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Register for the CRD Spring Workshop

April 24, 2018

Registration is now open for Open Educational Resources in Pennsylvania Academic Libraries, the CRD Spring Workshop, on May 24 at Shippensburg University.

The full-day program will feature keynote speaker Steven Bell of Temple University, an OER panel discussion, and presentations on OER efforts at Pennsylvania colleges and universities.

Registration, including breakfast and lunch, is $45 for PaLA members, $65 for non-members, and $10 for students. Registration closes May 15.

Register here: CRD Spring Workshop Registration

For more information, check out the Workshop brochure.



Break outside the box: Gamification with BreakoutEDU

April 23, 2018

By Dana J Kerrigan, MA, MSLIS 

Are you ready to teach outside of the box?

BreakoutEDU  is an immersive games platform that sparks student engagement and facilitates collaborative team building. It is an open-source project created by James Sanders and Mark Hammons, two educators and leaders in educational technology.

Embracing gamification in education and playing off of today’s popular escape rooms, the idea of BreakoutEDU is for players to “break in” to a box through solving a variety of puzzles in a timed environment.

BreakoutEDU’s kits currently retail for $150 each, which includes one year of platform access to 12 subject packs with nearly 800 already-made games; over a dozen featured digital games are also available. Users can also opt to build their own kits, and users can create their own games.

BreakoutEDU can be used for introducing new concepts, reinforcing concepts, building leadership skills, practicing subject-area skills, reviewing material, etc. The pre-made games are easily customizable as well. Each game includes a variety of puzzles, each tapping into different learning styles and strengths.

The potential benefits of BreakoutEDU are only limited by the imagination of the game facilitator/ game creator. The most prominent benefits can be viewed in this word cloud (image created by Dana Kerrigan via WordArt): Puzzle Word.jpeg

Our campus purchased three kits late in the fall semester, and have been using them successfully across campus in classrooms, orientations, leadership training, etc. with students, faculty, and staff. The themes of each “breakout” session vary, as do the success rates of the teams participating. We follow each session with a debrief, focused on reflection of lessons learned. Lessons are related to content covered, individual contributions, group dynamics, teamwork, etc. Sessions where we have enough participants to have teams compete against each other as well as the ticking clock have proven to be the most fun, as the competition spurs excitement. Regardless of the outcomes, we notice development in the participants’ critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and resilience; through observation we are able to gain a better understanding of how our students think.


(photos courtesy of Dana Kerrigan, Lucy Manley, and Kathleen Farlie, Valley Forge Military College




Open Educational Resources (OER) for Beginners

April 19, 2018

It seems that every other month another news report about Open Educational Resources (OER) pops up. The most recent story was the federal appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 23, which included a $5 million Open Textbooks Pilot, “a pilot, competitive grant program to support projects at institutions of higher education that create new open textbooks or expand their use in order to achieve savings for students while maintaining or improving instruction and student learning outcomes” (p. 67).

The OER movement seems to be on the radar of most institutions of higher education, and librarians are well-placed to lead the movement because of our knowledge of publishing and copyright. But there is a lot of work ahead and many issues to sort out. Some of us are very new to the game, including myself and my colleagues at Bloomsburg University. So I thought I’d write this post to briefly share our experiences with OER at Bloomsburg University, where we are beginning to take baby steps toward OER adoption in the hope that it might encourage others to embark on the many-step journey ahead.

Open Educational Resources first crossed our campus radar last year when our library director Charlotte Droll asked our temporary librarian Jenn Zuccaro to develop a research guide on the topic. The Open Educational Resources Special Topic Guide,, was born, and its usage has been surprisingly robust. The guide defines OER thus: “Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse at no cost, and without needing to ask permission.” Content ranges from open textbooks to open courses, including including syllabi, course activities, readings, video, audio, assessments, and so on.

The next step for us seemed to be to offer a faculty workshop on the topic. So in March 2018, three Bloomsburg University librarians, Katie Yelinek, Rubayya Hoque, and I, offered a workshop session for faculty titled “Open Educational Resources: Keeping Student Textbooks Affordable.” We structured our presentation into three main parts – what OER is, how using OER can benefit both students and faculty, and how faculty might begin using OER. Attendance was decent, despite some last minute cancellations due to bad weather.

We began our workshop by briefly discussing the soaring costs of textbook, which have risen at more than 4 times the rate of inflation in the last 12 years, adding significantly to students’ financial burden (Student PIRGs). We also briefly discussed the surprisingly high proportion of students who either delay or avoid purchasing course textbooks altogether because of financial constraints (Study confirms costs lead students to forgo required learning materials; grades suffer as a result). This is of great concern to faculty and administrators alike, particularly as it affects student success and retention.

