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Resources for Keeping Patrons in the Know About COVID-19

March 30, 2020

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a novel coronavirus that leads to a respiratory illness which can spread from person to person. COVID-19 continues to spread globally. This post is a guide to academic resources on the topic, and also general information to help our communities be well-informed.


Map of confirmed cases in the state of Pennsylvania by counties as of 26 March 2020.




Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

World Health Organization

European Union

Government of Canada

Content adapted from CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) RESOURCE GUIDE by Sarah Hughes, Nursing, Biology, and Health Sciences Librarian, Villanova University

Homeschool with A Baker’s Dozen Booklist and Activities

March 30, 2020

In these stay-at-home days of the coronavirus pandemic, A Baker’s Dozen booklist is a valuable online resource for teachers and guardians of preschoolers who are in search of educational materials and have books available via e-libraries, YouTube read-along posts, etc.

A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy highlights 13 fiction/nonfiction picture books selected by the Pennsylvania (PA) Center for the Book at Penn State University Libraries each year. Those chosen must be published in the previous year and go through a rigorous selection process to ensure text and illustrations within support the interests and developmental milestones of children ages three-to-six (with many titles suitable independent-reads for those seven and eight-years-old).

This is an illustrative image of the website for the booklist, A Baker's Dozen: The Best Children's Books for Family Literacy
A Baker’s Dozen on the PA Center for the Book website

The website houses booklists by year from 2004 to 2019, with 2020 forthcoming, that are annotated with summaries, tips, and activities. Families, caregivers, and educators can discuss the concept of remembering with kids by referring to thought bubbles on the pages of Teddy’s Favorite Toy, for example – a book by Christian Trimmer, illustrated by Madeline Valentine (Atheneum) from the 2019 Baker’s Dozen.

Or while exploring the 2014 Baker’s Dozen book Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley (Peter Pauper Press), “…adults can ask children what they would do if they found an egg like Hank did. How would they take care of the egg? Adults can allow children to touch and hold a hard-boiled egg. What words would children use to describe the egg? What would happen if the egg was not handled gently?”

Tips and annotations provide instructions on emphasizing words and phrases to further age-appropriate core learning concepts, as well as hands-on activities. Books that rise to the top of the selection jury’s picks have readable fonts, natural and repetitive phrasing, amply and evenly spaced formatting, illustrations that extend text concepts, a diversity of appealing topics for families, and/or a smooth cadence for reading aloud.

A snapshot of the Baker's Dozen website shows a summary and tips for Hello, Door
by Alastair Heim, Illustrated by Alisa Coburn from the 2019 booklist.
Summary & Tips for “Hello, Door” by Alastair Heim, illustrated by Alisa Coburn

So while huddled inside, try A Baker’s Dozen to warm and enrich the space for young ones with more than just sweet treats from the oven! Be sure to revisit A Baker’s Dozen online in the coming months for the latest 2020 titles!

A Baker’s Dozen is administered by PA Center for the Book Director, Karla M. Schmit, with team members Caroline Wermuth, James McCready, and a dedicated jury of experts on children’s literature.

The PA Center for the Book—sponsored by Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, and Penn State State University Libraries—is an affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. It encourages PA’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy.

For more information, visit the PA Center for the Book website or contact Caroline Wermuth (, outreach coordinator.

C&CS Presents: Setting the Stage for Civic-Minded Education: Collaborative Approaches to Instruction, April 16th at 12pm EST

March 25, 2020

C&CS Presents:

Setting the Stage for Civic-Minded Education: Collaborative Approaches to Instruction

with Jen Bonnet and Lily Herakova

April 16th at 12pm EST

Register here for the Zoom login information (free!)


For the past four years, Lily Herakova and Jen Bonnet have been collaborating to shape and assess an information literacy curriculum for a large enrollment Public Speaking course. This presentation focuses on what we have learned about the relationships among students’ self-efficacies and skills in information literacy, public speaking, and civic-mindedness. We will share the results of several studies, and invite participants to engage with the practical applications we have developed.

