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Information Literacy: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

August 28, 2015

As fall terms are kicking off we are all faced with a new round of faces to bring into the fold of the informed. While our eyes may glaze over a bit while we share, for the umpteenth time, the nuances of APA formatting…major database exploration…where to find the “cite” button to guarantee that they’ll never quite remember that format next term (thanks EBSCO)…you know, the usual check marks on the Information Literacy competency sheet. It is important for us to remember that this information is both new and COMPLETELY overwhelming for many of those new faces (and plenty of the familiar ones as well), and as such, to be aware that our presentation of the material heavily informs how they’ll recognize and respect those resources and practices which we highlight. If we are bored, they are bored. If we get excited…well, some of them will still be bored, but some will pick up on that enthusiasm and carry it forward.

Melissa Meggitt’s 2010 submission to the ALA New Members Roundtable entitled 10 Tips for Teaching Your First Information Literacy Course  is a solid collection of best practices which helped me refine my own approach, and I encourage even the most seasoned information services professional to give it a read, as I believe she touches on key facets of a successful approach such as varying your instructional models and obtaining feedback both during and after instruction. In addition, I believe that the following points also warrant consideration:

  • If you’re bored, they’re bored – It’s worth repeating…the navigational steps, procedural best practices, and tips & tricks which have become rote to you can truly be huge time-saving aids for your students. If it’s something you’d like them to be excited about…get excited yourself (or feign your best excited persona). Your energy will be contagious!
  • Motion Creates Emotion – Similar to the point above, a great way to keep your audience engaged, your energy levels high and increase the chances of information retention is to be an interesting presenter. Move around the room…engage them…vary your volume and pitch…repeat key resource names or procedural steps. Energy unused is useless energy when it comes to information literacy instruction.
  • Give ‘em what they want – We all know that most of those we present to are applying the Charlie Brown Teacher filter just waiting for us to get to the shortcuts or pre-fab elements…*wah wah wah wah wah Cite This Button wah wah wah Resource Toolkits wah wah wah Google isn’t omnipotent”. So, create simple to follow webtools or handouts that you show at the beginning of the session, with a promise to share with those who remain engaged throughout. Now, of course everyone gets one at the end, but the fear of missing out (combined with the approaches we’re talking about today) should add up to an engaged audience.
  • Deputize – In every session there are going to be leaders and laggers in terms of how readily they are picking up the information. Note the leaders and encourage them to follow-up with additional one-on-one instruction with you to empower them to help others in your absence. Common issues have common solutions, and sharing these with a power user can save you time when the lab is full of procrastinating authors and due dates looming.
  • Be the expert they expect –OR — Be the expert you wish you had been taught by- Information Literacy competencies are about as static as the state of information itself. That is to say, they aren’t. Every day there are new Open Source resources…database enhancements…new tools for understanding the breadth of the information landscape and new ways to package these resources for public consumption. Regardless of your experience level or enthusiasm on the topics covered, it is your responsibility to be the solid source for truth for your students. ALA, ProjectInfoLit and others do a great job of summarizing and highlighting the good, bad and ugly of current information literacy practices, so be sure to carve out some time to check your approach and resources so that your presentation of the information is accurate and relevant.

Hang in there…only 8 months until summer break :)

Call for news articles: Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice (PaLRaP)

August 25, 2015

Has something exciting happened at your library this last year that you want to share?

Share it with Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice (PaLRaP), the peer reviewed, open access journal of PaLA’s CRD. Click here to submit information such as staff changes, awards/recognitions, events, initiatives, etc. happening in PA libraries that may be of interest to other libraries. Submission deadline is September 1, 2015.

For more information about PaLRaP, visit

PaLRaP is a peer reviewed, online, open access publication of the Pennsylvania Library Association’s College & Research Division. This journal will provide an opportunity for librarians in Pennsylvania to share their knowledge and experience with practicing librarians across the Commonwealth and beyond. It includes articles from all areas of librarianship, with a special focus on activities at or of interest to Pennsylvania’s academic libraries. When available, audio and video content will supplement text based documents.

