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How to Build a Better Collection: Practical Tips on Incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into Collection Development Workflows

December 3, 2019
The Self-Regulating Wind-Mill

Detail image from Scientific American 1, no. 2 (Sept. 4, 1845): p. 1. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Librarians at Villanova University’s library have begun to talk about what it means to have diversity as a core value when it comes to collection development. The DEI focus up to now has been on raising awareness through programming and displays, diversify staffing, and increasing cultural competencies among our current staff. A recent conversation with a colleague revolved around weighing the LC classification system versus the LC subject headings as a means of doing DEI gap analysis. It was agreed both are flawed methods, because they can be a skewed metric for many reasons and are inherently representative of the dominant political culture. The Change the Subject documentary was still fresh in our minds. How then do we get started?

The findings of Ciszek and Young (2010) still seem to apply: “Libraries wishing to assess a collection for diversity should have a clear definition of diversity in place before assessment. Many collection assessment methods useful for determining the diversity of a collection are not applicable for large libraries. Additional tools may need to be developed to facilitate this type of assessment in the future, especially at large libraries.” The main practical piece of advice is to have a controlled vocabulary for talking about what exactly DEI means for your library.

Two very insightful points made by Anne Doherty in a 2019 Choice360 webinar, Creating an Inclusive Collection: Selecting and Evaluating Diverse Resources, were, “scarcity of time and resources” and “turning outward to expand inclusivity.” The former is mentioned whenever the idea of bringing DEI into focus concerning collection building, but as she says this is a “challenge which I think could be a bullet point on any library presentation about library workflows.” However instead of letting this challenge inhibit the process she states recognizing this “at the start can help you as you define how you want to move forward.” The latter idea is one she credits as coming from the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative which allows libraries to improve their community engagement. (See the simple Turn Outward assessment.) Doherty goes on to say Turing Outward is a phrase and terminology “predominantly seen in public libraries” but to turn outward can be an inspirational consideration for every library when it comes to DEI and collection development.

Cruz (2019) makes several suggestions “for building and maintaining a diverse collection.” Beginning with establishing a committee charged with evaluation and modification of the collection for diversity. Actively identify smaller publishers and discover niche sources for DEI-related materials. Gather feedback from the patrons of the library. Get professional help assessing “the collection for diversity criteria.” Develop a ‘diversity selection criterion’ to be sure what’s collected includes divergent points of view. Use a ‘diversity acquisition code’ to evaluate what monies have been spent on DEI acquisitions and to make the case if a larger budget is required to ensure “ideas from non-dominant sources” are represented and “diverse items” are collected. Cruz goes on to elaborate the central role distinctive collections can and should have in diversifying the library’s holdings overall, which seems a wise approach but not one that works well for every library.

However, in response to the ALA’s recently revised interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights related to diversity in collection development and the library’s own strategic objective to “diversify the collection,” librarians at the Sherwood Public Library did several things on a shoestring budget that all libraries can consider doing:

  • Created separate fund for DEI collection building and sought grant funding
  • Prioritized filling gaps in “Own Voices titles,” i.e., books “authored by those who share a diverse, minority, or marginalized trait with their protagonist”
  • Monitored new media sources, such as e-journals, blogs, podcasts, and independent book publisher’s websites, for book reviews and award announcements related to “marginalized authors”
  • Selected books based on analysis of curated lists which highlight “a broad range of voices, perspectives, and authors representing ethnic diversity, all genders and sexualities, and all abilities.”
  • Acquired hard-to-get books from a wide range of smaller publishers at an international book fair
  • Expanded world languages represented in the collection based on data about the community the library serves
  • Adjusted deselection criteria for DEI books, to allow them more time to circulate



Ciszek, Matthew P., and Courtney L. Young. “Diversity Collection Assessment in Large Academic Libraries.” Collection Building 29, no. 4 (October 12, 2010): 154–61.

Creating an Inclusive Collection: Selecting and Evaluating Diverse Resources. ACRL-Choice webinar. Recorded May 21, 2019.

