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C&CS Presents: “Five Revolutions for Advancing Cultures of Openness in Higher Education: Looking Beyond 2022” recording now available

July 22, 2022

Thanks to Steven Bell for his recent Connect & Communicate Series presentation, “Five Revolutions for Advancing Cultures of Openness in Higher Education: Looking Beyond 2022.” The recording is now available on the C&CS YouTube channel.

Whether you attended live or view the recording, please take a minute to fill out the evaluation form. Your feedback is very important to us, as we are required to submit evaluation data as part of our LSTA grant application.

Faculty Perspectives on Mis/Disinformation

July 18, 2022

Shortly after I wrote in a previous post about my work with the Pitt Disinformation Lab, I read a related article: Faculty Perspectives on Mis- and Disinformation across Disciplines by Dr. Laura Saunders. The article discusses her survey of higher education faculty to discover their understanding of mis/disinformation in their disciplines and how they address it in their classes.

Saunders’ survey was answered by 86 respondents in a variety of disciplines, and she conducted follow-up interviews with only 6 of the respondents, so she cautions that it’s a small sample size. Not surprisingly, over 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am concerned about the impact of mis/disinformation on social media” and similar responses were received to a question about the news media. However, when respondents were asked whether there was concern about these issues in their fields, the answers varied widely, as illustrated by this figure from the article:


I am concerned about the impact of mis/disinformation in my field/discipline

When first seeing this, I looked at the Communications/Journalism line several times to make sure I was reading it correctly. Over 60% of respondents strongly disagreed that it’s an issue in their discipline?! Even given that this percentage translates to 3 or 4 people, it’s still a remarkable result. I emailed Dr. Saunders to solicit her comments on this finding and she said, “ I completely agree with you about the oddness of these results. …the respondents might have been reading the question a little differently than I intended– for instance, maybe they were thinking about the spread of misinformation by trained journalists or by communications/journalism instructors as opposed to whether misinformation is spread in this field in general…although that seems a bit of a stretch as well. And certainly there are trained journalists and reporters who do purposefully or inadvertently spread misinformation.” Unfortunately, since no one from Communications/Journalism was available for a follow-up interview, Dr. Saunders couldn’t get more clarification on this result.

The article also discusses faculty interaction with librarians on mis/disinformation. The vast majority of all respondents have not worked with a librarian to specifically address the topic in their classes. However, Saunders notes that respondents’ most popular method of addressing mis/disinformation in their classes is “requiring students to cite trustworthy sources in assignments.” Assisting with this, of course, is often a focus of our instruction sessions, so perhaps in faculty’s mind we are addressing the issue. While some of the skills used to find academic research are helpful when assessing the veracity of information on Facebook, I believe they’re not identical.

Any effort on our part to integrate discussions of mis/disinformation in class instruction sessions requires among the most precious of resources on a college campus: time. Using a portion of our already-constrained instruction time to focus on these issues rather than how to use our catalogs or understand a citation won’t be welcomed by all faculty. That said, I think it’s a topic worth exploring and about which I hope to have conversations with my faculty in preparation for this fall’s classes.

In her message to me, Dr. Saunders noted that she conducted a parallel survey of academic librarians, an analysis of which she hopes will be published soon. I look forward to that article and to reading others about how we can address mis/disinformation.

Second Meeting of Virtual Journal Club Summer 2022 Series

July 18, 2022

Just a reminder that the second meeting of the Summer 2022 series of Virtual Journal Club will take place this Thursday, July 21. We will discuss:

Dawes, L. (2019). Faculty perceptions of teaching information literacy to first-year students: A phenomenographic study. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 51(2), 545– 560.

Let us know if you would like to a link to our Zoom meeting!

Have a great day,
Melissa, Alex, and Rebecca

What makes a teacher?

July 12, 2022

Several years ago a librarian colleague said, “I teach, but I don’t teach, you know?” in a conversation about using peer observation to reflect and improve upon our teaching. At the time, this statement did not make any sense to me. Even considering there might have been a little bit of defensiveness in response to the idea of peer observation, that statement confused me at face value. How can you teach but not teach?

It’s been years and I think I finally found the answer. Or at least a perspective on how some librarians feel about their identities as teachers. A couple of weeks ago, my summer reading group read the article “Am I a Teacher because I Teach?” In the literature review, Kirker cites a study of British librarians and how they viewed their roles as teachers. That study categorized the four identities as:

  • “teacher-librarians” (teachers who teach)
  • “learning support” (teachers who do not teach)
  • “librarians who teach” (non-teachers who teach) or
  • “trainers” (nonteachers who do not teach)

When I read this, I thought of my former colleague. Although I was a newish librarian at the time, I was very confident in my teacher-librarian identity. This was based on my coursework in graduate school, the enormous number of one-shots I did as an adjunct librarian at a community college, and the role I eventually held at that institution alongside my colleague. I have a new role where I actually don’t teach many one-shots and I still consider myself a teacher-librarian. Even though my former colleague had been in the profession much longer than I, they still did not identify as a teacher. They likely would use any of the categorizations above except for “teacher-librarian.”

