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“Documenting COVID-19”: Asking the Community to Share Its Stories

August 6, 2020
“Coronavirus mundial” collage image, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our communities in unique ways. It is for this reason that the Villanova University Archives, Falvey Memorial Library’s Digital Scholarship Librarian, and the Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest are collaborating on the “Documenting COVID-19” collection effort.

In this initiative all Villanova students, faculty, full and part-time staff, and alumnae/i are invited to:

  • Submit their story;
  • Share photographs;
  • Create or submit a video or audio recording;
  • Create or submit a collection of digital objects;
  • Share any reflections from this unique period. This may include experiences about school, work, home, or events surrounding the BLM protests.

The stated goal is to ensure that future generations will have original sources of information regarding the lives and times of Villanovans who experienced this global pandemic.

According to Preservation & Digital Archivist Beaudry Allen, collecting will be ongoing throughout the pandemic and in the subsequent weeks after the pandemic has passed. People are allowed to submit as many times as they like as events or emotions change. All submissions will be preserved in the University Archives at Falvey Library.

Also, unlike traditional collection initiatives, this collecting process is spontaneous and premised upon “crisis collecting.” This means that collecting activities occur simultaneously to events unfolding. The policies are based on the University’s Archives collecting policy and on best practices developed by the Tragedy Response Initiative of the Society of American Archivists. Read the policy and scope documents here.

If you have any questions about the project please contact:

-Adapted from Falvey Memorial Library’s “Documenting Covid-19: Submit Your Story!” webpage, which also has more information about the project leaders.

RDA Update Forum

July 29, 2020

I took a cataloging and classification course back in the spring of 2016 while I was working on my Master of Library Science. While the course proved to be my Achilles’ heel, RDA seemed very intriguing to me, so I am happy to announce that the North American RDA Committee is holding its first online RDA Update Forum on Monday, August 3rd from 3:00 to 5:00 PM EST.

This free webinar will feature presentations from members of NARDAC and other RDA experts on recent activities and key RDA topics. The session will be recorded and publicly shared. Register now!

Program line-up (order and title of presentations subject to change)

  • RDA Hot Topics, Thomas Brenndorfer, NARDAC Representative to the RSC
  • RDA/PS conversion project update: the LC/PCC policy statements, Melanie Polutta, LC Representative to NARDAC
  • Getting ready for the new RDA Toolkit: updates from Library and Archives Canada, Thi Bao Tran Phan, CCC Representative to NARDAC
  • Translating the new RDA Toolkit into French, Daniel Paradis, Translations Team Liaison Officer
  • RDA Toolkit Update, James Hennelly, Director of ALA Digital Reference
  • RDA conformance in a complex environment, Stephen Hearn, ALA Representative to NARDAC
  • 3R is almost done – what’s next? Kathy Glennan, RSC Chair

This notification comes courtesy of sent on behalf of Dominique Bourassa, ALA Representative to/Chair of NARDAC.

Challenges & Opportunities

July 22, 2020

Now more than ever our support roll as academic librarians to our faculty is essential. This transition (or quick shove off the cliff) into virtual teaching, has proven the importance of access to quality digital materials. This is not without its challenges, but I also believe it opens up opportunities for the library.

While teaching faculty had to rethink how to effectively teach in a digital format, the librarians had to rethink how to best support these faculty, and of course, the students. We moved to virtual reference, encouraged faculty to embed us in their Canvas classes, and focused on providing access to ebooks and other e-resources. Finding streaming video equivalents for DVDs faculty would normally play in-person, continues to be a challenge in the virtual environment. As far as we have come technologically, not every film is available from our streaming services, it is out of budget, and/or does not provide the appropriate public performance rights. Explaining copyright restrictions has been an interesting challenge. I see the frustration from the teaching faculty when I can’t get them access to something they need and I feel it too. As we encounter these and other challenges, and do our best to find solutions, I am hopeful for positive change. Accessibility and access will have a higher importance. Evaluation of our current digital holdings and streaming video databases will take top priority, allowing us to offer high quality digital materials. This move to online teaching and the change in how we operate has shown a light on a deficit we possibly did not know was there, or was too low on the priority list to change.

This is a true learn-as-you-go moment for all of us, but I think it is also a great opportunity to collaborate with our faculty, establish strong roots of support, evaluate our collections, and evaluate the needs of our community. It is an opportunity to really jump feet-first into the deep end of library user needs and accessibility. It is an opportunity for growth and learning; growth of our collections, growth of new skills, and new opportunities to learn new technology. We are in the middle of a historical moment that will shape librarianship for years if not decades to come. It is not easy to be in the midst of change, but I have hope that we can adapt to propel our profession forward.

Coping with Isolation

July 18, 2020

Back in March, I shared some tips about coping with crisis. 

I’ll be honest, when I sat down and wrote that post, I never imagined that in July, I would still be working from home.  At Penn State, we are in the midst of preparing return to work plans, and we hope to be back in the library soon to start preparing for the fall semester, and whatever it may bring.   

Over the last few months, like so many, I’ve struggled to find my footing in the work from home environment.  Though I’ve created a comfortable home office, I miss my dual screens and my ergonomic office chair.  I’ve also experienced Zoom fatigue after days filled with (what felt like) a million virtual meetings. 

Through it all, I think the thing that I’ve struggled with the most is a general feeling of isolation.  It’s not surprising that I feel this way – I’ve talked to a lot of people that have experienced this same emotion during this work from home period.  I find myself missing those every day conversations with my team; the ability to check in, talk through processes, and share some laughs.  While it’s been vital to making work from home truly successful, virtual conversations just aren’t the same.  

One way that I’ve been battling feelings of isolation is to surround myself with sound whenever possible.  I wanted to share a few of the resources I’ve found that have really helped me cope with the sense of isolation I’ve felt during this crisis: 

Ted Talk Playlist: A love letter to libraries

Ted Talk Playlist: How to get into a work from home mindset 

Ted Talk Playlist: Talks to help you get through the work week 

Ted Talk Playlist: How to protect your passions from burnout 

WorkLife Podcast 

Life Kit Podcast 

And as a bonus, I’ve also escaped my home office walls by engaging with some virtual tours of libraries, museums and botanical gardens:

Virtually visit 8 libraries from around the world 

Library of Congress tours 

12 Virtual Museum tours 

8 botanical garden virtual tours 

I hope that you enjoy some of these links as much as I have. I hope that it helps you to cope with your continued work from home, or as you transition back to work on site at your library. 

PaLA College & Research Division Seeks Connect & Communicate Series Planning Team Chair

July 13, 2020

The CRD seeks applicants for the position of Connect & Communicate Series Planning Team Chair to begin immediately. The successful applicant will serve through December 2021, with continuous reappointment at the discretion of the CRD Chair.

The goal of the C&CS Planning Team Chair is to lead a team in fostering a sense of community among PA academic librarians through webinars, discussion groups, and online tutorials. The Team Chair, with the assistance of the team and with the support of the CRD Board, explores, recommends, and coordinates opportunities for virtual professional development and networking for academic librarians in Pennsylvania. The Team Chair is a member of the CRD Board.

For more information about the position, see the CRD Board Position Descriptions document at

To apply for this position, please submit your letter of interest and CV to Jill Hallam-Miller at