Skip to content

Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice – Call for Submissions

January 19, 2018

Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice ( is accepting submissions for research, practice, feature and commentary articles as well as news items for the Spring 2018 issue (vol. 6, no. 1).

Research, practice, feature, and commentary manuscripts are welcomed at any time; however, for full consideration for the spring issue, please submit your manuscripts by February 28, 2018.

News item submissions are also welcome at any time. For full consideration for the spring issue, however, please submit your news items here by April 13, 2018.

See the submission guidelines and section policies at for more information.

Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice is the peer reviewed, online, open access publication of the Pennsylvania Library Association, and is managed by the College & Research Division. This journal provides 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. Contributions from all types of libraries and library personnel in the Commonwealth are welcome.


PaLRap is published by the University Library System (ULS), University of Pittsburgh, through its E-Journal Publishing Program.
Published biannually: April and October
Co-Editors: Larissa Gordon, Arcadia University; Tom Reinsfelder, Penn State University


Diversity: Why is Diversity in Collection Development so Vital? Part One

January 19, 2018

Due to the continuous changing environment, diverse collection development has become an essential part of academic libraries. Library materials should promote awareness on diverse social issues and not exclude material that seems offensive. A diverse collection should also reflect all perspectives and ideas and include controversial material such as political content, economic theory, religious beliefs, social philosophies, sexual content and expression, and other potentially debated topics.

Collections such as these enhance cultural knowledge within society that provide a welcoming learning environment. It is uncomfortable for a patron to enter a library and find there is limited or no resources available to them regarding their ethnicity. If libraries are going to represent themselves as providing academic services to students then they should recognize academic needs amidst multicultural groups.

Libraries must have a clear view of what diversity means to the library’s collection whether it is economics, political, religious, minority, social, or sexual issues before beginning a collection assessment. Diversity in the collections also helps to broaden student’s awareness of the world!

The Case for Closed

January 18, 2018

Image from James Royal-Lawson CC BY-SA 2.0

Captioning has long been a difficult sell for librarians creating video tutorials (or raising the issue with other faculty members). The landscape of options merely 7 years ago was bleak, requiring by-hand adjustments of the timings down to hundreds of a second and typing out each line with many clicks between. Sometimes these options came without a preview so that the captions would have to be exported, inserted, checked and then back to the original glitchy interface to fix and, often, repeat.

This changed with the introduction of Amara (then called Universal Subtitles) in 2010. Amara was aimed at crowdsourcing translations, but the central insight of the interface made captioning much easier. Instead of requiring fingers to leave home row to click around after each part of a sentence, Amara had a fully keyboard interface allowing the setting of timing with key press and reducing greatly the amount of time required. This was true, at least, for touch typists. Otherwise, the amount of time required to caption a video was a high multiple of the video length.

The situation today is better. Google finally updated it’s captioning interface in YouTube in the last few years to one strikingly similar to Amara with elements of crowdsourcing and a fully keyboard interface option. YouTube’s automatic captions are now approaching usability without editing. A workflow for captioning videos:

  • Have a transcript -> upload to YouTube (check the automatic timing)
  • Own the video -> upload to YouTube, fix the automatic captions
  • Don’t owe -> use Amara or YouTube’s crowdsourcing option

With the possibility of fixing automatic captions instead of typing all the speech, folks that are not touch typists are now looking at an equivalent amount of time spent. The excuses for not captioning are now fewer than ever.

#1LIB1REF Campaign Offers Opportunity for Librarians to Improve Wikipedia

January 16, 2018

As librarians, we all have an opinion, perhaps even a strong one, regarding Wikipedia. Whether you love, hate, or hold some middling attitude toward this ubiquitous resource, the next two weeks provide a great opportunity to improve the site.

Wikipedia’s #1LIB1REF campaign, in which librarians contribute needed citations to the site, runs this January 15th through February 3rd.

If you have ever lamented the lack of a Wikipedia citation, or the poor quality of an existing one, now is your chance to step up and add some serious scholarship to a page on a favorite topic. If you do not have a page in mind, think locally. Why not add a citation to a Wikipedia page on a famous Pennsylvanian, perhaps one from your own hometown? Or, consider doing the same for the entry on a historical event or location in our state.

