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Spring 2019 issue of PaLRaP available!

May 20, 2019

The latest issue of Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice is now available at!

Articles include:

  • In the PaLRaP Spotlight: Patrick Spero
  • Getting Your Collection Ready for the Centennial Anniversaries of the 19th Amendment
  • What Pennsylvania Public Libraries Want: An Analysis of PAMAILALL Job Advertisements
  • What Do High School Students Know About Information Literacy?
  • Just One More Thing: Getting the Most Out of One-Minute Papers
  • PaLA Virtual Journal Club: Providing Opportunities for Reflection, Improvement, and Connections
  • Building Capital at the Library: Financial Literacy Programming and Partnerships
  • News Briefs from PA Libraries

Tom Reinsfelder & Larissa Gordon, Co-Editors



Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice (PaLRaP) is a peer-reviewed, open access journal, sponsored by the College and Research Division of the Pennsylvania Library AssociationPaLRaP provides an opportunity for librarians in Pennsylvania to share their knowledge and experience with practicing librarians across Pennsylvania and beyond. The journal includes articles from all areas of librarianship, and from all types of libraries within Pennsylvania.

A Technological Dream; or, If We Only Knew

May 15, 2019

I recently took the time to perform a once venerated rite of library research. When no one was looking, I browsed several books roughly adjacent to each other on a shelf in the stacks. Then, feeling emboldened, I pulled books from the row, turned to their indexes, skimmed them for relevant entries, and, in most cases, returned the book to the shelf and pushed onward as if a better title might actually be lurking down the range. Occasionally, perhaps with every 3rd or 4th volume, I found something in the index that led me to turn to the listed pages themselves. There—on page 37 or 377—I actually read.

I do not share this anecdote for purely nostalgic or romantic purposes. Nor do I want to sanctimoniously declare—see! we can still compare, analyze, evaluate, and otherwise think critically with actual books in our hands. Finally, I am not about to make the case for keeping books on the shelf when we are otherwise tempted, or ordered, to send them by the truckload to offsite storage.

My motive is actually technological in nature. It occurred to me after my recent foray into the stacks, as it has from time to time over the years, that librarians really have no idea how many times a book has been pulled from the shelf. We can measure its “circulation”—a term that suggest a broadness it does not really describe—with checkout numbers and even, if we have or take the time, by enumerating in the system when it is found on the “Please Do Not Reshelve Books” shelf. This last, the place we want students and faculty to place books they survey, but ultimately reject, is, I would argue, the most deceptive and treacherous location in the library. Perhaps one tenth of all books inspected in the stacks ever make it to the library limbo of a Do Not Reshelve shelf. We know this when we discover that yesterday’s row of flush spines are suddenly displaced like a bad set of teeth. We know it when we shelf read and utter curses under our breath that only Melvil Dewey can hear. If any of this rings true, if it is familiar and equally frustrating for you, I would like to propose a solution—the technological part of my now overlong windup to the point. I want to see “smart shelves” in every library.

Why couldn’t a sensor run the length of every shelf and detect the movement of any book on the shelf below it? Why couldn’t this be a fairly affordable system to build and install? Why couldn’t such a shelf easily integrate with an ILS to vastly improve our understanding of just how, and how often, books get used in the library?

I should say I have no idea how to actually design or manufacture a smart shelf; my technical skills will never reach such rarified air. But surely someone somewhere can do this. It is just one of many practical library tools that we could use to better understand how our users behave and how we might better serve them.

The next time my library debates what new ILS upgrade to make, or what CMS to transfer collections to, or wonders if we are subscribing to the best databases for the money, I think I will consider the smart shelf instead. Or, I will imagine an app, or device, or digital tool that might actually help us solve one of the old problems we never seem to overcome. Of course, none of these things may ever come to be. But isn’t there some solace in an elegant solution, even if it doesn’t actually exist.



Libraries, Finals, and Ramadan… Oh My!

