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How We Work During the Pandemic: Claire Dannenbaum

Hello ACRL-Oregon members! During this pandemic, the way we all work and serve our patrons has radically changed. Inspired by the bloggers at ACRLog, we thought we’d provide a window into how some of your Oregon colleagues are managing during this time.

We’d also love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experiences on the blog, please feel free to email Meredith Farkas and respond to any or all of the following prompts:

  • What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?
  • What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

This post is from Claire Dannenbaum, Reference and Instruction Librarian at Lane Community College.

What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?

The Lane Community College Library faced considerable challenges with the loss of several staff members early in the course of the pandemic. We were understaffed before the crisis started, so the emergency orders forced us to really look at what was possible given new staffing constraints. Our small staff was able to focus on as much direct support as possible to Library users through a Zoom Lobby and reference chat. Community college students tend to need a lot of support to navigate the bureaucratic environment of campus. When we weren’t hearing much from students a few weeks in, we weren’t sure why. Then I heard from several faculty that–even with regular forums and online assignments–many of their own courses felt like empty shells. I now understand how remote online learning and working can feel. As the state mandate shifts, we are shifting too. By mid-June, we will offer returns drop-off, and hope to pilot a holds/pick-up service in preparation for access to physical materials in fall term. Library instruction took a serious blow overall, but support for embedded instruction is improving through more centralized materials and messaging.

What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?

The day-to-day shift from moving through space and engaging with students and colleagues to the narrow confines of a “home office” setting has been disorienting.  It wasn’t until my son said this to me that I realized how disjointed I really felt: “Mom, you are not just working from home. You have taken your job responsibilities home during a global public health crisis!”  Even so, my biggest personal worry has been to maintain some semblance of library teaching for our dedicated instructors. Fortuitously, I enrolled in a Library Juice class called Embedded Librarianship in Online Courses which started the first week of spring term. I recommend the class!  It really helped me get my bearings and figure out ways to start piloting online instruction scenarios with instructors (many of whom were just as gobsmacked as I was).

What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

Most surprising to me is how adaptable the LCC Library has been as an organization. Many libraries have a lot of job hierarchy and stratification. We were able to leverage skills across all our staff to offer a variety of ways to be in contact with our users, and offer broad access to Library services. I still look forward to providing services–especially access to physical collections and library teaching in the classroom. But, honestly, the term was not the disaster that I thought it would be. Whew!

How We Work During the Pandemic: Steve Silver

Hello ACRL-Oregon members! During this pandemic, the way we all work and serve our patrons has radically changed. Inspired by the bloggers at ACRLog, we thought we’d provide a window into how some of your Oregon colleagues are managing during this time.

We’d also love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experiences on the blog, please feel free to email Meredith Farkas and respond to any or all of the following prompts:

  • What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?
  • What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

This post is from Steve Silver, Library Director at Northwest Christian University who also was ACRL-Oregon President in 2017-18.

What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?

Things are typically quiet around NCU in the summer, and even more so this year. We have very few if any on-campus summer classes, so this is giving us as an institution an opportunity to catch our breath and plan for the fall. NCU was better prepared than some for the rapid move to online teaching, plus we are on semesters so only had a few weeks (and no new term) to prepare for. So while that transition was certainly frantic, it was not quite the overwhelming amount of extra work that others have experienced. We have been in summer session since the 2nd week of May. For those last few weeks, and currently over the summer, the library is open by appointment so we can limit to one user in the library at a time. As a very small university (~800 FTE) with an even smaller on campus undergrad population (~350 I think), most of whom left campus, this worked very well for us. The library has the only computer workstations and only printer available to students, and our biblical studies collection, which supports many of our classes, does not have adequate online alternatives, so it was important to be able to provide some level of access while also practicing appropriate distancing, hygiene, and cleaning. It also gave us the chance to continue to offer employment to the few student workers who remained in the area. By only scheduling one in the building at a time and regular staff working from home we have been able to retain our usual summer student employment as well, which is a help to the library but even more so to these students who depend on that income for living expenses as well as school expenses. As of this writing (June 5) Lane County is entering phase 2 of the governor’s re-opening plan. We are still waiting to hear from our administration what that will mean for staff working in the building.

The really sad thing for us was commencement. We are changing our name to Bushnell University as of July 1, so this was literally the last graduating class of Northwest Christian University, and they did not get to have the usual commencement ceremony, which would have been an even bigger celebration this year. We are doing a virtual commencement (which will have already happened by the time you read this), plus graduating seniors are invited back to our winter commencement if they choose, where they will be especially honored. To prepare for the virtual commencement I had to retrieve my academic regalia from the library, and record a 3 second video congratulating our graduates. That was a lot of work and effort for three seconds! (but probably beats sitting in a warm gymnasium in robes for an hour and a half). Warm robes aside, I know I greatly missed being at commencement, the highlight of the year and the validation of the hard work we put in all year long.

What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?

