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December 18, 2019

It’s the end of the year so I thought I’d share some food for thought. Has anyone else read Kevin Seeber’s blog post titled Colleagues? You can find it here,

In the post he reflects on the way that the current model of interaction between librarians and faculty, one-shot instruction sessions, can cause a lot of anxiety and stress for the librarian. As he states in his blog post, many faculty are wonderful to work with but it can be frustrating at times.

I can’t say that I’ve had overtly bad experiences with any faculty that I’ve worked with but I think all of us, can sympathize with the well-meaning faculty member who pipes up mid-session and asks you to demo a database or answer a question about something that you hadn’t planned to cover. It’s stressful to try and pivot to cover that material adequately and then get back on track with your planned instruction. Would faculty so casually interrupt other guest lecturers in their class?

I really like Kevin’s question, “Is this how colleagues treat each other?” as a way to reflect on faculty/librarian relationships. What are ways that we can move away from the service model to a true colleague? I’m open to suggestions!!


Bloggers Wanted!

December 9, 2019

Have you ever read the posts on It’s Academic and thought to yourself, “I could totally write blogs for CRD, and they would be awesome!” then we want you!  We are looking for anyone interested in contributing to It’s Academic throughout the 2020 calendar year.  We welcome new and experienced bloggers, as well as those who want to contribute frequently or those who would rather only post once or twice a year.

What we’re looking for:

People to author blog posts (of any length or format) on any topic relevant to college and research libraries (bonus points if it’s specific to Pennsylvania).  We’ll put together a posting schedule (for the 2020 calendar year) that will let you know what weeks you’re responsible for posting to the blog.  On your scheduled week, we’d like to have at least one new blog post by you go live (but you’re absolutely allowed to post more than once in the week if you want to).


Send a short email to Matt McNelis at  Please include how frequently you would like to contribute to the blog (once a month, twice a semester, etc.) and any scheduling issues you foresee so we know when is/isn’t a good time to put you on the calendar.  If you have any questions, include them in your email.

How to Build a Better Collection: Practical Tips on Incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into Collection Development Workflows

December 3, 2019
The Self-Regulating Wind-Mill

Detail image from Scientific American 1, no. 2 (Sept. 4, 1845): p. 1. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Librarians at Villanova University’s library have begun to talk about what it means to have diversity as a core value when it comes to collection development. The DEI focus up to now has been on raising awareness through programming and displays, diversify staffing, and increasing cultural competencies among our current staff. A recent conversation with a colleague revolved around weighing the LC classification system versus the LC subject headings as a means of doing DEI gap analysis. It was agreed both are flawed methods, because they can be a skewed metric for many reasons and are inherently representative of the dominant political culture. The Change the Subject documentary was still fresh in our minds. How then do we get started?

The findings of Ciszek and Young (2010) still seem to apply: “Libraries wishing to assess a collection for diversity should have a clear definition of diversity in place before assessment. Many collection assessment methods useful for determining the diversity of a collection are not applicable for large libraries. Additional tools may need to be developed to facilitate this type of assessment in the future, especially at large libraries.” The main practical piece of advice is to have a controlled vocabulary for talking about what exactly DEI means for your library.

Two very insightful points made by Anne Doherty in a 2019 Choice360 webinar, Creating an Inclusive Collection: Selecting and Evaluating Diverse Resources, were, “scarcity of time and resources” and “turning outward to expand inclusivity.” The former is mentioned whenever the idea of bringing DEI into focus concerning collection building, but as she says this is a “challenge which I think could be a bullet point on any library presentation about library workflows.” However instead of letting this challenge inhibit the process she states recognizing this “at the start can help you as you define how you want to move forward.” The latter idea is one she credits as coming from the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative which allows libraries to improve their community engagement. (See the simple Turn Outward assessment.) Doherty goes on to say Turing Outward is a phrase and terminology “predominantly seen in public libraries” but to turn outward can be an inspirational consideration for every library when it comes to DEI and collection development.