May 14, 2019

‘Tis the week before finals and all through the library the students are stressing, some more quietly than others… On my campus, this was last week, where my entire work week centered on supporting students academically (and emotionally at times) to get through the biggest crunch of the semester. Data shows that for us, the week BEFORE finals, not finals week itself, is the busiest time of the year in the library.

As a shared and central space on campus we are also often hosts to year-end celebrations and stress-buster activities. Our Uno cards have been a mainstay at the circulation desk for students who just need a break, and this morning, half of our desk has been converted to a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee bar for the first day of exams. Yesterday was our reading day, and subsequently our graduating sophomores dining out celebration.

Last week, during a club’s end of year luncheon, I was approached by one of our Muslim students about the dinner, asking if he’d still be permitted to attend, and take a to-go box so that he might enjoy the meal when able to break his fast later that night. I immediately felt guilty for gorging myself on chicken nuggets in front of him, but assured him I’d find out and advocate for him and our other Muslim students to not be excluded. We were able to coordinate take-out meals!

Ironically enough, as one of the students entered the library this morning, thanking me for being their advocate, I got the email from Inside Higher Ed, with Jeremy Bauer-Wolf’s article. If libraries are to be seen as a safe and inclusive space for students, what else can we do?

So, during this finals week, as I seriously contemplate putting up an out of office reply on my email saying that I’m helping students, I’m doing what I can – lending an ear, a second set of eyes, reassurance. We’re almost there!   


Laughing in Libraries

May 10, 2019

Finals are wrapping up at many of our campuses, and we are packing up the coloring books, puzzles and other stress-relieving activities we provide for students during this intense time.

Meanwhile, year-end reviews are taking place, along with staff and faculty development events, budget decisions and planning for fall semester. And hopefully, among all of these tasks, we are finding time to laugh.

If you’re funny, if there’s something that makes you laugh, then every day’s going to be okay.

Tom Hanks

In a meta-analysis of studies related to workplace humor, researchers found that a positive sense of humor can be associated with good physical and mental health, acting as a buffer for workplace stress. Some studies reviewed also suggested a correlation between humor and effective functioning at work (Mesmer-Magnus, Glew & Viswesvaran, 2012). 

To each their own, but I prefer self-deprecating styles of humor, or jokes that are based on really aggravating situations that present a lighter view in an appropriate context. In other words, you laugh and see that it’s not so bad, or you laugh because it IS so bad, but someone else understands.

Here are a few of my go-tos for humor, mostly related to work. You probably already know about Fake Library Statistics on Twitter:

Then there are tweets from Librarian Problems:

Observations on work and life by Liz and Mollie (Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy) are often very true and very funny. Their new book is terrific as well. They’re on Twitter and Instagram:

If you’re interested in reading some research about this topic, the article I mentioned earlier is:

Mesmer-Magnus, J., Glew, D. J., & Viswesvaran, C. (2012). A meta-analysis of positive humor in the workplace. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 27(2), 155-190. doi:

Comedy in books, movies or TV can also bring more humor into your life, as can funny friends, family and pets. But in the midst of a hectic day, a good laugh with a colleague (away from quiet areas, of course!) can be wonderful stress relief. Puns optional.

C&CS Presents “Policies, Platforms and Promotion: Social Media for Every Library”– video now available

May 10, 2019


Thank you to Emily Mross, Josefine Smith and June Houghtaling for their PALS project and the following presentation. We had more than 90 people sign up and more than 60 participants in the “room.”

You can access the video here:

We’d also like to thank John Siegel, Tegan Conner-Cole, and Liz Kluesner as part of the PALS group that worked on this project. Thank you Diane Porterfield for providing closed captioning during the session and Amy Snyder for moderating.

C&CS couldn’t run without the CRD’s support and the support of PaLA and everyone who has been participating and watching these webinars with us. Thank you!

