature I have seen some libraries do is the silent dance party. This is where you can have a DJ come in with his set up using head phones for all the participants. This way they only hear the music via  wifi and doesn’t disturb other patrons (unless they all start signing really loudly).  My library for the past two semesters has been lucky enough to offer free yoga and meditation for the students which has been slowly catching on.

Libraries have come along way in such a short period of time and I am happy to be a part of this tradition of supporting our students during a time filled with deadlines, cramming, endless cups of coffee and sleepless nights. What does your library do for finals week?


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Open Educational Resources and the Community College

OER or Open Educational Resources is the new “buzz” word whizzing around college campuses these days. It was “born”  at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on Open Courseware and designates where it was defined as

 “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work”.  

So what does this exactly mean for a community college? It makes total sense for community colleges to really look at OER as a way to make college even more affordable for our students.   Recently, my school was lucky to have  Marilyn Billings who is the Scholarly Communication Librarian  (my dream job) at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She came down to talk to us how Umass has really invested in this initiative and the joys and pitfalls they encountered along the way.  She shared with us some statistics on the cost of text books that was pretty startling:


According to the BLS the cost of textbooks have risen 802%. As a librarian, this isn’t really new “news”. How many times do students walk into your library looking for textbooks because they simply can’t afford them? I just had a student the other day walk in looking for a psychology book for her Psy 101 class because it was 265.00. Really? For a gen ed class? Most of our students at a community college simply can’t afford these really expensive books that have no buy back value. The worse offenders are the professors who order custom text books. They have zero buy back value from our book store. 

This whole expensive text book thing really hit home when my two oldest kids went to college. My daughter is a biology major and my son Computer programming. Both expensive majors as far as textbooks are concerned.  

Umass Amherst decided they wanted to seek out cheaper alternatives so in 2011 they launched a pilot program for faculty to redesign their courses using only OER.  At the end of this program she shared her results with us:

  • Over 30 faculty participants, 44 courses (Gen Ed through Graduate level)
  • Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Sciences
  • Professional Schools
  • $39,000 invested, over $1 million in savings for more than 5000 students

Demonstrated results!

The feedback they got was very well received. Even going as far to say that student grades increased over all. 

Some of the pitfalls were:

  • Time consuming to find high quality OER
  • Time consuming to create OER
  • May lack prepared tests/quizzes that commercial  textbooks offer
  • Student preference for reading offline
  • Longevity of file formats
  • Lack of knowledge by faculty
  • Resources
  • Licenses, copyright
  • Support

Here at my institution we also started a pilot program with faculty.  It involved the librarians, distance learning team and instructional designers. Out of the group who were interested  at our initial informational meeting only a handful actually completed the turn over to OER. Many found it was simply too time consuming and  some  weren’t comfortable having their syllabus turned over to the “public domain”.  Other drawbacks would be that students still like to print everything out. We see this with our on-line courses and the PowerPoints professors use. Another drawback is many of our students receive book vouchers. This means that if an instructor wanted to use a textbook from Openstax  for their text book to print it out would be $70.00. Cheap by text book standards but not so much if you are a student who relies on their book voucher. You could download the .pdf for free but as I wrote previously students will want to print it out establishing more of a cost burden on them.  We will be running another pilot program soon but this time following Umass Amherst’s lead with having faculty apply (instead of a free for all) and having them in cohorts.  This seems to be the better practice when facilitating a pilot like this.  

I also should mention as a librarian brush up on your copyright knowledge. There are a lot of great resources out there and MOOCS. I just took a fabulous course run by Duke University, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Emory. 


Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)
a joint effort by individual community colleges, regional and statewide consortia, the Open Courseware Consortium,  the American Association for Community Colleges, the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, and many other educational partners to develop and use open educational resources,  open textbooks, and open courseware to expand access to higher education and improve teaching and learning.

OER Libguide from Bristol Community College adapted with permission from Umass Amherst:

OER Libguide


The following guidelines are excerpted from the Conference Report to the 1976 Copyright Act. They apply to classroom copying in a non-profit educational setting.

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ACRL: Here I come

A few blogs back I had written about a new way of instruction that we are trying here at BCC. It came about after we had evaluated student work using the LEAP value rubrics. Well, after months of trying not to think about it last Friday my acceptance letter came in:

Congratulations! Your proposal, “We think you might need a chaser: looking beyond the one-shot instruction session with the LEAP Value Rubric,” has been selected for presentation at ACRL 2015 in Portland, Oregon, March 25-28, 2015. Be excited; the volume and quality of proposals this year was truly outstanding.  Only 28% of the 350 contributed paper submissions were selected for presentation — congrats!


Can I say I am over the moon????


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Work Drama

My husband works at a male dominated company (Dock worker) and he has only been there a year but he deals with an amazing amount of work drama. Working in Academia isn’t any different. I have been at my two year college over 11 years and I jokingly refer to it as  “Game of Thrones” (For those who won’t get that reference the show is all about power plays, backstabbing and politicking).   After a particularly hard day of drama I sat at my computer emotionally drained and amazingly found this quote on the internet:

“You will only be remembered for two things: the problems you solve or the ones you create.”

Working in an environment with many different personalities can be a challenge. But I found some good advice that I try to follow as best as I can.

Personal life: Sometimes it feels  that  I am at work more than I am at home. I used to be so eager to make friends when I first started working and quickly found out that over sharing personal stuff can actually be bad.  Keep it copacetic.  Whether it’s happy news or sad news make sure you have boundaries.

