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Community Engagement and Service Learning


Criss Library supports and contributes to the University's outreach and partnership efforts to improve local, urban, regional, national and global life. The library contributes through a number of support, outreach, community engagement, and service learning projects.  For more information on current or recent projects or how to partner with Criss Library, please contact the Dean’s office.

Current Projects

Girl's Inc. of Omaha
Girls, Inc is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring girls and serving in high-risk, underserved areas. Girls, Inc. of Omaha has two locations in the Omaha area serving girls from ages 5 - 18 with educational and recreational programs that address math and science education, pregnancy, drug abuse and violence prevention, and many other issues that confront young people today.

The two Girls, Inc. locations each contain a room of books which are available for the girls to use and read. The books are organized by age group and are not available for checkout. As a community engagement project, the librarians at UNO's Criss Library are working with the Girls, Inc. Director of Programs and the Teacher’s Education, Library Science Department faculty to organize and develop projects to create a working and sustainable library and both locations. Our goal is to have a library with books which are easy to find, check out and be read by any girl in the organization.

The UNO/UMC (University of Missouri - Columbia) Library Science Department is incorporating the work that needs to be accomplished at Girls, Inc. into Library Science classes. For example, the library management class will work on the floor layout and organization of shelving, books and computers. The cataloging class will catalog and label the books and the collection class will work on building a collection relevant for the patron audience. Ultimately, we will all work toward assisting Girls, Inc. in taking over the day-to-day operation of their future libraries.

Recent Projects

Sibling Institution UNAN, Leon, Nicaragua
In the summer of 2008, The Criss Library initiated a unique opportunity to extend electronic library services to the faculty researchers/UNO adjunct faculty from the Department of English at Universidad Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN/León). From July 5-13, 2008, Marvel Maring, Fine Arts and Humanities Librarian trained 13 faculty for fours hours each of five days on how to access the Criss Library electronic resources. She continues to provide research assistance to UNAN researchers from a distance using LibGuides and email reference.

LibraryThing Tagging of Multicultural Literature in the Criss Catalog
To increase student accessibility to the Juvenile and Young Adult collections, the library collaborated with three literacy faculty from the College of Education on a service learning project to incorporate more relevant and education-appropriate subject identifiers for the children's and young adult literature. The faculty members teach young adult literature, Spanish language arts and multicultural literature. Each assigned their students to read select books from the two collections and then add educationally and culturally relevant social tags to titles in the social networking site, LibraryThing. The faculty were very enthusiastic and realized that discussion on social tagging could facilitate their students' understanding of the books and how they could be used in an educational setting.

The education librarian met with each class early in the semester. At each session, a demonstration of the library catalog was given with a description of the service need. Next LibraryThing was demonstrated and instructions given on adding social tags to the relevant books. Students in the young adult literature class were intrigued to be asked to contribute using a new technology. The students in the Spanish language class were appreciative of the fact that they could contribute culturally relevant terminology to the library catalog and created bilingual tagging.

The number of books read and described by each student varied according to their class. Students in the young adult literature class were assigned two books each as they were reading longer texts. The Spanish language arts class was reading mostly picture books so they read sixteen each. The professors required some books to be read by more than one person as a way of using the social tags to generate discussion. See sample record with library thing tags.

Proceeds from Semi-Annual Scholastic Book Fair provides books for

  • Liberty Elementary School, Omaha, NE
  • Open Door Mission, Omaha NE
  • Douglas County Correctional Facility