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Collaborating with ROTC Cadets on Your Campus

May 22, 2023

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a program run by the United States military that trains college students to become military officers upon graduation. Each military branch has a corresponding corps:

Cadets (Army and Air Force) and Midshipmen (Navy) are college students who can major in whatever they wish – ROTC is considered either a minor or an elective course depending on the school. These courses include everything from basic military history to leadership labs, with most field training occurring in the summer. They are not on active duty and ineligible for deployment. However, they are paid a monthly stipend and most participating students receive full tuition scholarships. When they graduate, they receive commissions in the branch they chose with the rank of Ensign for NROTC graduates and Second Lieutenant for all others.

All three branches have programs at various locations across the state. Most units have a central location at a larger campus, while smaller schools near that campus have agreements in place to send any interested cadets to that location. The major locations are:

  • Army ROTC
    • Bucknell University
    • Clarion University of Pennsylvania
    • Dickinson College
    • Drexel University
    • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
    • Gannon University
    • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    • Lehigh University
    • Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
    • Moravian College
    • Penn State University Park
    • Shippensburg University
    • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
    • Temple University
    • University of Pittsburgh
    • University of Scranton
    • Valley Forge Military College
    • Widener University
    • Carnegie Mellon University
    • Penn State University Park
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • Villanova University
    • Penn State University Park
    • St. Joseph’s University
    • University of Pittsburgh
    • Wilkes University

As a librarian at Penn State University Park, I happen to be at the only location in the state that hosts all three branches. This has given me the unique opportunity to collaborate with cadets to create guides and programs that meet their specific needs.

For example, every fall, AFROTC conducts its Professional Officer Course Leadership Laboratory (POC LLAB) for cadets in their third year of study. Senior students who took the course the previous year act as teaching assistants and guides, which gives them some mentoring experience before they graduate and earn their commissions. In 2021, a few of the seniors who happened to be engineering majors and knew I was a librarian asked if I could create an online course guide to help cadets find the information they would need to complete the required research assignments. I worked with them as I would have done if they were faculty instructors, determining the intended outcomes of the course and assignments so that we could decide which information sources would be the best to include. The guide was completed in time for the cadets to begin their final project, which they presented at the end of the semester to the rest of the AFROTC unit. The guide remains in use and can be found at I have even been invited to the presentations for the Fall 2021 and 2022 semesters.

This project led me to ask the cadets if a general ROTC LibGuide would be of use to them. Their overwhelming positive responses became the major factor in creating such a guide during the Spring 2022 semester. I worked directly with both upper-class cadets and midshipmen to determine what information to include. The officers in charge of the units were kept in the loop as much as possible and had ideas to add as well. The result is a guide that is useful for all Penn State cadets, including those who are students at Commonwealth Campus locations — The guide is broken down into five main sections:

  • General information on Penn State ROTC
  • Information relevant to all services
  • AFROTC-specific information
  • Army ROTC-specific information
  • NROTC-specific information

We included everything from uniform standards and physical fitness guides to data on major bases and official writing guides. Like the other LibGuides I control, I edit it every summer to ensure that all the information and links are current.

Although you may not know it, it is probable that you have a few cadets on your campus. Like members of any other organization on campus, they are students first with the same informational needs that all your other patrons have. However, as cadets, they also require access to special information that you may not normally deal with. You don’t need a military background to help them out. All you need is to know where to find what they need, and hopefully the guides I created can help you with that – and even inspire you to work with your cadets and midshipmen to create your own.

Not-Really-Lazy Days of Summer

May 8, 2023

At campuses where summer semesters are quieter than the rest of the year, you’ve probably heard comments like this:

  • “Wow, I bet you’re looking forward to a calm few months. What do you do all summer, anyway?”
  • “Now that summer is almost here, let’s change All the Things!”
  • “I have so much to catch up on this summer.”
  • “Summer is a great time to have workshops and professional development!”
  • “Maybe over the summer we can come up with new outreach ideas.”
  • and more…

In my experience, the time between spring and fall semesters has been short, busy, and lacking any magic to complete All the Things.

woman sitting at a table with a book. text reads: what do you get when you cross a writer with a deadline? answer is a really clean house.

That being said, some of my colleagues and I hope to tackle writing or research projects this summer. Given the season’s tendency to go by quickly (reminder: take your vacation!), inspiration to start sooner rather than later is important. Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful.

LRRT webinars
ALA’s Library Research Round Table (LRRT) periodically hosts some great webinars related to library research topics. I haven’t made my way through all of them yet, but I learned a lot from the earlier sessions about framing research questions, literature reviews, and publishing.

