February 2004    


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  Meet the Librarian

Sierra College Library
Brian Haley
Dean, Library/Learning Resource Center
Sierra College Library

Sierra College
Rocklin, California

Brian is the Dean of the Library/Learning Resource Center (LRC) at Sierra College's library in Rocklin, California. He is responsible for the areas of reference, acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, audiovisual, tutoring, bibliographic instruction, instructional computing support, several computer labs, and distance learning, both online and live television classes. His job is to try to integrate the operations of all of these areas to provide the best possible academic support to students and faculty.

Brian has worked at this library for seven years. Previously, he worked for Butte Community College as the Director of Library Services. Brian holds a Bachelor of Art and a Master of Art degree in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature from Harvard University. He also holds a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Drexel University. "I always emphasized academic libraries and loved to work with rare books," Brian recalls of his educational pursuits.

His love of learning and desire to help people and solve problems drove Brian to pursue a career in librarianship. When asked about the best part of his job, Brian exclaims, "Constant variety of the challenges faced-nothing ever stays the same in this business!"

"Being the LRC director is great," exclaims Brian. "We provide support for all college programs in both instruction and job training. People on campus like to see us because we come bearing gifts." Sierra College does not yet have an information competency graduation requirement, but reference librarians provide training for students and faculty and see anywhere from 3,000-4,000 students per year in library orientation classes and for individual assistance.

"Technology is changing faster and faster," Brian says of the changes he's watched at Sierra College over the years. "Good technical support is so important, as are frequent software and hardware upgrades. We work hard at keeping up." Brian tries to maintain a good balance between his print and electronic resources budget each year. He also ensures that his staff is trained in order to maintain high morale and keep up with the technological changes.

Brian believes that it is critical for all of the areas in the library to work together well in order to increase the effectiveness of the entire operation. He gives this example: "Distance Learning and the Testing and Tutoring Center work closely together and Technical Support tries to extend as many resources as possible electronically to students' homes. Instructional Computing supports both traditional and distance learning faculty."

Brian uses a personal approach to engage patrons to visit the library. "I try to get to know everyone who works for the college. I try to anticipate what they might need and then talk to them. This outreach tends to make them more likely to come into the Library and the LRC to learn more about our resources and services."

"One of the unique offerings at our library is our electronic reserves," Brian explains. The library offers faculty members the ability to create their own web page to post class information, course notes, tests, and assignments. Faculty can submit information to be scanned to their web page and direct students to the web address. "This saves paper, preserves academic freedom, and ensures that each page has the same look and layout for consistency."

Books are still the most popular material for patrons at Sierra College. Brian notes, however, that electronic journal article use is increasing rapidly. On the subject of e-books, Brian indicated that they currently own a permanent collection, but that the interface is not that great. "I think they have a good future, but students will most likely be using them as study supplements instead of reading an entire book online."

On the topic of challenges facing community college libraries, Brian thinks that, "the highest challenge is to remain enthusiastic and hopeful about one's work in spite of terrible fluctuations in the budget from year to year and not enough classified staff and librarians." Brian suggests that there is a tradeoff when faced with budget problems. "We have to choose between cutting hours to save money on staffing, or cutting the materials budget by not buying many new resources." At this time, they have chosen to preserve their collection and temporarily cut back on some of the hours. However, he expects hours to increase next fall. While he may still face cuts, he doesn't want to let staff go.

He has a very bright and uplifting outlook for those experiencing these problems: "To meet this challenge, it helps to be positive, cheerful, and committed to the inspiring mission of improving lives (and society at large) through education."

In closing, Brian remarked that it is a challenging and exciting time to be in business. "We have to be on top of things, keep on going and adjust as necessary. It is a fast-changing time and this is not a sleepy profession. There is a need for what we do."

Sierra College is a fully accredited, two-year community college located in north central California and serving Placer, Nevada and portions of El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Sierra College has a national reputation based on excellence in such academic areas as Computer Science, Math, Electronics, Nursing, and Early Childhood Education. They are in the top 1% of United States community colleges in awarding Associate Degrees - 4th in California. They also have the only nationally accredited community college Student Health Center. You can visit Sierra College online at http://www.sierracollege.edu/ and the library website at http://lrc.sierracollege.edu/.