-An interview with Gabriela Nocito, Director of the Learning Commons
How have Skyline College library services changed during our campus closures?
Gabriela: “While the Library is unfortunately physically closed, we’ve actually been able to stay open “virtually” according to our usual Fall hours. Folks can get help from librarians as well as technical support by using the Library’s Chat service, put in place a few years back and more recently improved. The live Chat allows students, staff and faculty to text or meet via zoom for one-on-one research support with a librarian or make an appointment for a future date. In this way, the Library has been able to continue serving our community 65 hours/week.”
What about books? Are they available or not?
Gabriela: “Students and instructors are accustomed to relying on the Library’s reserve system to provide required texts to students who choose not to purchase them. In the new environment, Skyline librarians are assisting students in other ways, for example by locating free copies of e-books, purchasing e-books for our permanent collection (log in as you would to Canvas), directing students to our Bookstore and other book rental sites, and connecting students to free resources available at local public libraries for curbside pickup.”
“Skyline College library also provides one-on-one support and encouragement for faculty who are considering adopting online OER (Open Educational Resources) as free or low cost alternatives to the textbooks they usually assign. Faculty Services Librarian Ame Maloney works with faculty to identify and select high quality, openly available, no-cost online texts and materials. It’s not too late to reach out to Ame for support for your Fall courses at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.”
What’s different for faculty instructors?
Gabriela: “In the past faculty would arrange to bring their classes to the Library for orientations and workshops taught by librarians. We’ve been able to continue this service virtually with librarians “embedded” in online courses or supporting faculty information literacy instruction in other ways. For synchronous and asynchronous teaching this Fall, it’s not too late for faculty to submit an instruction request. We aim to be as flexible as possible! New Skyline faculty are encouraged to make an appointment for a library orientation as well.”
The Library used to offer programs like the Human Library. Will these continue?
Gabriela: “Yes, during Spring the Library successfully hosted the Human Library, poetry readings and other events virtually via Zoom for the first time. In fact, many libraries have contacted us requesting guidance to host the Human Library virtually on their campuses. Stay tuned for email announcing our Fall events and programs.”
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a Director? Gabriela: “Planning ahead is certainly complicated with so much in flux. Most recently, the fires throughout Northern California have necessitated campus closures that interfered with students’ appointments to pick up technology. However, I would also say that the resulting cross-district collaborations have been amazing, as well as crucial, during these days of uncertainty.”
How do you think you’ll look back on this time a few years from now?
Gabriela: “What these times have provided me with is with a much clearer understanding of what our students really need. I’ve also had an opportunity to question and examine many of our library rules and procedures. In many ways, circumstances resulting from the pandemic have emphasized the need to remain flexible and think outside the box to find solutions.”