Library Receives Grant; Restores Competency Workshops

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The GCC library has restored its information literacy workshops, thanks in part to a Title V grant that the department received almost a month after it had canceled most of its classes due to budget cuts affecting the college.

Library workshops for the spring semester began Monday.

The workshops were canceled at the beginning of the semester due to budget cuts that have forced the library to cut its hours, freeze expenditures on books and supplies and cut librarian hours in half. The cancellation of library workshops was a particularly difficult program to cut, given that some teachers require their students to take the workshops for credit. They are also a vital aspect of students’ knowledge on how to conduct research.

Title V is a grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to colleges with a Latino enrollment of 25 percent or more.

“I think there’s a lot of feeling on campus from the instructors, in all kinds of disciplines that these [workshops] are really good for their students,” said McKernan.

The library has received about $10,500, of which $4,590 came from Title V and $6,000 from the supplies budget, according to Vice President of Instructional Services Steve White.

“We’re very lucky,” said workshop coordinator and GCC librarian Deborah Moore.

During a typical semester, the library usually holds about 13 weeks of workshops. The library received funds from Title V for 11 weeks of workshops. Moore said the difference of two weeks is not a big loss since most workshop sessions are usually not filled during the first few weeks of the semester. However, the Library will not be holding workshops on Saturdays.

“That is a real disservice to students who could only come at that time,” Moore said.

Moore cautioned that, with the library workshops reinstated, students need to sign up as soon as possible, especially if it is a class requirement to attend. Chances of being admitted to a workshop diminish during the second half of the semester, when many students try to sign up at the last minute.

“We worked very hard to build up this program,” said Moore. “If it goes away completely — which is possible that it will next year — it will be difficult to start up again.” Moore is unsure if the library will receive funding to keep the workshop program in the fall.

According to Moore, the first phase of the workshops program began through a three-year Fund for Student Success grant. The GCC library has spent the better half of those three years building the library workshops program – one of the largest in the state.

“We slowly built this program,” said Moore. “To have it go away, you’d have to start all over again. We have all the content in place, but we’d have to rebuild the structure and rebuild the people to teach the workshops.”

Moore said the GCC Academic Senate provided funds to the library to continue the second phase of the program which would have involved designing three new workshops that would center on literary criticism for English classes and student research in the social sciences. But with the current cuts, she is not sure.

The library was chosen to receive the funds due to the immediate impact to students. Dean of Library and Learning Resources Ruth McKernan said some instructors have the workshops integrated into their curriculum as a requirement of their respective classes.

“They know it [workshops] works,” said McKernan.

McKernan also said that students who take the workshops typically receive higher grades in their courses.

It is through these workshops that instructors know students will have the ability to do research on their own, “and they do a better job at it,” said McKernan.

“It’s an important college objective for our students to come out of here, not just with the content of their class, but with skills that take them through life,” said English instructor and Title V coordinator Sue Brinkmeyer.

“With information doubling … you can’t memorize the information. You have to be able to find that information when you need it. Research skills and information competency are a basic skill as much as reading and writing and computation.”

“They wanted to help us because it’s so important to the instructors in different departments,” said McKernan.

“In order to achieve the objectives that I told the federal government I was going to achieve with the federal money, I needed the library workshops,” said Brinkmeyer.

Brinkmeyer said the Title V objectives involve making sure students leave the college with lifelong learning skills such as those taught in the library workshops, for example.

Brinkmeyer does not want to fund the library workshops by cutting classes to provide more money, and since funds are not available from the state, the administration will have to find other sources of revenue for next year.

White said that, in the interest of continuity, the administration will be applying for additional grants to fund the library workshops for the fall.

There will be no workshops for the summer. However, Brinkmeyer is quick to point out that it is never safe to assume anything. Summer funding is possible.

“The big question that remains is, what’s going to happen next year?” McKernan said.