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To Map or Not to Map? That is the Question.

August 18, 2021

Curriculum mapping projects are an increasingly common way librarians engage with their liaison programs. A quick search for “(curriculum mapping) AND (libraries OR library OR librarian)” in Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts via EBSCOhost in August 2021 returned 109 results, with the ten most relevant cited 22 times. The question remains though, what benefit is there to you to embark on such a project; is it worthwhile for your liaison areas? 

Curriculum mapping examines what is taught, who teaches it, if instructional goals are met, and the efficacy of the process. Program learning objectives are charted visually to align with courses and form a map to allow the reader a birds eye view of a program’s curriculum as a whole, discover gaps and redundancies, and empower departments to enhance student learning (Buchanan et al., 2015, p. 95). A curriculum map will look something like this: 

Course 101Course 202Course 303Course 404
Program Learning Outcome 1
Program Learning Outcome 2
Program Learning Outcome 3
Program Learning Outcome 4

In libraries, curriculum mapping is often used to guide the library’s instructional efforts, mapping course learning outcomes against ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy (Khailova, 2021, p. 2). Bullard and Holden (2008) share four key advantages to conducting a curriculum mapping project:

  1. Key courses where information literacy instruction can be delivered at the point of need can now be prioritized with evidence. 
  2. New faculty outreach opportunities and potential instruction inroads are discovered, again with evidence to support the effort. 
  3. Departmental language surrounding information literacy is discovered, allowing librarians and faculty to speak the same language.
  4. Librarians are kept up to date on current departmental needs, further helping the library provide relevant services to the department (pp. 17–18). 

The benefits shared by Bullard and Holden (2008) make it clear that curriculum mapping projects benefit libraries, in spite of the time investment required to create and upkeep a map. While examples of libraries and librarians conducting curriculum mapping projects are easier to find today, Bullard and Holden’s outline for how to conduct a curriculum mapping project at your library is still helpful: gather syllabi from the department or faculty; analyze learning outcomes for information literacy components and weaknesses; draft your map, using departmental language; gather feedback from departmental faculty with whom you already have inroads; incorporate their feedback; begin marketing to whole department (2008, p. 21). As you gain more feedback from faculty about the map, you can grow and adapt the map to better suit your needs as a liaison. 

References and Further Reading

Archambault, S. G., & Masunaga, J. (2015). Curriculum Mapping as a Strategic Planning Tool. Journal of Library Administration, 55(6), 503–519.

Castro, G. A. G., & Eldermire, E. (2015). Laying the groundwork for information literacy at a research university. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 16(1), 4–17.

Buchanan, H., Webb, K. K., Houk, A. H., & Tingelstad, C. (2015). Curriculum Mapping in Academic Libraries. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21(1), 94–111.

Bullard, K. A., & Holden, D. H. (2008). Hitting a Moving Target: Curriculum Mapping, Information Literacy and Academe. 5.

Jacobs, H. H. (2004). Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. 

Khailova, L. (2021). Using curriculum mapping to scaffold and equitably distribute information literacy instruction for graduate professional studies programs. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(1), 102281.

Truesdale, V., Thompson, C., & Lucas, M. (2004). Use of Curriculum Mapping to Build a Learning Community. In Getting Results with Curriculum Mapping (p. 15). Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

“’Help Me Understand’: Keeping Up With… Trauma-Informed Pedagogy”

August 11, 2021

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recently shared its “Keeping Up With…” edition, which is sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA). In this edition, Desirae Zingarelli-Sweet, the reference librarian at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (New York), speaks about the necessity of trauma-informed pedagogy within higher education. For several decades already, K-12 educators and policymakers have been tasked with the struggle to define “trauma-informed;” on the flipside, this same conversation within higher education has only been gaining momentum over the past five to ten years, with much of the discussion having its origins in social work education.

Given the circumstances of 2020, which have been characterized as “cascading collective traumas,” the topic of traumatic stress and its lingering effects has been more frequently discussed within higher education. Traumas such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and fall-out (primarily due to the coronavirus), racial tension and division, and a political polarization within the United States, the likes which have most likely not been witnessed since the Civil War, “have disproportionately hurt minoritized communities and those of low socioeconomic status, deepening existing inequalities and compounding race-based historical traumas” (Cohen Silver et al. 4). Coupling these collective traumas with individual potentially traumatic events, such as life-threatening illness, loss of loved ones, loneliness and depression from the isolation and social distancing brought on by the pandemic, unsafe neighborhoods, and police brutality, can continue to have negative impacts on our short-term and long-term mental health (Cohen Silver et al. 4-5).