Cruz (2019) makes several suggestions “for building and maintaining a diverse collection.” Beginning with establishing a committee charged with evaluation and modification of the collection for diversity. Actively identify smaller publishers and discover niche sources for DEI-related materials. Gather feedback from the patrons of the library. Get professional help assessing “the collection for diversity criteria.” Develop a ‘diversity selection criterion’ to be sure what’s collected includes divergent points of view. Use a ‘diversity acquisition code’ to evaluate what monies have been spent on DEI acquisitions and to make the case if a larger budget is required to ensure “ideas from non-dominant sources” are represented and “diverse items” are collected. Cruz goes on to elaborate the central role distinctive collections can and should have in diversifying the library’s holdings overall, which seems a wise approach but not one that works well for every library.

However, in response to the ALA’s recently revised interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights related to diversity in collection development and the library’s own strategic objective to “diversify the collection,” librarians at the Sherwood Public Library did several things on a shoestring budget that all libraries can consider doing:

  • Created separate fund for DEI collection building and sought grant funding
  • Prioritized filling gaps in “Own Voices titles,” i.e., books “authored by those who share a diverse, minority, or marginalized trait with their protagonist”
  • Monitored new media sources, such as e-journals, blogs, podcasts, and independent book publisher’s websites, for book reviews and award announcements related to “marginalized authors”
  • Selected books based on analysis of curated lists which highlight “a broad range of voices, perspectives, and authors representing ethnic diversity, all genders and sexualities, and all abilities.”
  • Acquired hard-to-get books from a wide range of smaller publishers at an international book fair
  • Expanded world languages represented in the collection based on data about the community the library serves
  • Adjusted deselection criteria for DEI books, to allow them more time to circulate



Ciszek, Matthew P., and Courtney L. Young. “Diversity Collection Assessment in Large Academic Libraries.” Collection Building 29, no. 4 (October 12, 2010): 154–61.

Creating an Inclusive Collection: Selecting and Evaluating Diverse Resources. ACRL-Choice webinar. Recorded May 21, 2019.

Cruz, Alice M. “Intentional Integration of Diversity Ideals in Academic Libraries: A Literature Review.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 45, no. 3 (May 2019): 220–27.

“Diverse Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association. Adopted July 14, 1982, by the ALA Council; amended January 10, 1990; July 2, 2008; July 1, 2014 under previous name “Diversity in Collection Development”; and June 25, 2019.

Garcia, Crystal, and Adrienne Calkins. “Figuring Out Where to Start, and How: One Library’s DEI Strategies.” OLA Quarterly 25, no. 2 (October 28, 2019).



Migrating to a New ILS

November 27, 2019

I found out earlier this month that we will not be renewing our library’s contract with our current ILS, Sierra Innovative, when it expires in April 2022. As is the reasoning behind many a motivation for change, our decision to migrate to a new integrated library system boils down to the exuberant cost for the services. Having hired the library’s first systems librarian back in July, it seems like perfect timing for us to be considering other options. Our systems librarian has been diligently setting up promotional presentations with various vendors. Last week, we met with a representative from OCLC for WorldShare Management, and this week we sat in on a demonstration for The Library Corporation (TLC). Next month, we will be viewing what SirsiDynix has to offer. I am very open-minded with each vendor because I have used all three either currently (OCLC for interlibrary loans) or at past positions. (I used both TLC and SirsiDynix with two of the three public libraries where I was employed.) Each ILS has much to offer and terrific technical support systems.

But do I personally have a preface? It depends on how I wish to incorporate those integrated library systems’ features into my workflow. Considering I work in OCLC for my interlibrary loans in an academic setting, making the complete transition to this ILS seems the most logical approach. There are dependable technical support and numerous webinars which cover a variety of topics; not to mention the global appeal of OCLC is inviting. I also had the pleasure of working in OCLC Connexion when I was copy cataloging an assignment for the United States Military Academy at Backstage Library Works in 2016. A year later, I was also reacquainted with OCLC when I did my internship at my alma mater (DeSales University) during my final semester of graduate school. Interestingly, DeSales was in the process of making a migration from Millennium to OCLC WorldShare Management during my time there; even though the librarian who handled interlibrary loans was already working with OCLC. I enjoyed learning how to do interlibrary loans through OCLC while I was an intern there; no doubt it truly helped me make the transition to my current position, which includes processing interlibrary loans.

