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Upcoming Free OER Summit in State College

July 8, 2019
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PALCI+Picture1Academic librarians interested in learning about OER this summer should consider the OER Summit that Affordable Learning PA (part of PALCI) is hosting on August 9th at Penn State in State College, PA.

“The Summit will bring together OER advocates from across the state to discuss shared challenges and solutions under the theme “Building Community.” The day will feature keynote presentations by Amy Hofer, Coordinator, Statewide Open Education Library Services for Oregon and Anne Osterman, Director of VIVA, as well as concurrent sessions, posters, and lightning talks by your fellow PA OER practitioners.”

This summit would be a great place to gather new ideas for the upcoming academic year.  The Summit is FREE to all attendees and registration is open online at http://www.palci.org/

Register soon as spaces are limited!

One Way To Create A More Inclusive Future

July 8, 2019

Open and Equitable Scholarly Communications: Creating a More Inclusive Future was released in June, and granted it’s not beach reading, but it is surely a must for every librarian’s professional development reading list. As a friend posted on social media soon after it came out: “This is the future of libraries.”

open-232x300In the Executive Summary it states: “The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) seeks to stimulate further advances through this action-oriented research agenda, which is designed to provide practical, actionable information for academic librarians; include the perspectives of historically underrepresented communities in order to expand the profession’s understanding of research environments and scholarly communication systems; and point librarians and other scholars toward important research questions to investigate.” In short, it lays out a “Research Agenda” with 3 foci: “People,” “Content” and “Systems.” Each focus includes a discussion of “areas of progress,” “practical actions” and “next directions for research.”

The conclusion makes clear why this is important: “This research agenda is intended to encourage the scholarly communications community and all librarians and library workers to work to enact change in the scholarly communications system. The agenda suggests a range of types of inquiries, each of which will help the community create a more open, inclusive, and equitable research environment.” Perhaps an even greater benefit of getting to read this report than the fact that it includes input from more than a 1,000 “library practitioners” from a wide array of libraries is that it also distills prior research by being based on an “extensive literature review.” Something always appreciated by busy librarians.

In the first of several appendices — the appendix section is nearly three times longer than the report itself — it discusses “Social Justice and This Research Agenda.” Wherein it provides what is maybe the best place to start. “Some of the issues raised in the literature, as well as (in various ways) in our focus groups and survey, are these, listed here in alphabetical order…” (Cf. pp. 35-36).

Happy New Fiscal Year!

July 5, 2019

Every July 1st brings with it the dawn of a new fiscal year. It is a season of change, when those deciding to retire from academia often do so at this time and new positions take effect. Refrigerators are crammed with left-over cakes, sweets and punch from farewell celebrations. Outstanding invoices and requests for expense reimbursements must be submitted to the Financial Department by June 30th. The classrooms and hallways are empty, with few summer courses in session. Hours of operation are reduced throughout the campus in facilities such as the cafeteria and gym. The parking lots are empty, about which I will never complain. Offices are being cleaned up for new personnel. Faculty, administration, and staff take advantage of the holiday week and head off for vacation, furthering contributing to the ghost town atmosphere on the premises. I remain huddled at the Information Desk on the lower level of our library, where a majority of our physical collections reside, and I freeze. Industrial-strength central air conditioning forces me to never retire my winter wardrobe during these summer months, and I often wear layers to keep my arms from turning blue! (How anyone wears sandals in this building is beyond my comprehension.) And so begins yet another fiscal year!

This year, July 1st had the honor of falling on a Monday, that most joyous and celebrated day of the week. (Said sardonically, of course.) As I have only been in my recent position since October of last year, this my first time witnessing the beginning of a new fiscal year and wrapping up the former one at this particular college. It is my responsibility to prepare the statistics of our interlibrary loaning and borrowing procedures for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. I was not here for July, August, September, and half of October of last year, so it might prove somewhat challenging to dig around for some of this information. But considering I have a prototype of what the annual report should look like based on looking at previous years’ reports, as well as access to the statistics through OCLC and Access PA, I am thinking that it should not be too hard to accomplish. I am  hoping to see an increase in the number of borrowing and lending which our library has done.

We are also undergoing a change in staff and administrators as well. A newly created position of Dean of Regional and Distance Education took over our former supervisor, who is still Director of Learning Support and Educational Support Services. Our new supervisor just started this week, and as she oversees several other departments in addition to our library, I know she will have a lot on her plate. I am still waiting eagerly for the full-time position of Systems and Emerging Technologies Librarian to be filled, for which I applied back in April and was briefly interviewed last month. (To be honest, I do not think I am computer-savvy enough to be a Systems Librarian, but my fingers are crossed that I will be given the opportunity to prove myself as competent when it comes to SQL and the likes.)

So while everyone else is on vacation, I and a few other library assistants remain on faithful watch at the circulation and reference desk. It is a very quiet time of year and a good opportunity to regroup and restore one’s psyche. I am blessed to have magnificent views of the incredible rural scenery which makes up our campus. When I need to get up and walk to warmer parts of the building that have more windows (and to get more steps in on my FitBit!), I sometimes catch a glimpse of a deer nibbling in the backyard of one of our neighboring residents. It is serene for someone who lives in a far more urban setting. And so I get a few hundred steps in, warm myself up with a cardigan and some coffee, and get back to the little odds and ends of my job.