*(Davidson 4)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines psychological trauma as “results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being” (7). This is definitely a significant broadening of the definition of trauma in recent decades, extending well beyond clinical diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Trauma can be experienced when an individual’s coping mechanisms for maintaining control, connecting with others, and having a sense of meaning are overwhelmed by external stressors. This in turns leaves the person with intense feelings of helplessness and terror (Herman 33-34).

There are some basic types of trauma. Acute trauma refers to a single episode of an unexpected event which causes immense stress on an individual’s coping mechanisms, such as a car accident, one-time rape or attemped murder, or a catostrophic weather event. Complex or developmental trauma refers to sustained or repeated episodes of trauma and stress, such as living with a life-threatening illness, combat, continuous physical or sexual abuse, severe, ongoing neglect, or poverty. Continuous traumatic stress or historical/generational trauma addresses the repercussions of stressors triggered by “ongoing, systematic, and/or cumulative group trauma,” which includes racism, slavery and its lingering effects, or discrimination based on one’s gender, disabilities, and so forth (Kira et al. 181). 

*(Davidson 6)

According to Janice Carello and Lisa D. Butler, traumatic stress is something that affects postsecondary students: 66%-94% of students report experiencing at least one traumatic event by the time they start college, with 9%-12% of first-year students meeting the clinical criteria for PTSD (263). Academic environments can play a key role in facilitating students’ recovery from traumatic stress in a favorable, positive way towards cultivating resilience, “but only if [the students] feel safe enough to experiment with new solutions” (Van der Kolk 351). This is where trauma-informed teaching principles and strategies come into focus. Based in part on SAMHSA’s six key principles for adopting an organizational trauma-informed approach, Janice Carello’s seven principles for trauma-informed postsecondary teaching and learning (which can also be applied to information literacy and library instruction) are as follows:

  1. Physical, emotional, social, and academic safety. Respect the students’ individual needs and create a safe, inclusive environment where students can be at ease with making and learning from their mistakes.
  2. Trustworthiness and transparency. Establishing trust with students is essential; make expectations clear, operate transparently, be consistent and reliable, and maintain appropriate boundaries.
  3. Support and connection. Using appropriate sources, facilitate peer support and connection.
  4. Collaboration and mutuality. Make sure students have adequate opportunities to contribute input and make decisions cooperatively.
  5. Empowerment, voice, and choice. Allow students to build competence and self-confidence whenever possible by having them make their own decisions.
  6. Social justice. Honor each student’s experiences and identities by creating awareness of incidences of privilege, power, and oppression.
  7. Resilience, growth, and change. Provide feedback to emphasize strengths and resilience over deficiencies (10-11).

As a majority of colleges and universities across the country are expecting to make full, “normal” returns to campuses this month, we must keep in mind that collectively, our students have been through unprecedented circumstances over the past eighteen months. Even the experience of physically being on campus, in a classroom, and interacting with people in the flesh as opposed to virtually is going to be overwhelming for some. Heightened awareness of equity, diversity, and inclusion may spark heated discussions about oppression and discrimination which can trigger recollections of traumatic events. Creating a safe environment to communicate empathetically, enforce connection, and reassure is essential. A very useful phrase to ignite conversation is “help me understand.” Empower students to make the best decisions possible for themselves and their learning by being flexible and allowing choices whenever possible, such as with seating, lighting, and mode of participation (Carello 10-11). Be sure to invite students to share how they are feeling at key junctures, but do not mandate participation (Carello and Butler 270). Another useful trauma-informed teaching strategy is to avoid the romanticization of trauma narratives or the implication that such trauma is desirable. This can invite the disclosure of trauma experiences among the students without having the appropriate environment or adequate support already in place (Carello and Butler, 162, 164).

Shannon Davidson’s Trauma-Informed Practices for Postsecondary Education: A Guide is available as a free download and offers valuable advice on trauma-informed practices and strategies. Because recent events continue (and will continue) to instrumentally affect how we relate to our students, Zingarelli-Sweet concludes, it is a perfect opportunity for librarians to take advantage of recent advances in other fields and to more deeply integrate current understandings of trauma and learning into their instructional practice.

