Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘Millersville

Library Day in the Life Round 5: Monday

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Well, I spent the weekend recovering from a summer cold/allergies, being giddy about a close friend getting engaged (congrats Pam & Mike!), watching X-files, and finishing up homework for the last two classes of my literary theory course. But what does this librarian do during the week? Here goes round five of the Library Day in the Life Project (from Erin Dorney, Outreach Librarian @ Millersville University Library in Pennsylvania):

Monday, July 26th, 2010

8 AM – Woke up, showered, took 45 minutes figuring out what to wear only to end up in a tee shirt, jeans and sneakers (good thing it only takes me 10 minutes to get to work!).

9 AM – At work, started a pot of coffee in my office and settled down to catch up on email, FB, tweets from #libday5 and #immvt. Did some work on the ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference (proposals accepted now through November 1!) and discussed some fall library instruction sessions with an English professor. Printed out two papers that are due in my literary theory class tonight.

10 AM – Worked on a project for PaLA College & Research Division – I’m drafting board member job descriptions (none currently exist) with a few colleagues. Ate graham crackers with my coffee. Designed, printed and cut a new sign for the library newspaper section (below).

11 AM – Worked on a poster for the National Book Festival (our Friends group sponsors a bus trip there every year). Checked out my RSS feeds and found an Illustrator tutorial to use for our annual Library Fest event. Worked on the tutorial.

12 PM – Met with a colleague to discuss the FAQ copy for our upcoming library renovation website. Ended up working on the list of potential naming opportunities for donors as well. Ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

1:30 PM – Left for West Chester (Literary Theory class tonight from 4-8 PM).

4-8 PM – Literary Theory class. I’m working on my MA in English with a concentration in creative writing. This is the first summer course (5 weeks meeting twice a week) at West Chester and the workload has been pretty brutal! Overall interesting though.

9:45 PM – Arrived back at home, ate dinner, and posted this.

Related posts:

Written by Erin Dorney

July 26, 2010 at 11:03 PM

A Tuesday & Wednesday in my library life.

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(Tuesday & Wednesday have been more “big chunk” kind of days where I don’t work on lots of little projects, but a few large-scale things)


9:00 – Woke up & got ready.

10:30 – Arrived at work, caught up on email.

11:00 to 12:00 – Met with the action team for our Spring Scoop event. Basically, we’re planning an event for late April open to all faculty to bring them up to speed on how the upcoming library renovation will impact students. This is in terms of what parts of the physical collection will be available during construction,  what physical items will be in storage, reminders about our many electronic resources, and discussion about ebooks and “Internet sources” as they pertain to student assignments.

1:15 - Left Millersville, drove to West Chester University.

2:30 - Arrived at West Chester and headed to the library to hang around until my class started at 4:15. I wound up on the 5th floor at a study carrel where I used my laptop to answer work emails regarding a number of things (ask a librarian icons set to go on every campus desktop image, finalized a catering order for an internal library event on Friday, chat reference publicity and discussion about the CAE events taking place later this week).

4:15 to 7:00 – Methods of Publishing class. Wow, so this class is amazing. We’re actually composing type (those little metal letter things) and using a printing press! We learned some key terms and then composed our first piece – name and address for a letterhead we will be printing at class next week. It’s completely new to me… but very fun so far. I learned about leads, slugs, points, picas, the case, the composing stick, coppers, ems and ens, etc. I have a lot to catch up on because I missed the first class for ALA Midwinter, but I plan on dedicating a lot of time to our reading this weekend.

7:15 to 10:00 – Masculinity class. This class is also a lot of fun. We’re looking at representations of masculinity in popular culture, gender stereotypes and characteristics, etc. I have to look over my syllabus this weekend and figure out what else we’ll be working on. Very interesting stuff and a very engaged and talkative class (awesome because the time passes quicker)!

11:20 (ish) - Arrived home, ate Cheerio’s, talked to my boyfriend about class and went to bed.


9:00 – Woke up & got ready.

10:30 – Arrived at work, caught up on email including some planning for the 2011 ACRL Virtual Conference Committee.

11:30 to 1:24 - Library Campaign Priority Committee Luncheon Meeting. I’m not sure how much I am supposed to talk about this since the campaign is still in its silent phase. However, suffice to say I am learning a lot about fundraising and politics! We had a great meeting today, we have some new leadership that sparked discussion and even better, action! I would love to learn more about fundraising/development/advancement in the academic realm – does anyone know of conferences/events/books or other resources that would be beneficial? I think it would really make me an even more well-rounded and valuable outreach librarian.

1:30 to 3:00 – Women’s Commission Meeting. This is the Commission I work on V-Day for. We have four meetings per semester where everyone gives updates on the different projects they are working on, so I gave a V-Day update and contributed to a few other discussions.