Connect and Communicate is taking a bit of a break over the summer while we think of ideas for next fall. If there is something you’d like to share with a wider audience and feel like C&CS is a good fit, please contact Erin Burns at emb28 at psu dot edu or fill out the form linked here:

Library Liaison Lunch and Learns with Faculty

May 9, 2019

Brown BagThere are of course many ways librarians who play a liaison role reach out to departments and programs. One successful effort at Villanova’s library is the lunch and learn. Last summer the liaison librarians brainstormed topics around which they could in pairs successfully facilitate conversations with faculty members that were not oriented to specific academic disciplines. This provided an opportunity for the subject specialists to grow awareness about the expertise of librarians in other issues related to research and scholarly communication.

The outcome was regular informal drop-in meetings during lunchtime throughout the fall semester. It was marketed as a brown bag lunch series.

The topics with the blurbs we sent to faculty:

Let your research bloom with ORCID: Researcher IDs in academic publishing
The unique ORCID identifier number provides researchers with a free, secure, perpetual location to showcase their professional portfolio and allows them to choose the information they share with other researchers, funders, and publishers. Come to the Library to set up your ORCID identifier in less than ten minutes and pick up your FREE ORCHID (while supplies last). Librarians will be on hand to assist you with registration and to answer your questions.

Pixelated Pedagogy: Creating Digital Projects in the Classroom
This informal presentation and discussion will focus on initiating course-related digital scholarship and cover topics such as potential platforms, useful applications and resources, and tips on how to leverage various formats in a digital environment. Past projects will also be showcased and discussed.

Measures of Impact
We’ll discuss impact factors, fake impact factors, other citation measures, and altmetrics.

Staying Alert: Tracking New Books and Publications in Your Field
Let your inbox be your watchdog and get notified of new publications on your interests or new citations of your work. We’ll show you how to have Browzine, Google Scholar, and other common databases let you know when there’s something to get excited about!

Open Access Scholarship and Publishing
Review considerations for selecting open access journals for publishing and learn how the Falvey SOAR fund relates to these publishing efforts.

Use, Publish, Share: Creative Commons Licensing and Scholarship
We are all too familiar with copyright infringement on the web. But there is a wealth of open-access resources that can be re-used with proper attribution under Creative Commons (CC) licensing. What is CC licensing? How can you protect your rights as an author and share your work freely with the public? How can you find and use CC-licensed works? Come to this session for a discussion that aims to tease out some answers.

Citation Wrangling
Serious research projects call for no-nonsense tools for taming citations. Learn how to use Zotero and Mendeley to save, organize & share references.

The series was so successful we’ve decided to run another brown bag series next fall. This time however we’re asking faculty for feedback now, before the summer, on what topics would interest them the most. This is an early way of alerting faculty to the fact that we will be having the brown bags again. Faculty responses have started rolling in, which hopefully means we’ll have lunch and learns on issues that we know matter to faculty.

BUDSC19 Call for Proposals

May 2, 2019

If you are involved with digital scholarship–supporting students or faculty with their digital scholarship, or doing your own thing–consider submitting a proposal! Some of the most popular BUDSC sessions in past years have been librarian presentations. The details are below…

Bucknell University will host its sixth annual digital scholarship conference #BUDSC19 from October 11th-13th, 2019. The theme of the conference is “From Wonder to Action: the Journey of Digital Scholarship.

#BUDSC19 is committed to expanding the definition of digital scholarship to be more inclusive across diverse communities, both inside and outside of academia. The conference will bring together a broad community of practitioners–faculty, researchers, librarians, artists, educational technologists, students, administrators, and others–engaged in digital scholarship both in research and teaching who share an interest in the journey of digital scholarship.

This year, we are inviting proposals that include (but are not limited to):

  • Exciting new ideas, projects, or technologies that spark the imagination,
  • Activity flows that transform the spark into action,
  • Stories about how you share the wonder.

The Call for Proposals can be found online at

More information on the call can be found here:

More details on conference registration will be coming soon!

Feel free to reach out to Jill Hallam-Miller at jbhm001@bucknell if you have questions.