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Project Procrastination & End Panel Signage

August 23, 2019

As the summer (sadly) winds to a close, all the projects that have been put off now have to be completed quickly! Since our library renovation last year, we’ve been trying to figure out what we wanted to do for end panel signage in the stacks.

Many of our library staff members toured the Point Park Library in downtown Pittsburgh and fell in love with their chalkboard end panel signage, in addition to other interesting features of their space. So, we tried to think about a way that we could do something similar here. However, we didn’t seem to be able to find anyone with enough artistic talent to volunteer to do it.

Our Office Manager, Jayne, and I poured over library supply catalogs, signage websites, and other places trying to find sign holder options that were a little bit fancy but also affordable. We finally chose a sign holder and they arrived a month or so ago.

We then researched several options for hanging the signs so that we didn’t have to drill into the end panels. We tried command strips and heavy-duty Velcro. The heavy-duty Velcro seemed like the best option for us. So we went out and purchased enough Velcro to hang all of our signs and that sat for another week or so.

Then last week, one of our student workers cut the Velcro and applied it to the backs of the signs to make the hanging process a little easier.

Yesterday Jayne & I decided that we could not put this task off any further so we headed down to the stacks armed with a tape measure, pencil, and Clorox wipes. We cleaned the end panels then measured and hung all 60+ sign holders in a few hours. We both joked that we could skip our yoga class after all the bending and stretching we had done.

Now we just have to finalize the design for the inserts and print them so that they can be ready for the first day of school on Wednesday next week.

What projects have you accomplished this summer? And what projects have you let hang over you til the last minute?

Jayne Hanging Last End Panel Sign

Victory is ours! Here’s Jayne, hanging the last sign holder!!

Give Me a Break! No, Seriously!

August 23, 2019

Taking shorter breaks throughout your day is good for your health! Aim for 5-15 minutes a day away from your desk each day. It allows your body to move out of a stationary position which is rough on your body, especially your back and neck. 

Ideas for your shorter breaks:

  • Meditate
  • Take a walk
  • Office yoga
  • Get some much needed water to stay hydrated
  • Deliver a package to another office 

The most important break of the day is your lunch break! Make your lunch break a priority in your day as you would a meeting. A car cannot run on empty, why should you?

Ideas for your lunch breaks:

  • Place your lunch breaks on your calendar for the remainder of the year
  • Set a reminder on your task-list on your phone! You’ll need to check off your lunch break each day.
  • Plan to have lunch with a co-worker or colleague
  • Have lunch away from your desk in order to not be tempted into working
  • After eating, take a walk if you find you have time remaining prior to getting back to work

Remember, you are not a workhorse! Take breaks as frequently as needed to restore yourself for the work ahead. Don’t think about it, just do it.

Enjoy your breaks!

Running the Outreach Marathon

August 23, 2019


One of my titles is Outreach Coordinator, and this week, I am definitely feeling it. Classes begin on Monday and I’ve just finished my sixth outreach event of the week — move in day for the new freshmen.

Outreach can definitely be a lot of work, but to me, it’s worth it to make a connection, especially with those new to campus, who may feel lost or confused. The personal touch we provide can make a huge difference to someone trying to navigate a completely new — and often pretty complicated — environment. Here are some tips for making an impact while saving your sanity.


Take some time at the end of each semester and right after each orientation period to update your materials and take stock of what you have on hand. Update PowerPoints, handouts, and order new materials if needed. Create a checklist of regular orientation events and set calendar reminders to reach out to coordinators about their events and any due dates for materials. Add those to your calendar too.


Even though I’m often the face of outreach at my library, I can’t and shouldn’t do it all. Outreach to specific programs in another colleague’s liaison area should be their domain. Create a shared document where everyone can record their outreach events. It’s easier to manage outreach when many people contribute, and your colleagues can improve connections with their constituents. At the end of the year, that shared document can help you generate an outreach report, and keep track of all the events you may not be aware of. It’s also helpful if there is turnover — you can help new employees keep track of the events they should take responsibility for.


Make sure any handouts you share are USABLE for the audience that will receive them. While it may be tempting to create one resource for simplicity, different audiences have very different needs. The most important things about the library for a part-time adjunct professor will be very different than the most important things about the library for a full-time undergraduate student who lives on campus. Think about your audience when you create each document and limit the information to what will be essential for them to know right away.


