Continuing our interview series of reaching out to academic library leaders across the state to facilitate “getting to know” our colleagues… the next interview in this series is with Robin Jeffrey, Learning Resource Center (LRC) Director at Klamath Community College, located in Klamath Falls.
Thanks for talking with us, Robin!
How did you get into librarianship and how did you end up at Klamath Falls?
You could say that librarianship runs in my family! My mother has been a librarian for 18 years and I was always her most excited work volunteer. Even before that we were a very library-centric family, to the point where, as a toddler, I thought it was a fun game to pretend to ‘check-out’ books from my ‘library’ to my older sister. I’ve known for a long time that being a librarian was in the cards for me!
I ended up in Klamath Falls after I graduated from the University of Kentucky with my MLS. I was on the hunt for that elusive first library job when I saw a posting for a library assistant at Klamath Community College. I wanted desperately to be an academic librarian and it seemed like the perfect way to get my foot in the door. That was almost 2 years ago now and I certainly haven’t regretted the amazing opportunities I’ve gotten at KCC!
Who/What has been the greatest influence upon you so far in your career?
Mark Peterson, who’s been featured on this blog before, was and is simply the best mentor any young librarian could hope to have. He gave me a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream and equipped me with all the tools and knowledge I would need to excel! In addition to him, though, I have to give another shout out to my mom, who I call and ask for librarian advice from all the time.
What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you started in your position?
The best thing that has happened to you since I started this position has been being on the receiving end of an outflowing of support from other OR. library directors and librarians. It’s been such a welcoming and heartwarming experience and I’m learning so much from everyone every day.
Tell us about your OER writing book. What prompted you to create the book? How did you go about creating it? (what platform, conceptual organization)? Who is making use of the textbook currently?
Klamath Community College serves a large population of students, many of whom are at or below the poverty line. Having to buy a $200 textbook for a required course may very well mean the difference between a student finishing their degree or giving up – not to mention it has a huge impact on their finances if they do purchase the book (i.e. I don’t get my medication this month because I can’t afford it, or I’m only eating dinner this week)!
The LRC initiated a meeting with the Writing Department to discuss these issues and talk about possible solutions. The Writing Faculty outlined for us what they liked about the book they were using, which was really only the basic grammar, sentence structure, and citation material. I offered to create a writing guide that would cover all these basic concepts and which would be open source. Hence, About Writing was born!
I relied a lot on my background as an English undergrad to create the content for the book, drawing ideas from online sources like Purdue OWL and from the textbook currently in use, A Writer’s Reference. Amy Hofer, the OR State OER Librarian was a great help while creating this resource, especially in gaining feedback from faculty and formatting it to be published on Pressbooks! Currently, About Writing is in use at Portland Community College, Klamath Community College, and Clackamas Community College!
Tell us about your love for graphic novels/comic books. How has this manifested itself so far in your work at KFCC?
I’m a lifelong reader and I’m here to tell you that some of the best work being done in creative fiction right now is being done graphically. Whether its DC, Marvel, Image, or that small indie publisher that cranks out photocopies of new work, graphic novels are, to me, the perfect marriage between image and text. I’ve been a regular comic shop patron since I was 16 and have been going to comicons for over 8 years, with no plans to stop.
I’ve always considered graphic novels to be the “gateway drug” of reading and have found, more often than not, that no matter how much people insist they don’t like to read, almost everyone can be persuaded to pick up a comic! With this in mind, I’ve helped create a (still growing!) graphic novel collection at KCC, which has helped to boost our circulation numbers across the board. Students of all ages get excited when they hear that such a collection exists, which gets them into the library – and once they’re there, they almost always walk out with a few books under their arms.
What is the biggest challenge facing your library in the upcoming year?
The biggest challenge facing my library in the upcoming year is our push to become more of a community space. We want everyone to feel welcome in the library, even if they don’t have research to do and just want to hang out! Facilitating that culture shift is an exciting challenge.
What would you like Oregon academic librarians to know about your institution?
The Klamath Community College Learning Resource Center, which I head, is made up of three distinct areas of the college – the library, the Tutoring Center, and the Testing Center. We’re a small academic library with a growing presence on campus and we are instrumental in helping people succeed in their academic pursuits!
What does advocacy for academic libraries look like from your perspective as a library director?
From my perspective as a library director, advocacy for academic libraries looks like constantly throwing a surprise party; as long as I can keep coming up with new services and resources to offer the students, faculty, and staff that keep them saying “Wow!”, I’m showing just how useful, versatile and vital an academic library is on any campus.
Potpourri – what’s something random that’s worth knowing about you?
I am actively pursuing a side career in creative writing! Last year was the first time I was ever paid for my creative work, when I won second place in a contest for my flash fiction piece Season of the Dead.