My wife and I are both primarily working from home. I have been in the library for a couple hours at a time less than once a week since work from home orders were put in place. We have strict guidelines about how many can be working in the library and where, so we track all on-site work schedules (including student workers) on a shared calendar. The library had already been in the process of transitioning to cloud-based file storage, and our IT was able to set me up with a VPN connection, so we have largely been able to continue work with adequate access to needed documents. I am set up in our den (with a nice view of the neighbor’s apple tree out the window) while my wife sets up with our laptop on the dinning table. If I need something from the kitchen I do need to check she’s not on a confidential call or video meeting first. One really lovely silver lining of this situation has been having lunch on our patio with my wife every day. That and sleeping in a bit each day I will miss when I return to a more regular schedule in the office.

How have you kept communication going with students, faculty, or other users?

Microsoft Teams and Zoom for communication with library staff and with our faculty and other NCU staff. We have a form on our website for students requesting appointment times, which feeds into the library’s Teams channel so we all get notified. Lots of individual texts and emails with our student workers. Our library staff meet bi-monthly for staff meeting, and I meet with each one individually bi-monthly as well. Those have continued virtually, plus we added a no-agenda check-in staff meeting on the weeks where no regular staff meeting was scheduled, just to chat and keep up with one another’s lives. Replaces the usual “hallway chats” we would have when physically in the building together.

The institutional Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) has locked down all campus-wide communications to flow through them, which has greatly restricted the library’s ability to communicate en masse to students or to faculty. I understand the need for a unified “voice” in communications in times of crisis, but it does impede the library’s ability to effectively serve in some ways.

What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

Two somewhat contradictory things. One, I have discovered that in many ways I actually enjoy working from home. Uninterrupted time has allowed me to be more productive to a certain extent (although the tedium of ALWAYS being home works against that to some extent). On the other hand, I find I greatly miss the personal interactions with staff and students – those very distractions that keep me from being more productive. I expect a full return to working in the office will include some regular time working from home moving forward, for me and potentially other library staff. NCU and the library have really been thinking about what we learn through this experience that will continue to help us serve better moving forward even after the pandemic is no longer an issue, and the demonstrated ability to work effectively remotely is high on that list.

How We Work During the Pandemic: Amy Stanforth

Hello ACRL-Oregon members! During this pandemic, the way we all work and serve our patrons has radically changed. Inspired by the bloggers at ACRLog, we thought we’d provide a window into how some of your Oregon colleagues are managing during this time. During this week, we’ll be posting several blog posts from members of the ACRL-Oregon Board. We’d also love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experiences on the blog, please feel free to email Meredith Farkas and respond to any or all of the following prompts:

  • What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?
  • What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

Our third post is from Amy Stanforth, Research & Instruction Librarian at Portland State University and ACRL-Oregon Board Member.

What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?

We are currently in Week 10, so we are in the sweet spot of reflecting on our work over the past few months and making informed decisions about how to move forward.  Some of the things we are reflecting on include serving our various populations.  I’m reflecting on our students  who are in a forced remote environment and supporting them as they learn new ways to engage with learning materials and connect with other students. How to sustain a sense of campus culture and connect them to the services they need both on and off campus?  We are serving faculty through the transition to online learning and as they plan for remote summer classes and possibly fall classes as well.  Additionally, as a large, urban institution located in a downtown core, we are serving the community and our housing and food insecure patrons who rely on us for safe and clean spaces.  We are finding the balance between learning from our experiences and anticipating upcoming changes, which seem to shift with every week that goes by. 

What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?

Each day initially feels the same for me.  I wake up, have coffee and make my way to my makeshift office – which is currently set up in my garden shed, and start running through my emails.  However, so much has changed in terms of meetings being online, finding ways to engage students with remote instruction, and trying to anticipate the changing needs of the campus community.  I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone and find new ways to reach out to my colleagues.  I can be pretty chatty and have always used that trait to engage with my colleagues about brewing ideas for our work.  I’ve had to translate my chatty ideas into concise words and send them in emails.  Additionally, it’s been tough to gauge how my coworkers are doing, what their capacity is, and trying to be mindful of each person’s circumstances as they deal with Covid, and Covid-related impacts, both at work and at home.

What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

I’ll take a different approach here and say what hasn’t surprised me, and that is the continued dedication, care, and support of our faculty, staff, and community to the success of our students.  And the reciprocal dedication, care, and support of our students for the PSU community.

How We Work During the Pandemic: Meredith Farkas

Hello ACRL-Oregon members! During this pandemic, the way we all work and serve our patrons has radically changed. Inspired by the bloggers at ACRLog, we thought we’d provide a window into how some of your Oregon colleagues are managing during this time. During this week, we’ll be posting several blog posts from members of the ACRL-Oregon Board. We’d also love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experiences on the blog, please feel free to email Meredith Farkas and respond to any or all of the following prompts:

  • What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?
  • What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

Our second post is from Meredith Farkas, Faculty Librarian at Portland Community College and ACRL-Oregon Past-President.

What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?