If you have to work extra or extended hours to cover outreach events, try to work with your supervisor for flextime to get a break! Outreach can be very taxing, and to best serve your campus, you need time to relax and recharge.

Happy new semester!

Applications open CRD Conference Scholarships for PaLA Annual Conference

August 21, 2019

Are you planning to attend the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference in Erie, PA, October 13-16? CRD members are eligible to apply for a conference scholarship to help defray the cost of attendance.

The final amount of the scholarships will depend on the number of successful applications, and recipients are responsible for conference-related costs beyond the amount of the scholarship. Only current CRD members will be considered, and recipients may be called upon to serve the CRD in the near future. You do not need to attend the full conference, but must register for at least one day.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 pm on Tuesday, September 3.

Click here to apply!

 Questions? Contact Emily Mross.

Figuring Out the ‘What For’ of Digital Scholarship Centers

August 8, 2019

The success of any new enterprise in a library often depends on decisive and nimble planning. But if you begin by asking the question ‘Why’ you will get either rather bland reasons such as competition or a thoroughly subjective rationale that is simply responding to a current but all too specific need. You don’t want to chuck away the opportunity to articulate a vision by simply chalking it up to broad relevance or fall victim to creating a president too hastily. Either can be disastrous.

When it comes to a cause célèbre like Digital Scholarship the agenda is often shaped solely by identifying what a library is already prepared to support, for instance: Text and data mining, Geospatial analysis, or Data visualization.

Media Wall

Media Wall outside The Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship in Mills Memorial Library at McMaster University

The ‘What’ may very well be driven by only investigating the scholarly community of practice the library serves and evaluating resources, but perhaps “a more socially directed mode” of generous thinking, that “might enable us to make possible a greater public commitment in our work which in turn might inspire a greater public commitment to our work,” is what’s called for (Cf. The Munro Lecture: “Generous Thinking” with Kathleen Fitzpatrick).

An important preliminary will be to provide a common understanding of Digital Scholarship. It would help to decide on a coherent definition of Digital Scholarship, like the one from CU Boulder University Libraries, Center for Research Data & Digital Scholarship: “Digital Scholarship extends traditional methods of research by leveraging new technologies and digital data to advance research and enhance pedagogy. While it is most commonly associated with Digital Humanities, Computational Social Science, and Data Science, Digital Scholarship is applicable to all disciplines, and it often relies on interdisciplinary collaborations.”

Mission statements that live in a drawer and are infrequently consulted in assessing day-to-day decisions cannot be a force. That it is why it is necessary to determine the values which will be at the forefront of every conversation in answer to ‘What For?’  A good example of this are the Core Tenets of Boston College Libraries Digital Scholarship Group:

  • We aim to build experience and community
  • We are experimental
  • We are open
  • We teach, support, and collaborate

Some keys to generous thinking which Kathleen Fitzpatrick describes in her Munro Lecture that may also help are to maintain a tension between “critical audacity” and “critical humility,” and when working as a group “assume positive intent” and “own negative effects.” Thus, a spirit of generosity will enrich even further the thinking around the questions to be asked.

For descriptions of Digital Scholarship programs check out the ARL’s Digital Scholarship Profiles. You be the judge. Are they asking What For?

C&CS Presents: Library Legacies Project, August 28th at 12pm EST

July 29, 2019

Join us August 28th at 12pm EST


“The times, they are a’changing”: The Library Legacies Oral History Project

presented by Jackie Esposito


Register for the Zoom Link (online, free):  here

Library Legacies, a Penn State University Libraries oral history project, was conducted to ensure that the Libraries long-distinguished University history is captured and made accessible. By interviewing 150 present and former University Libraries administrators, faculty, and staff, this project attempted to place the rich work and experiences of these individuals in the context of the immense changes in the Library industry over the past 60 years. Their memories can infuse and negotiate the meanings of the past, amplify how their actions inform the present, and establish a path forward into a strategic future. The earliest interviewee began her Library career in 1958, the most current in 2018. This presentation will discuss trends, skill set development, strategic impacts, human resource issues and effects of technology across the Library as an industry.