Jen Bonnet and Lily Herakova

Black and white photo of Jen Bonnet and Lily Herakova

Jen Bonnet is a foster parent, educator, baker (although she has miles to go before she’s as skilled as Lily), and outdoor enthusiast. As a Social Sciences and Humanities librarian at the University of Maine, she engages in a wide range of outreach, instruction, consultation, and research. She has published with Lily Herakova in the Association of College and Research Libraries 2019 conference proceedings, Basic Communication Course Annual, and Journal of Academic Librarianship.

Lily Herakova is a mother, teacher, immigrant, baker, writer, and community organizer. She is an Assistant Professor and Graduate Teaching Coordinator in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Maine. Her work focuses on communication’s potential to bring about equitable, just, and inclusive worlds/communities, especially in educational and health-related contexts. She has published and presented nationally and internationally in the areas of communication pedagogy and mentoring, performance, social justice, and health communication.



Librarian’ing From Home

March 23, 2020

Today marks the first day of online instruction for my college. I had thought we would get hit with a high volume of chat reference questions today as students begin to get information from their faculty about what resources they will need moving forward. However, this rush on librarian assistance has not materialized. Perhaps it is too soon for the students to even think about accessing resources when they are still wrapping their heads around all the ways their courses are changing? Has anyone else noticed an increase or decrease in student or faculty questions? 

The students aren’t the only ones trying to wrap their minds around this new reality. I’m trying to figure out what is the best way to do my job from home. Video tutorials for our website and databases has always been one of those projects that we have never seemed to have time for and now they’ve really moved up the list of important tasks. I attempted to teach myself how to make a gif on Friday. My first attempt – showing students how to search for a specific publication – was not what I would call a success but not a total failure either. Anyone have good tips for creating these types of videos?  

The other thing I’m thinking about is how to offer library instruction remotely. My first experience is coming tomorrow afternoon. I created a LibGuide with resources that will be useful for their assignment which has been shared out to them via Sakia, our LMS. I’m scheduled to be available within their Sakai chat room tomorrow for the duration of their class period so that students can ask me questions. However, I know from my face to face instruction that students rarely ask questions so I’m trying to think of conversation starters I can use to get them to engage. My fingers are crossed that my sparkling personality can come through via a chat room! 😉  

I look forward to hearing from other libraries what you all are doing to cope with the COVID-19 situation.  

Coping with Crisis

March 19, 2020

Things have changed rapidly for Pennsylvania libraries over the last week.   Public libraries, schools and many non-essential businesses have closed.  Universities and colleges have moved classes online for a few weeks or for the rest of the semester.  Instructors are working to modify their lesson plans for an online environment.  Libraries are shifting to provide more virtual assistance to users.  Students are also struggling – unable to return to campus, missing the connections they’ve made with their friends, their professors and their community at large. 

In this new normal, we’re all struggling to figure out how to best support our users and each other.  Here’s a few pieces of advice for facing times of crisis: 

Give each other (and yourself) some grace 

In times like this, it’s more important than ever that we show kindness, understanding and grace to our coworkers and ourselves.  These are trying times.  Let’s support each other and lift each other up.  Give yourself a break too – you need it.

Be flexible 

If the news is any indication, things are changing rapidly.  It’s important to be flexible and willing to change practices quickly to make things work for our users and for our colleagues. 

Practice self-care and make healthy choices 

Now more than ever, it’s incredibly important that we take care of ourselves.  Running on empty isn’t good for anyone.  Working from home?  Make sure to take breaks and keep the blood flowing with some movement.  Get some sleep, unplug when you need to, and yes, wash those hands! 

Find ways to stay connected 

This situation has already caused many to feel isolated.  Find ways to reach out to your friends and colleagues.  Instructors are using Zoom or Skype to connect with students.  Artists like Coldplay and John Legend shared live broadcasts on their social media accounts with hashtag #TogetherAtHome.  With modern technology, we can still find ways to connect with each other! 

Laugh a little 

In these trying times, it’s important to have a sense of humor.  We all could use a little levity.  Instructors and students are having fun changing their Zoom backgrounds.  Share a fun video or photo you stumble on with a colleague.

Take care and stay healthy, everyone.  We’ll get through this! 