Like a lot of places, everything felt like it was happening way too slowly and then suddenly moved way too fast. We learned late on the night of Tuesday March 18th that the campus would be closing at the end of the day on Friday and then received an email at 5am Wednesday saying that each campus library would be closing at noon that very day. I’m so relieved I had the presence of mind to run to work that morning and grab my desk chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other office supplies. The speed of everything unfortunately left us no time to get faculty to grab and/or scan their reserve materials or to get any equipment other than our laptops parceled out. The libraries have been fully closed since then and we are not even supposed to visit campus (my campus has a locked gate!) so there is no access to our physical collection. We are definitely going to stay closed over the summer and our College President has said that we’ll be mostly remote for Fall, though that is open to revision if conditions change. 

My colleagues in the Library did a fantastic job of quickly moving to support faculty teaching online with documentation, training, resources, collections, and teaching. In the midst of the upheaval in our own lives, everyone pulled together beautifully to support faculty (and, by extension, our students) as they moved their courses online. It was inspiring.

What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?

It took me a long time to setting into a sane routine. The first few weeks, I was so busy supporting library faculty and disciplinary faculty with online teaching that I was basically working from dawn to dusk and ignoring my family. Having taught online in various contexts since 2005, I wanted to share as much knowledge and provide as much support as I could. But I was totally burnt out by week 2 of the term. Now, I’ve found a better balance and one that gives me the flexibility to support my son’s learning as well (he’s in 5th grade and wow, elementary school remote teaching is a MESS!). I try to work relatively close to the hours that I worked pre-COVID-19, though work and life are definitely bleeding into each other a lot more — setting boundaries is tough! I embedded in a lot of classes this term — probably more than I should have — and built a lot of interactive tutorials to support specific classes. I’ve been using Google Forms to make them (here are some examples) which is deeply unfancy, but allows faculty to make their own copy and tailor it to their context. 

At PCC, I work in cubicle-land and I’ve been shocked by how much I miss it, mainly because I miss chatting with my incredible colleagues. We’ve been using Slack as a virtual chat tool, but it’s not the same. These days, my work chats tend to involve my son running into the room with “important” things he needs to tell me like “did you know that as recently as 500 years ago, there was a land bridge connecting Sri Lanka and India?” 

How have you kept communication going with students, faculty, or other users?

I’ve been sending a lot more emails to faculty than I normally would. Usually, I market instruction via our campus listserv at the start of the term. We didn’t hear from a lot of the faculty we usually collaborate with because they were so overwhelmed that they didn’t even have the bandwidth to ask for help (a good reminder of what happens to our students when they get overwhelmed!). So a couple of weeks in, I sent individual emails to each of the instructors we’ve worked with over the past two years and heard from a lot more people. In terms of keeping in touch with students, we’re mostly at the mercy of faculty. I sent faculty and other student support units a boilerplate email to send to students describing some of our most important services that are available. Last January, I convinced my colleagues to pilot offering bookable research help appointments face-to-face and via web conferencing for Spring. When colleges and universities started closing, I felt so grateful that we’d already done the legwork getting that service up and running. My colleagues and I are embedded in an absolute ton of classes this term, so that’s the main way we communicate with students beyond when they seek help from us.

What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

I’ve been most surprised by my own lack of mental bandwidth. Since March, I have really struggled with staying focused and tracking on things. My attention span is fractured, my memory is fuzzy, and I feel constantly worried that I’m missing something. I’m usually a really organized person who thrives when I have a clear to-do list with deadlines. Only very recently have I even had the wherewithal to go back to using my to-do list app. If someone like me who has a ton of experience teaching online has been thrown off this much, I can only imagine what it’s like for most of our faculty who have never taught online before (and, in many cases, never wanted to). I’m only just now beginning to feel like myself again.

How We Work During the Pandemic: Candise Branum

Hello ACRL-Oregon members! During this pandemic, the way we all work and serve our patrons has radically changed. Inspired by the bloggers at ACRLog, we thought we’d provide a window into how some of your Oregon colleagues are managing during this time. During this week, we’ll be posting several blog posts from members of the ACRL-Oregon Board. We’d also love to hear from you! If you’d like to share your experiences on the blog, please feel free to email Meredith Farkas and respond to any or all of the following prompts:

  • What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?
  • What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?
  • How have you kept communication going with students, faculty, or other users?
  • What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

Here’s our first post from ACRL-Oregon President and Oregon College of Oriental Medicine Director, Candise Branum

What’s the situation at your institution, at the time of writing?

Like most other higher education institutions in Oregon, our campus is closed and we’ve transitioned to completely online education, and with very few exceptions, everyone is working remotely. For the college, this is pretty challenging because a huge part of our curriculum is clinical education. Moving didactic classes is fine, but any hands-on classes are either being delayed or having to rethink how to get students the necessary experience. Our clinics were also closed, and some of the clinical staff laid off. The college is pivoting to telemedicine, which is actually a great skill for students to have. But Traditional Chinese Medicine is so much about personal connection and touch that I think many students are having a really hard time believing that they are getting the education required to do this work, and also just missing their community. I know medical schools are looking at different ways they can reopen clinical education so students can get these skills and still graduate, and we’re still waiting for those guidelines to come out.

What is your day-to-day look like on the job right now?