Next we discussed how to determine if something truly is OER. We used Steven Bell’s ‘Textbook Affordability Spectrum’ (no longer available on the web) to illustrate the range of OER. It may not occur to us to think of academic libraries’ resources, including course reserves, as a variation of ‘open access,’ but it is. We also touched on publishers’ response to OER, which may fall into the ‘Faux-Pen’ (get it?) range. In fact, publisher response to OER is a topic that bears its own discussion, since publishers are stakeholders and are seeking to influence the changing market to stay viable. So we noted that simply because an item is labeled OER by a publisher does not make it so. For something to be a true OER, it must meet the ‘5R’ OER criteria: the user must be able to 1) reuse, 2) revise, 3) remix, 4) redistribute, and 5) retain the content.

Textbook Affordability Range

Open (Really open)

  • True OER (SUNY OPEN, Open Stax, etc.)
  • Open Repositories (MERLOT, OTN, IRs)
  • Web Content (Kahn Academy, YouTube)
  • Library Content (Open to BU community)
  • Textbooks on Reserve (Also rentals, used copies)
  • ‘All Inclusive Access’
  • Hybrid Platforms (B&N BNED, McGraw Hill SmartBook)
  • Code Access Content

Closed (or ‘Faux’pen)

(Adapted from Steven Bell’s PALCI Presentation, Nov. 2017)

An exciting local development is the LSTA grant recently awarded to the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium Inc. (PALCI) for their project called “Affordable Learning Pennsylvania.” Charlotte Droll, Bloomsburg University Library Director, serves on the PALCI steering committee for the project and has kept us apprised of its activities. Evidently the LSTA grant will pay for Open Textbook Network membership for all PALCI institutions and for some training activities, including the ability of selected PALCI-member trainers to attend the OTN Summer Institute and for members to attend regional and virtual workshops. Steven Bell and Joe Salem provide valuable insight into the background behind the PALCI grant in their article “It’s Up to the Librarians: Establishing A Statewide OER Initiative”  published in the fall issue of Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice (‘must’ reading).

Since we didn’t want to assume faculty were not already using some OER-like practices, we asked them to reflect on which practices on Bell’s OER Adoption Spectrum they used:

OER Adoption Spectrum

Open Pioneer

  • OER Creators/Authors/Advocates
  • Adopts Open Textbook
  • Uses an Alternate Textbook
  • Uses Hybrids, Inclusives, Access Code
  • Places Textbook on Reserve
  • Recommends Print Text but Allows Open Counterpart
  • Will NEVER Stop Using Commercial Textbooks


Adapted from Steven Bell’s PALCI OER PPT, Nov. 2017

Not surprisingly, no one had used an Open Textbook yet nor were any of our attendees OER creators/authors/advocates, but most had experience with using an alternate textbook (i.e., an older edition), using hybrids, including access codes, and placing textbooks on reserve.

Finally, faculty were given time to explore some OER materials online in our computer lab. We introduced a number of resources including the OER Commons, the OTN Library, and the Mason Metafinder, which searches across multiple OER repositories, after demonstrating how they work. Most of them expressed a desire to spend more time ‘digging’ into the actual resources to find suitable materials for their classes, and exploring how they might be able to modify the resources.

So what are our next steps? We librarians will continue to learn about and explore OER and keep in touch with our subject faculty. Since those attending the first workshop had expressed an interest in being able to modify the OER resources, we will probably offer another workshop on that aspect. Certainly the upcoming PALCI webinars and training sessions across campus will provide us with more opportunities to learn and lead our campus. Last but not least, we know the CRD Spring Workshop on OER on May 24th at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will be another excellent opportunity to get ideas from other librarians. Here’s the newly released brochure, and you can find more info and register here.

For us, OER adoption will likely be a slow build, because our campus is in a leadership transition right now, and faculty and administration are stretched for time. But we expect that interest in and use of OER will grow thanks to members of our community who are genuinely concerned about our students’ learning and success.

Linda Neyer, Bloomsburg University

What Would You Call My Job? Do You Do What I Do?

April 16, 2018

I work at a very small college and everyone here wears many different hats. However, I’ve found that my particular collection of hats stretches me over what would probably be three or four different departments or workgroups at other schools. This makes it very difficult to figure out what blogs to read, where to network, and generally where I fit in the professional landscape. So this blog post is almost like a singles classified ad looking for a connection.

Sometimes I am a Reference Librarian.

