Episode 15- Tracey Callison
1:56PM Apr 27, 2021
Hello, hello, hello, radiant listeners. Welcome to Out Loud in the Library, a Durham Tech Library podcast. I'm your host, Courtney Bippley, reference librarian extraordinaire, here today to share some library updates and an interview with fellow librarian at Durham Tech, Tracey Callison. Before we get started, I want to say how much fun it was to work on the three library fest episodes where I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Volkan Alkanoglu, Gordon C. James, and Tayari Jones. Amazing, accomplished people who are doing great things. If you missed those episodes, they will remain available, so you can go back and listen when you're ready. Today's library update is that we just added a ton of new streaming videos to our Films on Demand collection. Almost 7000 new videos covering topics like massage therapy, cosmetology, theater, dance counseling, computer science, job searching, culinary arts, hospitality, agricultural science, skilled trade, robotics, and so much more. We added these videos to help fill some gaps in our virtual content. And we hope that our faculty, staff and students find it useful. Tracy Callison is joining me today to talk about our new Spanish language collection. She spearheaded this project from the beginning and is going to walk us through the process, why our library needed this collection, and of course, what she's reading right now. Let's get started.
Tracy, Hi, thank you so much for joining me today, I am really excited to talk to you about the Spanish language collection that we have brand new in the library this semester. And I know that it was a whole process to develop this collection, there was a grant, there were multiple people involved in terms of collection development. So I really want to go through a whole process with you today so that people can know what it takes to create a whole new collection from scratch.
Cool. Well, good morning. And I'm excited to talk about it. Because it's a project that I've been wanting to do for a couple of years. I came on board with Durham Tech about three years ago, three and a half years ago now.
Oh my gosh, has it been that long?
It has been that long. And we are getting more and more students and who are trying to find materials that are written in Spanish. There are, I looked this up for my grant process, about 1200 students every year that are going through the Spanish language classes. And the other population that would be interested in our materials in Spanish are those for whom Spanish is their first language. And so we thought it would be great to have a collection that would not only provide curriculum resources for students learning Spanish, but also support for students who English might not be their strongest language. So we would make things available to them that they could also use. So yeah, I guess the process, I talked to the director Julie Humphrey about it a few years ago, and she was interested, but noncommittal. There wasn't the budget for it yet. But then she recommended that I look into one of the foundation mini grants when it came open. So we did, I got together a sort of ad hoc committee of people who would be interested in this collection. So I had representation from the Center for Global Learners. We had a couple faculty from the Spanish Languages department. We also organized to have access to a couple of students through Cambiando Caminos, the student organization, and we met a couple of times to talk about what we would want from a Spanish language collection. And this was after the letter of intent but before the the full grant application. The process is you send a letter to say this is what I would like to apply for. And then if they give you the go ahead, you write up a full proposal. So we met in between there and that really helped focus the collection. We decided for one thing that it would only be materials that were written in Spanish, not about learning Spanish. So you know, the grammar guides and all that kind of thing would not be included. They would still be in the regular collection.
Yeah, cause we do have that stuff already.
We do. Yeah, we have a, we have a ton of resources for learning Spanish. This is more of the practicing your Spanish or getting something good to read for the weekend kind of thing. So we decided not to include DVDs since those, a lot of DVDs have, you know, language dubbing or subtitles as an option. And so it'd be really difficult to figure out which ones were like original Spanish language DVDs, so we thought we would not try to do that. But we do also include things like children's picture books. And mostly it's what I would say was adult fiction reading for pleasure or for classes if there's an author that you're reading something by. But we do have some nonfiction things, cookbooks and self help books that kind of all sorts of different things that are in there. The other decision that we made was that we wanted the collection to focus on materials that originally had been written in Spanish, as opposed to focusing on translations of popular materials.
And why would that be?
Shannon Hahn, the languages coordinator, instructor, feels that students get a better grasp on learning Spanish if they're reading materials that are originally written in Spanish. You don't always know how good the translators are. And it can always be hard to translate things that are one flavor in one language into that same kind of flavor in another language. And so she just felt that it was a better resource for students if we got things that were predominantly published in Spanish first. So we did try to focus on that. We do have translations of popular items like we have Michelle Obama's book in Spanish and the Harry Potters in Spanish. But we did try to focus mostly on getting things that were originally written in Spanish.
Is the collection solely things you bought with the grant money, or is it also things we already had?
So we did already have a number of materials in Spanish. When I did first a computer search for them, it showed that we had over 500 items. But as I went through that list, and went to the shelves and went through them, it turned out that of the items that fit the criteria for the collection, we only had about 200. The rest were all like language learning resources. So those items were separated and pulled out. And then we purchased an additional 100 items in print. And we have access to, well we purchased another 70 or so items in ebook form. And we have access to over 300 more through the new collection via the dogwood collective, and overdrive, which is linked on the library's website. And in the research guide for Spanish language and literature.