The first month I felt like I was just in crisis mode, trying to get the textbooks and materials needed for our faculty and students, setting up online services, and creating administrative plans around all of this. I’m finally starting to feel like I have a handle on this and things are settling in, but I’m definitely still feeling a lot of anxiety. Especially as a library director who gets to make the decision on what services to offer and when to reopen, every day I’m thinking about what the infection numbers in Multnomah County look like, looking at what others are doing, and just trying to keep my staff safe. I created a staged reopening plan, but I still have a lot of questions and concerns, and it is honestly stressful. 

The other day, Meredith asked on Twitter if people had taken time off work since the pandemic had closed us all down, and I realized that besides cutting out of work 2-hours early to get a head start on binge-watching the final season of She-Ra, I haven’t taken a single day off. I’ve been working longer hours and have been more focused from home than I ever had on campus. My partner sometimes comes into my “office” and says, “Break time! Right now!!” because I have a hard time stepping away from my desk. Everything has seemed like an emergency and time sensitive, so it has been really powerful to be able to finally say, “No. This can wait 5-10 minutes.” I’ve been doing logic puzzles on my breaks, which feels much better than reading news or scrolling through Twitter.

Right now, I’m staffing our virtual reference desk about 8 hours per week, gearing up to teach my first synchronous online class (via Zoom), and doing all the other day-to-day work I would generally do, only my office mates have been replaced by my lazy dog. I’ve been pretty much tied to my computer. All computing, all day. I realized the other day that my legs were cramping up from being at my desk and not getting the chance to walk around campus. So I’ve been taking bike rides after work, which feels so good and is also a good way to transition from “work brain” to “home brain.” 

How have you kept communication going with students, faculty, or other users?

We use the regular channels, like posting on our SIS / course management system, and on our website. OCOM is also holding weekly student town halls, and staff members are invited to that. That is actually nice, because when there are breakout sessions and whatnot, the staff are in those groups with students. 

But honestly, the most engagement we have is through our social media. We’ve started making weekly videos. Right now we are talking about services and providing walkthroughs, but eventually we’d like to do fun stuff like talking about what books we are reading or what we are watching on Netflix. We’ve also bumped our Newsletter up to be weekly. Our Newsletter already had really high stats, and we are seeing this continue even with a weekly newsletter.

What has surprised you most about library work during this crisis?

The OCOM community in general is not what you would call, “Comfortable with technology.” So the ability for our faculty (some who were still on dial up!) and students to be able to pivot to online learning is pretty impressive. One thing that has surprised me is the ability to transform from a community that definitely includes technophobes to a normalcy of online education. It does make me wonder how this will change the delivery of our curriculum in the future.

I genuinely miss our students and my colleagues. I’m mostly an introvert and can totally get by without seeing others, but on campus, I didn’t have my own office. Instead, all of the library staff shared an office, so I generally worked beside at least one other person per day, as well as the student workers who would come by the office to chat. But also, I am so much more productive working from home. Students aren’t stopping by my office, and I’m not chatting with my coworkers about the movies we watched this weekend. I really miss those things. But also it makes me think that once this is all over, everyone who wants to should be able to work from home at least once per week. I don’t have kids, and I know it is really different for parents with their children home. But for me, right now: It is so quiet here. I can hear a bird chirping outside my window and the hum of my computer. I feel centered. For me, I think working from home once a week could be a really nice way of rebooting and focusing in a way that just doesn’t happen for me on a noisy campus.

Interview with Jeopardy! Winner (& Academic Librarian) Veronica Vichit-Vadakan

Academic librarian Veronica Vichit-Vadakan is a jack of all trades. Systems Librarian at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and Part-Time Reference Librarian at WSU Vancouver, Veronica also puts in hours at the NW Film Center and fosters kittens. Mushroom forager, pie aficionado, chocolatier, and overall renaissance woman, this past January, Veronica added another accolade to her repertoire: Jeopardy! Champ. Veronica went on a 4-day winning streak, raking in a whopping $90,001 and charming the nation in the process.

The following interview was originally conducted by Beth Howlett at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and has been edited for length.

Photo of Veronica Vichit-Vadakan with Alex Trebek

Veronica Vichit-Vadakan with Alex Trebek (Photo by Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.)

When did you start being a Jeopardy! fan?

I watched Jeopardy! when it first came back on the air in the 80s in grade school. In high school, I was a total Jeopardy! nerd, I watched every episode, followed along and tracked my answers. We had a teacher in high school who was also a big fan; he would arrange Jeopardy! tournaments every year, and one year I won! That was very exciting, but once I went off to college, I stopped watching. I didn’t watch it for probably 20+ years except for here and there if it happened to be on, but I was not a regular watcher.

What was the qualification process like?

When a friend suggested that I take the test, I hadn’t thought about Jeopardy! in many many years, but I thought, “Sure why not?”  The test is an online test of 50 questions. They do the tests once a year, and that’s it — that’s your opportunity to be on Jeopardy! The questions are a lot like the questions you would see on the show. They don’t tell you how you did and you don’t have to answer in the form of a question for the online test, which is good because you don’t have that much time — you only have 10 seconds for each question.

