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Open and FAIR go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

February 3, 2020

The State of Open Data Report has been produced 2016-2019 by Digital Science and Figshare. What’s different about 2019? The number of respondents, which remained relatively the same for the first three years, quadrupled to over 8000 world-wide according to Briony Fane, “What is the State of Open Data in 2019?” in The State of Open Data Report 2019 (Digital Science, October 24, 2019), 8-12.

Fane goes on to say, the value of a citation to a dataset was rated highly or more highly than was a citation to a standard research paper. What makes this attitude interesting is that while a third of respondents published their first peer-reviewed article in the 2010s nearly half already have tenure and over a third are professors. So, the idea that researchers who have already passed over the coveted professional thresholds care only about traditional forms of scholarship is not a truism. But this may be the case because researchers who are established in their careers are less concerned about getting scooped by sharing their data and are more interested in collaborating with other scholars.

Fane figure

Fane, “What is the State of Open Data in 2019?” 9.

It may seem logical that over a third of respondents have concerns about misuse of data. However, the second most frequent concern was uncertainty about copyright and licensing. It is encouraging though that the percentage of respondents who don’t know what license covered their data when it was made openly available has dropped significantly since the first report four years ago.

The sad reality these reports reveal is that most researchers still don’t know what FAIR principles are when it comes to open data. But on the positive, a majority “of respondents who had never used open data in their research would be willing to do so” (Fane 11).

Some other “Big Takeaways” identified by Briony Fane, a Data Analyst with Digital Science:

  • “full citation (61%), co-authorship (42%), consideration in job reviews (45%) and financial reward (38%) all ranked highly as important mechanisms for researchers as credit for sharing their data openly”
  • “65% of respondents reported that they curated their data for sharing either privately or publicly”
  • “79% of 2019 respondents were supportive overall of a national mandate for making primary research openly available.”

There have been tremors in the research publishing community since an open letter with now over 60 signatories was sent late last year to petition for a White House Executive Order to require open access for publicly funded research. Based on The State of Open Data Report 2019, an important step a librarian can take is to educate researchers about the FAIR principles and ensure research data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable.

Call for Presenters – Share Your Ideas, Knowledge, & Experience at the Pennsylvania Library Association 2020 Conference!

January 31, 2020
The 2020 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference, Mountains of Possibilities! will take place October 18 – 21, 2020 at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in the Poconos.

The 2020 Conference Program Committee is currently accepting proposals for sessions to take place during the conference, to include more than sixty educational sessions on topics of interest for the library community.  Suggested topics

If you are an expert on a topic that you feel will be of interest to this group, we invite you to submit a session proposal!

The deadline for submissions is noon (EST) on Monday, March 16.

For more information on the conference, and the submission link and requirements, CLICK HERE, and by all means plan to join us at Kalahari!  You won’t want to miss it!

Outreach Efforts to Computer Science Students and Faculty

January 30, 2020

As a STEM Librarian I serve a diverse group of students enrolled in science, engineering, and technology related disciplines. I have been in my current role for almost two years now and I have been successful at making inroads with several engineering departments as well as the biology department. However, a new goal that I have in mind is to increase my outreach to our computer science students and faculty. I want to do more beyond adding relevant books to our library collection.

After reading about how great the book is and having conversations with fellow librarians who found it insightful, I have started reading Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble (2018, New York University Press). I am only halfway through the book right now, but I will note that my colleagues have steered me in the right direction. I do not intend to write a book review here but if you have any interest in algorithm bias, machine learning, or search engines – I highly encourage you to read this work. At last year’s PaLA’s annual conference one of our colleagues gave a brief lightning talk about bias in computer science programming (it was enlightening) and just yesterday I attended a Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) webinar called “Engaging with Algorithm Bias: How Librarians Can Meet Information Literacy Needs of Computer Science and Engineering Students” presented by three librarians and one computer science faculty member. The presenters discussed their recent work on surveying computer science student’s perception of search engines and algorithm bias. They used their survey results and discussions with students to create a learning module all about algorithm bias that they’ve deployed at three different institutions to different audiences. I thoroughly enjoyed the webinar and would encourage you to reach out to the presenters with any questions. While I still need to finish Algorithms of Oppression, both the book and webinar have already given me ideas on how to increase my outreach to the computer science department.

In the future, I am planning on reaching out to the department again (my first attempt last year was not as successful as I hoped) to build connections with faculty and the program director. I know that I need to learn a lot more about their department, courses, and students before I can embark on a meaningful relationship. It seems the topic of algorithm bias and the oppression of certain users by search engines would fit well in a course on computer ethics. I will be investigating the computer sciences course that are offered on my campus to determine possible entry points and areas of collaboration. One opportunity for growth in this area is to reach out to the computer science capstone courses and offer research assistance relevant to their capstone projects as I do with our engineering courses. As I learn more about the discipline and the needs of computer science students on my campus, I am hopeful that my outreach efforts will be successful.