Cruz, Alice M. “Intentional Integration of Diversity Ideals in Academic Libraries: A Literature Review.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 45, no. 3 (May 2019): 220–27.

“Diverse Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association. Adopted July 14, 1982, by the ALA Council; amended January 10, 1990; July 2, 2008; July 1, 2014 under previous name “Diversity in Collection Development”; and June 25, 2019.

Garcia, Crystal, and Adrienne Calkins. “Figuring Out Where to Start, and How: One Library’s DEI Strategies.” OLA Quarterly 25, no. 2 (October 28, 2019).



Migrating to a New ILS

November 27, 2019

I found out earlier this month that we will not be renewing our library’s contract with our current ILS, Sierra Innovative, when it expires in April 2022. As is the reasoning behind many a motivation for change, our decision to migrate to a new integrated library system boils down to the exuberant cost for the services. Having hired the library’s first systems librarian back in July, it seems like perfect timing for us to be considering other options. Our systems librarian has been diligently setting up promotional presentations with various vendors. Last week, we met with a representative from OCLC for WorldShare Management, and this week we sat in on a demonstration for The Library Corporation (TLC). Next month, we will be viewing what SirsiDynix has to offer. I am very open-minded with each vendor because I have used all three either currently (OCLC for interlibrary loans) or at past positions. (I used both TLC and SirsiDynix with two of the three public libraries where I was employed.) Each ILS has much to offer and terrific technical support systems.

But do I personally have a preface? It depends on how I wish to incorporate those integrated library systems’ features into my workflow. Considering I work in OCLC for my interlibrary loans in an academic setting, making the complete transition to this ILS seems the most logical approach. There are dependable technical support and numerous webinars which cover a variety of topics; not to mention the global appeal of OCLC is inviting. I also had the pleasure of working in OCLC Connexion when I was copy cataloging an assignment for the United States Military Academy at Backstage Library Works in 2016. A year later, I was also reacquainted with OCLC when I did my internship at my alma mater (DeSales University) during my final semester of graduate school. Interestingly, DeSales was in the process of making a migration from Millennium to OCLC WorldShare Management during my time there; even though the librarian who handled interlibrary loans was already working with OCLC. I enjoyed learning how to do interlibrary loans through OCLC while I was an intern there; no doubt it truly helped me make the transition to my current position, which includes processing interlibrary loans.

From a circulation viewpoint, however, I believe TLC and SirsiDynix are very user-friendly and offer a lot of bells and whistles which I believe our circulation staff will find useful. I worked with TLC at Southern Lehigh Public Library for fourteen months; I really became spoiled with its features and accessories. (Those of you who have used SPARK in public libraries might completely understand my statement!) SirsiDynix is also another user-friendly ILS for public libraries, so I am interested in seeing how these two systems work for academic libraries.

What feedback can you provide? Do you use one of these three integrated library systems? What are some advantages and disadvantages? Have you noticed a difference? While migrating to a new ILS is never an easy undertaking, it is an excellent opportunity to weed out your library’s collection and to start afresh.

Here is hoping you have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I am so thankful to be a librarian!

Connect + Communicate Online Book Discussion: December 9th

November 26, 2019

Please join the CRD’s Connect + Communicate Series for on online book discussion of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. DiAngelo, an antiracist educator, explores the ways white behavior, unconscious and conscious, continues to uphold racial inequality.

The virtual discussion will be held on Monday December 9th, at 12 pm. Our conversation will be guided by the following questions:

  1. White fragility is centered around white people’s discomfort with talking about race. What portion(s) of the book evoked discomfort in you?
  2. Can you describe a situation you encountered white fragility from a fellow LIS professional? How did you handle it? How would you handle it after reading this book?
  3. How does white fragility play a role in the lack of diversity in librarianship? How has this book impacted your view of diversity and equity within the profession? What can we do to disrupt white supremacy within librarianship?

Click here to register for the discussion. You do not have to be a PaLA or CRD member to attend. The Zoom link will be sent out to registered attendees prior to December 9th.