In between the test and the show there is an audition. The online test happened in January, and then that summer, I heard that I was invited for an audition. Luckily, the auditions were in Portland; they spread them out to different cities across the country and then they change them every year. They try to shift it around so that everyone gets a chance to be close to an audition city. The year that I took the test, just coincidentally, the audition city happened to be Portland. I got the call to audition about 4 months after I took the test.

Once you do the audition, you are in the contestant pool for 18 months — anytime between the time you audition and 18 months they might call you. For me it was about 16 months when they called me. I didn’t think I was going to be on the show and then at the last minute, I was. They give you four weeks notice… that’s enough time to buy a reasonably priced ticket to LA, get things in order to get time off work and stuff like that, but it’s not a ton of time.

How did you prepare for the show?

In between the time that I auditioned and the time that I was on the show, I hadn’t been watching the show for decades and even after I took the online test I still hadn’t really watched the show. So I started watching the show a lot — that’s what you hear again and again, the best way to prepare is to watch the show as much as possible. I started recording it and would play along, track how I was doing, and find my weak points. I used several different flashcard apps.

I was very very nervous when I showed up and I really didn’t feel prepared. I know a lot of people who go on Jeopardy! are serious trivia nerds and they have done bar trivia, College Bowl, all these quizzing tournaments, and I had never done any of that stuff. I don’t think my knowledge depth is that great, especially in comparison to other people on the show. After watching the show intensively for a year, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do that. How do they know these things?”

How many shows did you film in a day?

They only shoot two days a week, but it’s two weeks worth of shows. Five shows were filmed in a day. They do Monday through Friday in a single day, and then the very next day they’ll do another Monday through Friday, and then they take a break. Then they do it all again next week. There is about a 10-minute break between each filming, so it’s pretty fast-paced. If you win a show, they escort you off the stage very quickly. It’s such a whirlwind. They send you back to the dressing room; you have to change your clothes, get your makeup touched up, get your microphone back on, and then they push you back on the stage. That’s as much time as you have between each show. You do get a lunch break between the Wednesday and Thursday [tapings], but it’s a whirlwind. I kept saying I felt like a rag doll, asking myself, “What’s happening?”

How much of a calming presence is Alex Trebek? How did he influence your experience on the show?

Alex Trebek definitely is a very calming presence. We don’t get to spend a lot of time with him as contestants. We interact with him about as much as you see on the show. He comes out, does a little interview, and at the end of the show he’ll come chit chat with the contestants, but that’s about it. But even so, he seems like such a genuinely warm, charming, welcoming person. He’s so good at  putting people at ease. I think it also helps that I see this guy, the guy I’ve seen since I was a little kid, there he is — it was just very familiar.

Was that your jacket in the 5th and final game and if not, did wearing it affect the outcome?

They tell you to bring two changes of clothes so that you have three outfits potentially to wear if you win multiple shows; it was just unlucky for me that the first show [I recorded] had been a “Monday” [the first filming of the day], so I ran through all my clothes by the time I got to the “Friday” shoot. I was in the back dressing room after the “Thursday” show, going through my clothes with a producer, and everything looks the same — there’s no way I could rearrange these clothes to look any different. So the producer just started digging through the closet. I don’t even know where she came up with this jacket, but she pulled out a jacket and said, “I found this in the back of the closet, do you want to try it on? I think it’ll fit you.” And it actually did fit me, which was kind of surprising. I had a little bit of a premonition as I was putting it on that this was going to be bad luck; I’m [wearing] a randomly left behind, lost and found jacket, so I had a thought it might be bad luck. And then I went on and did lose that show! But I shouldn’t blame the blazer. Mostly, I was just really exhausted.

What does the winning streak mean for you? How did the experience impact or change you?

Well first of all, I won a nice amount of money, which I don’t actually have yet — they don’t send out checks until 4 months after the show airs, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. I was talking about doing some work on the backyard, building a catio for my cats.

But actually being on the show… it’s nice to have a little bit of recognition. It’s a pretty low-level fame; people are stopping me on the street to say hey. I’ve heard from friends from college who’ve written me nice messages to congratulate me, and that’s probably my favorite part.

Another really fun part about being on Jeopardy! that I hadn’t really thought of before I went on is that there is this whole community of people who have been on Jeopardy! who communicate with each other, and that’s been really fun. They’re a support group, a group of funny nerds to talk to.

When you went on did you know your episodes would run concurrent with the Greatest of All Time Tournament?

No, they didn’t tell us it was happening; they hadn’t announced it yet. I think they actually shot that tournament a week or two after we were on. I think we suffered a little from the comparison. It was kind of fun because those episodes were on at the same time, and there was kind of a high Jeopardy! awareness.

Is anything different now when you watch the show, having been a contestant and now familiar with both sides of the screen?

When you’re down there, you are with a big pool of contestants because they film two weeks worth of shows. There are a lot of people that ended up being on shows that followed me, so it was exciting [because] after I lost, I didn’t know what happened to all those people that I had met — you know, they’re not allowed to tell me the results of the games. [It was] exciting to watch the shows afterwards and say, “I know all those people!” And then I continued to watch, partly because now I’m more invested in the show. Also, there’s the possibility that I might be in the Tournament of Champions, so I kind of want to keep watching and try and keep training just in case that happens. Whenever I see someone win on a Monday, I think, “Hang in there. You got a long day ahead of you.”

Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?

The one thing that surprised me was the amount of questions that I don’t know the answers to now. I was watching my show, and reading that question, I would think, “I don’t know what that is.” And then I’d watch myself buzzing in, and watch myself answer correctly. I don’t know how that happened. I also saw the opposite where I 100% knew the answer to that question, and I know that November-me knew the answer to that question, too, but I saw myself buzzing with the wrong answer.

If you could design a Jeopardy! category and question, what would it be?

Well, it would probably be food-related. If there was a pie category, I would totally ace that. Okay, I’ve got it: Food in Movies. A category of movies with famous food scenes. I think that would make a great Jeopardy! category.

Veronica is the Systems Librarian at OCOM and Part-Time Reference Librarian at WSU-Vancouver, and recently accepted a position as a Faculty Librarian at PCC Cascade.

An Interview With Ginny Norris Blackson, Linfield College Libraries and Educational Media Services

Head shot of Ginny Blackson

Ginny Blackson, Director, Linfield College Libraries and Educational Media Services

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into librarianship?

I have always been a library user. My mother loves to tell the story of when I was in first grade; after my first trip to the library I came home and took her masking tape and gave every book in the house a call number. My first library job was between my freshman year and my sophomore year of college and I worked for the Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library, and that was just pretty much it for me. I worked at the University of Kentucky Education Library and Law Library and the law firm of Stites and Harbison as an undergrad. And then I went and had this totally different career as an advocate and shelter manager for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska. And then our public library closed, and I went to the city council meeting – I was seven months pregnant and crying uncontrollably about living in a town with no library, and so they made me the public librarian. I’ve worked in libraries ever since.

What is an achievement in your career of which you are especially proud?

I think that the thing I’m most proud of is that when I was a high school librarian in Sitka, Alaska, a group of us did a program called the Alaska Spirit of Reading, and for seven years we brought authors to rural Alaska. We always of course had them visit Sitka, because we were managing it, and then we would choose different areas. One year we chose a Philippino-Canadian author, so he came to Sitka, but then we also sent him to Kodiak, which the population is about a quarter Philippino-American, and Anchorage, which has a large Philippino-American population. And we had them visit schools and public libraries, we’d distribute copies of their book around the state, and then each year we did a statewide call-in show where students from all over the state could call in and ask questions of the author. I think that’s probably my greatest achievement as a librarian and the most fun I’ve had as a librarian.

What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?

I think that it is the same challenge facing all libraries, but specifically academic libraries: and that is that prices go up, enrollment goes down, and so really balancing our students’ need for information. There is a lot of information out there – most of it is of very poor quality – and so we have students coming out of high school having been allowed to use Wikipedia their whole career and then come to college. I think one of the big challenges for post-secondary librarians is the loss of certified librarians in high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools that we’re seeing all over the country, so that we are the first professional librarian that many of these students have ever encountered. And that’s very different than when I was in school and every librarian that I had growing up was a certified teacher-librarian. And the loss of the certified teacher-librarian is making us have to do a lot of remediation.

What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

I think really just the interaction with the students. You know, I found that in my last job, the higher I moved up the career ladder, the less time that I got to spend with students. And I think the best thing about this job is that I don’t have to make the choice between being a library administrator and being a boots-on-the-ground librarian, and I really like that. I’m not excited about balancing Excel spreadsheets, but I’m very excited about taking a journey with a student in learning

What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?

I think that advocacy for academic libraries means advocacy for all libraries. It’s interconnected. Our students don’t just use our library; good public and school library experiences make for good college library users. I think that as colleges face these budget issues, librarians seem like the natural place to cut. But in the academy, libraries are the only real neutral space. We are not tied to the humanities, or tied to the social sciences, or tied to the physical sciences – we are a neutral place with a little bit of knowledge about all areas and the ability to help everyone. We serve the entire campus: we serve faculty and their research needs, we serve staff and their research needs, and we serve students in both their research and their growth and lifelong learning. We produce scholarship in a wide range of information and human service areas, but we’re not discipline specific, and we’re not tied to a specific college. We are here for everyone at the college. And as libraries are getting merged with IT, or getting merged with academic departments, we’re starting to lose that a lot.

What’s happening in or around our profession that you’re really excited about?

I am really excited about this upcoming generation of Millennial librarians, for a lot of reasons. Their absolute commitment to social justice, and that’s not their hobby – that’s something that they’ve been raised to believe in. There’s sort of this intergenerational thing in our profession and in other professions that says, “Well they just don’t know how hard it is, they don’t know how hard we fought.” Well, that’s okay. The fact that they take basic human rights as a given is a good thing. Also, I started out in librarianship pre-Internet, so I will always argue that no profession that still exists has made as many changes as librarians have in the last 50 years. That we fully embraced the Internet, that we fully embraced going digital, that we fully embraced all kinds of formats, and this generation of librarians coming out of library school are true digital natives in a way that I’m just not. So their understanding of issues of privacy and equitable access are just far beyond. For me, it’s a real challenge to sit down and think about the new digital divide, because I spent half my life without the Internet, so it really is the Millennial librarians that really excite me. They seem to be fearless in what they’re willing to experiment with. They haven’t been raised with the concept that they’re going to work at one institution their whole lives. And I just see these new kick ass librarians coming up that just impress me so, so much every time I work with them.