If you are a librarian with computer science liaison duties and/or interested in algorithm bias – I would love to hear your suggestions! Have your outreach efforts to computer science students been positive experiences? Is there something you would or would not do again? Please feel free to comment on this post or contact me directly at

CRD Virtual Journal Club Spring Series is here!

January 29, 2020

Join the College and Research Division’s Virtual Journal Club spring series!  This series we will focus on critical librarianship (#CritLib). All members of PaLA are welcomed. You can read a recap of our fall series here.

The CRD virtual journal club spring series will meet February 19, March 25, and April 22 from 1:00-2:00pm. Those interested in participating can sign up at

For our first session, we will be reading these two articles:

Garcia, K. (n.d.). Keeping up with…critical librarianship. ACRL.

Eamon, T. (2015). A decade of critical information literacy: A review of the literature. Communications in Information Literacy, 9(1), 24-43.

Prior to the February meeting, registered participants will receive an email containing a link to article we will be discussing, a list of discussion questions/prompts, and the online Zoom meeting invitation.

If you have any questions or suggestions for the planning committee, please feel free to contact us at

C&CS Presents: Centering Student Voices on Feb 20th, 2020 at 11am

January 27, 2020

Centering Student Voices: Conducting Library Research with an Undergraduate 


Hailley Fargo, Student Engagement Coordinator, Penn State University, University Park


Ally Mastrangelo, Undergraduate Research Assistant with Mapping the Student Engagement Journey, Penn State University, University Park

February 20th, 2020 at 11am EST

Register for the Zoom Link here


Library research is often conducted around undergraduate students, but these students usually do not have a say in the research project design. If libraries can find ways to include undergraduates in their research projects, there is potential for not only student-centered research, but also an opportunity for the library to provide a meaningful undergraduate research experience. Additionally, both the student and library benefit from this collaboration. The student learns more about the field of LIS and refines their research skills while the library benefits by learning more about how our students can use their disciplinary background in our research setting. This presentation will present the process of hiring, training, and collaborating with an undergraduate student. Specifically, this presentation is an overview of Mapping the Student Engagement Journey, an exploratory, qualitative research project on student engagement experiences. The presenters will discuss how this research project benefits from the undergraduate student, who is both a collaborator and insider, helping to strengthen the project itself to gather results.

Hailley Fargo is the Student Engagement Coordinator at Penn State UniversityHailley Fargo, University Park campus. This role liaises with non-academic units, collaborates with colleagues to create an aligned approach to student engagement, and explores ways to enhance library student employment. Hailley’s research interests include the library’s role in student engagement, peer-to-peer services, information literacy, and undergraduate research. Hailley is also a co-founder of The Librarian Parlor (, a blog dedicated to building community around LIS research.  Check her out on Twitter @hailthefargoats.


Summit Picture .jpgAlly Mastrangelo is the Undergraduate Research Assistant with Mapping the Student Engagement Journey. She just graduated from Penn State in Fall 2019 with degrees in Labor and Employment Relations and Psychology and she plans to begin law school in Fall 2020. Ally is intrigued by this project because of her previous research experience and involvement in student engagement opportunities at Penn State. She is a Research Assistant with the Underrepresented Perspectives Lab in the Psychology Department and was involved in various student engagement opportunities as an undergraduate, including New Student Orientation, Penn State Alternative Breaks, and the Italian Honors Society.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

January 22, 2020

Last week, I attended my college’s Spring 2020 convocation for faculty, staff, and administration. One of the presentations really struck a solemn chord with me and had a profound effect on how I view our current opioid crisis. The presentation was titled “H.O.P.E. Heroin and Opioid Prevention Education” and given by Lisa Wolff, M.Ed, of the Center for Humanistic Change. Her focus was mainly on the prevalent use of heroin and the resulting fatal overdoses of very young people in their late teens and early twenties.

The opioid crisis is rampant in Pennsylvania. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the opioid-related overdose rate in the United States is 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people. However, in Pennsylvania, the opioid overdose rate is 18.5 deaths per 100,000 people.¹ Pennsylvania opioid abuse has led to the state having a higher number of overdose deaths because of opioids than the national average. Another source found that from January 1, 2018 to December 7, 2019, there were 19,652 emergency room visits from opioid overdoses in Pennsylvania.² Another startling fact is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually lists Pennsylvania as the state with the third-highest rates of drug overdose deaths (behind West Virginia and Ohio) at 44.3 per 100,000 people with a 16.9% increase from 2016 to 2017 alone.³

Having worked in three public libraries before my current position in a community college’s library, I had heard much of the opioid crisis and had read my fair share of articles concerning librarians becoming administrators of NARCAN® (naloxone HCl), which frankly, terrified me. Fortunately, I never encountered any patrons overdosing or had to administer NARCAN®, but after listening to Wolffe’s presentation, I now wish to learn this critical and life-saving task. In my ignorance, I failed to realize that the opioid crisis can hit the very library at which I work. It never dawned on me that our students could be overdosing on heroin and other opioids in our very bathrooms. (But please do not think I am ignorant about opioids in general; sadly, I have lost close family members to opioid overdoses in Schuylkill County.)

