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Looking for Technical Services Round Table Nominations for 2022/2023

April 18, 2021

It’s that wonderful time of the year again — the Pennsylvania Library Association is getting ready to accept and review nominations for its round tables and other divisions. Nominations are due to Susan Wertz, administrative assistant and membership coordinator for the Pennsylvania Library Association, by the end of May. It is my hope that if you are a member of the Technical Services Round Table, you will consider nominating yourself or someone you know in this round table for either the roles of Vice Chair/Chair (a two-year commitment) or Secretary/Treasurer. Here is a description of the positions:

  • Vice-Chair/Chair Elect: Performs the duties of the chairperson in their absence and assists the chairperson. Responsible for coordinating the sessions for sponsorship by the Technical Services Round Table at the Annual Conference. Coordinates virtual meetings to keep members informed of pending events and projects. Serves as chairperson the following year.
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Responsible for the preparation of the Round Table’s proceedings, takes notes at meetings, produces minutes to be shared with the members, sends out notices, handles correspondence and carries out such other duties as may be designated by the chairperson. The Secretary performs the duties of Treasurer.

Nominations and questions can be submitted to me at manfuso@lccc.edu. Thank you for taking the time to consider a nomination!

A Thought-Provoking Provocation Essay Series

April 14, 2021

Project Information Literacy, is known for its research reports exploring how students interact with information, both in and outside of their course work. This year, they have launched a new series of essays called the “PIL Provocation Series.” These essays are meant to “spark discussion about pressing issues, ideas, and concerns” related to information literacy.

The first essay in the series, “Lizard People in the Library” by Barbara Fister made the rounds in February; it was even re-printed in The Atlantic. With this essay the author tackled the prevalence of QAnon and other conspiracy theories in our media landscape, asking whether our current information literacy efforts are up to the task of disrupting this trend. She considered our existing mode of teaching students about information, chiefly how to find and evaluate sources for academic coursework; and explored how this strategy may miss much of complex nature information in our society. She also suggested some fundamental ways that information literacy may need to be re-considered going forward.

The second essay in the series came out last week: “Reading in the Age of Distrust” by Alison J. Head. Her work considers whether information literacy instruction in higher education needs to step back and consider a more fundamental skill– reading comprehension. She makes the case the students do not have the experience, or proficiency, to tackle the deep analysis most instructors ask them to undertake with texts assign in their syllabus. Many students also fail to see the value of such a deep dive into the readings, especially in the frame of the cost/benefit analysis they are always calculating – balancing the amount of time in a day and their responsibilities at home, school, and work. Head also asks a question similar to Fister, who is responsible for teaching students these skills, and what more can instructors do to gain student “buy in” (for a lack of a better word) within their course work? Perhaps with better connection to and a reflection of the “real” world beyond academia?

The work of Project Information Literacy has strong ties to the missions and goal of librarians and librarianship. We are often the information professionals at the front lines of these concerns. Does that mean that the tasks outlined by Fister and Head fall onto librarians? Along with the other information literacy skills we are asked to teach, does reading comprehension and synthesis belong on that list? Head asks that question while also pointing out the limits of the “50 minute” time slot that is often all the time we are given to interact with the students. One could argue that 50 minutes is adequate if all we are asked to do is to help students to find a book or learn about a database, but right now it seems that we are being asked to do more. The issues brought up by Fister and Head need champions, and librarians are answering the call, but does our common role of “guest speaker” set us up for success or failure?

So far, the “PIL Provocation Series” has taken information literacy beyond the realm of frameworks and checklists. The authors have questioned the current role that librarians, and other educators, have in this brave new information world and given us a place to reflect and evaluate our current attempts at information literacy. Do they provide all the right answers? Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that. But they are asking the questions that will hopefully take us another step forward. I am excited to see what other essays are published in the coming months, and what other issues the authors tackle.

Civic Literacy as a Campus Outreach Tool: ShipVotes recording is now available

April 9, 2021

Thank you to Eyoel for this great session!

Revising the Revision: Moving Information Literacy Instruction for FY Students Online in the Wake of COVID-19 recording is now available

April 9, 2021

Thanks to Beth Transue of Messiah University for presenting this great session. Please be aware that due to an error only part of the session was captured in the recording. Beth provided slides which provide much of the detail; you can access them here.

National Library Week… for Academics… in a Pandemic

April 9, 2021
National Library Week April 4-10 2021
"Libraries show us anything is possible by encouraging a love of learning, discovery and exploration." Natalie Portman, National Library Week Honorary Chair
Welcome to your [academic] library!

We are wrapping up National Library Week, which has always been a bit of a conundrum for me as an academic librarian. I’ve felt, perhaps incorrectly, that it was more focused on our public library colleagues. I would usually change the library’s social media headers, post the official graphics from ALA, and leave it at that.

This year, however, we tried a couple of events. Though our campus has been in-person all year, we decided it was safest and simplest to keep everything virtual. Our first Zoom event was a “coffee chat” open house targeted at faculty. The discussion topic was inquiry-based learning, and I read the delightful children’s book What Do You Do With an Idea? to get the ball rolling. It’s difficult to persuade faculty to attend an optional meeting in the days following Easter, unfortunately; we had low attendance, but the conversation was good!

The other event was a Library Trivia Night geared toward students (though open to anyone). I gathered up bits of library trivia and made a Kahoot! quiz. All three of our librarians attended (and so did my husband), and the student with the highest score won a $15 gift card to the campus bookstore. We had a handful of students participate, and they all even stuck around to chat after the game was over!

I also created a Padlet for people to share what they love about the library and what they would like to see more of. I think we are going to leave the link on the library’s homepage even after the conclusion of National Library Week to get patron feedback.

How have you (or haven’t you) celebrated National Library Week in your academic library?