Published biannually: March and October

Editors: Anne Behler, Penn State University; Tom Reinsfelder, Penn State University

Peer reviewers: Members of the Pennsylvania library community.


Save the date: ACLCP’s 50th Anniversary/Fall Conference

August 17, 2015

Event: ACLCP (Associated College Libraries of Central PA) 2015 Fall Conference

Date: Friday, October 23, 2015

Location: Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg East (formerly the Holiday Inn)

Save the date for ACLCP’s 50th anniversary conference! This fall we will be celebrating ACLCP’s 50th anniversary with a look inward and a look forward. Our member libraries will have an opportunity to showcase their exciting and innovative projects and ideas. A call for presentation proposals will be forthcoming shortly. Afternoon programming will include our annual Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings and a celebration of ACLCP’s 50th anniversary.

More information will be coming, so stay tuned!

Questions or comments, please contact the ACLCP Programs Committee
Co-Chairs, Ben Hoover and Lindsay Sakmann (

Connect & Communicate Series Seeking “Framework” Panelists

August 6, 2015

Have you successfully incorporated the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education into your library instruction? Are you using the  Framework in the coming semester’s instruction? Do you have a great idea for using the Framework, but you’d like feedback before you try it out?

The Connect & Communicate Planning Committee seeks statements of interest from potential panelists who are ready to share their Framework success stories, plans, and ideas with the Pennsylvania academic library community!Connect & Communicate Logo

Panelists will each be asked to speak for approximately five minutes. Immediately following will be a virtual unconference giving attendees an opportunity to ask questions about the presentations or pose new questions. The program is tentatively scheduled for September 17, 2015.

Submit your proposed presentation details at
Proposals must be received no later than September 10th.

Please contact Jill Hallam-Miller, Connect & Communicate Planning Committee Chair, at or at 570-577-2055, with questions.

The Connect & Communicate Series of online programming offered by the PaLA College & Research Division aims to help foster a community of academic librarians in Pennsylvania.

SAVE THE DATE(S) – Southwest PaLA Fall Events

August 5, 2015

Library Crawl – Register
When: September 18th, Time TBA
Where: Pittsburgh, PA – Oakland area
What: The route starts with a pre-reception at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Science new media center and continues to the Mellon Institute Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Stephen Foster Library, and ends with dinner at the Porch at Schenley. This event is free and open to members and non-members alike!

PaLA Annual Conference Dine-Out – Register
When: October 4, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Where: Champs, 1611 N Atherton St, State College, PA
What: Gather with chapter members at the PaLA Annual Conference.

Trivia Night
When: October 22nd; Dinner at 6 p.m., Trivia begins at 7 p.m.
Where: Lamplighter – 6566 Route 22, Delmont, PA 15626
What: Flex your trivia muscle and compete with fellow library nerds for ultimate bragging rights and a nifty trophy! Note: the fee for this event is $18, which covers dinner.

Fall Workshop
When: November 13th
Where: Westmoreland Intermediate Unit – 102 Equity Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601
What: The Fall 2015 Workshop will focus on various aspects of customer service.

**Email message sent to Chapter Members July 29, 2015 via Kelley Cotter (, Marketing & Electronic Communications Librarian with Gumberg Library at Duquesne University

Making Local History Come Alive

July 28, 2015

As a Humanities Liaison Librarian, I have tried to make students more aware of resources in our area.   With students here from all over the world, I hope that they will use their time on our campus not only to make use of on-campus learning opportunities, but also to get a taste of the local culture.

For example, the eastern part of our state is well-known for its importance during the American Revolution, but growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I was much more aware of the historical sites from the French and Indian War.   Also known as the Seven Year’s War or the War For Empire, it is hard to imagine how different the history of our country might have been if the British had lost this war.

Within driving distance of our campus are Fort Ligonier, Fort Necessity, Fort Bedford, Fort Pitt, Bushy Run Battlefield, Forbes Road, and Braddock’s Road (which was fascinating to me as a child because General Braddock had been buried in the middle of it).