3:00 to 4:00 - Answered email (so much email!!!), started this blog post.

4:00 to 4:30 – Production Team Meeting for V-Day 2010. As you can see, V-Day is taking up a lot of my time lately. That’s because our performances are in early February and we’re ramping up publicity and final plans. I think this is a really important part of my job – connecting with student organizations (and students) outside of the library realm. It continually informs me about student habits and interests, provides ideas and leads on how the library can be more in-tune with student needs and wants and gives me an outlet to share what the library can do (cast members of The Vagina Monologues have turned to me for assignment advice now that they know a librarian personally). Plus, ending violence against women and girls is a cause we should all be contributing to in some way.

4:30 - Home for dinner, a workout later, and then going through my course syllabi tonight.

Written by Erin Dorney

January 27, 2010 at 7:17 PM

A Monday in my library life.

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(title setup borrowed from previous posts on Lauren’s Library Blog)

I’m an Outreach Librarian at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. This is a Monday in my library life:

7:45 - Woke up and got ready for the day. Arrived at work around 8:45 to publish blog post, check RSS feeds, Twitter, work and personal email.

A little after 9:00 – A COMM faculty member (& friend) stopped by my office to pick up some things and see if I wanted the article “It Cuts Both Ways: Fight Club, Masculinity, and Abject Hegemony” by Claire Sisco King from Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. I’m taking two grad classes at West Chester University this semester and one of them is a special topics course  on Masculinity. Our only required book is Fight Club! I said yes (I’ll save it for my paper) and he said he would scan it and bring it to me later. Good stuff.

9:00 to 9:50 – Worked on the event program for Millersville University V-Day 2010 events (two performances of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in mid-February). I volunteered to run publicity and marketing for V-Day 2009 and this year they created a new position for me on the MU Commission on the Status of Women. I’ve been working with a wonderful group of ladies on posters, tee shirts, programs, soliciting sponsors, and collaborating with our beneficiary, the Lancaster YWCA. It’s going to be a great production!

9:50 to 10:00 – Ate an apple, followed lots of new Twitter followers, checked my West Chester email to see if there were any messages about class tomorrow (none!).

10:00 to 10:30 – Worked on PR for some upcoming faculty information sessions co-sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence, including bookmarks, handouts, and Facebook events for the library Facebook page.

10:30 – Our Interim Library Director stopped by to talk about some possible chat reference promotion. We’re now offering chat reference at our library and are looking at ways to roll out this new service to our users. Sent an email to the rest of the department about some possible steps to get more ideas/feedback.

11:00 to 12:15 – Attended a departmental meeting with the Provost and President about the future of libraries in the next 10-15 years. Exciting!

12:15 to 12:47 – Accidentally worked through lunch to make a chat reference sign and a graphic for the website. Graphic still needs work, but it’s getting there!

1:00 to 2:00 – First part of my reference desk shift, fairly uneventful. Just a few questions (mostly about textbooks – no, we don’t have them). COMM faculty member dropped off the article.

2:00 to 3:00 – Left the reference desk to be on a conference call for the College & Research Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association. I’m the new Treasurer! We started planning for our spring workshop/event. We are seeking recommendations for speakers about “the Learning Commons” (colleges & universities that created Learning Commons 4-5 years ago – what worked, what didn’t, how are people using the space differently, as well as people who might be planning for an academic Learning Commons now). If you have any names, let me know!

3:00 to 4:00 - Back to the reference desk for the second part of my shift. Again, fairly uneventful except there were a few slight issues with the new HP thin clients (running virtual desktops), but I think I figured it all out.

4:00 to 4:30 - Printed out subject librarian bookmarks for our new science librarian to use in instruction sessions, caught up on email, and made some table tent notifications to put up before an internal library event this Friday (kindly asking students to relocate to another study space for a few hours).

4:45 - Headed home!

Written by Erin Dorney

January 25, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Library Day in the Life.

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Taken March 2008, the day before my interview at Millersville University. The building I now work in every day is behind me to the left.

Library Day in the Life is a project where library workers from all types of libraries document a day or week of their work life. It was started by Bobbi Newman, and you can check out her original blog post on the event and the official wiki for more information. The fourth round is being held this week (January 25-29).

Some people choose to blog, some use Twitter, some record video or take pictures. This will be my first year participating and it just happens to fall on the first full week of classes at Millersville University where I work as an academic librarian. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to post about, and have not yet decided exactly how many days I might end up discussing. Guess we’ll see!