Nice. People can read them online through the Libby app or listen to audiobooks. Are there any audio books in it?
There are audiobooks in it. So yes, you can get audiobooks to ebooks. So you don't have to get into the library, especially since where the Spanish collection is eventually going to be housed is still downstairs. And that's not accessible to students at this time. There is a display with the newest materials on it upstairs. So you can come in and just browse and see what we have.
The covers are so shiny and pretty.
Well that was the other thing. It's like, if all we're doing is pulling the stuff that we already have and putting in a collection. And I did that for my presentation to the foundation for the grant, I brought in a cart of things that we already had. And I'm like the average age average publication date on these is 2000. And they're, they're ratty, they're old, you know, they don't look exciting. There's some good things in there. But they don't look exciting. So part of the grant was being able to add new materials that would provide visual interest and make people excited about coming into browse through this collection.
So what was the student input like?
Well, they didn't have a lot. But what we did get, yeah, they were interested in finding things that were more current. So had been published more recently, maybe talked more about current events, and they wanted a variety of like reading difficulty levels. So early starting Spanish speakers, you know, maybe picture books are good. Although picture books can be surprisingly difficult. Since they're kind of intended for adults to read to children. The vocabulary is not always simple. But you know, we have things like collections of short stories that are written at a very, you know, kind of beginner level all the way up to you know, just regular things being published award winners that you would find in any bookstore in a Spanish speaking country.
Did you use any awards or like specifically Spanish language awards for collection development?
Honestly, I don't remember I had the Giant Spreadsheet of Doom. And there were so many different places I was trying to get information from. I think the faculty pointed me towards a few resources and collections to use as a guide. And that was really helpful. Also Ingram, our book vendor, has a list of most popular materials purchased in Spanish, for example, although a lot of those are translations. The other thing that I found useful were lists like, you know, top 10 new authors from Guatemala or, you know, South America kind of thing. So I could go through those and see what I could find access to that looked like it would be a good fit for the collection. So a lot of the newer materials we have are from sources like that.
How difficult was it doing the collection development when you're not fluent in Spanish yourself?
Right, so I had three months of full immersion, Spanish language learning in Guatemala about 15 years ago now and I've not kept it up fluently. So I feel pretty comfortable reading Spanish and, and identifying materials and being able to put them in the catalog. But I would not say that I'm fluent or you can even hold a fluint conversation in Spanish. So that does add some difficulty to selecting materials or even finding the good review sources for selecting materials. You know, since I don't read fluently, it's harder to get through like Spanish speaking web to to find those good resources as opposed to ads or that kind of thing. So it is a little challenging, I think I'd like to point out though, is that if you've had any of the basic Romance languages, so maybe you haven't studied Spanish, but you studied French, like I had two years of French in high school and that was actually really invaluable when I started learning Spanish because a lot of the vocabulary is very similar. So people probably have a greater ability to sort of browse through and look at this than they think they would just because they've never studied Spanish. So like, if you've studied French or Italian, you know, you have a pretty good grasp on basic Spanish.
What are you envisioning for the collection going forward.
So our next step now that we've actually we just completed the last order for materials in Spanish with grant funds. And we are so thankful to the Foundation for providing these funds. Like I said, it allowed us to completely refresh the collection and add a number of ebook titles to it as well. Those have all been cataloged, they're processed there on the shelf, the next step is to have the library open. So people can actually browse the collection, which was the aim really to start is one of the other reasons we did this collection was that it was really hard to just find the things in Spanish in our collection
It's a quirk of the system, the software that we use, that is just you can't just say show me everything in Spanish. And that's a really bad quirk. It was hard to work around. Just one of the reasons this collection really was kind of invaluable. So now they're all in one place, you can go and just browse through grab something that that catches your interest going forward, we'll have that available. The library has bookmarked funds to continue adding to the collection, both ebooks and print books, depending on usage. So we yeah, we intend to see how people are using the collection. If most of our usage are things like ebooks and audio books, then that's where we're going to focus our efforts going forward with the collection. So part of it just depends on how students are using it, or faculty are using it. The other thing we need to do is marketing. As you can imagine being closed for COVID has changed a lot of things about how we thought we would market the collection and announce it. But this podcast is part of making people aware of it. There's also been a really good blog post about the collection. So yeah, we just need to continue to get the word out to faculty and students that now we have this great resource it's available.
Happy to provide a promotional outlet. Is the grant process over now you've spent all your funds? Do you have to keep statistics on how often the books are used or anything like that?
