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C&CS: “How do Critical Educators Approach Learning Outcomes Assessment?” Video available

March 4, 2019

Video link to Friday’s session is below. We would like to thank Rebecca and Carolyn for having this session, and to Diane Porterfield who supported us with closed captioning for the session.

WorldShare® Management Services

March 2, 2019

In a webinar titled “Flexibility Without Complexity: A Demo of How WMS Can Meet Your Library’s Needs,” OCLC Solutions Strategist Amy Lytle discusses the many advantages of being one of the 600 libraries worldwide (in at least twenty countries) using WorldShare® Management Services (WMS). Lytle starts off by saying that OCLC exists to serves libraries, with the WorldCat® database being the heart of WMS. Its appeal starts with the fact that WMS, which was introduced in 2011, is a cloud-based library services platform, a cloud which is actually owned by OCLC and has not gone the route of say, Amazon or Google. WMS is a complete library services platform which provides for the streamlining of all essential library functions, such as acquiring, describing, discovering, circulating, sharing, and analyzing data. Subscribers to WMS can expect the traditional applications, such as OPAC, cataloging, acquisitions, circulation, serials, reporting, and interlibrary loan. However, much more is included with a WMS subscription, some of which libraries may be paying separately for, such as discovery layer, evaluative content, an integrated mobile interface (WorldCat® Discovery is built using responsive design, since there is not a separate URL or app.), and WMS’ very own Digby mobile app, which aids with circulation and inventory tasks. Additionally, course reserves are included and an item scheduling module is part of circulation. A knowledge base provides its users with an integrated open URL resolver and from that knowledge base, WMS built an automatic A to Z list. Authority updates are provided at no additional cost for the service. WMS is committed to providing continuous training as well as ongoing updates.

How does WMS allow its subscribers to do things differently? WMS reduces IT support and simplifies library operations because there is no hardware to purchase or software to manage. This saves both money and time, freeing up the staff’s time to tackle higher priorities. WMS improves discovery for your users and visibility for your library or group. It informs decisions to prove your library’s value through integrated custom reports which can be run at any time. Finally, WMS can future-proof your library with a next-generation system, since it is formed on a modern platform which has a strong commitment to reliability, security, and safeguarding your private data.

WorldCat® is quite impressive. A new record is added to WorldCat® every second, and as of November 2018, there were 442 million records and over 2.7 billion holdings! (Lytle now reports that the holdings have increased, three months later when this presentation was recorded, to well over 2.9 billion. As I write this in early March, I can only imagine that that number has surpassed 3 billion.)


What Can We Build (Or Schedule) to Get Them to Come?

March 1, 2019

As we enter March, especially growing up as a softball player in a highly involved Little League family, I often find myself quoting Field of Dreams: “if you build it they will come.”

As libraries resources become more and more digital (and therefore accessible from outside of the walls of our building), I find my attentions focusing more and more on spaces (see my previous post on Space Renovations) and programing.

Of course as librarians, we have information literacy, but what else can we do, outside of the box, to bring not only students, but also faculty and staff into library spaces? We’ve had some success at Baker Library with our creative displays and events (next week is National Grammar Day and National Oreo Cookie Day!), so we have people guessing what crazy thing we’ll come up with next. Which is great, but in reality, how much do Oreos really have to do with academic library services?

Our library is small (2 full-time librarians, 2 part-time staff, and 3 student workers), so we have to be careful about what events and programs we want to allocate resources to. We have 3 programs this semester:

Walk-In Wednesday Workshops (for students): Wednesdays during lunch we bring in pizza, and students can walk-in to receive research help. (Our librarians are often busy with teaching, meetings, etc., so this gives students a dedicated time when they know we’re available).

Pizza & Pedagogy Series (for faculty): 3-4 times/semester, typically on a Friday during lunch, we bring in pizza and share pedagogy ideas, education technologies, etc. with our faculty over pizza. (Relationship building is a great take-away from these events!)

Writers’ Retreat Series (for faculty): once a month (date and time selected by Doodle poll to match schedules), we carve out 2-4 hours, set up a coffee and tea bar, bake snacks, bring in food (if it’s over lunchtime), and break out the charging stations. We invite our faculty and staff to join us for a writers’ retreat where everyone can work on their own scholarship.

Does anyone else have any free or low-cost program ideas they can share? What can we build (or schedule) to get them to come?    


C&CS Digital Badges @PSU video available

February 27, 2019

Thank you to Emily and Torrie for doing their session on the digital badging program at Penn State. Video is now available below.


If you watch the session, please fill out our evaluation form here:

Special thank you Amanda Avery for moderating and for the CRD and PaLA for allowing us to offer these sessions. Thank you to the members of PaLA! If you’d like to become a member of PaLA, please contact any member of the C&CS team or the CRD membership liaison.

If you’d like to present for C&CS, please feel free to contact a member of the C&CS team or fill out the form, located on the C&CS page of this site,


How Social Media Algorithms Promote Misinformation, and How We Can Educate Our Students

February 25, 2019

Recently YouTube began removing conspiracy videos from their recommended video algorithm. This algorithm has promoted conspiracy videos to the top of YouTube’s video suggestions for years. YouTube is not alone in this – many other digital media companies are also promoting false and misleading information via algorithmic “feeds.” Today, many people are consuming media exclusively through these feeds. These feeds take many forms – in social media, push notifications on our smartphones, the news page on sites like Google and Reddit, or a combination of all of the available methods for media consumption. We don’t always seek out our information; sometimes it just “comes to us.” And increasingly information come to us by way of machine-learning algorithms. In this context it is important for academic librarians, especially those in the liberal arts setting, to revisit our commitment to educating our students to critically examine sources in an information world increasingly curated by algorithms.