I think this is a great project because it provides a brief glimpse into the depth and breadth of what librarians do. Just last week at a friend’s birthday party, I swear I must have been asked at least 5-6 times, “So, what does a librarian do?” This is one of many opportunities we can take to share our stories. I can see implications for:

  • Library school students who want to share their experiences. I could easily imagine a spin-off of a Library Student Day in the Life. It would be very interesting (particularly to learn about the experiences of online and in-person LIS students) for people who have been out of school for a while to see how things work these days, what students are learning, the generational impact of technology on life and education, etc. If anyone knows of a group who has done this, leave a comment! Hmm… perhaps this is something for the Young Librarian Series
  • Administrators, students, patrons, friends, family, the media and board members who wonder what librarians do in the age of Google. This is an opportunity to share both the exciting and mundane parts of your work life. Many members of the public have no clue what librarians do (probably because many of us still haven’t nailed down elevator speeches for ourselves and our institutions). This is bad for funding, bad for our professional image, and bad for the progress and reform librarianship needs to undergo. How can we expect support without basic understanding? Informing is a key first step, and sharing your impact as a librarian could go a long way.

Some suggestions:

  • Add your name to the wiki
  • Include your job title & type of library in your blog post or video to help readers
  • Use the hashtags #libday4 (Twitter) and librarydayinthelife (blogs)
  • If you don’t have a blog/Twitter/etc, you can just create a new page in the wiki and post your day there
  • After your first post, edit your wiki entry to change your blog link to a link to your tagged posts (link directly to your day in the life post(s), not to your blog in general)
  • Add your Flickr photos or videos to the Group on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

January 25, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Things you need to know about.

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Many things have been happening as of late. Some of them are culminations of projects I’ve been working on for a long time, some of them are new discoveries, and the worst of them is my annual reappointment process which is a major time-suck. Here are some of the fun ones:

LACUNY InstituteOn October 23rd I’ll be part of a panel addressing “Issues in Next Generation Librarianship” along with Jason Kucsma and Emily Drabinski. If you’re in the area, please come out to support us and join the discussion regarding inter-generational workforces, among other things. Our panel is going to be moderated by Dr. Marie L. Radford from Rutgers University and the Institute will also feature keynote speaker Stanley Wilder. I feel honored to have been selected for the panel and am looking forward to my trip to NYC, which includes a weekend with the one and only Miss Ashley Rath who will be in town working on The Apprentice. Holla!


I don’t know how I found out about this blog, but I sure am glad it happened. Swissmiss is a design blog and studio run by Tina Roth Eisenberg out of NYC. Charming design. Fun and inspiring posts. People, this is the blog I purposely mark as unread in my Google Reader so that I have something to look forward to during those random rough spots throughout the day. You really need to check it out.

PaLA Annual Conference

During the 2009 Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) Annual Conference I’ll be participating in two panel discussions. You can see me on Tuesday, October 20th for “Emerging Leaders Showcase: Pennsylvania Librarians Leading the Profession” with Jennifer Jarson (Muhlenberg College) and Rebecca Metzger (Lafayette College) and on Wednesday, October 21st for “Got Game? Bring it! Gaming in Libraries” with Greg Szczyrbak (Millersville University & my mentor!), Curtis Datko & Miroslaw Liwosz (Alvernia University), and in a last minute lineup change,  Ryan Sittler (California University). Let me know if you’re going to be at the conference, and we can meet up or share a meal! And as always, I appreciate your support at the sessions :) There are a lot of interesting sessions scheduled, and in particular, I’d like to point out “PALS: PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies” on Monday (The exceptional inaugural class of PALS talking about their experiences and projects), and “When Students Go Mobile: The Effects of Smartphones on Information Literacy and Academic Library Service” on Tuesday (which I’m moderating and sounds awesome).

So what have you all been up to lately? Anything fun and exciting?

Written by Erin Dorney

October 5, 2009 at 9:58 AM

5 Surprises from first year as an MLIS

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OutreachLibrarianInspired by a post by Cynthia Lambert on one of my favorite blogs Library Garden, today I am writing about five surprises from my first year as an MLIS. In May of 2008 I graduated from Syracuse University with my MS in Library and Information Studies as well as my CAS in Digital Librarianship. Unlike Lambert, librarianship is my first career and I entered graduate school immediately after finishing my undergraduate degrees. This makes me a millennial with tons of student loans to boot… (typical, eh?). Another difference between our circumstances is that I have found my calling in the academic library realm, while Lambert’s reflections focus on the sphere of public librarianship (however, you may see interesting parallels between our observations).