If you need a little extra help to avoid distractions and just get started, consider the pomodoro technique. Work sessions are timed, with breaks in between. It may seem counterintuitive, but for some, breaks can prevent fatigue and help boost concentration.

Reading about writing
Books, articles and websites can help in your approach to academic writing. I like the practical ideas and goals shared in Publish and Flourish by Tara Grey, and your library may have other books with advice and strategies. If you haven’t already come across A Library Writer’s Blog, it’s a great place to learn about calls for proposals and get writing ideas. And yes, there are LibGuides with tips and resources as well, such as Research and Writing for Librarians.

PaLA resources
Pennsylvania Library Association’s College & Research Division offers several publishing and learning opportunities, such as contributing to this blog!

Finally: Progress, not perfection
How often have we heard instructors tell their classes (or said ourselves to students) that they should start writing or working on the assignment they are dreading, and make revisions later? I catch myself sometimes thinking I can’t start something because I need more time, or creativity, or whatever. Conditions are never going to be perfect, and just getting started can help you build momentum and plan next steps.

There are lots of other ways to reach your writing goals, like having an accountability partner or forming a writing group. If you’ve found a strategy that works for you, please post a comment and share!

Exploring New Strategies For First-Year Information Literacy Instruction

April 28, 2023

First-Year courses are the bread and butter of many academic libraries’ information literacy programs, and the same is certainly true for us at W&J. First-Year information literacy instruction sessions are an opportunity to welcome students to the library and to campus and get them up to speed early in their college careers (Goodsett and Schmillen, 2022, pp. 91, 95). Goodsett and Schmillen (2022) discuss in their article, “Fostering Critical Thinking in First-Year Students through Information Literacy Instruction,” that these sessions are also opportunities to foster greater critical thinking skills (both of which are critical to their success as college students) (pp. 93, 98-100). At W&J, we’re working to find a better path forward to make our information literacy and critical thinking instruction more effective for our first-year students through a multi-pronged approach.

Our current experience at W&J mirrors the experiences reported by Goodsett and Schmillen (2022) – many libraries are frequently trying to do too much in one-shot instruction sessions in first-year classes (pp. 100, 102, 104). As argued by Christina Heady, Jennifer Horton, and Joshua Vossler (2023, March) at ACRL 2023, the one-shot structure is not ideal for incorporating all of the information literacy and critical thinking skills librarians would like to impart to first-year students. However, at W&J, we have been doing our best to squish in as much as possible our 70- or 115-minute class sessions, especially since many of the solutions proposed by Heady, Horton, and Vossler (2023, March) were best suited for larger institutions with dozens if not hundreds of employees. With that said, squeezing in material is challenging for librarians to teach and students to retain. This is exacerbated by the fact that many first-year seminars are moving away from traditional research assignments, and so students struggle to apply the information literacy skills we teach them when they visit the library during their first few weeks of classes.

In the Fall 2022 semester, we began an academic year-long pilot program to incorporate information literacy instruction into English Composition (W&J’s equivalent of first-year writing) courses. The instruction sessions encompassed a wide range of basic information literacy concepts from topic and keyword development, search strategies for popular library databases, and critical and contextual source evaluation. The assignments in English Composition are more traditional research projects, and so we hoped that those assignments would make it easier for the students to apply the information literacy skills discussed in our sessions. This program took off beyond our hopes, thanks to the enthusiasm of the department chair and the adjunct instructors who teach the majority of the English Composition classes. We were able to visit all but one or two sections in the Fall semester and visited all sections in the Spring semester.

The success of the pilot program and the ill-fitting nature of the assignments commonly assigned in first year seminars have presented an opportunity for us to strive more towards by Heady, Horton, and Vossler’s (2023, March) more integrated approach through the creation of a multipronged approach to first-year library instruction. This approach, which we will try for the Fall 2023 semester, will involve the first-year seminar library instruction transforming into more of an orientation to the library (a direction we explored during the Fall 2022 semester with success) with the option for professors to request a more in-depth information literacy session and the expansion of the English Composition pilot program to include more than one librarian teaching the 7-10 sections each semester. We are also looking for more ways to incorporate primary source literacy into our English Composition lesson plans.  We plan to continue our personal librarian model in the first-year seminars because we have found that it helps students feel more comfortable navigating the library to have a familiar face around. This new program is an experiment, but hopefully one that will give us more opportunities to engage with students and encourage them to develop/hone their critical thinking and information literacy skills over the course of their first year in college.

How do you structure your work with first-year students? I’d love to hear about other models as well as any feedback on our plans!


Goodsett, M., & Schmillen, H. (2022, January). “Fostering critical thinking in first-year students through information literacy instruction.” College & Research Libraries, 83(1), pp. 91-110.

