Community colleges are comprehensive institutions that provide a full array of educational programs. Library programs, as part of that full array, are indispensable to the teaching/learning mission of the community college. In today’s world, libraries are not just a place, because many library resources and services are online and accessible from anywhere. Community colleges continue to need libraries as a physical space, as long as students need assistance to conquer the digital or information divide and there is a need to house and provide access to materials not available electronically. Whether the term used is Library, Learning Resource Center, or Instructional Resource Center, it describes a set of programs and services that provide an organized universe of knowledge to users. Library programs have long served a vital role in the mission of the community college. In fact, the concept of the learning resource center—one of creatively merging access to traditional library services with media and instructional support--had its genesis in the community college. From the beginning, library programs have promoted dynamic and efficient access to knowledge for all learners. Indeed, the management of these varied learning resources using limited budgets, consortial arrangements, and internal and external partnerships has added complexity, technical sophistication, and greater economic responsibility to librarians who staff these centers.
The term librarian describes a professional member of the academic community with, at a minimum, an appropriate master’s degree in the disciplines of library science and information management. Librarianship is uniquely structured and systematized by its professional members to serve the constantly changing knowledge management needs of students, faculty, and the local community. The library profession has long shown exceptional and immediate responsiveness to managing access to widely diverse knowledge resources. Today more than ever, librarians are educators and teachers of information literacy for faculty and students, as well as the local and worldwide community. A growing percentage of information resources are digital (online indexes, full-text databases, websites, e-books and e-journals). Yet this new format will not replace the large number of useful knowledge resources that will continue to be in print (e.g. books, newspapers, periodicals and other documents), or to be available in magnetic and optical media (e.g. tapes, CDs, DVDs). In collaboration and partnership with other faculty, librarians teach members of the community the information literacy skills necessary to access and to evaluate critically the myriad of available resources.
Learning resources programs that provide information literacy skills are essential to the development of the independent lifelong learner. Tenets of information literacy include the ability to:
- Determine the nature and extent of information needed
- Access and use needed information effectively and efficiently
- Evaluate information and its sources critically, and incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base and value system
- Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
- Understand many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information.
Libraries and librarians help to establish the foundation on which all lifelong learners can build. An information-literate person has the ability to be a knowledgeable, active participant in the workforce, the community and the democratic society in which we live.
For these reasons, the Board reaffirms the vital role of library and learning resource center programs and librarians to formal education, information literacy and to lifelong learning as a core value.
Approved by the AACC Board of Directors November 8, 2002