It is my hope that this list will alert new graduates to some of the unanticipated factors that might end up influencing their experience in an academic library. There have been many more than five surprises over the past year (and there are likely many yet to come), but here are some main ones that come to mind:

#1) Meetings

I have to include a vehement ditto to everything Lambert says about the necessity and cost of never-ending meetings. Not a week goes by that I am not scheduled for one or more meetings (usually more). Some types of meetings include department meetings, all-staff meetings, library committee meetings, university-wide committee meetings, library and university training sessions, reappointment observation meetings, vendor demonstrations, one-on-one student research meetings and more. As the Outreach Librarian, I also have a lot of meetings with faculty/student groups and organizations related to collaborative library events and displays. Add in professional development in the form of online chats, telephone conference calls, and webinars and sometimes I wonder when I can find a solid 8 hours of sleep (just kidding… kind of). I think I’m a decent multitasker, and being a librarian with good organizational skills really helps with scheduling. I’m also getting better at working on projects in quick bursts, transitioning between group meetings and independent work.

Good = Strong collaborations & information sharing.     Bad = Time suck.

My advice: If you are the one planning a meeting, ask yourself if there is a less time-consuming way to conduct the same discussion. Consider your options before scheduling.

#2) Development Opportunities

The sheer number of opportunities that have been offered or available to me in my first year as a librarian are astounding. For some reason, I was under the impression that it was difficult to get involved (in ALA, in local/regional organizations, in university governance, etc). Completely wrong (in my case, anyway). I am finding that many groups and organizations welcome new librarians and are willing to mentor them along the way. My colleagues seem very open to introducing me to their library contacts and sharing requests for information & input. The same goes for on-campus people and groups, with co-workers willing to point me in the direction of like-minded peers. I have had lots of chances to join task forces, attend conferences, and contribute my viewpoints.

Good = Meaningful involvement & the chance to bring change.

Bad = Sometimes you have to say no.

My advice: Talk to people. Network. Ask to be involved. You never know who you will meet and what opportunities they might have for you to improve your professional or personal life. At the same time, don’t immediately say yes to everything that lands on your plate – you could go insane (think of all the meetings!). Take time to assess your current involvement and choose the activities that are best for your long and short term situations.

#3) Work/Life Balance

It’s nice being a working professional in terms of the money, other benefits, and the fact that I am in a field I enjoy. But I am also one of those recent library graduates who had to move to find a job. Which means for the first time in my life, I am away from my family as well as the friends I grew up and attended college with. Living in a new city has put a bit of a damper on my social life, and with so many opportunities available at work, I have begun to see my work/life balance become askew. It’s really easy to wind up staying late at the library to work on projects if I don’t have tons of people to go to coffee/dinner/movies/shopping/parent’s houses with. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some great people here and have some budding friendships in the works. It’s just the first time I have ever had to even think about the overall dynamics of my work and social relationships… in the past, it just balanced on its own!

Good = Feeling productive, fulfilled, and busy.

Bad = Risk of unhealthy balance & burnout.

My advice: Seek the perfect balance… take some yoga? Seriously though, be aware of the “big picture” once you are no longer a full time student. It’s a strange transition to go through.

#4) Autonomy

Having control over my daily work flow is a new concept for me. It’s something that coincided with my move from an hourly employee to a salaried employee, so maybe  lots of people go through it. Not having to clock in and out is cool. Coming into my own office, sitting down at my desk and deciding what I want to work on feels really good. Based on my mood (and deadlines), I can choose which projects I want to work on. My job autonomy is a constant reminder of how lucky I am. I don’t have to adhere to corporate baselines, deal with being under a supervisor’s thumb, or work on pointless projects. Because my time is valuable and limited, I get to determine what is most important; how I can best contribute to the library and essentially the overall university learning experience. A few months ago, I honestly couldn’t believe that I was actually being given such a level of responsibility (including thousands of dollars in collection development funds) but I can feel myself becoming more and more confident as I gain experience under my own terms.

Good = Self governance and direction.

Bad = Can be overwhelming & a bit lonesome.

My advice: Identify people around you who will help keep you on task. When you’re on your own (a one person department or individual office space for example), it’s easy to get off track and wander a bit before settling down into a good work rhythm.  Enjoy, but be accountable for your time.

#5) Students

Is it odd to say that the students have surprised me? This is mostly in regards to my interactions with students who are using the library. For one thing, I enjoy doing reference a lot more than I had anticipated. I get a good number of actual research questions (opposed to the technical ones which are still important but not as fun) and many of the students I help seem very, very thankful. On more than one occasion I have been stopped by a thankful student days after our interaction to be told that I helped them do well on a paper or secured a sought-after book through interlibrary loan. This is also due in part to the amazing work of the library’s support staff and student workers (whom I appreciate hardcore!). Is it selfish for me to enjoy feeling appreciated? If so, oh well. Overall, students seem to be understanding when our technology is down or their space is interrupted with an event. When asked, they provide valuable feedback and are willing to voice their opinions on how we can better support them.

Good = Job satisfaction.     Bad= I can’t think of any?

