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Throwing a Research Party

June 23, 2022

At W&J, our library is part of the Academic Affairs department of the college. Also, in the Academic Affairs department is our Writing Center and the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) Tutors. This arrangement is somewhat new since our Writing Center is about to celebrate their 1-year anniversary and even though PAL Tutors have been on campus for awhile, until last year they were part of the Student Life department.

A few years back, I had read an article that introduced me to the concept of a research party and since I read that article I’ve been trying to make it happen in my library. Here’s a link to that article, Throwing a Research Party, Deconstructing the Reference Desk: Bringing a Social Component to Research by Jennifer Hunter & Christina Riehman-Murphy, if you’d like to read it:

My attempts at throwing a research party were complicated by a library renovation and then a global pandemic but finally last fall I had my chance. A new coordinator of the First-Year Seminar (FYS) experience wanted to implement several sessions outside of class time and have FYS faculty encourage/require their students to attend a certain number of them. I had been working with our new Writing Center Coordinator and she was on board with doing a Research Party with me as a joint-session for the FYS cohort. We picked a date near midterm, decided to hold it in the library classroom, and wrote a blurb that pitched it as a one-stop-shop to have your questions about research & writing answered. At the last minute, I reached out to PAL tutoring to see if they wanted to join the party. They were unable to have tutors on hand but we were able to get information about their hours and subject coverage that we could share with attendees.

The night of the session, I along with two writing center tutors and the writing center coordinator, set up in the library with snacks and waited for people to start trickling in. What happened was that at 7pm, when our session began, about 30+ first-year students showed up ready to hear a presentation as that is what the previous sessions had been like. We pivoted and gave a quick presentation on the services that the writing center, the library, and PAL tutoring could provide. We had slides on repeat with the locations and hours for each support area and many students took pictures on their phone of the hours and ways to contact each center. Only a few students from the first group actually stuck around to ask questions. Our session was scheduled to be 2 hours long and, in that time, maybe 10 or 15 more students came through. In those smaller groups, even though the students didn’t come with a specific question, we were able to talk to them about their needs and several indicated that they would be making an appointment with the writing center in the future. So even though I think we failed at the concept of a research party, I think we succeeded at reaching a record number of students and helped to give the new writing center the exposure they needed to make students more aware of their existence.

We are doing another joint-session with the writing center and the PAL tutors this fall but we’ve pivoted from the concept of a research party to a scavenger hunt/trip around the world of academic support. Instead of a one-stop-shop, we’re going to create a passport and ask students to visit all three locations – the library, the writing center, and the tutoring lounge. At each stop they’ll get a short presentation on what types of services are provided and get their passport stamped. We’ll also try to have some candy or other treats to give away. The session is still happening near midterm so if students have a question we are encouraging them to go to that stop last so that they can stay there and work with someone who is on duty. If they don’t have a specific question at least they will know where each support service is located, recognize at least one person who works there, and hopefully be more likely to return when they do need help. I’m excited to see how this iteration of the workshop goes and I’m still looking for opportunities to throw a successful research party in the library.

Has anyone else collaborated with writing centers or tutors on their campus?

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

June 23, 2022

Articles include:

  • In the PaLRaP Spotlight: Tanya Fischer, MEd, MSLIS (she/her)
  • Customizing Summon for a Specific User Population: A Health Sciences Library’s Experience
  • Noteworthy: News Briefs from PA Libraries

Bryan McGeary & Danielle Skaggs, 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 Association. PaLRaP 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.

LMS and Library Database Integration

June 22, 2022

One constant in libraries is the fewer barriers you place between users and some resource the more users will take advantage of that resource.  That’s why libraries use technologies like ip authentication, single sign on, and responsive websites to make our collections more convenient for our patrons. 

Another tool that’s available to libraries is using LTI integrations to make library databases available within a learning management system.  LTI stands for Learning Tools Interoperability. LTI is an open standard that allows different pieces of software to communicate with a learning management system.  The LTI standard is supported by all major LMS: Blackboard, D2L, Canvas, and many others.   Using an LTI to integrate library databases into an LMS enables faculty to search those databases and quickly link to their resources within their online courses.  For example, my Library has a subscription to Films on Demand, an online video streaming database, our integration of this database enables faculty to seamlessly embed videos into their online courses.   Of course, there are other ways to do this, but for faculty uncomfortable using things like embed code, the LTI is a much better option.  Since an LMS is already password protected, anything embedded using an LTI requires no login from students.

With online classes so common today the LMS has become “the college” as far as many students are concerned.  The LMS is the digital campus through which students interact with everything that the university offers.  As such, it’s a good idea for libraries to see that their services are as present in the LMS as possible.  That could be a link to the library website or the ability for faculty to access library resources directly inside their course pages.

Most major database providers will have excellent documentation on how to setup an integration between their products and common learning management systems.  The process can be easily completed in a few days in most cases.  I highly recommend libraries explore this option.

Affordable Learning PA Summit 2022 Call For Proposals

June 15, 2022

The Affordable Learning PA Steering Committee invites you to submit a proposal for the fourth annual Affordable Learning Summit. The Affordable Learning Summit is an opportunity for librarians, faculty, and others to collaborate on building a network dedicated to making higher education in Pennsylvania more accessible and affordable.

The theme for this year’s Summit is Infrastructure for Affordability. Opportunities include panels, individual presentations, virtual posters, pre-recorded lightning talks, roundtables/networking (breakout rooms with moderators), or other format suitable for a fully virtual conference environment.

The Steering Committee welcomes proposals on aspects of open and affordable education activities across these themes: 

ThemeSuggested Topics
Building NetworksCommunities of Practice Faculty Partnerships Engaging Students OER Advocacy Organizations Campus Connections: bookstore, student success offices, learning technology 
Constructing OERPublishing and Creating OER Copyright Digital Repositories Authoring Tools ILS Integration
Blueprints for AssessmentFinancial Learning Satisfaction Learning Outcomes Programmatic Accessibility 
Pedagogy FrameworksOpen Pedagogy Interactive Course Materials Renewable Assignments
Miscellaneous Building MaterialsZero Cost Materials Designing OER for accessibility

This year’s ALPA Summit will be held virtually from August 9th-August 10th. The deadline for submissions is Thursday June 30th. Notifications for accepted proposals will be delivered by July 15. The date, time, and format of proposed presentations will be confirmed through conversation with the presenters during the week of July 25th.

Please click here to submit your proposal.

If you have additional questions about submitting your proposal, or about the ALPA Summit in general, please contact

(Link not working? Find the proposal submission form here:

Recordings of recent Connect & Communicate sessions available

June 6, 2022

Recordings of the two most recent Connect & Communicate sessions are available on our YouTube channel. Thank you to everyone who joined us live, and special thanks to our presenters.

In April, Allyson Wind of East Stroudsburg University presented Promoting Inclusion in the Academic Library with a CILLS Program Internship.”

In May, Ashoo Kumar, Sandy Morgart, Eric Novotny, and Dan Peters from Penn State University Libraries presented “Microfilm Enters the Digital Age: A Big Evolution for a Microformat.”