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Registration for 2019 PA Forward Information Literacy Summit is Now Open

April 30, 2019

The summit is taking place on Monday, July 15 at the Conference Center at Central Penn.

Please see full details, including session descriptions and location details, by clicking here.

The 2019 Pennsylvania Library Association’s PA Forward Information Literacy Summit is focused on connecting people with resources and opportunities. This year’s summit is looking at information literacy and how it intersects with basic, civic and social, health and financial literacy, helping individuals navigate various information channels and understanding the role all libraries have in the discovery and application of credible information.

When: Monday, July 15, 2019, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Where: The Conference Center at Central Penn College
600 College Hill Rd
Summerdale, Pennsylvania  17093
United States
Contact: Brandi Hunter-Davenport

Leveraging #EdTech for Library Instruction

April 30, 2019

As librarians we all wear many hats, and one of my unofficial hats at our small campus is with instructional design and education technologies due to my experience as an online faculty member, and mentor to new online students and faculty, as well as my reputation for being a “tech nerd” and early adopter.

I had the opportunity today to attend ADVIS’s (Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools) Innovation Workshop today with our Academy Dean (grades 7-12) and Systems Administrator so that we can begin brainstorming about how to better leverage free (and low cost) educational technologies on our campus for the next academic year.

The workshop was set up as “speed sessions” or lightning talks held in two rounds with 10-12 concurrent sessions each repeated 4 times in the round, allowing participants to choose 4 sessions from each round, attending 8 sessions total in under 2 hours! My head is still spinning with ideas that can be borrowed, tweaked, new technologies to try, and some frameworks and guidelines to explore.

My top 3 #EdTech highlights from the day that can be easily used in our college/university classrooms and libraries include:

  • PearDeck (The Essential Plan is free, and paid versions are available). Pear Deck is built to work with Google Slides, and helps incorporate assessment into presentations/discussions (and captures data). So, for those of us teaching one-shot information literacy sessions, this could be an easy way to embed assessment with our instruction.
  • TedED. Allows users to create or use existing lessons to engage students in TedTalks style lectures! (Still in pilot phase if anyone is interested…)
  • Educreations. Designed to engage users with video. Most of the examples mentioned in today’s sessions were for math students demonstrating how they solve a problem. I immediately envisioned that missing link in librarian’s studies of user-experience with web design, LibGuides, and database usage, where we can see how students approach a research task!

Where do you get your Ed Tech ideas? How do you engage faculty to experiment with new technologies in the classroom?

I like to follow:

Let’s get creative and have our students use their beloved technology to learn!


Student organizations as curators in the library

April 30, 2019

Penn State Altoona Library Display Banner

This month our library collaborated with a student organization, the Penn State Altoona Environmentalist Coalition, to curate a “Take a Hike” display as a celebration of Earth Day and National Parks Week. Here I share why and how we did it for librarians eager to try a similar project.

Part of my mission in my role as Student Engagement & Outreach Librarian is making more room for students to be active partners in the library. I aim to show students how our library is not just a space to study or a room full of books, but also a place for them to share their research with a broader audience, express their creativity, and build their resumes outside the classroom setting.

I’m inspired by the book, Students Lead the Library: The Importance of Student Contributions to the Academic Library, edited by Sara Arnold-Garza and Carissa Tomlinson. This book has so many great ideas for librarians seeking to incorporate opportunities for student leadership development, student engagement, experiential learning, and more. In particular, the sections “Students as Curators” and “Student Groups as Library Leaders” offered some helpful models for our student-organization-curated exhibit.

Working with a student organization has some built-in advantages. Members are already super interested in a specific topic and motivated to advocate for it outside the classroom. Plus, they can share the work as a group rather than one individual doing all the work.

So, how did we collaborate?

  1. Reach out. I went to the Student Involvement Fair at the beginning of the semester, asked about each club and what they do, introduced myself and my role, handed out business cards, and brainstormed on the fly about ways our library could support their specific needs, address their challenges, and work together on projects. For groups that expressed interest (including the Environmentalist Coalition), I followed up with emails about a week later.
  2. Be flexible. I had already started planning an April display when the Environmentalist Coalition approached me in mid-March. So, I happily threw out my plans and worked with them instead! Also, when the students later asked if they could bring in original artwork for the display, I enthusiastically went with their suggestion instead of sticking with our first idea for a green paper backdrop.
  3. Be clear. The students had never made a display before, so I gave them a quick tour of the space and then gave them a clear checklist of things they could supply: a bibliography of 20 suggested books, a list of 5 suggested websites for the iPad kiosk, all delivered by a deadline. Plus, I gave them a clear break down of what my responsibilities would be (e. g. get approval from library director, resource acquisition, coordinate with office of strategic communications, installation).
  4. Be a fan! I promoted their hard work with posters, social media posts, a news release, and announcements in the Student Newsletter and the Faculty/Staff Newsletter. I also emailed the group about 2 weeks after installation with positive feedback their display had gotten, and at the end of the month, I recapped their success, suggested how they might describe their work on professional documents, and offered to be a reference if needed.
  5. Plan ahead. To wrap up, I made contact with their incoming officers to let them know that I’d be happy to work with them next year if they were interested.
    collage of library display pictures
    A collage of photos of the library display.