My advice: Don’t just see students as the people who use library resources and services. They are truly the *reason* we are here, and should have the chance (and in my opinion, the right) to be involved in many of our library decisions. Listen to what they have to say because it will make us stronger as a profession/institution. The whole ballgame is changing right before our eyes.

So I guess those are my top five surprises! I was going to talk about bureaucracy above, but that’s really no surprise as it’s to be expected in any academic setting. In closing, I want to give a shout out to:

  • My friend and spring intern Amy who will be starting the LIS program at Clarion University this fall
  • My friend and previous co-worker Lindsey who will be starting the LIS program at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill this summer
  • My friend and fellow blogger Karen the Librarian who is halfway through the LIS SMS program at Syracuse University
  • All of the recent library school graduates and incoming students! Let me know how I can help. :)

Written by Erin Dorney

May 19, 2009 at 7:03 PM

My first presentation – academic outreach panel

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In addition to attending the previously posted sessions at the 2009 SSHELCO Meeting, I had the opportunity to participate in my first library conference presentation, addressing the topic of academic library outreach. I was lucky that my first presentation didn’t have to be solo – I had a bunch of great colleagues from different PASSHE schools to alleviate some of the pressure. Here’s how we worked our panel session:

I contacted peers at other PASSHE schools who were obviously working with outreach/marketing/pr (I was able to tell from their job titles or previous communications). My goal was to have as many institutions represented as possible in order to gather different viewpoints. We ended up having six of the 14 universities represented (initially seven but one panelist had to drop out due to other obligations). We collaboratively wrote up the proposal and submitted it to the conference committee. After it was accepted, we talked via email until about three weeks before the session. At that point, I created a survey soliciting questions that academic librarians had relating to outreach, promotion, publicity and marketing. We got over 60 responses with 47 concrete questions. If you are interested, please view Outreach Questions, which includes the responses we received. It was cool how similar questions seemed to naturally fall into distinct categories, which can be seen with my headings in the document. It’s also telling that my (our) peers have so many questions about why, exactly, we need outreach/pr/marketing in academic libraries. I bet I could do something interesting with this data… hmmm…

After compiling all of the submissions, I forwarded the list to the group of panelists and had everyone rank their top three choices. I thought that it was important to let everyone decide which question they would be focusing on based on their different skills, job responsibilities and comfort levels. We also tried to touch on something from at least one of each of the main question categories. When we got together for the panel session, we had a very simple slideshow (basically stating the question, job title of the person who submitted it, and the name/title/contact info. of the panelist who was addressing it) and everyone talked about their question for approximately 9 minutes. At the end of the session we had time for questions and group discussion.

Overall, I think the panel went great. A few weeks ago I received the audience evaluations which were positive (comments included below) and gave me a nice little boost of confidence moving forward with other presentations/publications/research opportunities. Hopefully, this post will encourage other new librarians to try their hand at professional development – it’s not as bad as you might think! Panels are a nice way to start out because co-presenting helps distribute the workload, isn’t as nerve-wracking, and in the end provides you with a connected group of like minded colleagues (yay for networking!). Panelist Karen Wanamaker started the blog The Heart of the Campus as a follow up to our discussions at the conference, so check it out if you’re interested.  Thank you to the SSHELCO conference committee for giving us the opportunity to present and to my fellow panelists for a job well done!

Panel questions that were addressed:

“What unique partnerships are libraries taking part in to offer unique promotions (theatre, athletics, first year students, etc.)?” – from a Help Desk/Web Support Librarian, addressed by Kelly Heider, Education Librarian & Chair of the Library Events Team at Indiana University

“Is there value in outreach events that are not seen as academic but are more for fun?” - from a Science/Outreach Librarian, addressed by Catherine Rudowsky, Outreach Librarian at Slippery Rock University

“What assessment tools or data collection measures have you designed to judge the effectiveness of any of your outreach efforts?” – from an Assistant Vice President of Technology and Library Services, addressed by Matthew Syrett, Reference Librarian at Mansfield University

“Some institutions have newly-developed positions for outreach librarians; what exactly do their  job responsibilities include (and not include)?” – from a Science Librarian, addressed by Erin Dorney, Outreach Librarian at Millersville University

“How do you select which communication channel to use for outreach (Library Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Paper Newsletter,  Email Newsletter, etc.)?” – from a Systems & Electronic Resources / Web Librarian, addressed by Karen Wanamaker, Education Librarian & Library Public Relations Committee Chair at Kutztown University

“With faculty busy and bombarded by email, how do you reach them to share important library information?” -from a Collection Management Librarian, addressed by Linda Neyer, Reference Librarian, Science/Health Sciences Subject Specialist & Co-Chair of the Library Marketing Task Force at Bloomsburg University

Comments from audience evaluations:

What I liked most about the session:

