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Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty for Persons with Print Disabilities

November 4, 2018

Imagine not having access to printed works due to blindness, a visual impairment, or a perceptual or reading disability, such as dyslexia. Imagine not having the ability to focus your eyes on printed material or not being able to handle or manipulate a book in your hands due to autism or Parkinson’s disease. The miracle of picking up a book, reading it, comprehending the material on the page, and filing it away for future access and dissemination is something which the majority of us simply take for granted. A trip to your local public library might reveal a selection of audiobooks and large print titles, which certainly are accessible alternatives to the standard print format. Be that as it may, astonishingly less than 7% of published books are made available globally in these alternative formats, which in addition to audio and large print, also includes Braille and Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) formats.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, declares that this lack of equal accessibility has been a key factor of the book famine which plagues our world. The Marrakesh Treaty, which states that “without books, journals, and magazines, people are cut off from life,” was developed by the WIPO in 2013 and later entered into force in September of 2016. It created obligatory changes which, by becoming national law, would grant equal access to printed materials. Since then, many countries have been bringing their copyright laws into accordance with the Marrakesh Treaty on the grounds that they are either party to the Treaty or because they intend to join the Treaty in the near future. Obstacles due to copyright law are a partial reason behind the limited access to alternative formats of printed materials, and the Marrakesh Treaty seeks to address these obstacles.

We believe that the Marrakesh Treaty is the most significant development in the lives of blind and visually impaired people since the invention of Braille, nearly 200 years ago.”

Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer 

World Blind Union

The World Blind Union (WBU) first proposed a draft of the treaty to the WIPO members. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), along with other library partners, strongly supported negotiations which lasted over five years at the WIPO, and participated in the Diplomatic Conference in Marrakesh, Morroco, which saw the Treaty’s implementation. Hence, libraries are really at the forefront of this necessary accommodation.

The Marrakesh treaty may be accessed here.

Information has been retrieved from the document Getting Started: Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities: A practical guide for librarians.

C&CS Update + “Haunted Libraries” Link

October 25, 2018

Hi all, just an update from the Connect and Communicate Team!
We are working hard to coordinate our spring programming, but do have a session scheduled on Nov 16! More details about that will be coming soon.

In the meantime, our page contains some of the past sessions from this group, and since it’s the season, I’m just going to leave the link for Mark’s “Haunted Libraries” (2017) talk here:

Enjoy your Halloween candies and parties!

Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Month

October 19, 2018

Although most people have heard of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, Lewy Body Dementia is a type of dementia that few people have heard of, yet 1.4 million people have been diagnosed in the United States.   As academic librarians, we can help to make more people aware of this disorder, so that more people with LBD can be accurately diagnosed.   Even within the medical profession, many people have little knowledge of this disease so educating our students enrolled in the health sciences is  extremely important.

A correct diagnosis is required so that proper treatment can begin.   Many medications, which improve other forms of dementia, can make Lewy Body Dementia worse.  Sadly, many people can see multiple doctors over several years before they are correctly diagnosed with LBD.  In addition, there are physical symptoms not present in other types of dementia and so physical, occupational, and speech therapy may be necessary.  There is no cure, but proper treatment can significantly improve the quality of a patient’s life.

October is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness month.  For more information, contact the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

Gettin’ Ready for Open Access Week

October 12, 2018

Earlier this year SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, announced its theme for International Open Access Week: “designing equitable foundations for open knowledge.” The Advisory Committee also fixed the dates as October 22-28.


Image courtesy of SPARC® Website.

Falvey, the library for Villanova University, has for many years held events highlighting Open Access, but we’re frequently a bit freer about it. So, it’s more like Open Access month.

However during the official week this year Falvey will have an Open Access Week information table in a public space in the library for sharing information about getting full text fast via and We will be screening “Paywall: The Business of Scholarship,” and co-sponsoring with Villanova University’s Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest a discussion of the documentary elsewhere on campus the next day.

Another event for Open Access Week this year is a Brown Bag for faculty led by librarians on Open Access scholarship and publishing where a major topic will be SOAR, Falvey’s Scholarship Open Access Reserve fund initiative.

Whether event’s are during the official week or not, it is helpful to remember SPARC’s “official hashtag of Open Access Week is #OAweek.” For more information go to:

CRD Conference Corner Volume 5

October 12, 2018

pala 2018

With only two days away from PaLA’s annual conference we will take one last look at sessions being sponsored by CRD this year.  These sessions revolve around the idea of the librarian as more than just a keeper of knowledge, and discuss how a librarian can be at the front of social activism, community service and campus inclusion.