Interview with Kristine Alpi, OHSU Library

Photograph of Kristine Alpi

Kristine Alpi, MLS, MPH, PhD, AHIP, University Librarian, OHSU Library

Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into librarianship?

My first library job was as a shelver in my neighborhood branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library.  My education in art history, Spanish and Italian at Indiana University led me to working in the Fine Arts and Slide Libraries, but an exciting day of field shadowing at the Ruth Lilly Medical Library seduced me over to health sciences librarianship.

What is an achievement in your career of which you’re particularly proud?

My first solo-authored journal article, Expert searching in public health, indexed in PubMed, the largest biomedical database in the world from the National Library of Medicine is also my most cited paper with 70 citations.  I love seeing that same excitement in the student and new faculty authors with whom I publish.

What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?

OHSU Library serves learners statewide, from patients and families to those pursuing advanced certifications.  We partner with several Oregon universities on joint academic programs and since our 3,000 students are mostly graduate students, we might be the Library serving your recently graduated alumni.   Even though we are Oregon Health & Science University, we are very interested in the humanities and last April our Library hosted a Humanities month with a poetry and art contest.  For 2020, we hope to spread these activities over the year. We are also passionate about making the history of health in the Pacific Northwest more accessible. We would love to collaborate on building and exposing collections to learners and researchers who would benefit from access to primary source materials.

What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started your position?

It was an honor to present at both the Oregon Library Association-Support Staff Division Conference and the Emporia State University Commencement ceremony.  I treasured these opportunities to engage with library staff and students and share what I have learned from visiting 30+ libraries in OR/WA in my first eight months here.

What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?

My perspective has changed as I moved across regions, as much advocacy is local.  Understanding advocacy for public libraries and school libraries in the same region is an important part of the library advocacy ecosystem.  I always talk about the key role of school and public libraries in preparing students to want to be part of academia, and then the complementary role of public and academic libraries in serving the needs of the whole learner.   Advocacy for maintaining robust and transparent resource sharing among libraries of all types is a major priority.  In the face of electronic book publishing models that prohibit sharing, and the shift to purchasing almost entirely ebooks in some disciplines, this is a major concern.

Anything else you’d like Oregon academic librarians to know about you?

I am excited to travel all over Oregon and visit libraries and meet library staff, so please invite me to visit and learn from your teams.

Mark Watson appointed as interim Dean of the University of Oregon Libraries

Headshot of Mark Watson

Mark Waston, Interim Dean of Libraries, University of Oregon

On June 10 the University of Oregon announced that Mark Watson, associate dean for research services, UO libraries, has been named interim dean of UO libraries. Watson has worked in various capacities in the UO libraries since 1986, including stints as interim head of UO science libraries and co-interim dean of libraries. He will begin this new role starting July 9. ACRL-OR caught up with the incoming interim dean to answer a few questions about his new role:

What can you tell us about why Adrienne Lim (current dean UO Libraries) is leaving and where she is going?

Adriene Lim has accepted a position as Dean of Libraries at the University of Maryland in College Park.  Dean Lim is a recognized leader in the national academic library community, and her record of achievement, leadership and scholarship has been recognized and rewarded by this offer to take the helm at one of the country’s largest research libraries.  As a respected leader at the University of Oregon, she will be sorely missed.

What do you most look forward to as interim dean?

As interim Dean, I will have the opportunity to work directly under the University’s Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs.  Involvement at this level of governance and the opportunity to help shape the academic direction of the institution is an exciting prospect.  Within the library, I look forward to working with the same great team of colleagues but in new ways.  As the interim Dean, I will be able to deepen and extend my efforts to support them in providing excellent library service to the campus community.

What is the biggest challenge you see in the year to come for the UO libraries?

Like many of its peers, the University of Oregon is dealing with a downturn in enrollment, especially when it comes to international students, with the consequence that all sectors of the institution are facing funding constraints.  It will be challenging to maintain fiscal balance and still deliver the quality service that faculty and students have come to expect.  This challenge extends to both maintaining adequate levels of staffing and the library’s ability to build collections commensurate with teaching and research needs.

What can you tell us about the search process for a permanent dean?

The UO is facing the prospect of recruiting several new Deans during the coming year; however, the stated expectation is that a search for a permanent Dean of Libraries will commence sometime in the fall.

Anything else you’d like the Oregon academic library community to know?

As interim Dean, I will have the opportunity to attend more meetings and conferences where I hope to meet new colleagues and interact with people I already know.  I look forward to making new connections with my Oregon colleagues!

ACRL-OR extends our best wishes to Mark Watson and to the UO Libraries during this interim leadership and search for a new dean of UO Libraries.

