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Interview at the Library: Hallie Clawson

by Hannah Lee on 2022-03-10T10:49:00-08:00 | 0 Comments

By Hannah Lee and Aric Haas

For the second Interview at the Library series, we are with Hallie Clawson, AL$ Librarian at California State University, Dominguez Hills. 

Q: Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to CSUDH.

I worked at my campus library when I was in college, for the Periodicals and Mending departments. It was really rewarding, making sure students had access to journals and repairing books and magazines so they could continue to be used. After college I worked in hotels, bookstores, and as an elementary school tutor and teacher’s aide, which was when I moved to LA for the first time.

Through all that, though, I always missed the library! So several years ago I decided to get my Masters degree in Library Science, and went to the University of Washington iSchool. My graduate research was on cataloging comics and graphic novels in library collections, which was both really fun and challenging. Once I had my MLIS, I worked at the iSchool and the University of Washington Tacoma library before recently moving back here to LA. 


Q: What is AL$?

AL$, which stands for Affordable Learning Solutions, is a program across all the CSUs funded by the Chancellor’s Office. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like: we’re in charge of finding ways to make learning more affordable for students. There’s a real crisis right now in academic publishing, because students are a captive audience — their textbooks are chosen by their professor or department, and they have to either buy the book or not do as well in the course. This has allowed prices to skyrocket to the point where students are paying an average of $1200-$1300 each year on their textbooks, according to the College Board. Which is ridiculous!

"...students are paying an average of $1200-$1300 each year on their textbooks..."

Q: What do you do as the AL$ Coordinator?

I work with faculty to find cheaper or free alternatives to the typical expensive textbook. This includes acquiring books for the library collection for students to use, as part of our Course Reserves and by partnering with the University Bookstore. I also work to promote Open Educational Resources. OERs are peer-reviewed textbooks and sets of course materials which can be shared, used, revised, and remixed by each professor and class to best serve the students and subject. This year, I’m focusing on outreach to students to make them more aware of their options for accessing their textbooks and how they can advocate for OER with their professors and student organizations. 


Q: How can the CSUDH community best use the AL$ resources?

Learning about your options is a great way to start! Our website has a ton of information about AL$ options, and you can sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop. 

We have a guide for students to help you choose courses with a ZCCM (zero-cost course materials) code — these courses won’t require you to buy any books or materials at all! Students can also search the library catalog to see if their required book is in Course Reserves or submit a reserves request if it’s not. 

For faculty, we have a whole list of ways you can help your students succeed and save money on their education. In the past we have also offered courses about OER, which we’re hoping to have back up and running soon. Faculty who participate in AL$ are also celebrated at our annual AL$ Faculty Recognition Event in the Spring, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter to learn more! 

graphic of people talking


Q: What is in store for AL$ in the coming months? 

We’ve just started an AL$ Student Ambassador program, and hired three students to focus on outreach and raising awareness across campus. We’ll be doing a research survey this Spring to find out just how much Toros know about AL$ opportunities at CSUDH, so stay tuned for more information! In addition, we’ll be celebrating Open Education Week at the beginning of March, and you’ll see us at tabling events around campus. You’re invited to reach out to me directly as well, by email or phone


Q: What are some of your non-librarian hobbies?

I’m basically a big nerd! I play Dungeons & Dragons; I read a ton of graphic novels, science fiction/fantasy, and romance; and pre-pandemic I used to go to comic conventions and dabbled in cosplay. I love visiting zoos and the LA beaches, and I also knit. Ask me about the time I fought a duel on a pirate ship!

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