2020 College & Research Division Candidates

July 1, 2019

CRD members, later this month you’ll receive ballots from PaLA to vote for the Vice Chair/Chair Elect and Professional Development Funds Manager for 2020. You can learn more about the candidates below.

Professional Development Funds Manager

Carrie Bishop

Statement:

I have thoroughly enjoyed serving on the CRD Board as a member-at-large and especially providing Pennsylvania librarians with an opportunity through the Virtual Journal Club to engage with and learn from their peers in a no-cost, virtual format.  As Professional Development Funds Manager, I will be committed to my role of facilitating the LSTA Grant process to further the professional development of librarians throughout Pennsylvania. I recognize the importance of these funds in the production of workshops and other professional development opportunities that allow librarians to gain new skills, share their ideas and expertise, and build community.  I will do my part to see that CRD continues to provide these opportunities for librarians.

Bio:

Carrie Bishop is the Distance Learning Librarian at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  In this role, she promotes and supports the inclusion of library resources and services in online and distance courses.  She regularly serves as an embedded librarian in online liberal studies English courses and creates digital learning objects to teach information literacy and library research skills.  Carrie joined the CRD Board as a Member-at-Large in 2018 and worked with a team to develop and pilot the CRD Virtual Journal Club. She has also been an active member of the PaLA Teaching, Learning & Technology Roundtable planning committee and served as the Chair in 2017.  Carrie holds an M.A. in Instructional Design and Technology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an MLS from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in English and Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


Vice Chair/Chair Elect

Bryan McGeary

Statement:

It is both an exciting and yet challenging time to be an academic librarian, as many of us are taking on new roles to meet changing demands or reinventing our approaches to the services that we have traditionally offered at our institutions. We are also finding new ways to engage with our patrons and extend our reach to those who have been underserved. The PaLA College and Research Division provides valuable programming and professional development opportunities to help librarians with achieving their goals and navigating the changes happening in our profession. Serving as the CRD Professional Development Funds Manager since 2016 has allowed me to witness the impact that the CRD has on furthering the professional development of librarians throughout Pennsylvania by providing and supporting relevant, timely programming. I would be honored to serve the CRD as Vice Chair/Chair Elect, providing leadership and support to an organization that has fostered my professional growth. I believe my experience as the CRD Professional Development Funds Manager will prove useful in navigating the budget and grant management responsibilities that come with this leadership position. 

Bio:

Bryan McGeary is an Information Literacy Librarian at Dickinson College, where his duties focus on instruction, reference, and subject liaison responsibilities. He previously served as the Subject Librarian for the Humanities at Ohio University from 2016-2018 and as a Library Specialist at the University of Pittsburgh from 2013-2016. In addition to serving on the CRD board as the Professional Development Funds Manager since 2016, he is the chair of the ALA Film and Media Round Table’s Notable Films Committee, chair of the ACRL European Studies Section’s Research & Planning Committee and a member of the section’s Publications Committee, as well as News Editor and Layout Editor for Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice. He is also a graduate of the ACRL Immersion and ILEAD USA programs and currently a member of the inaugural cohort of the Open Textbook Network’s Certificate in OER Librarianship program. He serves as Dickinson College’s Campus Partner to the Affordable Learning PA program and was recently selected as one of the members of ALPa’s second cohort of OER Specialists.

Bryan earned a Ph.D. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University, an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.S. in Journalism from Ohio University, and a B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 


Vice Chair/Chair Elect

Emily Mross

Statement:

As an early career professional, the Pennsylvania Library Association and the College & Research Division have been essential in helping me grow as a librarian and develop within the outstanding academic library community in our Commonwealth. As the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect, I will promote the services and resources that are benefits of membership within our association to increase our impact with Pennsylvania colleagues. I plan to increase dialog between library types and to encourage more academic libraries to receive recognition for the stellar work they already do to support the essential literacies of their campus communities through the PA Forward Star Library program. CRD provides a wealth of support and professional development opportunities for academic library staff. It is my ultimate mission to amplify the work of our division and increase participation in and recognition of the hard work that we all do.

Bio:

Emily Mross is the Business Librarian and Library Outreach Coordinator at Penn State Harrisburg Library. She previously served as the Library Manager at Northampton Community College – Monroe Campus from 2014-2016. Emily is active within the Pennsylvania Library Association. She is a PALS 2018 graduate, currently serves as the CRD publicity coordinator, and is a member of the Public Relations and Marketing Committee and the PA Forward Working Group. Emily holds a BA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an M. Ed. from East Stroudsburg University, and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

Staying focused over the summer

June 28, 2019

I’m not sure how I ended up working in a library as my sister has always told me that I don’t have a voice for libraries. And this summer I realized that I have a really hard time working when it’s quiet around me.