  • Great suggestions and ideas about Outreach.
  • The panelists were well-prepared, and seem to be doing exciting projects at their universities.
  • Very inspiring – very knowledgeable; the format was nice too – culling questions in advance kept on task.
  • Practical advice.
  • Different perspectives on the topic, good ideas for marketing and outreach.
  • Very informative topic & discussion; should continue each year or as a SIG or roundtable.
  • Liked the format w/each panelist focusing on a specific question; great ideas!!
  • Lots of good ideas on an important topic!
  • I really loved the panels ideas, suggestions and programs that are working for outreach at their campuses.
  • Interesting to see what various schools are doing.
  • It was an interesting way to start discussion by doing the survey ahead of time and then using the questions from the survey.
  • Couple of nice ideas.

What I liked least about the session:

  • Would have been great to have examples of many of the things they talked about i.e. newsletter, blog, twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • I liked the multiple-presenters set-up; it kept you engaged.
  • It would be nice to see pictures/examples of outreach efforts – but thanks for offering to send them along if we ask!
  • As a staff person, we see are very involved in helping patrons whenever we can.
  • Not very motivational, could not hear them at times.
  • Presentations were generally very good, one or 2 not as informative, did not focus on the question.
  • Not very overwhelming.

Other comments:

  • As an undergrad at our campus, I was very intimidated by asking a question of a librarian, and now they seem so friendly and helpful to all. Now  I am one of them. We all really reach out to help patrons and the community.
  • A+
  • Next year could we have a discussion of outreach techniques that have been successful & those that failed?

Written by Erin Dorney

May 15, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Pennsylvania SSHELCO Meeting Notes

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Another new (to me) Pennsylvania library-related conference is the Annual State System of Higher Education Library Cooperative Organization (SSHELCO) Meeting.  The SSHELCO Meeting is the place where library people from all of the 14 state schools come together to learn about what we are doing individually and where we can go collaboratively. I thought it was great because I got to meet people and hear about projects from schools from all over the enormous state of PA.  Below are my (at times rather extensive) raw session notes.

Strategic Planning Discussion
w/ Dick Swain, Director of Library Services at West Chester University
Thursday, 4/2/2009 ~ 10:15-11:30AM

  • We don’t currently have a written statement of support – having this will give us something to refer to for national grants, etc.
  • In 10-15 years, what are the print collections going to look like? What are they going to be used for?
  • Are we opting for central rather than local for the future of libraries in the PASSHE?
  • Progressive, proactive, beyond our comfort zone – embrace the changes & look beyond what’s immediately before us.
  • SSHELCO Mission: PASSHE Libraries will advance the education, study, and research of PASSHE students, faculty, and staff; and they will enrich their local communities and regions in accord with the missions of PASSHE and their individual universities.
    • Goal 1 – “PASSHE libraries will collaborate to provide equitable, accessible, and forward-thinking library resources and services.
    • Goal 2 – “PASSHE libraries will collaborate to provide the best possible support for the accreditation of universities and academic programs.”
    • Goal 3 – “PASSHE libraries will provide flexible, functional facilities and technology-rich environments for study, teaching, learning, and the production of knowledge.”
  • Ensuing discussion of three goals:
    • Should we split up resources and services? Do they each deserve  separate goal?
    • Equitable vs equal – different because different universities have different programmatic needs (undergrad, master’s, doctoral).
    • What about the educational role of libraries related to information literacy?
    • What does “services” really mean? Could mean different things to different people– what about instruction, faculty collaboration and public outreach?
    • What is our “educational mission?”
    • We could add more goals or re-word the above.
    • When we frame these things we are doing it in custodial language – what about domain expertise? Domain authority – doesn’t seem to be established in libraries. We don’t assert this in our language (from Edward Owusu-Ansah, Dean of the Library & University Collections at East Stroudsburg University)
    • Distribution and handling of funds from university to university – this would be under goal #1
    • The system (by law) can control no more than 2% of the entire state budget, so funding changes can’t be top down.
    • “When you have inequitable access to resources, it is hard to provide equitable access to information.” (from Don Dilmore, Associate V.P. for University Libraries at Edinboro University)
    • How can we go where we want to go? We have an opportunity here.
    • There are multiple audiences and there are different ways to reach them with our message.
    • It’s almost impossible to collaborate without central buy-in, clout, organization.
    • Reality is always a question of imagination meets politics.
    • We need to make the picture to take back and lobby for on our campuses.
  • Discussion about possible objectives:
    • Could we have the database instead of local authority control? It’s a good idea and things are moving that way, who would fund and control such a venture? Do we have too much autonomy to make this happen? Is it a organizational or technical problem?
    • With ILL – what if the institution who requested it keeps it until someone else wants it? (OMG YES!) This would work with a centralized catalog.
    • Common authentication measures for increase in cross enrollment (from Jane Hutton, Electronic Resources Librarian at West Chester University – emphatic yes please from me!)
    • Centralized for rights management – what are the possibilities and implications  of  technology?
    • Other words: preservation & institutional repositories – what are our roles compared to research libraries, duplication of effort.
    • Assessment of information literacy – no successful tool right now, or ever? Interesting…