We plan to do that just as part of evaluating the collection and how it's being used. And that is something that we mentioned we would be keeping to make sure that going forward, the collection stayed relevant. But the grant process itself is complete. I've submitted a final report, summarizing everything that was done for the grants, all of the materials have been spent. And they've all arrived at the library, there's a few books that I still need to get into the collection. And then the grant as it is, is complete. So that from start to finish, it was about a year. And that was a slower process just because of COVID. You know, we had planned to be able to start this, get the materials, get them on the shelves, and be out within a number of months. Instead it turned into a year just because of all the difficulties. And the foundation office was really great and giving us extensions and working with us so that we didn't have to worry about that on top of everything else with COVID.
Yes, COVID made everything harder, especially because when we were all working from home, it was basically impossible to browse the collection because the software does not allow you to do that. If someone is now looking for books in this collection now that they've all been sort of separated out and put into their own designation, is there an easier way to find it in the catalog?
There's two places you can look right now primarily for materials in Spanish. One is the ebook collection that we were talking about on overdrive, the dogwood collective and that is very easy to limit to things that are in Spanish that is simply one filter. And you can get everything in Spanish we have access to. If you log in, you make sure you get access to everything that Durham Tech has paid for specifically for our students. That's about another 70 items of very high interesting material. So I do encourage people to get logged in before they search our collection itself. The browsing collection physically is going to be the best way to go through it because our catalog still does not support doing things separately in Spanish. But the other thing that we've done is created some finding aids to find those materials. So we have two Research Guides. One separates out Spanish language materials by the national origin of the writer. There are some projects faculty are doing that they want someone to find, for example, a Dominican writer or Mexican author, Puerto Rican. And so we have a LibGuide research guide where those are broken out by geography. So you can browse through those collections and see a lot of what we have. The other thing that we will be doing is books are in special collection on the shelf. They're also searchable by that collection in the computer if you can run reports. So I'm going to do that and create a spreadsheet that you'll be able to browse through which unfortunately, still the only way other than in person to really go through the collection see what we have in Spanish. It's just unfortunate that our catalog system does not support easy search for that.
I always ask everyone at the end of the interview. What was the last book you read?
Oh, The last book I read, I've been rereading the Murderbot Diaries because the new book comes out this week. And I'm very excited about it. So I've read the first four novellas, and one novel plus occasional short stories. Tor.com actually just put up one of the short stories that had been locked before, so you can now read it for free.
Um, send me the link please. I did not know about this.
Yeah, yeah, I get their newsletter. And they send all kinds of fun stuff in their newsletter. But I did, I did see that. So yeah, Murderbot Diaries, which I highly recommend, and the library has in full so far.
Oh, yeah. Our library in general is a big supporter of the Murderbot Diaries. It sounds like a weird thing to be a supporter of. But trust me.
It's one of those books that you hand it to someone and say, "No, read this, you'll like it." And they're like murderbot, really? Like no, read it. You'll like it. And everybody likes it.
Yes, you don't have to be a science fiction fan. It's a very human, character driven story. But it also has action elements and fun elements and humor.
So much humor murderbot is so funny in that very dry sense.
And this year, it also accounts for two reading challenge categories, the short book and the book in space. So,
Just putting that out there for everyone.
That sounds great. What are you reading Courtney?
This weekend? I read in one day, because I was so excited. The newest Becky Chambers book, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. It was great. It was so good. I'm huge fan of Becky Chambers. I love all of her sci fi books. They are low stakes, quiet, character driven, incredible world building, and full of compassion, which is rare, I think in sci fi in general.
Yeah, well, and it's very found family, which is like finding the people that become your emotional center and grounding. Didn't necessarily grow up with that. So, but finding that community is always really nice to read. I like those kind of books.
Yes, but I thought it was great. I highly recommend Becky Chambers in general. Thank you so much for joining me, I'm really excited about this new collection. And I'm also really excited about the new murderbot book. So...
I want to encourage the listeners, you know, if you have suggestions for any of our collections, including the Spanish language collection or ebooks that you would like us to add to the collection, please let the library know. We do prioritize requests just because it's a guaranteed person interested in this item. That which is more than we have to go on a lot of the time. So please do recommend, request. You know, reach out to see if we have something. we like finding books for people.
We like finding books for people. That's like our thing.
We love it. Yeah.
Thank you again to Tracy for joining me on the podcast and for helping us add materials to support our students and community. When you get the chance come browse the new Spanish language collection. We do have all the murder bought books by Martha wells at our library and the first book in the wayfair series by Becky Chambers is available in the dogwood digital collection. I will link to it in the show notes. If you're doing the reading challenge. You can find the categories on our blog and I will also link to that in the show notes. There's going to be a prize at the end of the year and COVID willing a celebration in person. Have a radiant day.