While our college does hold two, four-week class sessions over the summer, our library is only minimally involved in them. Few, if any, incorporate information literacy sessions. No items are placed on reserve. Students typically do not live on campus during these sessions so they aren’t hanging out in the library. I think during Summer Session I, our highest number of students in the building in a day has been about three.

We don’t have evening or weekend hours over the summer so in theory all of the library employees should be in the office together. However, at W&J our vacation is tied to the fiscal year so whatever vacation you haven’t used up by June 30th, you lose. Therefore, June ends up being a really popular time for our staff to burn vacation time. I looked at our master calendar and there was only one day in the entire month of July that no one was on vacation.

I have a list of projects that I want to work on over the summer but I’m finding it very hard to focus without the normal bustle of activity going on around me.

One thing that has helped me is to play webinar recordings, that I’ve been saving up all year, in the background while I work. Here are two free webinars that I have recently watched and thought had good practical tips.
The first one was on the MLA International Bibliography database, https://www.ebsco.com/blog/article/using-the-mla-international-bibliography-to-guide-the-research-process. I really liked the examples they shared with using the database to do some meta-analysis of how topics have been covered over the years. I also want to recommend to our English Department that they share the online tutorials on how to search the database with their students.
Today I’m watching one about searching PubMed, https://youtu.be/3CXCDFMdJBQ. I’m really interested in trying to implement the example with using dots and circles on paper to represent journals and databases to help students understand the concept of what is and is not being searched. I think I can make it apply to databases other than PubMed.

What are summers like at your library? Do you stay busy in the summer just like during the fall and spring? Or are you quiet like we are? I’m also open to more suggestions for webinars or podcasts that might be entertaining and educational.

 

Summer Prep for a New Liaison Librarian

June 21, 2019

I began my first librarian position during the summer of 2018. I am the first diversity library resident for Susquehanna University. This means that not only am I an early career librarian, but as the first resident of the institution there was no previous track for me to follow. I, along with my supervisor had to develop what it means to be a resident on Susquehanna’s campus. In my role as a resident, I handle instruction, assessment and liaison work for the business school.

Since this was my first library/librarian position, I felt very lost about how to organize my day. This was especially true because this was also my first salaried position, where I had the trust of my supervisor. After many jobs where I had less control over my schedule, going to a position where I had trust left me unsure but, with a desire to prove myself.  

Therefore, I began to work, but I didn’t really have a clear understanding of what prep for a new year looked like.

I worked with my colleagues on assigned projects and found work to keep me going but I felt lost a lot of the time, despite the support of others.

Now going into my second year of work and looking back and planning for the future, I have a few suggestions of how to utilize your first (and any) summer.

1)      Plan out your professional development for the year:

One activity that kept me busy throughout the summer was strategizing what professional development I wanted to participate in the upcoming year. I researched future conferences, signed up for listservs, participated in webinars, and read relevant articles. At the time felt like busy work to me. However, it actually was very formative for my year and I found more useful than I thought.

2)      Try to plan a few events:

You do not know what the year will bring, yet. You are still new on campus and may not have a strong knowledge of the climate on campus. Nevertheless, you know where your interests lie and you should use your time to create something that will suit your interests. Try to implement all those events over the course of the year.  Either way, you will have a list of projects you can refer to any point of your career.

3)      Meet as many faculty and staff colleagues as possible:

This is the perfect time to get a build campus partnerships. You can make a list of departments you want to connect with and work your way through that list over the course of the summer. Faculty can be a little difficult to contact over the summer, but this is also a great time to create a newsletter. It is a nice way to greet faculty who spend their summers away from campus.

4)      Be okay, not knowing:

This is something I often have to remind myself to practice. There will be days where you may not have an exact plan for the day. Or where you spend time at your desk trying to figure out how to spend your day. But that’s OKAY. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself. You only get one first summer, spend it learning as much as you can.

These are some of the recommendations to prep for your own summers. It isn’t an exhaustive list. But if you are looking for a way to better shape your summer; I would highly recommend utilizing any of the suggestions listed here. The most important one being allow yourself moments to breathe and be okay with the unknown.

Happy Summer!

Some books are more equal than others: Summer project=Inventory

June 20, 2019

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” wrote George Orwell in Animal Farm.

As I embark on the tall task of taking a complete inventory of our print collection (between 75 – 80 K volumes) with our staff of two over our two month summer without students on campus (our summer courses are online only), I find myself modifying this famous line as I think about the fact that we will be weeding over the next few years (and are pulling some of the really bad stuff now as we go).

Some books are more equal than others.

All of our libraries are facing space issues as we shift from print collections to digital and there is more demand on our campuses for office space, collaborative group space, and technology. What is it that justifies a book maintaining space on our shelves? What makes us add a book to the collection? How many copies of a title is enough? Too many? Why do donors to the library seem to think that we want their personal collections of books? (some of which don’t fit our mission, collection development strategy, or support our curricula).

How do we navigate this slippery slope of questions and concerns?

Just a few things crossing my mind as I wait for the scanner to recharge… Any tips/tricks/advice are welcome.

Signed,

   Scanning Away the Summer,

   Inventory Collecting Librarian