Building Citation Skills Using Instagram

March 12, 2020

I know I can’t be the only one who has had a hard time getting students to reach their “a-ha!” moment with citations. The undergraduate population at my campus, at large, has a vague understanding that “not citing is bad” but they’re not quite sure why, other than the inevitable “points off.” They know that such things as MLA and APA exist, and some even know about Chicago style (so scary), and they might even realize that different types of sources require different formats of reference entries, but the majority of undergraduate students I have worked with do not have a solid understanding of the parts of a citation or how to create a reference entry without using EasyBib, Zotero, or another web-based citation builder. 

Working with a class in fall 2019, I realized that students couldn’t always identify a title of a newspaper article, had a hard time finding page numbers and dates in magazines, and did not understand the concept of the “source,” or what’s now sometimes called the “container.” This class required only popular sources, no scholarly materials, so students weren’t able to select the magic cite button in the database. When I brought physical copies of newspapers and magazines to class to practice their APA style citations, they struggled. When I gave them the format to create the citation, they struggled. These students, who ranged from freshmen to seniors in this gen-ed course, failed to find the core elements needed to cite a source. 

This spring, working with the same instructor, we decided to break things down to a basic level. What are the key pieces of a citation? What are the core elements students need to be able to identify? We narrowed it down to five questions, which align to the APA’s Basic Principles of Reference List Entries with one addition: where can this be located (URL or issue, volume and page numbers). This course has very specific requirements in that the instructor gives the students the name of a popular publication they must use to find a source, weekly, but we weren’t confident that they would be able to identify these five key elements to a citation, even with the name of the source provided. 

To that end, we practiced finding the core elements of a citation and creating an APA style with an Instagram post. I pulled an image from @nationalparkservice and asked the class to find 

1) who posted or created this image? 

2) when was it posted? 

3) what is the title? 

4) what platform is it posted on? 

5) where can you find the URL for this post? 

I had hoped that since Instagram is a platform that students use often, they’d more readily be able to locate this information than they were using a newspaper or a magazine. My hunch was correct. The classes, as a whole, stumbled a bit on how to find the URL for the direct post, and a few weren’t sure what the difference was between the caption and the location tag, but overall students successfully identified the key elements of a citation from an Instagram post. 

This opened up a broader conversation about what types of materials have rules for citations, and students were shocked to learn that there were models for citing Twitter posts and comments, as well as YouTube videos and podcasts. The initial results were highly successful, as most students correctly built a citation for their first assignment. 


Discounted Early Bird Registration for ACRL Roadshow and CRD Workshop Ends FRIDAY!

March 5, 2020
Register TODAY to take advantage of discounts and join the Pennsylvania Library Association College and Research Division for two excellent days of professional development on May 18 and 19 at Penn State Harrisburg in Middletown, PA.
ON MAY 18, we will welcome the ACRL Roadshow Engaging with the ACRL Framework to Pennsylvania. This all-day workshop is limited to 100 attendees! The Framework’s vision of information literacy education as a shared responsibility of all educators suggests both opportunities and challenges for teaching librarians, as we expand pedagogical approaches and partnerships. This workshop supports librarians in engaging more deeply with the Framework and exploring ways that it may help to enrich their individual teaching practices, as well as their local instruction programs and institutions.
ON MAY 19, join us for the annual CRD Spring Workshop. This year’s theme is Pennsylvania Academic Libraries: Powering Progress with Essential Literacies. The day-long program will include two keynote speakers on student civic engagement and libraries: Ilana Stonebraker of Indiana University, and Abby Kiesa of CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, at Tufts University. PA Forward Gold Star Academic libraries will share their journeys to gold, and other Pennsylvania academic library colleagues will present breakout sessions on essential literacy programming and resources.
The two-day workshop is valued at more than $175, but is available for PaLA members at an early-bird rate of just $77 and for non-members at $107 through LSTA Grant Funding. This early-bird rate expires THIS FRIDAY, March 6! 
Single-day registrations are also available for members at $47 and for non-members at $77. After March 6, all registrants must register for each day at the one-day rate.
Registration will close May 8.
Have a great program that focuses on any aspect of literacy? Submit a breakout session for the CRD Workshop!:
For more information, see the CRD Professional Development 2020 brochure (PDF) or ACRL Roadshow and CRD Workshop Plain Text document (DOCX).
This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the U.S. 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.
Support is also provided by the College and Research Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association,