Something so worthwhile is rarely this easy and fun. To learn more about the campaign and how to contribute a citation, click here.

Recording Available of Fruitful Collaborations

January 15, 2018

Fruitful Collaborations was held last Wednesday on Zoom. Hailley and Emily did an awesome job explaining the different projects they have been working on at their respective Penn State campuses. Thanks to Amy Snyder and Sara Pike for moderating and for the closed captioning.

This is the link to the recording: LINK

Access Password: palacrd

Their PowerPoint slide can be downloaded here: Fruitful collaborations powerpoint slides

And the references that Emily provided us are here as well: Fruitful Collaborations Helpful References


What Kind of “World” is a Library? part one: New Year’s Resolution

January 11, 2018

“A beginning, by contrast, always contains the undisclosed fullness of the extraordinary, and that means the strife with the ordinary.” M. Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art, in Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge, 2002) 48.

It is the beginning of a new year. A turning point such as this often makes one restive; both restless and straining to move forward, while at the same time uneasy and resistant. Like Janus, the ancient Roman god for whom the month of January is named, there is a simultaneous facing backwards and forwards, i.e., gazing back into the near past and looking forward at the near future and what we believe lays ahead. This perspective includes our library. “Our library” not because it belongs to us, but because, whether a professional, a staff member, an employee, a retiree, a volunteer, a patron or simply a human being, all have a role in its existence. A library is a gathering place for the society of humanity. Twentieth-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger thought something which makes human beings unique is that we are world-forming. At this juncture, it is important to consider: “What kind of “world” is a library?”

“‘World’ serves, here, as a name for beings, in their entirety.” M. Heidegger, The Age of the World Picture, in Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge, 2002) 67.

It would be reasonable to wonder, why ask what it “is” rather than what it was, or better still what it will be. The simple answer, because the past and the future are both elusive. Too often one gets lost in either nostalgia or anticipation, infused with either optimism or pessimism depending on mood or disposition. It is better to take stock, rather than wallow in regret or triumph about what the library has been, or lose ourselves in wishful thinking or despair based on an “if only” frame of mind. Yes, it is important to respect roots for they nurture, and to develop a motivating vision because it can engender healthy growth, but at this inflection point between gazing back and looking forward we need to pause for a reality check. Because no matter the budget, building, staffing or collections, the standard against which to judge if “our library” is living up to its potential is to measure whether right now we are doing the best we can with what we have. Not to make objectives for maximizing outcomes or mulling over returns on investment. Today is the foundation for tomorrow as well as the product of yesterday. Librarians currently need to foster a conversation about: “What kind of “world” is a library?”

“And if we raise the question of the ‘world’, what world do we have in view?” M. Heidegger, Being and Time (Harper, 1962) 92.

Advocacy for Lifelong Learning

January 11, 2018

We often hear the term “lifelong learning” when talking about the use of library resources, but at Seton Hill University, we actively promote the use of other libraries. We have reciprocity with three local colleges and also have a LibGuide for Pennsylvania Library Resources.

This is the introduction to the guide:

Reeves Memorial Library provides thousands of resources for you.   So you may wonder why we would promote the use of public libraries.  There are several reasons for this:

  1.  Although we have an extensive collection, you will sometimes find additional items in publicly available libraries.
    2.  Public libraries in Pennsylvania offer access to additional databases and other online resources that are not available at Reeves. 
    3.  When students leave Seton Hill, we want them to know what resources are available for the public so that they will be lifelong learners.

We then have pages in the Guide for Westmoreland Library Network (our county system), Overdrive, Power Library, Penn State Libraries, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, State Library of Pennsylvania, and Other Libraries. The Other Libraries page has links to libraries in the surrounding counties, where commuter students may reside, as well as the Free Library of Philadelphia.

This has been especially helpful for older adult students who may come to campus only once a week.   Many are returning to school after many years in the workforce and are delighted to find access to hard copy materials closer to where they live and online resources that supplement what they find on our website.  In addition, as the number of online programs grows, our students may reside anywhere in the world, so we will be expanding our guides to help them find what they need wherever they are.