Title: Unpeeling the Onion: Using Participatory Design Processes to Discover First Generation Students Experiences Using the Library

Presenters: Hailley Fargo, Student Engagement & Outreach Librarian, Penn State University, University Park
Steve Borrelli, Head of Library Assessment, Penn State University, University Park
Carmen Gass, User Services Training Coordinator, Penn State University, University Park
Elpidio De La Cruz, Student, Penn State University, University Park

Abstract: The University Library strives to make the library a place for everyone by keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront of research and services. Intrigued by results of a 2016 Ithaka study of undergraduates which showed differences in use and perceptions of library services and resources of first generation students at Penn State University, researchers conducted a case study investigating the library experiences of first-generation students at the University Park campus. During the spring 2018 semester, researchers used a participatory design approach called “gamestorming” with a group of six first-generation students to discover their experiences in the library. Gamestorming is an approach where design activities are used to ideate through game play. The process allows for a group to get to know one another by first developing trust, then working together through the challenge space, discovering problems along the way. The process ends with evaluating ideas surfaced during the process. This presentation will describe the process of gamestorming, share results, insights, and lessons learned from this study, highlight the student experience from one of our first-generation student participant-researchers, and will give the audience a chance to try out a gamestorming activity that could be used with their library community.

Time: Tuesday, October 16th 2:15pm-3:30pm

Title: Bringing the Critical Librarianship Movement into the Classroom

Presenter: Samantha Bise-Schultz, Reference & Instruction Librarian, Central Penn College

Abstract: Have you heard of the Critical Librarianship movement and want to know what it’s all about? Are you part of the conversation already, but don’t know how to turn theory into practical instruction activities? Find out how librarians are linking their work as information literacy educators to social activism. Attend this session for a brief introduction to critical theory as it relates to librarianship and information literacy, suggested resources to get you involved in the Critical Librarianship conversation, and various critical instruction methods and activities. The presentation will be followed by a guided group discussion on ways librarians can turn critical librarianship theory into action to engage students as creators and users of information.

Time: Wednesday, October 17th 9:00am-10:00am


Title: What do Libraries Have To Do With the YMCA, Humane Society, Fair Trade, and Undergraduate Research?

Presenters: Jen Jones, Associate Professor and Department Coordinator, Communication, School of Business, Seton Hill University
Theresa R. McDevitt, Government Information/Outreach Librarian, Indiana University of PA Libraries
Amy Podoletz, Undergraduate Student, Communication, Seton Hill University

Abstract: New teaching practices, such as experiential learning and service-learning, are becoming more and more important on college campuses. This pedagogical approach leads to improved understanding and ability to apply theory, and also growth in areas like acceptance of diversity, increased compassion and caring for others, self-confidence, and growth in social responsibility and civic engagement. This session begins with win-win stories, written by librarians, university faculty and students who have successfully employed service based or experiential learning experiences for students in higher education. In each case, the course or educational event developers have intentionally included service to a partner, real work applications of theory, mutual benefit for all involved, and opportunities for thoughtful reflection. Presenters will describe activities, motivations, curriculum materials, and outcomes in enough detail to assist others in building upon their experience to bring this positive practice to their institutions. Participants in the session are then invited to share their own success stories in a welcoming and creative environment.

Time: Wednesday, October 17th 10:15am-11:30am

Space Renovations on a Budget

October 8, 2018

“Had we but world enough… and time” – the oft quoted line from Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” can often be followed with “and funding”. In an era where many academic libraries are faced with staffing and budget constraints, we’re faced with the challenge of doing more with less. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges we encounter is space. Library spaces get taken over by other departments; as student populations evolve, so do their needs for space. Renovating and creating spaces on a shoestring budget can be achieved!

I am the Director of Library Services and College Librarian (my two official titles among the many other hats I wear) at Valley Forge Military Academy & College’s May H. Baker Memorial Library. While we are frequently complimented on how beautiful our building is, we have also become acutely aware of the challenges of providing 21st century library services in a facility that was designed and constructed in the 1960s-1970s. Yes, major renovations, such as upgrading the IT infrastructure are also necessary, but there are also smaller ways to achieve tangible and visible results relatively quickly, and relatively cheaply.

Here are some tips that have worked for us:

TIP: Assess the current space usage and needs. Our library has historically been for group study, as individual work was encouraged in the barracks (dorms), so our seating is primarily for large study groups (6-8 person tables).

TIP: Use Participatory Design methods to get input from key stakeholders. We found the students wanted the ability to work individually.

TIP: Use resources already available –  in the library – on campus – or locally. Move furniture around – think of supervisory challenges, what students tend to do in different locations of the library. We found a bunch of old individual computer desks, and instead of having them occupy a classroom, we moved spread them out on the upper level of the library – strategically placing each desk (that has its own power supply) by one of our balcony pillars – in an IT upgrade, data drops were added as well – there are now desktop computers available spread throughout the library instead of just in a lab (that’s often booked for instruction).

