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The Mindful Library, continued

January 17, 2020

In my previous post, I shared some observations about three sections of the book Recipes for Mindfulness in Your Library: Supporting Resilience and Community Engagement. Here are some quick thoughts on the last section, Teaching/Research.

Chapters in this section generally focus on being “in the moment” when teaching or learning. This was timely. I’ve been in a few meetings recently where reading comprehension was discussed. Multitasking or rushing through a task just to finish it because you are looking ahead was mentioned as a deterrent to really absorbing information. We see this in ourselves and in students we work with – and being mindful of that is a good step in trying to focus.

The importance of checking in with students about what they are thinking and feeling “in the moment” is a key takeaway from the last chapter, “Overcoming Research Anxiety.” While many of us already check in during instruction or consultations – “do you have any questions about this?” – we may not get meaningful results. Instead, following the advice of this chapter, we might frame our questions to be more specific, acknowledging emotions. We can ask if the research process seems overwhelming, what part of the process students dread the most, and if any strategies helped in the past. In other words, we can try to start a conversation that might help students become more comfortable with research.

Based on the title alone, I probably don’t need to mention that Recipes for Mindfulness In Your Library is not a deep dive into theories and practices; concepts are explained just enough to highlight main ideas. This book is a good overview that provides topics to discuss with colleagues, programming ideas and ways to incorporate mindfulness into work.

CRD Virtual Journal Club Fall Wrap-Up

January 15, 2020

This past fall, the College & Research Division hosted a virtual journal club, which met online three times over the semester. The CRD Journal Club was originally established in Summer 2018, and runs in the summer, spring, and fall of each year. During the Fall 2019 series, the group discussed three scholarly articles, all examining students’ transitions from high school to college environments and how it relates to what we do in the library.

The first article discussed was “Secondary teacher perceptions and openness to change regarding instruction in information literacy skills,” by Sarah Crary and published in School Library Research. Participants discussed problems shared across both school and college/university libraries: a lack of relationships with teachers and faculty and the need to collaborate meaningfully with them to meet the students where they are in terms of information literacy skills. 

The second article discussed was “Fortifying the pipeline: A quantitative exploration of high school factors impacting the information literacy of first-year college students,” by Jennifer L. Fabbi published in College & Research Libraries. This article primarily generated discussion about how to authentically assess and report on our impact on students. 

The last article discussed was “Without foundations, we can’t build: Information literacy and the need for strong school library programs,” by Cara Berg, Darby Malvey, and Maureen Donohue and published by In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Participants shared their thoughts on barriers school librarians and incoming college students face, as well as ideas for building relationships between college/university and school libraries in order to make connections to better bridge gaps in information literacy skills.

Overall, this was a very illuminating series for the journal club, involving both academic and school librarians who were able to share and compare experiences. Many ideas were discussed and formulated amongst the group members, such as working closely with first-year faculty to determine and set expectations for information literacy within courses and sharing this kind of information literacy data with high school administrators, which will hopefully turn into successful projects and adaptations at individual institutions.

We look forward to our spring session, which will discuss critical librarianship. We will meet at 1:00 pm on February 19th, March 25th, and April 22nd. Participants can register for the series and attend any number of sessions that work for their schedules. Look for our upcoming emails!

Get ready for APA 7th Edition!

January 7, 2020

7th Edition

The American Psychological Association announced in October that they have finalized a new edition of APA Style.  This update has some changes that will benefit students.  Especially some simplifications to cover pages and citations .  Here are some changes to be aware of:

  • The cover page has changed drastically. The running head is gone!  There is an example of a student cover page here.
  • Book citations no longer require the location a book was published.
  • There are several grammar changes listed on the APA Grammar and Usage page.

The APA doesn’t have a comprehensive list of all the changes but those are a few I was able to identify.  Has anyone else noticed others?  The APA Style Blog has a some excellent resources to help librarians transition to teaching the new edition in their Instructional Aids area.  Any information literacy librarian will want to keep those on hand.  The APA 7th Edition Style Manual has been out of stock at many book sellers so these online guides might be the only resources available for the next few months.

The Mindful Library

January 3, 2020

At the start of a new year, the subject of mindfulness often appears in media and conversation. Practices like meditation, yoga or journaling are suggested as New Year’s resolutions or intentions. This extends to our profession in our individual work and in a broad sense, as we plan programming and “de-stress” activities.

