Skip to content

CRD Virtual Journal Club Spring Wrap-Up

May 21, 2020

This past spring, the College & Research Division hosted a virtual journal club, which met online twice during the semester to discuss scholarship in the library science field and a third time to discuss what libraries are doing during COVID-19. The CRD Journal Club was originally established in Summer 2018, and runs in the summer, spring, and fall of each year. The theme for the Spring 2020 semester was critical librarianship. 

During the first session, the group read and discussed “Keeping up with…critical librarianship,” Kenny Garcia and published on the ACRL website, as well as “A decade of critical information literacy: A review of the literature,” by Eamon Tewell and published in Communications in Information Literacy. Participants discussed the main ideas behind critical librarianship and the difficulties in promoting critical thinking when students are focused on transactional models of reference with less critical engagement and the librarians’ time in the classroom is limited. Discussants shared ideas for following up with the students after information literacy sessions, such as being included in the course’s online shell, which may help to provide another venue in which to engage with the students. Another takeaway from the discussion was emphasizing to students that information is born at a specific point within specific contexts.

The second article discussed was “The problem with grit: Dismantling deficit thinking in library instruction,” by Eamon Tewell and published in Portal: Libraries and the Academy. This article focused on the idea of moving away from deficit thinking and generated discussion on how we can best meet students where they are; for example, in the classroom we should not make assumptions about students’ experiences with the library and we should find ways to incorporate their own experiences and perspectives into the lesson through ice breakers, group activities, or soliciting topics of interest for sample searches.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, many journal club members expressed interest in having a discussion of how libraries were reacting to the move to online services. This session was advertised to all CRD members, and participants discussed plans that went well and what they were considering changing for the future. Discussion ranged from plans for reopening to ideas for keeping the library and librarians involved if instruction remains online, and also emphasized the importance and ways in which we can continue to communicate with our researchers.

Though the semester changed quite radically and the focus of conversation shifted, this series was successful at first taking a look at our own profession and the impact we can have in engaging with our students and then at how we can continue to function in a (sometimes constrained) online environment. 

Look for our upcoming emails and let us know at if you have any suggestions for topics/issues you would like to discuss!

Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation

May 5, 2020


The 1619 Project has its advocates and its critics, but the fact that slavery is a part of American history is undeniable. Less well known is the role that communities of faith had in not only the abolition of slavery but also the owning of enslaved African Americans.

Members of the Society of Jesus, a men’s Catholic religious order better known as the Jesuits, did employ slaves in many states, including Pennsylvania, before the abolition of slavery in the United States. Because this is a little known part of Jesuit history, and even though certainly something of which Jesuits today are ashamed, The Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project (SHMR) is supported by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and “motivated by a desire to uncover the truth of people’s stories, to honor their memories and heal relationships.”

If this sounds interesting, there is the opportunity to hear the Project Coordinator, Research Coordinator, and an Advisory Committee member, “discuss the connections being made with descendants of the enslaved, community members and scholars, the research needed to facilitate these conversations, and communication with all stakeholders on what transformative solutions might look like.”

This panel discussion will be the keynote at the virtual annual meeting of the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) Thursday, May 7, 2020, 2 p.m. There is no registration fee for this Webinar and participation is open to all. You just need to sign up to attend.

ACRL DLSDG: COVID-19 Virtual Exchange: Continuing Remote Support Through the Summer and into Fall

April 26, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to run its course, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities are faced with the probability of continuing remote instruction and support well into the Fall 2020 semester. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is presenting a Zoom meeting to discuss librarians offering remote reference and assistance to students, faculty, administration, and staff further into 2020. This will take place on Monday, May 4th, at 12:00 PM.

Register now and take a look at the other virtual sessions hosted by the ACRL.

How is everyone adjusting and managing? What are your college’s plans for the summer and fall semesters? Our college’s Summer I session will be completely online, but our Summer II session has yet to be determined. I can honestly say that I have been enjoying my time in my house and love working remotely. How does everyone else feel?

