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Technical Services Experts Directory is Up and Running!

November 23, 2020

I have previously reported back in August that the Technical Services Round Table (TSRT) was in the process of creating an experts directory where individuals could contribute their contact information should they have knowledge of particular aspects of technical services. This would allow for members of the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) to reach out to fellow librarians and library paraprofessionals should there be a question, concern, stumbling block, or an idea to bounce off of someone with more expertise. While we were unable to debut our project last month virtually at the PaLA annual conference, I am pleased to announce that the experts directory is now up and running! The form is now available!

At the moment, we are asking that only PaLA members contribute to the experts directory. This is a perk which we would like exclusively to be offered with your membership. If you know of someone, or of an institute, who is not a member of the PaLA but who would like to contribute, or if you have any questions about the directory, please contact us at expertsdirectory.tsrt@gmail.com.

“It’s Academic” Bloggers Wanted!

November 11, 2020

The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) College & Research Division (CRD) is looking for anyone interested in contributing to the CRD blog, It’s Academic. We welcome new and experienced bloggers, those who want to contribute frequently, or those who would rather only post once or twice a year. Contributing to the blog is a great way to get started writing about topics of interest to you, to call attention to worthwhile ideas, or to publicize important events.

What we’re looking for:

People to author blog posts on any topic relevant to college and research libraries (bonus points if it’s specific to Pennsylvania). We’ll put together a posting schedule (for the 2021 calendar year) that will let you know what weeks you’re responsible for posting to the blog. On your scheduled week, we’d like to have at least one new blog post by you go live (but you’re absolutely allowed to post more than once in the week if you want to).

Interested?

Send an email to Alexander Kirby at akirby@pennhighlands.edu. Please include how frequently you would like to contribute to the blog (once a month, twice a semester, etc.) and any scheduling issues you foresee so we know when is/isn’t a good time to put you on the calendar. If you have any questions, include them in your email.

Misinformation & Collaboration

November 10, 2020

Never has it been clearer that the rampant spreading of misinformation is a large problem in the United States. The contradictory information and messaging about the COVID-19 pandemic from people in positions of power, on social media, and from news outlets has caused, at the very least confusion, at the most extreme health risks. In the midst of the 2020 Presidential Election, we are currently seeing even more misinformation, lies, and extreme bias through news outlets and social media. We are fortunate to have immediate access to so much information, but how do we cull the authoritative information from the misinformation? More importantly, how do we, as information professionals, teach our students to critically evaluate all sources successfully?  

This year has made it even more apparent that our role in teaching information literacy has become even more necessary.  I would go so far as to say that it should be mandatory in this digital age for students to learn about evaluating web resources. I believe cultivating student’s critical thinking skills can be more of a group effort between faculty and librarians. Working together would increase student’s ability to make informed decisions and choices using authoritative sources. It takes effort and sometimes a long time to evaluate web sources, and students may give up before diving deep. I wish it was easier to determine trustworthy sources, but maybe the silver lining is that students have the opportunity to develop and enhance their critical thinking skills, which will help them throughout their schooling and careers. Though misinformation is everywhere, I hope to see librarians really focus on information and digital literacy to combat its spread, and work together with faculty to teach patience, thoroughness, and critical thinking when evaluating sources.   

An Opportunity to get Your Maps on the Map!

November 5, 2020
by

by Paige Andrew

The Guide to U.S. Map Resources, a published directory by the American Library Association’s former Map and Geography Round Table (MAGERT), now the Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT), is a detailed source of hundreds of map/cartographic resources collections in libraries and similar repositories throughout the country. This reference resource was last published in its third edition in book form in 2006 with Christopher J.J. Thiry as editor and many regional editors pitching in to complete it. I was one of two regional editors covering the state of Pennsylvania at the time it was being organized and completed.

Naturally, one of the downsides of a physical directory is the lack of ability to keep changes/additions up to date, which was a major reason that a MAGIRT colleague of mine approached our Executive Board in fall 2015 with the idea to “do over”, this time online. Carol McAuliffe, Curator of the Map & Imagery Library at the University of Florida, formed a steering committee with five participants, including myself, to look into how this goal might be carried out. Soon thereafter we became a working group that put more than four years of effort into launching a brand new directory describing map collections across the United States.

