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The For-profit college library landscape

July 26, 2011

I’ve spent many an hour searching the internet for content on career college libraries.  I was largely unsuccessful.  With the exception of a few small pockets of places I haven’t found any large amount of resources for us just quietly hanging out online.  I still can almost not believe it.  Most librarians I’ve known, or read from, seem by and large misunderstood and underrepresented by other professions and certainly by the public.  This is that times 100. No matter where I looked nothing quiet fit.  We aren’t quiet public libraries, but certainly not a traditional academic (particularly not those only offering associates or lower level degrees i.e.)  We aren’t a corporate library, but not a school library either.  What are we???

As a new professional right out of library  it was disorienting to not be able to latch on to something I could model.  It was discouraging too.  Equally surprising to me was the awareness that not all librarians in career college libraries had a traditional terminal degree in library science aka, MLS.  The sector is filled with paraprofessionals.  College level English teachers that are doing all they know how to do to run a library pretty much on their own.  I was amazed and humbled by these individuals.  It has changed some of my ideas on what is needed in library school curriculum (but that’s a future post).

So what did I find is the question.  My search included a mish mash of associations, discussion groups, colleagues and various websites.  This post will list what I have found so far and any experience I have had with them.

Let’s start with the big boys: ALA – American Library Association.  My experience has been pretty hit or miss with the ALA, though they do have an absolutely FABULOUS discussion group; Librarianship in For-Profit Educational Institutions sponsored by ACRL (that’s Association of College and Research Libraries for all you non-librarian readers out there).   I have personally found that it’s all in the division or round table.  One thing the ALA has improved on (or maybe I’m just better at finding them now) is virtual workshop.  ALA TechSource has great workshops that seem to be on topics I enjoy.  What’s missing; statistics and metrics for our sector of librarianship.  Some of the statistics generated from ACRL aren’t as helpful to career colleges.  I hopeful that the ALA will begin to offer more to our small sector especially as career colleges continue to grow in the U.S. and I’m looking for ways to become a part of those conversations.

A colleague of mine suggested I checkout SLA – Special Library Association and I was very happy with the activity going on there.  They have a very active LinkedIn group too and the virtual component to the 2011 conference was great.  What’s great about SLA is they tend to have more resources geared to the “solo librarian” which many of us may be.  And sometimes a corporate library perspective can make things a little more clear when you are straddling the line between school and business.  SLA often offers a fresh and nontraditional way of looking at things which can be really helpful

I’ve heard good things about Computers in Libraries magazine through Information Today, Inc. (through the listserv mentioned above) though I’ve not ever had a subscription myself.

A search on Google will turn up an article from called Career College Libraries: the good, the bad and the ugly / Melissa Aho. The article talks about the pluses and minuses of career college librarianship and whether or not to take a position in that environment.  You can also find an article titled, Career college librarians introduce themselves: fringe librarianship / Melissa Aho, Erika Bennett, Susan Wakefield.  This article mentions the Minnesota Career College Association Libraries and though I wasn’t able to find anything from the MCCAL online I did locate another blogger out there called Career College Librarians.  I tried to email the author of that blog (Cindy Dee) but wasn’t able to.  Cindy – if you’re out there let us know!  That blog also mentioned the MCCAL but stated that it had been inactive for a few years.

So that’s it.  That’s what I found.  Honestly the best resource I’ve seen is the discussion board through Librarianship in For-Profit Educational Institutions.  The board is active and they are starting to talk about a possible conference in the future.  Can’t wait to be a part of that!!

What about you?  Do you have a secret resource out there that is really great?  Share where you go to get your good information.

I found several Melissa Ahos online but wasn’t certain who was responsible for the content talked about in this article.  If you are her please let me know.  Someone by that name is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, works for the University of Minnesota Bio-Medical Library and is the president of Ultra Geothermal Inc.  🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nathan permalink
    July 26, 2011 5:52 pm

    Thanks for this article. This is very helpful to me as a career college librarian myself. I especially appreciate the links to the other articles- those have certainly resonated with my experiences too. I would be very interested to know about the ALA’s Librarianship in For-Profit Educational Institutions group and any conference plans they may have. Also, the Career College Librarians of Minnesota group no longer seems to be active. That’s a shame as it looked like the only such group I had heard of and I was interested in meeting with them for any conferences they may have as well. Thank you for the resources though.

    • July 27, 2011 1:20 am

      Nathan, I’m so glad you found something useful here. I agree that we need more places to go to work with and learn from each other. I will certainly continue to post anything I find interesting and please don’t hesitate to share your information too! Thank you.

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