From a circulation viewpoint, however, I believe TLC and SirsiDynix are very user-friendly and offer a lot of bells and whistles which I believe our circulation staff will find useful. I worked with TLC at Southern Lehigh Public Library for fourteen months; I really became spoiled with its features and accessories. (Those of you who have used SPARK in public libraries might completely understand my statement!) SirsiDynix is also another user-friendly ILS for public libraries, so I am interested in seeing how these two systems work for academic libraries.

What feedback can you provide? Do you use one of these three integrated library systems? What are some advantages and disadvantages? Have you noticed a difference? While migrating to a new ILS is never an easy undertaking, it is an excellent opportunity to weed out your library’s collection and to start afresh.

Here is hoping you have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I am so thankful to be a librarian!

Connect + Communicate Online Book Discussion: December 9th

November 26, 2019

Please join the CRD’s Connect + Communicate Series for on online book discussion of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. DiAngelo, an antiracist educator, explores the ways white behavior, unconscious and conscious, continues to uphold racial inequality.

The virtual discussion will be held on Monday December 9th, at 12 pm. Our conversation will be guided by the following questions:

  1. White fragility is centered around white people’s discomfort with talking about race. What portion(s) of the book evoked discomfort in you?
  2. Can you describe a situation you encountered white fragility from a fellow LIS professional? How did you handle it? How would you handle it after reading this book?
  3. How does white fragility play a role in the lack of diversity in librarianship? How has this book impacted your view of diversity and equity within the profession? What can we do to disrupt white supremacy within librarianship?

Click here to register for the discussion. You do not have to be a PaLA or CRD member to attend. The Zoom link will be sent out to registered attendees prior to December 9th.

If you have any questions, please contact Erin Burns at

Not Just a Space: Library Services for Faculty

November 21, 2019

As anyone who works in an academic library knows, space is a premium. As libraries resources are becoming more cemented in the digital, we are able to weed print books, and reduce staffing (albeit not always voluntarily) to create space. The trick for us, as we wrap up the second decade of the twenty-first century, is keeping our spaces relevant. 

How many times have we heard of unrelated departments moving their offices into the library? At Valley Forge Military Academy & College, we are still working to keep our spaces relevant for the students (adding individual study carrels and additional group study spaces), but our focus isn’t necessarily on the physical space so much as it’s on the programming that we offer in those spaces. We’ve also learned that it isn’t the students that we need to sell, rather it’s the faculty. 

I wrote back in March: “what can we build (or schedule) to get them to come?” and one of the tricks that we’ve discovered is to let the faculty lead the way. In addition to promoting information literacy, and the ability to reserve other library spaces for classes, we offer programming specifically for faculty as well as students.

We run a program called “Pizza and Pedagogy” two to three times each semester during lunch, and bring pizza, and help teach faculty how to leverage ed tech, gamification, or just different subscriptions. We even offer our time to facilitate classroom activities outside of information literacy. I run escape room style activities both digitally and in the tangible world, as well as scavenger hunts, in addition to other game-show-style interactive experiences. 

Another faculty-centric program is our Writers’ Retreat series. Once a month we block out three to four hours for our faculty and staff to come and work on their own scholarship, whether it’s research, writing, or prepping presentations. This is a great opportunity to remind the faculty that our resources are accessible to them as well, including interlibrary loan, and the expertise of the librarians. 

Through our relationships with faculty, we are able to get students to attend workshops, to schedule research consultations, and to leverage the services provided. 

It also doesn’t hurt to increase the number of small celebrations that we recognize, i.e. National Candy Corn Day or National Homemade Cookie Day, so the students are eager to stop in just to see what’s going on. And, for our student-focused workshops, getting faculty to offer extra credit for attendance is helpful, but so is a last minute reminder that contains the promise of food being available as well! 


Save the date! ACRL Roadshow and CRD Spring Workshop

November 8, 2019

Save the date! (2).png

We look forward to seeing everyone in May for two great days of professional development.

On May 18, 2020, the College and Research Division will host the ACRL Roadshow Engaging with the ACRL Framework, facilitated by:

  • Jenny Dale, Information Literacy Coordinator, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Kim Pittman, Information Literacy and Assessment Librarian, University of Minnesota Duluth

Learn more about the Roadshow and our presenters here:

On May 19, we will host our annual Spring Workshop featuring Pennsylvania librarians and an engaging keynote speakers.

More information and registration will be available soon. Stay tuned!