Wolffe brought forward a lot of useful information in just why opioids such as heroin are so addictive. The science behind these harmful drugs is that they attach to parts of your brain and body to block pain and anxiety and induce a feeling of calm and euphoria. Consequently, the brain begins to produce more and more receptors to which the opioids can attach themselves, thereby creating a cycle of addiction and actually changing the way your brain works. Depravation and withdrawal from opioids will cause seriously unpleasant side effects as the brain’s receptors continue to demand their fair share of euphoria. This short YouTube video gives a more scientific analysis of just how opioids affect the brain.4


What are some of the types of popular opioids? In addition to heroin, there are the ones that are often prescribed for patients undergoing (usually major) surgical procedures, or for those in the ending stages of cancer to alleviate the pain. These are morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. Additionally, there are more easily prescribed painkillers which unfortunately are far more accessible to our youth. These are the ones such as OxyContin®, Percocet®, and Vicodin®, which are often prescribed for sports injuries or dental surgeries such as wisdom teeth removal. But one opioid has recently grown in popularity according to Wolffe, and that is fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, Fentanyl is often abused. Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually do not know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths.5 Wolffe tragically recalled an incident which happened to a young man in his late teens; he had been doing well and had been trying to stay clean, but one night at an arena where he and his mother worked (which is only about two miles away from me), he finished his shift and went to administer to himself what he thought was heroin. He ended up injecting himself with 100% fentanyl, which instantly ended his life.

Wolffe pointed out some interesting signs which you might observe in someone who is using heroin. Besides the obvious, tell-tale sign of a person slouching over and oblivious to his or her surroundings, rocking to and fro, then swinging upright in a moment of consciousness, only to repeat the cycle, there is also a rather unusual one. An unusual amount of plastic water bottles – usually in a person’s vehicle – might point to heroin addiction. Heroin is often placed in the bottle cap of a plastic water bottle and mixed with a little bit of water. To extract the impurities out of the heroin, a tad of cotton from a q-tip is also added to the bottle cap. From there, a person is able to withdraw the mixture from the cotton with a syringe. Referring to the case above, Wolffe mentioned that the mother often had to buy her son q-tips; she just assumed he was using them for personal hygiene.

As overwhelming and tragic as these statistics can be, I am now fully aware that a person can overdose in my library. I would like to be trained on how to administer NARCAN® safely and efficiently. This part of being a librarian has always terrified me. I often used to tell myself, “I did not sign up for this when I decided to become a librarian.” I assumed that only urban (and mainly public) libraries in center city Allentown or Philadelphia have to deal with this crisis, and not a community college library in a semi-rural setting. Moving forward, I am determined to make others aware of the importance we faculty, staff, and administration can play in the lives of students dealing with opioid addiction.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Pennsylvania Quick Facts
  2. opendataPA – Opioid-Related Overdose Death
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Drug Overdose Deaths
  4. “2-Minute Neuroscience: Opioids” YouTube, uploaded by Neuroscientifically Challenged, 16 November 2018,
  5. United States Drug Enforcement Association – Fentenayl Fact Sheet


The Mindful Library, continued

January 17, 2020

In my previous post, I shared some observations about three sections of the book Recipes for Mindfulness in Your Library: Supporting Resilience and Community Engagement. Here are some quick thoughts on the last section, Teaching/Research.

Chapters in this section generally focus on being “in the moment” when teaching or learning. This was timely. I’ve been in a few meetings recently where reading comprehension was discussed. Multitasking or rushing through a task just to finish it because you are looking ahead was mentioned as a deterrent to really absorbing information. We see this in ourselves and in students we work with – and being mindful of that is a good step in trying to focus.

The importance of checking in with students about what they are thinking and feeling “in the moment” is a key takeaway from the last chapter, “Overcoming Research Anxiety.” While many of us already check in during instruction or consultations – “do you have any questions about this?” – we may not get meaningful results. Instead, following the advice of this chapter, we might frame our questions to be more specific, acknowledging emotions. We can ask if the research process seems overwhelming, what part of the process students dread the most, and if any strategies helped in the past. In other words, we can try to start a conversation that might help students become more comfortable with research.

Based on the title alone, I probably don’t need to mention that Recipes for Mindfulness In Your Library is not a deep dive into theories and practices; concepts are explained just enough to highlight main ideas. This book is a good overview that provides topics to discuss with colleagues, programming ideas and ways to incorporate mindfulness into work.