OSU Undergraduate Research and Writing Studio wins ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award

Undergrad Research and Writing Studio Awardees

The Oregon State University Libraries and Press (OSULP) has been awarded the ACRL Instruction Section Innovation Award for 2019 for their Undergraduate Research and Writing Studio. Opened in 2017, the Studio provides a place for undergraduate students to work on writing projects and receive assistance with writing and research from trained peers. The Studio is a collaboration between the Writing Center and the OSULP. The implementation and ongoing steering team includes Writing Center and OSULP staff, including: Dennis Bennett, Chris Ervin, and Vanessa Petroj from the Writing Center and Anne-Marie Deitering, Beth Filar Williams, Uta Hussong-Christian, Hannah Gascho Rempel and Jane Nichols from the library.

The award includes recognition in the C&RL News, a plaque, and $3000.

ACRL-OR was able to ask a few questions of the team. Their answers are provided below (ACRL also published a short interview).

Our heartiest congratulations to OSULP and to the implementation team on this prestigious award. Read on for some of their comments.

Who or what was the driving force behind creating the Studio?

Jane: There was a pressing need for more space for the writing center because they were outgrowing their space. At the same time there was a rising idea of reclaiming and re-invigorating the space where tutoring was happening in the library, the Collaborative Learning Center (CLC). The library had been aware of the trend of library – writing center partnerships and locating the campus writing center in the library. The Associate University Librarian for Learning Spaces, Anne-Marie Deitering, and the Writing Center Director, Dennis Bennett, began talking about partnering with an eye towards addressing respective service goals centered on student learning and success. As discussions progressed, the idea to move into the library gained traction and was approved by senior leadership by both the library and the writing center. Following this, a team was tasked with carrying out the project.

An important foundation to the relationship is the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines various aspects of the terms of agreement and includes substantive calls for the partners to collaborate on issues such as learning outcomes, service design, assessment, and training.

What was the collaboration process like between librarians, writing center staff, and media specialists?

Beth Filar Williams and Uta Hussong-Christian: The nine months we all worked together on the implementation team was truly a collaborative process. Over the duration of our well-organized and facilitated bi-weekly meetings, we used a service design process to develop a shared holistic student-focused framework for the project. In the process of working through space and service concepts and eventually plans, we learned a lot about each other as individuals and about what our respective units did. This helped us compromise in ways that worked for everyone. By the time the space opened, we had laid the groundwork for our partnership as we went through the ups and downs of the first year (and beyond) of Research & Writing Studio operations.

What did writing center folks learn about the library/librarians that was new to them and what did librarians learn about writing center folks that was new to them?

Jane Nichols: As librarians we were unfamiliar with the extensive training, much of it focused on theory and pedagogical concepts, that the student writing consultants received. We appreciated seeing the consultants be open to learning about the theoretical foundations to their work.

Chris Ervin: Something I already knew as an experienced academic is that there is more happening within other disciplines than those of us who are disciplinary outsiders understand. Working alongside librarians and in the physical space of the library has shown me some of the inner workings of the discipline of librarianship, in particular where those inner workings come into contact with the Studio. For example, we in writing centers and writing studies don’t tend to think of the work we do as “service,” but rather as teaching and mentoring. There’s even a debate within our discipline about whether to consider first-year writing as a “service course” (in service to the other disciplines) or as an introduction to the discipline of writing studies. Librarians, however, often use language like that—service points, service models, etc., but I understand better what that means now. The “information seeking process” that’s iterative is very much like our studio pedagogy approach, also iterative. Librarians must suffer a fundamental misunderstanding (from the public, students, faculty) of the work they do, just like writing center professionals. One place that misunderstanding comes into the Studio is in what students think of the role of our research consultants. Students, I believe, want to see the research consultant’s role as serving their information needs rather than teaching them skills that will help them meet their own information needs. As a writing center professional whose priority is facilitating student learning through teaching (classroom or one-to-one), I see the potential for research consultants to practice the studio pedagogy we associate with writing consultations—the process-focused, metacognitive kinds of conversations that would encourage research writers to investigate their own research processes and to advance their information literacy skills.

What do you see as the next steps for the Studio?

Beth: I would like to continue to grow the partnership and iterate as we learn more from assessment. I hope we can integrate Student Mulitmedia Services better maybe in an adjacent space? And I hope we get a better referral process to library liaisons and to other resources.

What are you all going to use the $3000 for?

Chris: The four members of the Studio Steering Committee have agreed that the funds will be used mostly or fully to support the Studio’s food pantry. Because Oregon State University’s students, like college students around the country, wrestle with food indsecurity, we created a pantry in the Studio for our student staff. The $3000 will be used to stock the pantry for at least a year, possibly more.

Hannah, this comes on the heels of you being selected as the ACRL IS Featured Teaching Librarian in 2018. Is it safe to say you’re now a library rock star?

Hannah: Hannah who? In other news, tickets are on sale now for my upcoming world-wide tour “Curiouser and Curiouser.”

Anything else you want the Oregon academic library community to know about this award or about the Studio?

Beth: We welcome visitors and conversation as we grow our knowledge, our services, and learn about best practices.