Carello, Janice. “Examples of Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning in College Classrooms.”

Trauma-Informed Teaching & Learning: Bringing a Trauma-Informed Approach to Higher Education, Mar. 2020, ege-classrooms- 3.2020-color-3.pdf. Accessed 10 Aug. 2021.

Carello, Janice and Lisa D. Butler. “Potentially Perilous Pedagogies: Teaching Trauma is Not the Same as Trauma-Informed Teaching.” Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, vol. 15, no. 2, 2014, pp. 153-168.

Carello, Janice and Lisa D. Butler. “Practicing What We Teach: Trauma-Informed Educational Practice.” Journal of Teaching in Social Work, vol. 35, no. 3, 2015, pp. 262-278,

Cohen Silver, Roxane, et al. “Coping with Cascading Collective Traumas in the United States.” Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 2021, pp. 4-6.

Davidson, Shannon. Trauma-Informed Practices for Postsecondary Education: A Guide. Education Northwest, 2017.

Herman, Judith. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. 1R ed., Basic Books, 2015.

Kira, Ibrahim A., et al. “The Dynamics of Cumulative Trauma and Trauma Types in Adults Patients with Psychiatric Disorders: Two Cross-Cultural Studies.” Traumatology, vol. 19, no. 3, 2013, pp. 179-183.

 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4884, 2014.

Van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books, 2014.

OER Opportunities

August 2, 2021

Curious about OER? Looking to do more? Wherever you are in your OER “journey,” consider attending the upcoming 2021 OER Summit sponsored by Affordable Learning PA.  With its theme of Journey to Affordability, the third annual ALPA Summit will help get you energized about open and affordable learning at your institution and across the state. ALPA Summit will take place virtually August 17th – 19th. Keynote speakers are Jeff Gallant of Affordable Learning GA and Alexis Clifton of SUNY Geneso.

Register Here: (full program coming soon).

A second opportunity for OER professional development is the OpenEd Conference, happening virtually October 18th – 22nd. The cost for OpenEd is $75 ($25 for students).

Lastly, if you’re looking to get plugged in, there are a few ways to get involved with ALPA including: volunteering to be an ALPA Campus Partner or joining one of the ALPA Working Groups. Together we can make learning more open, affordable, and accessible in Pennsylvania!

Gearing Up: Online Access and Digital Preservation of Catholic Newspapers for the Sake of Scholarship

July 29, 2021

Gearing Up is a virtual round table discussion for learning more and asking questions about the CRRA’s Catholic News Archive, the dependable and freely available reference & research database of Catholic newspapers and other sources of news and opinion on historical and current issues, people, and events.

“Priests, Sisters Picket; Protests Aimed at Bias” – From The Catholic Advocate, 11 July 1963
  • What is the Catholic News Archive; Now and Going Forward? Discuss the basics about this unique full-text collection and the strategies and partnerships that made it possible. Panelists: Paul Bracke, Dean, Foley Library, Gonzaga University; and Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian, University of Notre Dame.
  • Why is the Catholic News Archive useful? Discuss how librarians and scholars are using it for research and teaching, what digitizing partners get out of contributing content, and generally how this primary source discovery tool benefits the academy and the global community. Panelists: Justin Poche, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor of History, College of the Holy Cross; Karen Lesiak, CRRA Digitizing Partner, Hartford, CT; and Katherine Nuss, Information and Archive Services Manager, USCCB Communications.
  • How is the Catholic News Archive giving content the light of day and what makes it secure, reliable, and permanent? Discuss what goes on behind the scenes, how much goes into making things searchable/browsable/findable, learn about the extensive search engine optimization, platform services, and digital preservation. Panelists: Todd Jensen, CRRA Catholic News Archive Project Manager and Moira Edwards, Preservica.

Preservica is sponsoring this event and has a complimentary offer for attendees – see the details HERE.

This Round Table discussion is for librarians, scholars, archivists, teachers, and everyone interested in the dissemination, use and digital preservation of historical and current Catholic news content.

It is Wednesday August 18, 2021, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

The Gearing Up Round Table is free and open to all, but attendees are asked to please register in advance. Those who register will receive instructions about access to enable their participation.

