October 6, 2015

Cathryne Kaufman & Brittany Dudek | Movers & Shakers 2014 — Marketers




Library Services Director
Illinois Central College, East Peoria

DEGREE MSLIS, University of Illinois, 2009


Electronic Resources Librarian
Illinois Central College, East Peoria

MLIS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2011

Framed “Live with intention” quote by Mary Anne Radmacher—a present from Dudek’s mother


forwardfocusconference.com; www.facebook.com/ForwardFocusConference

Photo by Photography by Megan

Forward Focused

Having worked in both academic and public libraries, Cathryne Kaufman (r.) and Brittany Dudek view community college librarianship as a specialty all its own. “No one is denied admission to Illinois Central College [ICC],” says library services director Kaufman. “Our students have different needs.” Beyond that, she says, “We serve the community as a whole but also our students and faculty and staff.” That’s a tall order, but these two have proven they are up to it.

Janice Kinsinger, associate dean of instructional innovation and learning at ICC, says that in a relatively short time—Kaufman and Dudek joined forces in 2011 when the latter was hired as an electronic resources librarian—the duo have “spearheaded…the transformation” of a traditional community college library into a “progressive…learning center.” They’ve instituted embedded librarians, ebooks and films on demand, virtual chat, interactive hands-on library skills and literacy instruction, space for student and group study, and much more. Now, says Kinsinger, they’re on to phase two, a remodel and new building at the three-campus school. “They willingly share their talents, energetic enthusiasm, and professional synergy for [the good of] our community college students, faculty, and staff….”

That enthusiasm to share extends to the profession of community college librarians as well, says Kinsinger. Inspired by a June 2012 conversation Dudek had with Lori Bell and Tom Peters (2004 and 2005 Movers & Shakers, respectively), Dudek and Kaufman realized that most community college librarians spend their professional development dollars on conferences and training opportunities that cater largely to public libraries and four-year academic institutions. “We did a survey to see if other community college librarians felt there weren’t community college–specific professional development opportunities,” says Dudek. They did. “So we took the information and ran.”

In barely five months, the duo, without a formal marketing budget or experience, launched ForwardFocus, a national professional development event for community college librarians, on November 2, 2012. While the initial conference was small but successful, by year two, Dudek and Kaufman tripled attendance, both on-site and virtual, to 153 participants in 25 states. “We had enormous support from various departments of the college,” says Kaufman. In 2013, they changed the conference format in response to participant feedback, eliminating the keynote and panel presentation and making the conference discussion-based. To keep ForwardFocus as affordable and accessible as possible, the on-site registration fee is $15 (waived for MLIS students); online is $10. Up next: monthly, small, virtual discussion groups to continue the conversation, a two-day format, and case studies that can be used by other community college librarians, says Dudek.

“Take the [community college idea] one step further: [if community colleges serve as] a hub for helping people succeed and achieve the American dream, then ForwardFocus is helping community college librarians so they can take ideas and services back to their home institutions and help their patrons achieve,” says Kaufman.

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