Library Brochures, LibGuides and…
w/ John H. Rosenhamer, Reference Librarian at Edinboro University
Thursday, 4/2/2009 ~ 1:15-2:30PM

  • You can build on other people’s work as long as you ask them.
  • You can change columns, colors, boxes
  • You have the option to allow user comments – Rosenhamer has gotten 1 comment in 9 months
  • If you change the original, it will change the rest.
  • Site is getting hits [but where are the hits coming from? Are these students or other librarians looking at the guides?]
  • You can have “friendly URLs”

Liaison Program Panel Discussion
w/ Ryan Sittler, Instructional Technology / Information Literacy Librarian at California University
Aaron Dobbs, Systems Librarian at Shippensburg University
Kelly Heider, Education Librarian at Indiana University
Renee Tkacik, Education and  Instructional Materials Center Librarian at Slippery Rock University
Brian Ardan, Electronic Collections Librarian at Lock Haven University
Stephanie Steely, Coordinator of Technical Services / Collection Development at Kutztown University
Thursday, 4/2/2009 ~ 2:30-3:30PM

  • Almost everyone in the audience (according to a show of hands) has some sort of liaison program in place.
  • Distinction between liaison programs and subject specialist?

Q1: What criteria does your library use to select bibliographers (collection development duties in a specific area)?

  • SRU each librarian has a specific subject area
  • LHU assigned based on background, time/inherited (he looks like the guy from American Beauty)
  • SHIP – degree, background, knowing the faculty
  • KUTZ- interests, background, degrees but sometimes just luck of the draw
  • CAL – degree/background, divide equally but needs to be redistributed

Q2: What criteria do your university’s departments use to select library liaisons? Does your library have any input into the selection of liaisons?

  • SRU – newest tenure track faculty
  • IUP – varies, some are long-timers and some have yearly overturn
  • LHU – varies, depends on how contacts are initially developed – try to meet early on and depend department meetings, dept. chair sometimes is defacto liaison, informal relationships seem to work
  • KUTZ – no choice, they decide or are appointed, depends on the department, some departments assign $ to faculty members
  • SHIP – depends on department, some long-time, some n00bs

Audience Q: How many attend department meetings? Some attend monthly chair meetings, some have an office in the department itself. It’s important to go to them because they are busy – embedded

Q3: What are the typical steps you take each year to interact and engage faculty in your liaison areas?

  • LHU – Get on the agenda for the department meeting early in the semester, good time to talk about instruction, find out when they are having events (projects, poster sessions, etc) and attend (visible)
  • CAL – Coffee dates seem to work better than going to a meeting – more open, personal
  • SHIP – asynchronous  POV, I’ll take the time you give me. Refer them to other situations and let them decide for themselves
  • LHU – @ department meeting, share information with them, show them don’t just ask ask ask
  • IUP – thank you luncheon at the end of the year, certificate with years of service – good for promotion/tenure binders

Q4: What are the challenges of a liaison program?

  • CAL – buy-in, getting people to talk to their department
  • SRU – time (for everyone), food is always good, electronic newsletter
  • KUTZ – certain departments just don’t want to participate, time challenges, faculty tend to collect more towards their personal research interest instead of what students will use, getting people to spend the money in time without a big rush at the end
  • KH – this isn’t their money, it’s the library’s money
  • AD- It’s our responsibility/job to create a balanced collection
  • LHU – never phrase as “orders”try “any suggestions for me to consider” then it’s not as hard to deny requests

Q5: What are the elements of a successful liaison program?

  • CAL – some kind of instructional manual, didn’t go over so well
  • SHIP – evaluation/assessment form
  • KUTZ – engages academic departments in a way greater than before

Q6: How much time do you put into your liaison program?

  • IUP – collection development is very time consuming, huge but worth it, gives the library good visibility

Q7: How do you define various levels or tiers of service for assessment?