I am pleased to announce that, with a changed name, an interactive online platform, and a method for anyone managing a map collection at any kind of institution to self-apply, the Online Guide to U.S. Map Collections launched in August. While the current number of entries for various map collections is small, recently recruited and trained “regional coordinators” are reaching out to map collections that were previously in the 2006 edition to get them to re-join and simultaneously scouring their assigned regions for additional entries for new institutions. We aim to grow the directory well past the 500+ entries that were in the 2006 edition so that researchers everywhere will have an at-the-touch-of-a-fingers tool to collections of maps and other cartographic resources near and far.

So, fellow CRD members, here is your chance to “join the club” as it were! To add your map collection’s information into the directory go to: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=87e0701cfadf44758917724cf43605b4&extent=-14695398.5106%2C2508383.194%2C-7063925.6066%2C7483516.491%2C102100 and you will find a map of North America scattered with icons of the locations of map collections currently established in the database. (if you click on one, information about the collection pops up) Look at the left Info Bar and note the “Take the Survey to Get on the Map!” sentence as there is a link there to a survey tool. Please note that the survey is 2-part, the first part is short and focused on contact information including an easy-to-use “Location” finder, but if you want to also let the world know how many maps you have, the subject strengths in the collection and so on continue on to the second part where indicated at the bottom. It’s your choice.

Pennsylvania was well-represented in the last edition of the Guide but nowhere close to being comprehensively covered. As you can imagine, nearly all of those earlier entries were for university/college collections, which we need to include this time around also but we really want to dig deeper and find even tiny map/atlas collections residing in local historical societies, museums or within a special library or similar. (Or, does your institution have a collection on campus but outside of your library? There are universities that still maintain department-owned collections out there so if you know of one or more of these reach out to them please!) With that in mind, even if your library/institution does not have a map collection of any kind please share the link above to the Guide, and details you’ve learned here, with anyone you know in your community that does, or might.

Meanwhile, would you be interested in actively participating in growing this resource tool as a member of the regional coordinator team? All you have to do is reach out to the Guide’s leaders via magirtonlineguide@gmail.com and they will happily welcome you, get you trained in required duties and the details of the process to garner new and old entries, and set you to work.

If our goals to successfully populate and greatly enlarge the number of entries in the directory for U.S.-based cartographic collections are achieved, we have already considered ranging outside of our boundaries to become an international resource. But first we need to make a 34-year-old reference source bigger, better, and well-known online.

Finally, if you have any questions at all about this Guide and the ongoing project please feel free to contact me at any time (pga2@psu.edu or 814-867-0786)

Paige Andrew

Cartographic Resources Cataloging Librarian

   Penn State University Libraries

Member, College and Research Division, and Technical Services Round Table of PaLA

Past member, Online Guide Resource Team and current Secretary, MAGIRT, ALA

CRD Members: Sign Up for the 2021 PaLA Mentorship Program

November 4, 2020

Are you looking for someone with professional library experience who can share advice with you? Are you someone with a wealth of wisdom and experience you’d like to share? Sign up for the 2021 PaLA Mentorship Program! The program will run from January 2021 through September 2021. It is run by the Mentorship Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the PaLA Membership Committee.

To participate, you must be a member of PaLA as this program is a members-only benefit. Mentees should have five years of professional experience at their current position level or less to sign up. Students are also encouraged to participate! Mentors should have at least five years of professional experience.

Participants should expect to communicate at least monthly with their mentor/mentee. Participants will also be expected to complete two surveys: one at the midpoint of the program, and one at the end.

To learn more about the program and to sign up, go to https://www.palibraries.org/page/MentorshipProgram. (You must be logged in to the PaLA website to view this page). If you have any questions about the mentorship program, email palamentorship@gmail.com. The deadline to sign up is December 1, 2020.