This also goes both ways. Sometimes a co worker may want to also over share with you.  If you feel the topic has crossed the line  or is heading that way steer the conversation back to a work related topic.

When your colleagues want to vent about another fellow worker be careful of taking sides. They say there are three versions to every story: his side, her side, and the truth, so consider multiple perspectives.  try to steer the conversation to conflict resolution if you can. And don’t give advice if you are not asked.

Avoid being one of the 4c’s: complainer, controller, cynic, or caretaker. According to Kaley Klemp and Jim Warner, authors of “The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss,” taking on one of these roles drains the energy from your team, promotes dysfunction, and hinders collaboration and synergy.

Don’t let others antagonize you. You give them power when you fall into that trap.   Not everyone is going to get along 100% and you may have a co worker who can be passive aggressive.  Rise above it and refer to that quote.  I now have it  over my desk and refer to it whenever “office drama” becomes a “thing”.


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Happy Fourth and all that….

As the country gears up for Fourth of July my little corner of the world is bracing for a possible category 1 hurricane. While hurricanes are nothing new in my neck of the woods (We usually have parties at neighbors’ houses when these hit and beer is probably the number one staple purchased when New Englanders here the word “Hurricane”) it is rather odd how early the season seems to be starting. Does not bode well for us. We are certainly due for the “Big one”

big one

Speaking of “Big ones” I’d like to touch  several things today: The Cephalonian Method I tried the other day and dealing with patrons.

I had a mini session focused on database searching which will have a  follow up on citation in a few weeks. I also tried for the first time introducing these flash cards that had questions on them for the students  I created 8 cards (which at the time I didn’t realize I only had 8 students so it worked out well)  focused on databases. You can find them by reading about them here.  I passed them out in no particular order but they were numbered 1-8. As I did my “spiel” I would say, who has number 1? And the student asked the question to which I gave an answer. It was interactive and broke up the monotony of me just droning on about the wonder of databases and how Wikipedia is bad, mmmmkay.

Overall, I will definitely do this again as I felt it went over very well with the students and the instructor.  As I left the class feeling pretty good about myself  and walked back in to the library my mood changed in a heartbeat.  One of my staff was in an altercation with a former student. What the argument was about is neither here not there but what scared me a bit was he was clearly on something.  Working in an urban environment I have had to deal with a few drunks from time to time but clearly this was something a bit stronger. But his looks didn’t disarm me as much as the fact as we got him out of the library and closed up for the day he proceeded to follow the staff member and myself to the parking garage. This is where it gets a bit scary. Thankfully  nothing happened but it does make one pause and think of this is where I work. I work in an environment that you need to be on your toes. Aware of your surroundings at all times. Hopefully, we will not see this character again.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun filled Fourth of July and here is my suggested book of the day:



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Cephalonian Method

To piggy back on my previous post, after analyzing the data from our LEAP value rubric assessment project we have decided to change the way we do our instruction. Today, I have a class lined up for a mini session   on database searching with a follow up on citation in a few weeks. I also  decided  to try  the Cephalonian Method I read about on the ALA Thinktank Facebook group.  A colleague of mine who also teaches at University of Rhode Island LIS program told me they use this style of instruction with some really good results.  I decided not to use the “color coded” system as this class was just looking at databases. I created 8 questions and numbered them so as the class moves forward I can keep the questions in a progressive order.

They are:

What is the difference between a database and searching google?

There are way too many databases out there and they all look the same to me. How do I know which one to use?

Can I access this from home?

What is the difference between scholarly and  popular?

What is peer reviewed?

What is an abstract?

What is a citation?

How can I work with a librarian? (This one is to promote our Book-A- Librarian initiative)

Feel free to use these questions if you feel inspired….No copyright here!

I  found a cool template from Powerpoint and then laminated them for reuse. I am hoping this type of learning will be more interactive and give me some positive results. I’ll keep you posted!

2014-07-01 14.44.27-1)

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Presenting at MCCLPHEI

Last Thursday my colleague and I traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to present a poster session on  our paper about Library Instruction redesign for MCCLPHEI Conference.

Earlier in the semester we participated in a norming session using the LEAP value rubrics to assess how effective our instruction classes were using the one shot method.  We sat down with several faculty members (We bribed them with stipends) and evaluated over 22 artifacts from three different disciplines: English, Early Childhood Education and Clinical Lab Science. . What we found was citation for students was falling by the wayside. For example, using the book Shawshank redemption but not citing the actual book, or not giving credit for direct quotes and images.  This made us reevaluate how we give our instruction classes. We decided we would redefine how we approached information literacy. This is what we came up with:

  One-Shot Library Instruction Session with a Chaser

o   Librarians will teach information literacy concepts to your students over one class period

o   Librarians will return to the class at a later date to check on the progress of the research and offer any additional assistance

Multiple Sessions

o   Librarians will provide short information literacy sessions (20 minutes on average) several times over the semester, as determined by faculty needs.

Embedded Librarians

o   Embed a librarian in your online or hybrid classes, involving them in your assignment


We actually submitted our paper to ACRL for the 2015 conference (fingers crossed).

What was interesting at our poster session is that there was much “buzz” about it. Several community colleges have already approached my director to work with us as a state wide initiative. So this could be an interesting journey. I’ll keep you posted.

Here is the libguide we created as a result of our research. And our posterboard:




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