Heady, C., Horton, J., & Vossler, J. (2023, March). The questionable efficacy of one-shot instruction for first-year students: a scoping review [Contributed Paper]. ACRL 2023, Pittsburgh, PA.

Connect and Communicate Presents Funshots!: Gamification in Library Instruction

April 27, 2023

Presented by 

Emma H. Beaver, Angela R. Davis, Kristin E. C. Green, Elizabeth Nelson

Wednesday, May 17 at 1:00 pm EST

Registration Link

Looking for ideas on how to make your one-shots more fun without sacrificing your learning outcomes? Come to this session to hear from four instruction librarians as we each share a strategy, resource, or lesson plan that lets students play their way toward information literacy. We’ll share a variety of approaches for different “levels” of gamification, from lesson plans with subtle game-like elements to sessions built around a keyword selection card game, that you can adapt for your own instruction.

Emma H. Beaver is the Head Librarian at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus. She has been a librarian for seven years, and has worked in both public and academic libraries. Her current research interests include seed libraries and home/work-life balance. Angela R. Davis is a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State Behrend, located in Erie, PA. She has been a librarian for ten years and has experience working with STEM students and undergraduate researchers in general. Her current research interests center around librarians teaching for-credit courses and analysis of reference and research services in academic libraries. Kristin E. C. Green has been a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State Scranton for seven years where she teaches course-related information literacy, develops various collections, and programs co-curricular events. Her research primarily focuses on the pedagogy of information literacy education and professional development for teaching faculty in information literacy. Elizabeth Nelson has been a Reference and Instruction Librarian at Penn State Lehigh Valley for four years and previously worked in several other academic libraries since gaining her MLIS in 2015. Her instruction support focuses on early career students across the campus, as well as specific courses within business, the humanities, IST, and game studies. Currently, her research areas include gamified instruction, the experiences of librarians as instructors of record of for-credit courses, gaming communities as social third spaces, and open educational resources.

We will mute participants on entry into the Zoom room. Session will be recorded and available on YouTube after the session. We will enable Zoom’s Live Transcription feature during the session.

If you would like to present with C&CS, please contact the C&CS team.

This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, Governor.

Support is also provided by the College and Research Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association.

Open Science and Modular Publishing

April 20, 2023

Since the release of the Nelson Memo, “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” (OSTP, August 25, 2022), there has been a great deal of discussion about public access to scientific scholarship and data. But the concept of open science is not limited to just that which is publicly funded.

An Introduction to the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science states, “Open science is a set of principles and practices that aim to make scientific research from all fields accessible to everyone for the benefits of scientists and society as a whole.”

The UNESCO Recommendation, which is the major international standard has six guiding principles:

1. Transparency, scrutiny, critique and reproducibility—to reinforce the rigor of scientific results, enhance the positive impact of science on society and increase society’s ability to solve complex interconnected problems.

2. Equality of opportunities—to ensure that all scientists and those with an interest in science have equal opportunity to access, contribute to and benefit from science, regardless of origin or circumstance.

3. Responsibility, respect and accountability—to be responsible for and aware of public accountability, potential conflicts of interest, intellectual integrity and the possible social or ecological consequences of research activities.

4. Collaboration, participation and inclusion—to ensure that scientific collaborations transcend the boundaries of geography, language and resources, and include knowledge from marginalized communities to solve problems of great social importance.

5. Flexibility—to acknowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all way to practice open science and to encourage different pathways to practicing it while upholding the core values.

6. Sustainability—to be as efficient and impactful as possible by building on long-term practices, services, infrastructures and funding models to ensure participation of scientists from less-privileged countries or institutions.

There are many active initiatives designed to support open science. One is to reimagine the dissemination process using open access modular publishing. Launched in 2022, Octopus and ResearchEquals are two freely available platforms for publishing components of one’s research in an open online forum.

One of the problems with Gold Open Access publishing is that it transfers the cost of publication from the consumer to the researcher looking to get published in the form of article publishing charges. A fee paid by the author. The drawback to Green Open Access publishing is many OA repositories have an embargo period before a publication is made freely available.

In the case of ResearchEquals the author must pay if they want to have their work published using a more restrictive Creative Commons license. Octopus also employs Creative Commons licenses, but requires one which allows derivative works.

The publication types in Octopus are based on the eight stages of scientific research:

  • Research Problem
  • Rationale/Hypothesis
  • Method
  • Results
  • Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Real World Application
  • Peer Review

For ResearchEquals there are many more publication types and they are called modules. Thus, enabling the publication of text, data, code and media. With both platforms, each publication is assigned its own DOI.