C&CS “Civic Minded Education” session now available

April 17, 2020

Hi everyone, we had a great discussion during yesterday’s session on Civic Minded Education with Lily Herakova and Jen Bonnet. Thanks to everyone who participated, and to Amy Snyder who moderated.

Video is available via our YouTube channel.

Some observations from the field a few weeks into “the new normal” . . .

April 7, 2020

I had intended to focus on information literacy for my first CRD post, but with the unprecedented changes necessitated by COVID 19, I’ll save that topic for another time.

For these past few weeks, I, like many academic librarians, have concerned myself with providing resources and services online ant reaching out to students and faculty as they scramble to teach, learn, and research, all using a new and hastily assigned playbook.  For me and probably others, the  most easily identified part of that process has been “skilling up” on various newly adopted tools.  For many of us, too, there is the remote location aspect.  Work from home, get familiar with some new software–how hard could it be?  I thought of my long list of projects that I typically chip away at, stealing ten minutes here, a half hour there.  It would, I thought, be so much easier to tackle.

After a week, I began informally comparing notes with colleagues.  After passing the two-week mark, I’m finding that I’m not alone in many of my experiences.  Sharing how it’s going has been cathartic.  The value in recounting is in providing an “early stage” platform for discussion.  The more venues to talk together in various groupings about how it’s going, the better.  And, I suspect, it’s a good first step in understanding how to best move forward.  With that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Sitting for hours at a stretch at a computer is hard work and leads to a sore back. Like many other colleagues, I thought I just didn’t have a comfortable chair.  I felt a bit like Goldilocks, trying out my options, until I realized it wasn’t a matter of the proper chair–it’s getting up, stretching, doing planks or squats or walking the dog or washing a few dishes.

Sitting for hours (are you noticing a trend already?) at a stretch staring at a screen leads to headaches and eye strain.  Fiddling with the screen brightness, stepping away intermittently, or using inexpensive glasses that filter blue rays are all advisable to combat too much computer gazing.

Though there are less interruptions, it’s still difficult to get everything done. I thought I’d be SOOOO productive when encountering fewer distractions.  I’m getting a lot of work completed, but I’m not conquering my To Do List at the rate I’d anticipated.  The big lesson is that there will always be another task on the list before you get much crossed off.  And, of course, point-of-need service to patrons always comes first.

Skilling up requires patience, practice, and more practice. While I am determined to triumph over each new product designed to assist in delivery of resources and/or services, these last weeks have been humbling.  I appreciate a well-run (and patient) IT department and colleagues who are always happy to assist.

Loss of camaraderie and daily contact with colleagues makes for a very long work day. I knew my subconscious was up to something when I became fixated on having my dog show up for a small committee Skype meeting.  I really wanted to make my team laugh!  When another puppy showed up soon after (with several sets of hands visible maneuvering her into place and offering treats), I understood it wasn’t just me that needed some fun.  Another colleague opined that the serendipity of bumping into folks in hallways (en route to meetings, restrooms, lunches) was a loss of chance contact with people you don’t always work with; sometimes brief conversations led to discoveries of something new, a common interest, or a new approach to a situation.

There’s an emotional toll.  I’m worried about students, especially.   My university, like so many others, continues to work to address issues of food insecurity and homelessness.  Several new initiatives have been quickly launched to reach out and offer support.  The correlation of the spread of COVID 19 and social inequity is more and more apparent, distressing, and heartbreaking.  I’m doing what I can in this moment, but it’s increasingly clear that these efforts, though combined with those of many others, will likely be inadequate.

When I step away from the work at hand and think about the huge changes, I’m wondering how we are all doing.  While there are sure to be conferences, articles, webinars, and more offered about the various aspects of moving academic library resources and services online (in general or in specific circumstances), I’m most concerned that we don’t wait too long to debrief.  So consider this akin to a wave from a colleague from a virtual hallway: How’s it going?  I hope you are okay.