Jessica Showalter is the Student Engagement & Outreach Librarian at Penn State Altoona’s Eiche Library. Say hello on Twitter @libraryjms

C&CS presents: Policies, Platforms and Promotion: Social Media for Every Library

April 15, 2019

C&CS Presents

Policies, Platforms and Promotion: Social Media for Every Library


Emily Mross, Josefine Smith and June Houghtaling

May 9th, 2019 at 11am

Register here for the Zoom link

Libraries of all types and sizes can develop meaningful engagement with their patrons through social media. Join the 2018 Pennsylvania Library Association’s Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS) Social Media Project Team to learn how to get started with or improve your library’s presence on social media through the development of a social media policy, selecting the right platforms for your audience, and resources to help you create interesting content. This webinar will address both academic and public library contexts, and the social media considerations unique to each environment. We will also introduce new best practices documents and templates for libraries created by the team over the past year as a service project for The Pennsylvania Library Association and its members.

This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.





Emily Mross is the Business Librarian and Library Outreach Coordinator at Penn State Harrisburg Library in Middletown, PA. Emily holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh, and M. Ed. in Instructional Technology from East Stroudsburg University.

Josefine Smith is the Instruction & Assessment Librarian at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, PA. Josefine holds an MLIS degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s in American Studies from Penn State Harrisburg.

June Houghtaling is the District Consultant for North Central Library District, based out of the James V Brown Library in Williamsport, PA. June holds an MSLS from Clarion University.


Other Team Members:

Tegan Conner-Cole is a Youth Services Librarian for the Cheltenham Township Library System in Montgomery County. Tegan holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

Liz Kluesner is a Librarian at the Lackawanna County Children’s Library in Scranton, PA and an Adjunct Reference and Archives Librarian at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Liz holds an MLS from Clarion University.

John Siegel was previously Head Librarian at Penn State DuBois. He now serves as Coordinator of Information Literacy at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, SC. John holds an MLS from the University of Maryland and an M. Ed. in Adult and Professional Learning from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

What Ever Happened To Blexting?

April 12, 2019

As much as it may sound like one, blexting is not a teen fad of the recent past. It is the concept of co-mingling a crowdsourced solution for the documenting of urban blight with the power of social media and ease of texting. The source of the idea can be traced back to a decade ago when Jerry Paffendorf, Mary Lorene Carter, and Larry Sheridan co-founded Loveland Technologies. Loveland Technologies worked with Data Driven Detroit and others on the Motor City Mapping project.


“Detroit residents can now use a ‘blexting’ app — short for blight texting — to send photos
about derelict properties to a mapping database in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)”

The Blexting App from Loveland was a key tool that allowed a small army of everyday people in 2014 to collect data about changes such as deterioration of or improvements to the almost 400,000 properties in the city of Detroit, MI. One result, the surveying was completed in less than 2 months. Another was it empowered local government agencies to act in an informed manner. Based on the effort Detroit was awarded nearly 50 million dollars by the federal government for blight reduction.

Last year The City of Detroit unveiled it’s Open Data Portal for providing updated public record information. Perhaps the most important outcome of the inception of blexting, it provided proof of concept to a noble idea. Empower citizen-driven collection of big data to solve real problems using the tech devices that just about everyone carries around with them all the time.

Earlier this year, Loveland Technologies released its nationwide land parcel data mining site, that anyone can “surf,” and coming soon the Motor City Mapping survey will be updated. However, the real promise of blexting becoming a tech trend revolution in the gathering of important data about communities has yet to really blossom. Let’s hope it does.


“Detroit Getting $50 Million to Fight Blight.” Detroit News, 16 Dec. 2014,

Lewan, Amanda. “Why Blexting Is The Next Tech Term To Know.” Michipreneur, 24 Feb. 2014,

“Motor City Mapping.” Data-Smart City Solutions, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation,

Muller, David. “‘Blexting’ (Blight+texting) App Enlists Community to Help Detroit Fight Blight.” Mlive.Com, 15 July 2014,

“Press Release: Loveland Technologies Releases Landgrid.Com for Nationwide Land Parcel Data.” LOVELAND,

Finding OER Webinar with Amanda Larson, Penn State – April 30

April 8, 2019

Save the date and join us!