Repurposed Desks

TIP: Leverage Donations.

  • Because our institution is non-profit with strong community partnerships, we keep in the loop about local businesses and schools upgrading or closing, and are able to procure donations of gently used furniture and equipment. Rather than spend money on a conference table for my office, I was able to find a kitchen table and chairs FOR FREE (Offer Up, Let Go, and Facebook Marketplace are great places to look) to serve the purpose, and provide the relaxed atmosphere I was aiming for to help make students comfortable.
  • TIP: HaveWashington Room a wishlist for things you want for your library; you never know when you’ll be approached by a potential donor! When asked what the library needed, my reply was “space”. We had discovered an old periodicals room that had grown to also become a dumping ground across campus – an entire, existing room, with a lockable door that could easily be used for small group instruction, tutoring, club meetings, etc.! We set about clearing out the space, and our donor funded the purchase of new furniture (group study tables and chairs). Our donor also helped us to name the space, in memory of an old building no longer standing on campus, adding to our institutional history.

Individual Study Carrels

TIP: Make a plan for the library to use the space before weeding to create open space… if there is open space just sitting, it will most likely be occupied before a plan is created for it. We knew that we would be able to spend a portion of our budget on individual study carrels, so we planned out where we wanted them, weeded, and shifted books, allowing us to remove two large sections of shelving to make room for the study carrels.

While it may take a little bit of time, and some creativity, it’s completely possible to renovate and repurpose library spaces on a budget!


Image credits: Dana J Kerrigan, Director of Library Services and College Librarian, Valley Forge Military Academy & College 

CRD Conference Corner Volume 4

October 8, 2018

pala 2018We are only one week away from the PaLA annual conference, and in this edition of the Conference Corner we will take a look at sessions that focus on source usage, international student retention, and learning commons – oh my!

Title: Information Overload!: Assessing Source Usage in Students’ Reference Lists.

Presenters: Kristin E. C. Green, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Scranton
James Hart, Lecturer in Communication Arts and Sciences, Penn State Scranton

Abstract: Instruction librarians spend significant amounts of time planning lessons by collaborating with the course instructor and aligning information literacy outcomes with the instructor’s learning outcomes. Often times for general education courses, information literacy sessions include introducing that ideal database or two for specific research assignments. But once that instructional time is over, do students apply what they learned or do they revert to unsavory research habits developed over the course of their academic lifetimes? This session will initiate conversation around this question by using data generated from analyzing students’ reference lists. The course in which this overarching assessment was conducted, Effective Speech, is a general education course that all undergraduate students are required to take at Penn State. The instructor assigns three speeches during the course of the semester that require background research. All sections of this course have a oneshot information literacy session in which two databases are introduced as ideal resources for garnering the background information needed for the students’ speech topics. The data was gathered in the Spring 2018 semester from three different class sections. As co-presenters, the librarian and instructor will discuss their teaching collaboration, explain their analytic process, and share preliminary findings.

Time: Tuesday, October 16th 9:00am-10:00am


Title: Libraries as Partners in International Student Retention: How Programming and Outreach Impact Sense of Belonging

Presenters: Emily Mross, Business Librarian, Penn State Harrisburg
Joi Jackson, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Harrisburg

Abstract: In 2017, Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities enrolled 51,129 international students, ranking sixth in the nation for total international enrollment, and academic libraries now serve a growing population of international students. In addition to meeting the educational and research needs of international students, college and university libraries should also meet their social needs. Through outreach that fosters relationships between international and domestic students, the campus library can serve as an academic and social hub that contributes to a sense of belonging that is vital to international student retention. Attendees will learn why belonging is critical for the perseverance of international students and will discuss strategies for nurturing belonging in their libraries and on their campuses. Presenters will detail successful programming and outreach initiatives from their campus, and how these events improve relationships between international and domestic students through facilitated interaction. Participants will discuss campus contexts, current programs, and ideas for future programming.

Time: Tuesday, October 16th 11:00am-12:00pm


Title: The Library is Open: Pragmatics and Possibilities for a Commons Oriented Future

Presenter: Robin DeRosa, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies; Director of Interdisciplinary Studies, Plymouth State University (MA)

Abstract: In this keynote presentation, Robin DeRosa will explore libraries as architectures of hope that gesture toward a commons. In an era where privatizing forces threaten to wall off and commodify knowledge, Robin will offer a vision of libraries as an intrinsic part of a public infrastructure for learning and research. By invoking both the work that happens inside and around libraries and the communities that libraries engender, Robin will frame a conceptual and aspirational theory of libraries and posit concrete practices that can help our society understand libraries as integral stewards of the public good.

Time: This is the the keynote presentation at the College & Research Division Luncheon on Tuesday, October 16th