We have what we call a Personal Librarian Program, which essentially means that I personally attempt to make a connection with 1/3 of our students. The merits or effectiveness of such a program are beyond the scope of this post. What I do with students while wearing this hat essentially makes me a Reference Librarian. I meet with students about research interests of an academic nature or personal interest. I conduct the “reference interview” and find out what the student is really looking for. We work together to find information and discuss how that information can or should be used. It’s a very rewarding experience and I really enjoy it.

Sometimes I am the LMS Administrator.

We use Canvas as our learning management system and we’ve also integrated Panopto (video recording and hosting) with it. Many people on campus would say (and I agree) that both of these systems are my babies. I monitor these systems, make sure things are as they should be, help faculty with whatever changes they’d like to make but don’t remember how, etc. I work with IT and the Registrar’s Office to make sure enrollments and course creations are done right. I’m also always looking for ways to improve our use of both and am also looking for more tools to tie in and enhance our students’ experience.

Sometimes I am an Instructional Designer.

Online teaching is somewhat new to my school and prior to me getting here there was no instructional designer for our faculty to work with. I do a lot of one-on-one work with faculty to not only develop new online courses but also to improve the ones they’re already teaching. Also in this role I plan or deliver a lot of small-group and full-faculty trainings. I’ve developed a full “How to Teach Online” online course for our faculty to take and also a couple of Canvas course templates to get them started. We have a committee just getting started to develop online teaching policies and quality assurance measures and I expect to be heavily involved in that initiative as it gets going.

Sometimes I am an Instructional Coach.

One thing that’s really interesting about my work as an instructional designer is that it’s a really good way to start talking to faculty about their teaching overall. This is one of my newer roles and it came about because I realized our school didn’t really have anything like this for faculty and some of them were coming to me assuming I was it…so I became it. Sometimes this takes the form of one-on-one or small group discussions about teaching practices. Sometimes I observe a professor teaching and then I provide feedback. Sometimes (with the faculty member’s permission) I even elicit feedback from the students in the class to ask them to be candid with me about what they think could be improved in the course. One of my biggest struggles is trying to get more active learning to happen here. I recently saw this Newsweek article where Education Secretary Devos tweeted something about how classrooms need to be modernized. A bunch of public school teachers apparently tweeted back at her with pictures of what their classrooms are really like. Unfortunately, many of our higher education classrooms are still what Secretary Devos put in her tweet. Whether you are a fan of row and column lectures or not, it’s worth realizing that if the students coming to us are used to a more active style of learning, then we’re doing them no favors by taking the active out of their learning.

Sometimes I am a Student Technology Trainer.

I work with students to help them learn whatever educational technology they need for their schoolwork. That usually involves Canvas or Panopto but could also be Microsoft Office software. Sometimes it’s online presentation tools like Prezi. I’m also planning some time in the near future to survey our students to see what technology workshops would be helpful for next school year.

Sometimes I am the Classroom Technology manager.

Previously, our Network Administrator / general IT fix-it guy handled planning and implementing upgrades to classroom technology. With his increasing workload and my love of both teaching and instructional technology, this responsibility has been shifted to me. This involves me working with our AV vendor on the many classroom upgrades we very much need. It also involves me keeping track of which rooms are in need of repair and making sure the repairs happen. I don’t do the repairs myself because I don’t have those skills, but I do keep track of them. The year I spent in manufacturing as a Project Manager definitely helps here.

Other Duties as Assigned

I also do odds and ends. I plan and managing the library budget and pay the bills. I teach information literacy sessions. One semester, I co-taught a section of First-Year Seminar to see if having a staff member partnered with the faculty was good for the students trying to connect with the school. A few weeks ago, I was tasked with making sure commencement is live-streamed. Sometimes there’s just nobody else to do something and it falls to me.

So what am I?

What would you call me? Where do I belong? From what I’ve gathered from some schools around me, other schools would have one of me in the library, in both the IT offices and on the helpdesk, in a Center for Teaching and Learning, or somewhere else. At my school, I’m in a small glass office I call the fishbowl.

Do you or anyone you know do what I do? For most of what I do, I’m a one-person shop and I don’t really have anyone to bounce ideas off of. I am genuinely interested in connecting with anyone that finds themselves in a similar position. For all I know, there are a bunch of people like me. I’ve only been in higher education for a little over two years and I really don’t know what else is out there. I thought this would be a good place to start looking.


Happy National Library Week

April 12, 2018

Forgotten, neglected and orphan books printed between 1923 – 1941, are on a new path thanks to an easy to understand section of 108 (Title 17 US Code)m Internet Archive and ALA Advocacy.

Professor Townsend Gard’s paper on “Creating a Last Twenty (L20) Collection: Implementing Section 108(h) in Libraries, Archives and Museums”, advocates for libraries and archives to take advantage of the exception to U.S. copyright law.