History students could visit all of these sites in a long weekend or learn more about them at the following websites:

French and Indian War in Pennsylvania –

Braddock’s Road –

Bushy Run Battlefield –

Forbes Road –

Fort Bedford –

Fort Ligonier –

Fort Necessity –

Fort Pitt –

For anyone who might be interested, the 252nd Anniversary of the Battle of Bushy run will be commemorated this weekend, August 1 and 2 2015.

How social is your social media?

July 22, 2015

For the past eight years, I have helped or solely managed public, special academic, and four year academic social media page(s) primarily using the Facebook platform. If your institution has not engaged in the social media realm or even if you have been working with one for years, I think that every social media manager can admit that with the constant, fast changing nature of social media, it can be helpful to gain any assistance and insight into strategies for connecting, posting, and beyond. As such, I recently attended a Skill Path seminar in Pittsburgh, PA titled Social Media Marketing. Even though the content was geared towards businesses, the basic ideals resonate with any industry.

The initial thought provoking question from the presenters was how social or fun is your social media? It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me as the presenters asked ‘why do you personally use social media?’ Do you want to look at generic advertisements plastered in your news feeds? With Facebook’s new customizable feeds, it is possible that people that have ‘liked’ your page never see your postings. My heart sank when I thought of all the postings I had created that did not utilize videos or pictures and were primarily textual micro-commercials about the library (i.e. services, collections, building news and events). I am rarely interactive and social in nature. As the seminar presenter suggested — give them something that they haven’t seen or a purple cow. (If interested in a purple cow example, ask me about the funeral home story below).

What is the best way to approach creating a social, social media campaign? With this question at hand, the presenters emphasized the importance of not just a social media policy (best to post one online for legal purposes) but an overall strategy the might change and revise based on different campaigns. Admittedly the idea of campaigns is a marketing term that I had not fully transferred to the management of library specific social media management.

What is the first step of any successful campaign? The presenters suggested creating a persona of one customer you want to target. In regards to academic libraries, I would probably target different services such as information about course reserves to freshman students versus finals week de-stress events to upperclassman in majors with especially stressful finals. I have noticed that this similar strategy is helpful when planning events in the library and partnering with a club or class can improve attendance. As such, I plan to reach out to these audiences via social media more directly in the future including posting on their feeds or direct messaging and asking the manager to post on their page(s). In the social media realm, typically it is a give and take relationships and if you post or retweet for me, I will do the same for you in the future.

While successful social media strategies are not created overnight, managing expectations by not overselling or setting the bar too high can lead to disappointment. Begin small and look for ways to enter into the conversation, for instance, recently a Twitter post mentioned that it would be awesome if colleges offered a buy one get one free semester coupon. I responded that academic libraries do offer free downloads of thousands of e-books, journals articles, and more- no coupon required. They proceeded to retweet and favorite this response creating important interactions and building relationships.

While we can never know everything about social media, academic libraries can create strategies for marketing every aspect of libraries’ via these platforms. In the meantime, I am thinking about ways to add more ‘social’ into postings and offering more interactive features, pictures, and videos. For instance, I am thinking about a behind the scenes, day in the life of a library student worker via videos and images or as a fellow colleagues mentioned a ‘behind the stacks’ campaign. I am curious to see how many library student workers know about the library social media pages and hope to gain more followers. I am also considering a contest among the student workers to help boost followers and likes.

Other interactive postings including pictures and videos ideas:

  • create hashtags for specific courses and offer virtual reference
  • reference referral videos or pictures and text
  • regular researcher features
  • pack the library Greek event hashtag supporting research rescue
  • lost in the stacks assistance via Twitter direct message
  • feature study group successes
  • stacks pictorial scavenger hunts
  • Twitter Bingo
  • Social Media Scrabble
  • interview students using the display windows in the library
  • create short videos on students tabling in the library

Interested in continuing this conversation or brainstorming more ideas, please comment below or email Skill Path offers other leadership seminars around the state of Pennsylvania on a variety of topics. The reference books related to the social media conference can be found here.


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