Here is the registration page.

For questions, assistance, or more information contact: Catholic Research Resources Alliance

Executive Director Jennifer A. Younger, Ph.D. (

230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 101, Albany, NY 12203 United States

Summer Check-in

July 28, 2021

So, how are we all doing? A deceptively complicated question as the calendar flips from July 2021 to August 2021. Especially, with the new guidelines from the CDC. Even before yesterday announcement, it seemed like a good time to check-in and see how plans for the fall semester are progressing, or aren’t, as the case may be.

As summer began, and even into the 4th of July holiday, things felt like they were returning to “normal.” Social distancing guidelines were relaxed, and at my library we were able to retrieve the furniture we had placed into storage. Those of us who are vaccinated were able to take off our masks, and we even had an in-person tour for a group of first-year students who were taking summer classes.

Fast forward four weeks and we are back again in that place of uncertainty where we lived most of 2020 and the first months of 2021. Will we need to mask up again (most likely), and what about a booster shot for the vaccine? Situations and recommendations are evolving week to week, and even day to day as we face the Delta Variant of COVID-19. Oh, and we are less than a month away from the start of the Fall 2021 semester. Not to put any more pressure or anxiety onto you…

In this post, I’ve outlined the thoughts and considerations that are filling up my bandwidth. I’d love to hear where you are putting your work energy and attention. How you are coping (or not) with another potential wave of uncertainly?

Re-learning what it means to be in a library

This has been a big theme for the past month or so. I started to transition back to working on-campus starting in mid-June, and now I spend at least 4 days a week in the library. I have had to re-learn what working in an office is like. The good: opportunities for serendipitous conversations with colleagues. The bad: the way my focus, and energy, tend to dip around 2pm. It was important for me to take time to adjust to the feeling of the library as a space, and to think how the library staff and will interact with our patrons in this space. What will it be like to teach in a computer lab again? What hours will we be staffing the physical reference desk?

The students will need to re-learn how to use a library as well. We will have two groups of students, this year’s first-years and sophomores, who have not experienced a fully open and accessible library. How do we teach them how to use the space? Or, communicate expectations related to quiet study areas, computer lab use, or even how to find a book on the shelves. We are all a bit rusty when it comes to existing in the same space with one another. Not to mention how do we train and re-train student workers. Even if they are returning, they’ve been gone from their “normal” jobs since March 2020, just like us!

For all the striving to return to “normal” there are some things that I want to keep from the pandemic, particularly related to instruction. Using online forms, polling apps, and even online bulletin boards (aka Padlet), provide students with an opportunity to participate anonymously, without the pressure of raising a hand. They also allow us to informally assess student learning better than paper worksheets. I plan to continue using these tools but it won’t be as easy to share URLs without the Zoom chat. Do I build more course guides to house these in-class activities? Or, handouts with shortened URLs and QR codes? Will students continue to bring devices with them to class (a necessity for any Zoom classes), and will our computer labs be back to full capacity for the fall semester? A lot of planning still needs to happen in the next month or so.

Still keep that Plan B (or C or D) close by

As we undertake any planning for the fall, it appears that we still need to consider alternate scenarios. The in-person reference desk schedule may end up being online chat and email only. We have ended Hathitrust ETAS, so may need alternatives for student access if they are quarantined or shift back to remote learning. Planned in-person outreach events may end up with a limited number of participants or shifting to online or asynchronous “make ‘n’ take” events. I hope that doesn’t happen… please universe…

We’ve tackled remote work, instruction, and library services before but that doesn’t mean that we have to like it or feel comfortable entertaining those contingencies again. But, if the past 18ish months of COVID -19 have taught us anything, worst case and unthinkable scenarios should be kept on the table. Just in case…

I do not have answers of how to “return” to the state of things before the COVID-19 closures, or whether it is even conceivable if we can do that. Instead, I offer these questions, doubts, and “what ifs” in the spirit of solidarity. Each library, and every library employee is probably going through a version of this process. I doubt we’ll get it 100% right, the transition to Fall 2021 will be bumpy, but in the end it will be enough. Just as we all gave ourselves patience and empathy during the first days of stay-at-home orders, we will all need it as we start to enter the library again.

So, how are you doing? An answer of “okay-ish” is more than enough.