The library or archives may reproduce, distribute, display, or perform in facsimile or digital form any work in the last 20 years of its copyright term for purposes of preservation, research or scholarship. This change to Section 108 was made to address the concerns of libraries and non-profit educational institutions planning to reproduce and distribute materials that would have fallen into the public domain if the copyright term extension act [of 1998] had not been passed. This means that, although the term of copyright has been extended by 20 years [beyond 1922], libraries may copy or digitize works that are in the last 20 years of their copyright term. In order to take advantage of this exemption, however, libraries should make a reasonable effort to determine that:

  • the work is not subject to normal commercial exploitation,
  • a copy cannot be obtained at a reasonable price, and
  • the copyright holder has not filed notice regarding either of the above conditions

Libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) are encouraged to further advocate by:

  • Taking advantage of legal exception to U.S. copyright law.
  • Creating educational opportunities through webinars or conference programs
  • Creating and testing checklists for implementing the given copyright exceptions, (see Jennifer Howard’s “Copyright Mavericks” article)
  • Working with colleagues who specialize in digitization, metadata, and copyright guidelines and practices


As libraries and archives are the recipient of this legal exception, we should apply it when applicable opportunities arise in our daily work, to show that the exception is an important one and to provide our patrons continued access to information.

See more – Cen Cheng April 11,2018 –

Tech Success: Library Orientation with QuizBean

April 10, 2018

It’s never too early to start thinking about fall semester! With fall comes new students, and with new students comes library orientation. For an easy, self-guided library orientation, Brandywine Vairo Library used iPad minis and the website QuizBean to highlight areas and services the library offers.

QuizBean is an easy to use web interface that allows users to create original quizzes. Instead of it being a static activity, we wanted students to move around the library space and explore the surroundings. To easily make this into an orientation, after the question is answered, we wrote a brief explanation of the service and directions on what area of the library to find next. This made the students seek an answer, then move to a new area of the library to answer the next question. They moved in a circuit, exploring the space with a team, or individually. 

For example, if the first question starts at the circulation desk, the question might be about something that happens at the circ desk. In this case, it’s a question about course reserves and their loan policy. Whether they get the answer right or wrong, a small explanation will pop up, explaining a two-hour lending policy, and then direct students to find the Media Commons, or the One Button Studio, or the Academic Centers – whichever is next on their path of discovery around Vairo Library. Each of these is a service highlighted in orientation, and also areas that students can easily find from signage around the library space. If they can’t find it, no problem, because they can ask a librarian! Besides learning about some of the services that the library offers, one objective of orientation is really to learn that there are people there who can help you. We experienced students who were afraid to get a wrong answer and would ask for help before they answered any question. No problem – they learned about the space and they learned that we’re there to help, the two main objectives of this orientation. 

One of the benefits of using this program on a small campus was the ability to interact with the majority of incoming freshmen. At Penn State Brandywine, freshman convocation events have been well attended. Attendees sign up for two of four information sessions. The library orientation is one of those available sessions, and as there is no seating capacity limit like there is with the other sessions held in classrooms, two-thirds of the incoming students end up at the library orientation. This is a great chance for them to explore the library, interact with their peers, and meet the library faculty and staff. They work in small groups to finish the ten question quiz, then as they hand their iPad mini back in, they were told to grab University Libraries highlighters, notepads, water bottles, and mini sharpies. Students left having learned at least a little about the library, and with a bag full of s.w.a.g. It was a good way to start the semester!

C&CS and PA Forward Present Money Smart Week

April 10, 2018

Connect & Communicate Series and PA Forward


Money Smart Week and Financial Literacy Programming

with Emily Mross

Friday, April 27 2018 at 11am

Zoom Session (online)

Register here for login link:

Let’s break the ice and talk about money. Financial literacy is essential to personal success, but how can academic libraries help their users develop financial literacy skills? Join the C&CS and PA Forward’s Financial Literacy Team, represented by Emily Mross, as we discuss Money Smart Week, ALA’s partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank to help provide financial literacy workshops and trainings. A variety of variety of these partnerships between libraries and banks have been created. Link to Money Smart Week–


Emily has been working with personal banker Olivia Sullivan at FNB to create programs and workshops for her students on this topic. Olivia works with employers and organizations to provide financial literacy education that targets consumer’s key money questions and provides them with practical strategies for being smarter about money. Emily’s full bio can be found here from her previous presentation with us.

You will receive a link to the session approximately 48 hrs before the session is scheduled to start. Please contact Erin Burns at with any questions.