Being mindful (ha! sorry) of these types of conversations, it seemed like a good time to learn more about mindfulness and libraries. So, I borrowed (E-ZBorrow-ed, thanks PALCI!) Recipes for Mindfulness in Your Library. This book is edited by Madeleine Charney, Jenny Colvin, and Richard Moniz. (Charney was part of a 2017 Connect and Communicate webinar).

Image: Pixabay

The first two sections of the book highlight efforts at public and academic libraries, including collaborations with other departments or organizations.

The more familiar topics of coloring books, yoga and therapy animals are included, along with approaches that incorporate virtual reality, light therapy, and dedicated spaces. One standout example was the Brain Booth at Humboldt featured in Chapter 6. If you, like me, find value in learning from other libraries’ planning and programs, these will be interesting chapters.

Sharing ideas about mindfulness programs for patrons is something I’m comfortable with, but my own practices are spotty at best. Usually, the day’s events take priority over a few minutes of reflection on an instruction session or project. So, I was not sure what to expect as I started reading the third section, Personal Practice. I learned that mindfulness can entail dedicating a few minutes to quick note-taking after a class, rather than a chunk of time set aside for Journaling with a capital J. Reflecting on the mood of the class, anything unexpected that happened, apprehensions and ideas, etc. is valuable in the moment as a way to help refocus, and move on to what’s next on the day’s schedule. This reflection can also help improve our instruction, and how we engage with students in the future.

I considered skipping Chapter 11, “Mindfully Managing Library Teams” because that is not my role. I’m glad I didn’t! Especially if you are part of a small team, this chapter is a good introduction to mindfulness among groups, awareness of colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses, and reasons to celebrate failures as well as successes.

In my next blog post later this month, I’ll share more about this book, including observations about the fourth section, Teaching/Research.

Help Shape the Future of Open Access Journals with Your $0.02 of Feedback

January 2, 2020

Plan S was a shot across the bow of commercial publishers when it was announced in 2018, “cOAlition S: Making Open Access a Reality by 2020.”


Many responses and adjustments have transpired, but one of the more interesting countervailing suggestions was made by the Chief Publishing Officer at Springer Nature in “A faster path to an open future.” It brought to the fore the idea of “transformative publishers” producing “transformative journals.”

“Transformative Publishing: Requirements for a new publishing standard: A proposal from Springer Nature” outlines the proposed criteria for becoming a transformative publisher, but it also raises questions. Would transformative publishing realistically result in transformative journals and will transformative publishers produce transformative journals in line with the goals of Plan S?

To get a handle on how you would answer these questions read “Addendum to the cOAlition S Guidance on the Implementation of Plan S.” Then help cOAlition S in its efforts to stimulate the migration to transformative arrangements by commenting on the proposed framework for transformative journals before 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (9am CET) January 6, 2020.

Springer Nature Group already made its response public in mid-December 2019, “Alternative conditions needed in order for cOAlition S’s proposal for Transformative Journals to succeed.”

PaLA Leadership Orientation

December 25, 2019

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Pennsylvania Library Association’s Leadership Orientation at the decorative and warmly inviting Wyndham Gettysburg on December 9th and 10th. The invitation to attend came courtesy of Christi Buker, the executive director for the Pennsylvania Library Association, as I am an incoming Vice-Chair for the association’s Technical Services Round Table. This was my first time attending anything PaLA related, so I was very excited to finally meet up with fellow librarians throughout the state. Gettysburg is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive for me from the Lehigh Valley and the orientation was a two-day event.

I had already been in touch with other members of the Technical Services Round Table prior to the orientation, including outgoing Chair Paige Andrew of Penn State University Park, incoming Chair Anitra Gates of Erie County Public Library (six hours away!), and Secretary/Treasurer Katie Greenleaf Martin, District Consultant for Altoona District. Prior to the various meetings and break-out sessions, we broke off into three groups to go out into the city for dinner. Here, I was able to talk more with my comrades in the Technical Services Round Table, as well as be introduced to several other librarians who joined us for dinner. I had the pleasure of meeting Emily Mross for the first time. She is a business librarian for Penn State Harrisburg and often writes articles for the Pennsylvania Library Association’s quarterly bulletin. It was a wonderful experience to finally connect with people whose articles I have been reading for nearly two years or with whom I have been exchanging emails over the last several months as I begin the transition to Vice-Chair.