One of the participant’s in Kirker’s study discusses how librarians are not teachers because students are not accountable to us in the same way as their professors. We do not give out grades, we don’t require excused absences, we do not develop the same connections with students as their semester-long professors, and, in the end, we are not experts in subject content. Besides the relationship-building aspect, much of this is true. But I don’t think this is how we should define our teaching identity.

I think the final section of Kirker’s article can help us consider our identity: “student learning is the core of teaching in the academy.” We may need more professional development and training in pedagogy or more support from our academic colleagues, like course instructors. However, if we are invested in student learning then we can consider ourselves teachers.

I’m interested in hearing from you about this topic. Do you consider yourself a teacher?

Pause with a Poem: A Break for Well-being

July 11, 2022

On May 11, 2022, Penn State kicked off a university-wide health and well-being program headed by benefits strategist, Rita Foley, with a mission to cultivate “a thriving workforce that is engaged in health and well-being and is a role model for the communities in which we live and work.”

One of the program’s initial steps – taken up by well-being ambassadors across university locations, colleges, and departments – was to invite colleagues to the wellness webinar “Depression, Anxiety, Burnout: Moving Toward Hope and Health,” presented by Health Advocate Employee Assistance Program manager, Karen Rech, on May 20.

One definition of burnout Rech provided was: “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress [that occurs] when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”

To prevent burnout, Rech presented tips that included (among others):

  • Consider alternative mindsets.
  • Relax your body.
  • Calm your mind.
  • Take 10-15 minutes to reflect.

Researchers and sisters, Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, write in their book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle (Ballantine Books, 2019) that “the ultimate moral of the story” is:

Wellness is not a state of being but a state of action.

— Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Amid churning out work at your computer, pausing with a poem can satisfy all four actions above to stave off burnout, and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book (PACFTB) at Penn State University Libraries provides a ready resource with digital content from its poetry initiatives.

The PACFTB, an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress and sponsored by Penn State University Libraries, supports its mission to encourage Pennsylvanians to study, honor, celebrate, and promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy with multiple initiatives, including the Public Poetry Project, a project that features work by Pennsylvania poets on print/digital posters to be distributed freely, and Poems from Life with Juniper Village, a collaboration with Juniper Village Senior Living at Brookline that celebrates its residents with original, individualized poems generated and presented by local poets.

A poem intentionally leads readers into an alternative mindset, a state Rech recommends pursuing as a first step to avoiding burnout.

“Somewhere, a child pretends to sleep—,” begins “Vow” by Erin Murphy, selected for the Public Poetry Project in 2020. What follows is a cadence of “fluttering” imagery with potential to both relax the body and calm the mind, checking off the next two tips for deflecting burnout.

“Poetry can provide comfort and boost mood during periods of stress, trauma and grief,” science writer Richard J. Sima, PhD, states in his overview of recent studies, “More Than Words: Why Poetry is Good for Our Health,” for The International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University. “Its powerful combination of words, metaphor and meter help us better express ourselves and make sense of the world and our place in it.”

“Vow,” designed in a poster for the 2020 Public Poetry Project, is from Distant Glitter by Erin Murphy. Copyright © 2013 by Erin Murphy.

If several readthroughs of the poem only occupy part of the forth recommendation of 10-15 minutes of reflection, a video of Murphy reading “Vow” is available on the PACFTB’s YouTube channel, which houses a variety of craft talks and presentations that document awards and programs.

The River Bathers” by Elaine Terranova, from the 2003 Public Poetry Project, is another piece that pauses the busy mind and “[takes] in breath enough / to get me through” with kinetic language that sooths and transports readers into a current of mythology and the resiliency of nature.

Carolyne Meehan’s “Wedding Photo” reads, “…her bobby pin … how she must have / rolled and then slipped / pin after pin, / row upon row,” and likewise carries readers with sensory-rich momentum through a scene dedicated to and informed by her shared conversation with Juniper resident Harriet O’Brien as part of the 2020 Poems from Life program. A video of Meehan reading “Wedding Photo” is also available.

In Psychology Today, Deborah Serani, PsyD, cites the positive outcomes of reading poetry and other forms of literature in her article “Bibliotherapy for Depression,” and these include, but are not limited to: “reduction of negative emotions, deepening insight, increased empathy and compassion, [and] greater social connection.

Buzzing with the flow of community and “the rhythmic sound / of straight razor on leather strop…,” Sarah Russell’s “Fred Harris, American Small Town Barber,” reflects on the life of a Poems from Life 2017 Juniper resident and provides alternative perspectives on the values of staying rooted verses traveling the map.

The added hint of a warm audience captured in the video of Russell reading her poem encourages sharing in community and conjures the power of “collective care,” a term discussed in a presentation and conversation with Dr. Abigail (Abby) Phillips on May 16 during this year’s Staff Diversity Week at Penn State University Libraries, organized by Maggie Mahoney, James McCready, Alex Harrington, and Jackie Dillon-Fast.

Poet Sarah Russell reads “Fred Harris, American Small Town Barber” for Harris during the 2017 Poems from Life Reading & Celebration at Juniper Village Brookline on April 11.

Collective care was discussed as “part of self-care with a connection to community” and reminds us to reach out to neighbors, loved ones, and resources in those times when we need more than a poem.

For more information about PACFTB poetry initiatives and other literary programming, awards, and resources, please visit the PACFTB website.