San Juan College library director wins award
Library Director Christopher Schipper was selected in part for his work in establishing a pilot program to lend mobile hot spots to students to complete coursework
FARMINGTON – A statewide academic library organization has selected the San Juan College library director as librarian of the year for his work in helping students gain Internet access with the use of mobile hot spots.
Director of Library Services Christopher Schipper was selected as the New Mexico Academic Librarian of the Year by the New Mexico Consortium of Academic Libraries (NMCAL) earlier this summer.
Schipper was nominated for his leadership roles in the organization and for his successful implementation of a mobile hot spot program, according to an NMCAL press release.
The library launched the hot spot program last year through which the library staff lends 10 hot spot devices and data plans for colleges students to use for a week at a time.
Schippper said it was great to receive the award, and he thanked the library staff for its critical role in launching the program.
“We could have never gotten it off the ground without the staff that I've got here,” Schipper said.
Internet access for college students has become increasingly important as the library shifts toward using more digital resources and as more coursework is submitted electronically to instructors.
Schipper said some students face significant hurdles to complete their course work when they don’t have Internet access at home.
“We have to look at more than just the resources themselves. We have to look at access to those resources,” Schipper said. "For students who do not have network access, those resources don’t do them a bit of good.”
NMCAL member Peg Johnson said Schipper's award was a well-deserved recognition for his work. Johnson, the library director at Santa Fe Community College, said she believes the mobile hot spot project is first of its kind in the county and is necessary to help students in need.
"It's crucial. They can't succeed in higher (education) without it," Johnson said.
The program received five new mobile hot spots in January, bringing the total number of devices to 15. Funding for the program is provided by the San Juan College Foundation.
Figures provided by Schipper show the hot spots had been loaned 546 times as of Wednesday. He added the figure could be higher, but the usage information for one hot spot had been lost.
When the program was launched last year, students were limited to one gigabyte of data to use for a week on the Verizon Wireless cellular network. The library was able to renegotiate its contract with Verizon Wireless to increase the data limit to 10 gigabytes for a student to use in one week.
Schipper said the hot spot program is still in a pilot phase. He hopes to someday have enough devices to loan to students for an entire semester at a time.
"Because the Internet plays such an important and central role in our lives today, my hope is that the NMCAL award might draw some attention to the significant barriers that the digital divide causes for far too many," Schipper said.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.