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Meet the TATIL Advisory Board: Monica Lopez

Photo of Monica Lopez
Monica Lopez, Librarian/Associate Professor and Acquisitions and Collection Development Coordinator at Cerritos College

Monica joined the Advisory Board for the Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy in 2017. Learn how Monica values the diverse backgrounds of her students and uses her own cultural experiences to connect and engage.

Question #1: Please tell us about your job. 

I am currently a full-time Librarian/Associate Professor and Acquisitions and Collection Development Coordinator at Cerritos College. Cerritos College is a community college in Norwalk, California and is one of the largest community colleges in Los Angeles County. I have been part of the Cerritos College campus community since 2004. My role as a faculty member and librarian is to provide high-quality, academically rigorous instruction in a comprehensive curriculum that respects the diversity represented in our student body and region. 

In addition to coordinating responsibilities in the library, I have taught an introductory library research course as a standalone course and through the Learning Community Program (First Year Experience). I have also taught with the PUENTE Program (puente means bridge in Spanish) which is a National Model for Student Success. I was a pioneer on campus by being part of the first campus to teach an introduction to library research course in The PUENTE Program in California. I have worked closely with my colleagues in the Learning Community Program to provide instruction in using our online research databases for specific assignments for English and Counseling courses. I firmly believe in bridging the gaps that students might encounter while attending community college by engaging in interdisciplinary programs and providing rich learning experiences.

Q: What is one thing that you love about your job?

One of my favorite parts of working in an academic library is meeting and connecting with students and helping them find what they need. In the library, I provide general and discipline specific reference assistance to faculty, students, and the campus community in person, via phone, e-mail, and instant message/chat. Over the years, consultations with patrons have taught me that what I have chosen as a career is extremely rewarding. 

Q. Please tell us about a project you are currently working on.

There are a few projects that I am concurrently working on in the library. I am part of a team of staff from the library and from Disabled Student Programs and Services that is informing academic departments about library online video streaming service subscriptions and the importance of universal design. I am not an expert in UD but I have taken the lead in recommending that faculty on campus ensure video they provide to their students is properly captioned and accessible. More notably, I have been working as a co-lead of a Standard IIB: Student Learning Programs and Support Services for the 2020 Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) visit to Cerritos College. The dean of the Library and Student Success, the program assistant for Advanced Transportation, and myself are responsible for the institutional self-evaluation report (ISER). Thus far, I have assembled the working team which began collecting evidence for the deliverable for the ACCJC visiting team. Previously I took the lead to locate assessment tools to evaluate the Cerritos College collection and the services we provide to the faculty in response to a recommendation made by the ACCJC visiting team from 2014. My objective in that project was to work with faculty, staff and students to enhance the library’s collection of resources, improve the library as a place to study, conduct statistical analysis of those resources in the collection, and evaluate the impact of those resources on student success. We continue to assess information literacy as well as develop tools to measure the efficacy of the collection.

Q: Do you teach? How has your approach to teaching changed since you started your career?

My style of teaching brings enthusiasm, sharing of cultural elements, and utilizing humor in the classroom to increase learning. I teach very openly and that helps my students interact with me. I am approachable! I enjoy guiding students through the learning process rather than just being the authority or sage on the stage. In my teaching, I use my own cultural background and personal experiences to guide me as I teach my students to be effective first generation students. More importantly, I stress that each student, regardless of ethnic or socioeconomic background, appreciate one another’s language and culture. I engage with best practices in teaching core subjects while also being an advocate for social justice in the classroom. 

My teaching objective as an instructor in library research and information literacy is to motivate my students toward becoming self-sufficient. It’s important for my students to try and reach a level of self-efficacy, to want to learn, and to think for themselves. They need to prepare themselves to be a successful college student. In addition, I want them to begin to think about life after attending a community college. For example, instead of just reading lessons about research or listening to me lecture, I utilize problem and project based learning teaching methods. For instance, instead of me teaching them about certain areas of the library, I team them up in groups and assign them to report back to the class concepts and ideas about the library. Through this type of active participation students learn and form community, encouraging critical thinking and motivation to keep learning. 

To be an effective teacher, I find that as I prepare curricula I consider and value the diverse experiences of my students. This can be as simple as knowing a little bit about every student and why they have chosen to be at a community college. I have found that it is important to acknowledge and show that I value what students are already bringing to the classroom. This only reinforces the theme of social justice. Of course, over the years, like most college instructors, I have integrated technology as a tool or supplement to teaching and learning. Technology in the classroom can be used to address different learning styles or to create a productive learning environment. Technology is also a great way to increase student motivation. I teach a hybrid library course and this format allows me to use class time and outside classroom time to teach my students about library research. 

Q: What types of information literacy assessment have you done?

In the past, I collaborated with my colleagues in the library to create basic and informal information literacy assessment tools to help gauge student learning, guide our choices for the curriculum development of those courses and instruction sessions, and help us make informed selections for our collections that ultimately support student learning across the campus community. One of my main goals is to learn from my colleagues on the TATIL Advisory Board and to begin creating formative information literacy assessments for Cerritos College.

Q: Why did you join the TATIL Advisory Board?

I decided to join the TATIL Advisory Board after I had participated in the testing of the Threshold Achievement Tests. I wanted to learn more about formative assessments for information literacy for a community college library as well as have access to library professionals that have had experience with creating them. As a community college librarian I am trying to be more proactive in my own professional development and learn more about information literacy and formal assessments.  

Thank you, Monica!