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Nov. 22—While libraries are usually thought of as a quiet place for study and reading, Mireya Jacuinde, executive director of Student Learning Resources at Odessa College, has worked to bring the space the life. This has been made possible with the partnerships that have been established and the sorts of events they have been able to host.

“A lot of movement has happened in the last year,” Jacuinde said.

Starting last summer, the Learning Resources Center formed a partnership with the Ector County Library to lend out Chromebooks, hotspots and tablets. The LRC keeps a certain amount of devices on hand to lend to students.

Ector County Library Director Howard Marks in February presented to the Ector County Commissioners’ Court a $548,100 grant from T-Mobile, which provided 1,000 devices to the library. Those devices are 200 iPads, 200 Samsung tablets, 200 Chromebooks, 200 4G hotspots and 200 5G hotspots. Marks said all 1,000 devices belong to the library.

The LRC started off with 20 Chromebooks and 20 hotspots. Jacuinde said the LRC wanted to see what the need was and how many students would check them out.

“We found out very quickly that this was going to be something that students really needed,” Jacuinde said.

At the beginning of Fall 1, she said, they realized they had checked out all the Chromebooks and hotspots. They contacted Marks at the Ector County Library to let him know the situation and asked what he thought about letting OC have more devices.

“They were very … excited about it and gave us 20 more Chromebooks, 20 more hotspots and 10 tablets to check out and so that increased our count to 40 Chromebooks, 40 hotspots and 10 tablets that students are able to check out. We currently have all 40 Chromebooks checked out,” Jacuinde said.

The iPads haven’t been as heavily checked out.

“I think students typically do more efficient work on a laptop where they can type … Students haven’t really taken to those as much as they have the Chromebooks and the hotspots,” Jacuinde said.

Students at OC can check the devices out for four weeks with the opportunity to renew.

The Ector County Library allows patrons to check out devices for three weeks. Marks said patrons can renew two more times, so that comes to nine weeks without having to return it. They are inspected once they are returned to see if there is any noticeable damage.

The LRC chose the four-week period so they could make sure the device was OK and that everything was running properly.

“We do a quick inspection; make sure it looks OK and that it’s working OK. So far, we haven’t had any instances of devices being broken or destroyed, so we’re hopeful that can continue. Again, I think the Ector County Public Library has been very pleased moreso because I think they were also struggling to get their patrons to check them out,” Jacuinde said.

For now, the LRC feels that 40 is a good number of devices to have. They may increase it to 50 at some point.

Jacuinde said she had one of the librarians create an instruction guide so if a student comes to them and says they need a device and the LRC doesn’t have one, it has clear instructions on where to find the Ector County Library, the documents needed to check out a device from them, directions on how to get to the library and who to see once they get there.

Marks said OC has a good partnership with the LRC.

“We visit with them every couple of months,” he said.

Marks said they would like to host fairs with the OC library and community events, especially at Odessa College’s downtown space. As a new library is built, Marks said they will hopefully share partnerships and come up with new ideas.

“The sky’s the limit for what we can do together,” Marks said.

Jacuinde has been with OC since August 2019. She spent the first three years as an academic success coach and was the lead academic success coach for the School of Business and Industry before taking on the executive director’s position.

“I was just ready for a challenge and so I applied and here we are,” Jacuinde said.

When she started, she wanted to ensure that the LRC was a vibrant place where people could come and hang out and do their homework.

“I always thought the LRC to be a very quiet place, which a library is traditionally a quiet space for students. But I wanted to bring a little bit of vibrancy to it. That’s been made possible with a lot of the partnerships that we’ve established, the sorts of events that we’ve been able to host here and just a lot of movement has happened in the last year,” Jacuinde said.

They recently opened a revamped Keith Career and Transfer Center. Previously known as the Keith Learning Lab, it has been transformed to provide career and transfer services to students to support post-graduation success. It was funded by an OC Innovation Grant and equipped with new technology, furniture, signage and artwork, a news release said.

The Dress for Success Career Clothing Closet provides access to free business attire for students preparing for interviews, career fairs and other professional meetings.

You can also get some coffee at the LRC.

Originally from Hereford, Jacuinde earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s in communication studies, both from West Texas A&M University in Canyon.

Jacuinde said her background as a student success coach has helped her in her LRC job.

“I’m very grateful for the time that I had in advising and getting to know what the student experience is like,” she said.

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