Award honors librarian’s effort to expand student access


John Walsh, director of library services at Cochise College, was recently chosen to receive the 2017 Community College Learning Resources Leadership Award.

This award, which was presented by the Association of College and Research Libraries, recognizes significant achievement in the areas of community college leadership.

Walsh has been at Cochise College for 16 years and has worked as director of library services for the past 4 years. Currently, he manages the everyday operations of Cochise College libraries.

“The main reason I received this award was because of the role I played in the development of the Arizona Community College Library Consortium,” said Walsh.

Walsh established the Community College Library Consortium to help Arizona community colleges work together and increase students’ access to information and to improve library services. The consortium took 18 months to finally form before the group held their first meeting under the leadership of Walsh in April 2017. Walsh says the partnership has definitely paid off.

“The initial motivation for forming a consortium was to pool buying powers so we could get discounts from library vendors. Library resources are acquired by so many dollars per FTE. When you buy with the small FTE like Cochise College you pay about $15 per FTE, but when you buy with an FTE of 90,000, like all the community colleges in Arizona, you pay about $2 per FTE. For instance, we used to have about seven bibliographic data-bases, and now we have over 100 thanks to the consortium,” said Walsh. “…And I believe that having access to this quantity and diversity of resources will be one of the variables that improves student success.”

More than 10 members of the consortium nominated Walsh for the award because of his demonstration of hard work and leadership.

“The committee members were immediately impressed by the 10 letters of support that John Walsh received, all of which praised him for the initiative he showed in the creation of a community college consortium in Arizona,” said award co-chairs Abbie Basile of Tidewater Community College and Sandra McCarthy of Washtenaw Community College. “The fact that he was successful in bringing every community college together in a consortium to improve library buying power and other collaboration opportunities demonstrates his impressive leadership, communication, and organizational skills. The committee is pleased to offer Walsh this award in recognition of this great achievement.”

Walsh was presented with the $750 award and plaque, donated by EBSCO Information Services, at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

“It was an honor to receive the award,” said Walsh. “However, the college and our leadership are just as deserving of this award as I am, if it weren’t for the reputation and integrity of the college and the advocacy of our president, the consortium would still be an idea instead of a formalized organization.”

Cochise College operates two physical libraries with a robust online collection of ebooks, streaming media, and articles. Both of the libraries are open to the public and there are community outreach events that take place all throughout the year. You can find out more about Cochise College library services at https://www.cochise.edu/library/.