When: April 30th, 12:00pm
What: Finding OER webinar

PALCI’s Affordable Learning PA program presents “Finding OER,” a webinar with Amanda Larson, Penn State’s Open Education Librarian, and 2017-2018 SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellow. Amanda tweets about OER at @maeverawr.

Explore best practices for searching for open educational resources, and learn:

  • Searching tactics for different types of projects
  • Where to search
  • How to search for textbooks, images, and video
  • Where to find resources to help you support faculty
  • How Creative Commons licenses work

Register here: ALPa Webinar Registration Form


Instructing my First Information Literacy Classes

April 4, 2019

I only recently started my job as the part-time interlibrary loan and information services librarian with Lehigh Carbon Community College’s Rothrock Library back in October 2018. From my very first day on the job, I was handling interlibrary loans through OCLC WorldShare®, connecting with libraries all across the country in search of articles and books. After a few weeks, I was comfortable enough to staff the reference desk and to provide assistance for students and faculty.  I was assured that at some point come the spring semester, I would be conducting my first (ever!) information literacy courses for ENG 105, which is our Research and Composition English course. I was actually pretty nervous about it, being that I really do not have a faculty background. I had been a substitute teacher back in the day for elementary school children, so standing up in front of a classroom really did not intimate me. But you can fool children if need be (sometimes); adults listen, catch on, judge, and know when you are a total moron. (Maybe I am underestimating elementary school-aged children and overestimating adults.) I just wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about and how to be comfortable operating all this fancy technology with which I was not really familiar. I am not ashamed to admit that I can be old-school and tend to shun most social media platforms, save Instagram. Even those huge smart boards in the classrooms which can operate with the simple touch of my finger are absolutely amazing and intimidating to me; I feel – and probably, look and act – like Charlie Bucket winning the last Golden Ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when I am operating one of those bad boys!

My first instruction in front of a class was supposed to happen this past Friday at one of our satellite campuses and was for our ENG 106 course, which is Introduction to Literature. Having been asked to do this well ahead of time really put me at ease. I knew I would have the time and resources to prepare my instructional lesson plan. I knew I could be prepared.

But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Two weeks prior to this scheduled instructional session – and first thing on a Monday morning, no less – one of my fellow librarians approached me with an emergency. He had two ENG 106 courses, back-to-back, which he would not be able to instruct, and he wanted to know if I could step in and cover for him.

I probably blanched completely white like one of those cartoon characters out of sheer panic. I only had an hour to prepare. I was not dressed my best. The students would notice my sparse eyebrows and my messy, unruly hair. (Its choice, not mine.) I quickly reviewed my notes which another one of my fellow librarians had provided me. I would be showing the students how to navigate Encore to search our library holdings in addition to some of our databases, in particular, Literature Online and Literature Resource Center. I had very little time to review the short stories which the students were working on, but they seemed like classic works from well-known authors, including Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” and Catherine Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

The instructor was present for both of these classes, so at least she was able to prompt the students to think about their assignment, a short research paper dissecting various themes and symbolism within the stories. My first task was to show them how to look up materials in our library through Encore and of course, as luck would have it, our platform was down at that particular hour. I could retrieve results but when I clicked on a title for a description and summary, I got all that Java talk and errors. No doubt this would happen to me during my very first information literacy instruction! But the instruction must go on, so I delved into the database descriptions for Literature Online and Literature Resource Center. Fortunately, these databases were cooperating with me and I was able to retrieve results for demonstration. I am hoping that I was able to give a thorough understanding of how to conduct research, including on how to cite it properly, and I walked around to each student to ask if he or she needed any assistance.

Even with having displayed my contact information, not one of the students from those two classes approached me afterward to follow up with questions about their research. I see the instructor on a regular basis and she asks me if any of her students have been in touch with me, and sadly, I have to tell her no. To reiterate what Daniel De Kok’s article earlier this week entitled “Those Who Can” for this blog addressed, how do we get the students to ask for our help? What will it take? I cannot imagine that there would be no follow-up questions. It is rather disappointing and discouraging, but I take away from it that once I get more comfortable with conducting information literacy courses, I will eventually familiarize myself with the material and my enthusiasm for the subject will show, especially if it is Introduction to Literature.

For what was supposed to be my first information literacy course this past Friday, I took the time to prepare by reading a few of the short stories which the professor had included on his syllabus. Fortunately, most of them were the same as the previous two classes, being that they are both Introduction to Literature courses taught by two different professors. I was able to re-read a childhood favorite of mine – Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” which really got me pumped for the class. I felt much more confident and engaged in teaching this course at the satellite campus since I was more familiar with the databases. Now I know I can handle more information literacy courses as they come my way; I have gotten over the initial hump of awkwardness and shyness. I would like to know – what was your first information literacy instruction like?