After dinner, we regrouped at the Wyndham for our official welcome from Christi Buker and were also introduced to the first Vice-President and President-Elect, Michele Legate, as well as Rob Lesher, the newly appointed PA Forward™ Program Manager. Michele had us engage in an ice-breaker with whom we were sitting at our tables to rank fifteen items we would utilize in the event of being stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. All I can say is that while I got the first item correct according to the Coast Guard (a shaving mirror, which can be used to signal for help), I would not survive being lost at sea! Afterward, we highlighted the achievements and challenges of 2019 with unit reports from the various divisions, chapters, and round tables, as well as board reports and directors at large, dispensing what they had learned by serving this year. The evening capped off with a fabulous dessert reception. I can honestly say that the Wyndham Gettysburg really fed us well! It being a Monday night, however, and with the Eagles playing Monday night football (against the Giants, which I sadly must say was no contest), I retired early to my room to get ready for the next day’s busy schedule of events.


An authentic Civil War 3rd Ordnance cannon sits in the lobby of the Wyndham Gettysburg.


We started our second day with regrouping in one of the hotel’s ballrooms to discuss our mission for 2020. Christi Buker really stressed the importance of membership to the Pennsylvania Library Association and how opportunities need to be provided for members to engage, learn, and volunteer. Buker encouraged us to promote the PaLA to those who are not members and to be persuasive in getting them to join. We touched upon organizing workshops and events where speakers would be presenting, and how to coordinate dates, locations, vendors, audio/visual set-ups, food, evaluations, marketing, registration fees and policies, and on-site considerations. (I give a huge shout-out and applause for those who coordinate such events!) Another session delved deeper into the Pennsylvania Library Association’s website, with Buker encouraging us to either add or update our profile pictures. Buker and I had never met before (although we have talked on the telephone), but she recognized me immediately in the lobby the evening before because of my profile picture, and she thanked me for that. During the presentation the following day, she called me out for having an up-to-date profile picture!


In addition to keeping our profiles updated, Buker also explained to us how to send out group and individual messages so we can keep connected with our fellow members, as well as other features. I have come away with a better understanding of our association’s website and feel more confident utilizing it. It will be a valuable tool as I step into the role of Vice-Chair for the Technical Services Round Table, especially since face-to-face encounters with the incoming Chair might prove difficult given the distance. We wrapped up the orientation with break-out sessions among the various board and committee chairs, divisions, chapters, and round tables, where we got to discuss what unique circumstances and challenges we face as we move into the third decade of the twenty-first century. (Already???)

Overall, I was deeply pleased with my trek to the Leadership Orientation, and I give my heartfelt gratitude to Christi Buker, Michele Legate, and the other hardworking members of the Pennsylvania Library Association who made this orientation possible. An appreciative thanks goes to the Wyndham Gettysburg for hosting us in its splendid hotel, and to the nearby restaurants who accommodated us. I strongly encourage you to actively recruit your fellow librarians who are not yet members of the PaLA to join, and for those who are already members, please have them consider opportunities to involve themselves with this fabulous association. As with anything we do in life, it is all about a leap of faith. I am not sure what the next two years will bring for me as I serve on the Technical Services Round Table, but my hope is that I will continue to grow in my knowledge and capabilities as a librarian to better serve in my profession. I cannot do this isolated; I need the assistance and wisdom of my fellow librarians as I navigate this still new and largely unfamiliar landscape. This is what the Pennsylvania Library Association provides. Through the association, I am able to feel a sense of family as I connect with other librarians across the state; it brings us together when we otherwise would not normally have the opportunity to engage in person. Thank you, PaLA! Here is wishing all of you a joyous holiday season with your loved ones and continued peace and prosperity in the New Year!


The beautifully decorated lobby of the Wyndham Gettysburg is incredibly inviting for this time of year!

Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2019

’Twas the day before winter holiday break, and all through the library, not a student was to be found. Paper and project deadlines have passed, and exams have been sat. The faculty have seemingly long since retreated to their home offices to grade (wait, wasn’t that just last week?). The librarians paused to take a deep breath and reflect on the fall semester that had just passed. Time to service the printers and copiers, fill the staplers, empty the hole punchers, and restock the pens and pencils that were “borrowed” (but are hardly ever returned). Then to check the book drops and shelve. 

It feels odd to take down Christmas decorations before Christmas has even come, and then we remember why we had the student workers string the lights around the banisters… Maybe they can stay until January. 

A few more reports to run, out of office assistants to be set up, and then break can begin. Well, after we check out our own reading list books! 

Happy Holidays!