If you have any questions, please contact Erin Burns at

Not Just a Space: Library Services for Faculty

November 21, 2019

As anyone who works in an academic library knows, space is a premium. As libraries resources are becoming more cemented in the digital, we are able to weed print books, and reduce staffing (albeit not always voluntarily) to create space. The trick for us, as we wrap up the second decade of the twenty-first century, is keeping our spaces relevant. 

How many times have we heard of unrelated departments moving their offices into the library? At Valley Forge Military Academy & College, we are still working to keep our spaces relevant for the students (adding individual study carrels and additional group study spaces), but our focus isn’t necessarily on the physical space so much as it’s on the programming that we offer in those spaces. We’ve also learned that it isn’t the students that we need to sell, rather it’s the faculty. 

I wrote back in March: “what can we build (or schedule) to get them to come?” and one of the tricks that we’ve discovered is to let the faculty lead the way. In addition to promoting information literacy, and the ability to reserve other library spaces for classes, we offer programming specifically for faculty as well as students.

We run a program called “Pizza and Pedagogy” two to three times each semester during lunch, and bring pizza, and help teach faculty how to leverage ed tech, gamification, or just different subscriptions. We even offer our time to facilitate classroom activities outside of information literacy. I run escape room style activities both digitally and in the tangible world, as well as scavenger hunts, in addition to other game-show-style interactive experiences. 

Another faculty-centric program is our Writers’ Retreat series. Once a month we block out three to four hours for our faculty and staff to come and work on their own scholarship, whether it’s research, writing, or prepping presentations. This is a great opportunity to remind the faculty that our resources are accessible to them as well, including interlibrary loan, and the expertise of the librarians. 

Through our relationships with faculty, we are able to get students to attend workshops, to schedule research consultations, and to leverage the services provided. 

It also doesn’t hurt to increase the number of small celebrations that we recognize, i.e. National Candy Corn Day or National Homemade Cookie Day, so the students are eager to stop in just to see what’s going on. And, for our student-focused workshops, getting faculty to offer extra credit for attendance is helpful, but so is a last minute reminder that contains the promise of food being available as well! 


Save the date! ACRL Roadshow and CRD Spring Workshop

November 8, 2019

Save the date! (2).png

We look forward to seeing everyone in May for two great days of professional development.

On May 18, 2020, the College and Research Division will host the ACRL Roadshow Engaging with the ACRL Framework, facilitated by:

  • Jenny Dale, Information Literacy Coordinator, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Kim Pittman, Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian, University of Minnesota Duluth

Learn more about the Roadshow and our presenters here:

On May 19, we will host our annual Spring Workshop featuring Pennsylvania librarians and an engaging keynote speakers.

More information and registration will be available soon. Stay tuned!

Google Scholar and New Wave Researchers

November 7, 2019

Commissioned by The Publishing Research Consortium, CIBER Research conducted the Harbingers Study, a 3-year longitudinal study of 100+ international Early Career Researchers (ECRs), defined as new wave researchers (junior, untenured, and postdocs). Not surprisingly they found ECRs are digital natives and possess millennial beliefs of openness, sharing and transparency. Social media and smartphone use looms large as well as “challenging the orthodoxy.”


“Average number of papers per academic across five disciplines and three databases, July 2015.” Fig. 3. from Halevi, Moed, and Bar-Ilan (2017).

When it came to information discovery it confirmed the popularity of Google generally and Google Scholar specifically. “2 out of 5 ECRs use Google Scholar extensively for scholarly purposes.” The original study covered 7 countries (China, Malaysia, Poland, France, Spain, the U.K, and the U.S.).

A recently reported “interim finding” on ECR information seeking and finding based on the effort to expand the number of countries where ECRs are surveyed: 93% of ECRs in Russia are Google users and 72% actively use Google Scholar with “lower use by arts and humanities ECRs, however.”

What does this tell us?  Despite many enduring concerns, Google and Google Scholar are truly embedded in emerging scholarly research practice.

Dr. Alberto Martín-Martín, a new faculty member at the University of Granada who as a PhD student “spent a summer scraping Google Scholar’s database,” said in an interview published by Nature, “Google Scholar is one of the most used academic search engines in the world” and “Google Scholar contains valuable information that is not available from any other database, but it is impractical to rely on it for large-scale analyses” (Else 2018).