Jackie Esposito is the Special Projects Librarian/Archivist at Penn State University. Jackie has been actively engaged in the management and preservation of University archival and library collections for over thirty years. She began serving Penn State in the fall of 1986 as a Project Archivist and was promoted through the ranks to her current position as Full Librarian. She currently is overseeing an extensive oral history project for the University Libraries entitled Library Legacies and assisting with reference/instruction at Penn State DuBois. She is the author of numerous articles on archives management, higher education legislation and records issues as well as co-author of The Nittany Lion: An Illustrated Tale.

This session will be presented via Zoom. You will receive a login link approximately 48 hours before the session begins. We will try to provide closed captioning to the best of our abilities during the session, and will have a moderator for questions.

Jackie Esposito

Jackie Esposito

ALA Denounces New Macmillan Library Lending Model, Urges Library Customers to Voice Objections

July 28, 2019

As I have previously mentioned in former articles, I used to serve as a textbook specialist and buyer for a community college. I held this position for nearly seven years and it was at a time when different platforms were slowly starting to emerge as alternatives to the traditional college textbook. When I started the position full-time in August 2006, textbooks were still the primary course materials required for most classes. Occasionally, an instructor would make his or her own individually crafted pamphlets or booklets to be duplicated and sold at the campus store, thereby greatly reducing the students’ cost for classroom purchases. The idea of an e-book or separate components such as access codes and loose-leaf versions of a textbook was just coming into vogue. The sales representatives would often stalk approach me and pitch me these ideas, complete with boxes of donuts or fruit baskets to soften the blows of their proposals. I would listen patiently, but all the while I knew that their cost-effective proposals and alternatives would not go over well with our students. Our students wanted to be able to have a physical textbook to sell back for cash at the end of the semester. They wanted their textbooks to be relevant for at least two years and not constantly changing editions. Loose-leaf versions of textbooks often got crinkled and ripped and many a time pages went missing, thereby deeming them undesirable for buyback. While electronic codes promised availability of an e-book version of the accompanying textbook, as well as access to the instructor’s quizzes and other assignments, these electronic codes were one-time use only. If a student ripped the tab off the electronic code to reveal it and then decided that he or she wished to drop the course, there was no way for the campus store to offer a refund on that item. (Or at least a full refund was not feasible.) When you plunk down over $200 for a textbook bundle, that is a big insult and waste of money.

It has been over six years since I left the textbook industry and I can see how publishers, like libraries, have had to evolve in order to remain relevant in an environment where technology is constantly changing the format of the once-prominent physical textbook. Last week, on July 25th, Macmillan Publishers announced its new library e-book lending model. According to Macmillan, “under the new model, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in e-book format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.”

“Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable. ALA urges Macmillan to cancel the embargo.”  — Wanda Brown, ALA President

As an interlibrary loan librarian working to secure journal articles for students, faculty, staff, and administrators and who pushes the OER agenda, the word “embargo,” by default, makes me cringe. While personally, this decision does not affect my academic library (as we do not purchase e-books which are used for courses), I can imagine that this has a frustrating effect on many academic and public libraries. The heat on our libraries first got cranked back in July of 2018, when Macmillan Publishers, without notice, “issued a four-month embargo applying solely to titles from the company’s Tor imprint.” Now, this eight-week embargo on all of Macmillan’s titles really puts libraries at the forefront of having to explain this to students and patrons. We will be labeled as “the bad guys” before the publishers in that we are “perceived as being unresponsive to community needs,” according to newly minted ALA president, Wanda Brown. (Flashback from my days in the campus store! We were always “the bad guys!”)

Wanda Brown has called for libraries to voice their discontent with this new model by directing expressing their disapproval to Macmillan Publishers. “Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library e-book lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all. Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for patrons most dependent on libraries. Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable,”  Brown notes. “ALA urges Macmillan to cancel the embargo.”

While Brown promises that the ALA will spend a significant amount of time trying to rectify this troubling situation, in the meantime, we can all do our part through outreach and protest. Objections can be written to:

Macmillan Publishers

Attn: Mr. John Sargent, CEO

120 Broadway Street

New York, NY 10271

Phone: 646-307-5151


Twitter: @MacmillanUSA

Additionally, Emily Wagner, the Assistant Director of Communications and the Public Policy and Advocacy Office of the ALA, asks that these communications also be sent to the ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office.

I know that the publishing companies are just trying to survive as well and I empathize (to a certain extent) with that. But my relationship with them has always been volatile at best. This is a thorn in our sides as an institute eager to assist our communities of students and patrons. I am sure, however, that it is nothing that a box of donuts and a fruit basket cannot fix!