We don’t know much about how these algorithms operate. Largely, the way these algorithms decide the flow of information to consumers is an industry secret. Companies aren’t sharing this information publicly because it is extremely valuable intellectual property. For instance, we know that YouTube used to curate their recommended video selection based on what a user has viewed in the past. Specifically in this instance, “watch time” was the primary metric. The amount of time a user spent watching videos on certain topics would then be compared to other similar users, and thus recommended videos would be “fed” to the end user based on what other similar users have watched. This is why conspiracy videos, such as Modern Flat Earth Theory, became so prominent on YouTube. The more a video grabbed users’ attention, the more minutes users logged watching that video. And thus, the higher that video surely ranked on YouTube’s recommended video list.

We can safely deduce YouTube’s algorithm was not ranking videos based on their veracity. And this is a problem that is spread across the entire digital media landscape – Amazon and Hulu still list conspiracy videos in their “documentary” sections.

In the past, media consumers could trust a central authority – trusted newspapers, publishers, or television networks – to vet the feed of their information. Consumers have not, at least in recent history, been accustomed to critically evaluating and vetting the information that comes their way. Today there is no longer a central authority in this same way, and in large part the vetting process has been automated. The media landscape has become so decentralized that not only are users experiencing “echo chambers” and “bubbles” in social media, but these bubbles are getting smaller and smaller thanks to machine learning. Algorithms are getting so good at curating people’s information feeds that these bubbles aren’t shared by large groups of people any more – each individual lives in their own filter bubble. And with the investments being made in artificial intelligence and machine learning, we can only expect the landscape to get more decentralized, not less.

This is one of the reasons why my colleagues at Carlow University’s Grace Library have begun a new commitment to digital and media literacy as part of our information literacy vision. We hope to realize this vision through several methods. First, by embedding information literacy and critical thinking skills into the core curriculum. Second, by tying our information literacy instruction to the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. And third, by incorporating learning outcomes into our reference interactions (for example: encouraging students to seek resources from diverse perspectives). By working towards these goals, we hope to reach more students and encourage them to ask critical questions about all of the information they consume.

It is more important than ever to stress the importance of peer review, scholarly communication, and the research and knowledge creation process. But as part of a commitment to a liberal arts education, we must also train our students to ask critical questions about the media they consume outside of the research process as well, as our goal is to prepare students to become well-rounded adults and informed citizens in society.

These are nebulous and difficult questions to ask, and this problem is not something academic librarians can hope to tackle on their own. This issue is larger than a liberal arts university library. In my opinion, teaching students to deal with a decentralized media landscape is the information literacy challenge of our time. To equip students with the skills required to vet their information feeds, librarians must partner with faculty and build sustainable initiatives to reach as many students as possible. And educating students about the role of machine learning in their information feeds is a critical component of that overall goal.

A book cover for The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser

Finding New Followers

February 22, 2019

Finding New Followers_.pngDo you ever feel like you post things to social media and no one cares? Sure your core audience saw it (may the algorithms forever be in your favor), but only a few liked it. Then that post you worked really hard on with great photography and awesome hashtags falls flat with only a few likes. You are not alone.

So how do you raise your profile in a professional, but fun way? Short answer… it’s a work in progress. Our team has been specifically looking at how to grow our audience and up our views and likes on Instagram since this is the most popular platform for our audience.

Are we using Adobe Lightroom? No. Are we doing paid advertising on Instagram to promote ourselves. We wish. Are we cross promoting our Instagram on other platforms? Check. Although, we should do it again and more regularly.

Are we promoting all our social media via email marketing? Finally… we’ve started to email students directly (with lots of help from our awesome campus Marketing and Communications department).

Are we doing Instagram stories? Yes! This is our new focus and we hope it pays off. As the spring semester continues we will be doing different stories and a series called “Senior Spotlight” featuring all our graduating senior student workers in a Q. & A. session. Our first Insta-story was live a week ago and got 131 views. We will hopefully complete at six or more before the end of the semester.

The library’s social media committee student contributors are leading the way this initiative and we as staff are following. ;) Here’s hoping new audiences do the same.

Photo credits in order of appearance:

  • Lebanon Valley College. “Lebanon Valley College Library” Box Collection, Lebanon Valley College Archives Photograph Collection, circa 1960, Annville, PA.

  • Kristich, Bethany. “Senior Spotlight: Cheyenne Troxell!” Instagram, 2019, 


C&CS Session “What Does PA Forward and the Star Library Program Have To Do With Academic Libraries?” now available

February 22, 2019

Great turn out for yesterday’s session, “What Does PA Forward and the Star Library Program Have To Do With Academic Libraries?”. The session has been recorded and is available at the following link:

Closed captioning should be available within a few hours of uploading. We thank our session presenters, Christina Steffy, Amy Snyder and Joann Eichenlaub for their excellent insight into the Star Library Program and how we can go about creating sessions and advocating with the PA Forward program.