The basic issues with Google Scholar highlighted by Halevi, Moed, and Bar-Ilan (2017):

  • Google Scholar is constantly expanding and includes publishers content as well as content not available in controlled databases.
  • Google Scholar provides citations counts that are broader than those covered by controlled databases.
  • Google Scholar should be used with controlled databases especially when clinical information retrieval is required.
  • Google Scholar is challenging when advanced searching is required.
  • Google Scholar does not support data downloads and therefore is difficult to use as a sole bibliometric source.
  • Google Scholar lacks quality control and clear indexing guidelines.


Else, Holly. “How I scraped data from Google Scholar: A researcher explains how — and why — he spent a whole summer harvesting information from the platform, which is notoriously hard to mine.” News Q&A. Nature (11 April 2018).

Halevi, Gali, Moed, Henk, and Bar-Ilan, Judit. “Suitability of Google Scholar as a source of scientific information and as a source of data for scientific evaluation—Review of the Literature.” Journal of Informetrics 11.3: 823-834 (2017).

Nicholas, David, et al. Early Career Researchers: The Harbingers of Change? Final Report. CIBER Research, Nov. 2018.

Nicholas, David, and Tatiana Polezhajeva. The scholarly communication attitudes and behaviour of Early Career Researchers (the new wave of researchers): An international survey. Presentation, 7th NEICON International Conference, Sept. 2019.

“SPROWT” Regional OER Group

October 30, 2019

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of visiting Penn State Berks (Reading) for the first time to attend a newly developed collaboration known informally as “SPROWT” – the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Open Working Team. Representing the Rothrock Library at Lehigh Carbon Community College (Schnecksville), I met with many other fine librarians in the region who are interested in pushing the topic of Open Educational Resources, or OER. There is no disagreement that the rising costs of textbooks and other course materials have urged institutes of higher learning to explore other options and to increasingly put pressure on publishers to allow open access to their resources. This immediately hit a nerve with me because I was the textbook specialist and buyer at Northampton Community College (Bethlehem) for nearly seven years, and I witnessed first-hand the financial struggles of students who literally had to make the choice not to take a particular course because they could not afford the required materials.

Orchestrated in part by Corey Wetherington, the Open and Affordable Course Content Coordinator at the Penn State Berks library, “SPROWT” aims to unite colleges in the surrounding neighborhoods: Kutztown University, Muhlenburg College, Lafayette College, Franklin & Marshall College, Lehigh University, Millersville University, Reading Area Community College, Cedar Crest College, Bucks County Community College, Penn State Lehigh Valley, and Lehigh Carbon Community College. We had our initial meeting on October 16th, where we got to introduce ourselves and brainstorm ideas on how we would like to share resources and approach the topic of OER. We would like to meet two or three times a year; once in the fall semester, once in the spring semester, and possibly over the summer if our schedules allow for it.

After being fed a delicious lunch (eggplant parmesan!), we discussed the obstacles we face in the library profession when it comes to overcoming the hurdle of closed textbooks for our students, who are often struggling to afford just the tuition, let alone plunking down another $200 on one textbook for one course. We agreed on how we would communicate with one another and decided on Google Drive. As we look forward to planning our next meeting in April at Kutztown University, we are ready to delve into OER by reaching out to faculty and department heads to get a feel of the course materials already in use, and if any of those textbooks are open access. Using Google Drive, we can then share those titles which are open access with the other members of “SPROWT,” thereby providing a valuable service to the students in this region.

Personally, I do feel a little over my head with this project. As the interlibrary loan librarian, I am more interested in open access to academic journals which sometimes prevent me from fulfilling a student’s request for an article. While we do get a few students in our library each semester asking us if we carry a textbook for a course which they are currently taking, we really do not have the pressure to offer open access as much as, say, a four-year university. Another setback for me is that our college relies heavily on adjunct instructors, so it might prove difficult to get in touch with faculty and to get them to all agree on an open access resource. However, I am committed to finding affordable solutions to the textbook dilemma for our students.