  • No one really has yet

E-Collection Management
w/ Krista Prock, Instruction / Reference Librarian at Kutztown University
Bob Flatley, Coordinator of Electronic Resources, Interlibrary Loan & Periodicals at Kutztown University
Thursday, 4/2/2009 ~ 3:45-5:00PM

  • Not a lot of literature out there relating to subscription databases
  • Survey to colleagues (72 librarians/18 responses=32% response rate)
  • Asked what processes libraries use to evaluate what electronic resources to purchase and what to cancel.
  • Most libraries didn’t have a specific process for evaluating before purchase
  • Criteria for canceling: usage stats, budget, duplication, product letdown (and some haven’t canceled anything)
  • Most people didn’t have specific criteria (checklist/rubric) for evaluating resources. [Kutztown is working on a draft for this]
  • What do we do with usage statistics?
  • Criteria (overlap cutoff -of print and content- and stick to it) [YES!]
  • If we disbanded all of our committees, how would we restructure them?
  • Their goal is to develop best practices and then make them available online for other institutions.

Conducting an Oral History Project in Your Spare Time
w/ Judy Silva, Arts Librarian & Archivist at Slippery Rock University
Friday, 4/3/2009 ~ 9:00-10:15AM

  • Initiated and funded by University administration
  • Worked with student workers – no additional staff
  • Using calendar service to schedule equipment, interviews, transcription, etc.  – Airset
  • Celebrate the launch by inviting all of the interviewees to a reception
  • Created a spreadsheet of local language for *something* (similar to indexing)

Written by Erin Dorney

May 14, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Dr. William Ayers @ Millersville University

with one comment


Dr. William Ayers
Anna Funk Lockey Education Lecture
3/19/2009 ~ 7-8:30 PM

Topic: Urban school reform: Reason, hope and possibilities

  • To be a teacher is to know things = not healthy or true
  • It is a person who is on a voyage with the students, together
  • “Aren’t you gonna cross it off?” – racist graffiti on a bus – kids make you think harder and be better than you actually are
  • Wife is a lawyer – lawyer parties – what do you do? pitying looks – “that must be interesting” and leave
  • We don’t have a vocabulary to describe adequately what we do (teachers)
  • Teaching is bottomless in terms of it’s intellectual challenge
  • It is a life of challenge and joy, powered at its best by love
  • Toxic habit of labeling kids by their deficits – by what they can’t do
  • “Cultural deprivation” – patronizing, no longer in our vocabulary
  • Now we have “at risk” all over the place – what does that mean? Pretty much the same thing
  • We have all been labeled at one time or another
  • Are the labels over-determining?
  • The environment itself is a very powerful teacher – tend to the environment
  • You have too create an environment that reflects the values and the things you want to teach
  • Podium – barrier – environment told you where to go – lecture halls – early (mid-back)
  • Wisdom and knowledge here, passive learning there
  • If I walked into your classroom 5 years from now, what would it show about you as a teacher?
  • Very little that I can name that is as important as teaching.
  • People told you not to teach (sometimes other teachers)
  • You really care about this world, you want to be someone who is a part of their lives as they grow and change and learn and develop
  • You can witness it and participate in it, you can share
  • How do you hold to a value-based ideal of your profession and the same time function in systems that may not?
    • Find allies – students, parents
  • You will teach in a system that is part of this great democracy:
    • Some systems want obedience and conformity above all else
    • So what makes us different?
    • Every human being is valuable – implications for policy – segregated schools are wrong
    • What about the kids who forgot to choose the right parents? Are they less valuable? That’s what we’re saying when we spend more on certain school districts
    • We want people to be curious, ask questions, have minds of their own, be creative, be entrepreneurial
    • Whatever else you’re teaching, part of it is to question the status quo – nothing is more dogmatic as common sense
    • “I don’t need to know the answers to the questions to know that questioning is a good thing.”
    • Doing and making, not waiting passively for the teacher to hand out information bit by bit
    • A curriculum of doing & making, where we learn FROM, not always ABOUT
  • If you succeed as a clerk in the classroom – you will survive, but not be inspired
  • “What we take for granted today wasn’t always taken for granted”
  • There are things we’re not seeing that we should challenge ourselves to see – a more authentic and participatory democracy that we can never get to but we can attempt to achieve
  • “Every child deserves to be in a palace of learning”
  • You have to build relationships
  • You’re not there to save them – you’re there to work with them, respect them, care about them

Written by Erin Dorney

March 20, 2009 at 12:37 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

2008/2009 mashup.

with 3 comments


Donnie: How can you do that?
Frank: I can do anything I want. And so can you.

- Donnie Darko

Reflecting always reminds me that I’m on the right path.
What’s your resolution?

Work Update

  • Finished (survived?) my first post-MLIS semester as a tenure-track librarian at a university. Overall very satisfied and still excited. Is that normal?
  • Millersville University Library just launched its Facebook page (become a fan!), we’re holding a game night in February (poster 1 : poster 2), and I’m working on outreach to students, faculty, staff and community members. Um, loving it! I have my own office with new furniture, a huge desk and an intern helping out for the spring semester: the best part is that she wants to be a librarian!
  • During the course of 2008 I reviewed 14 books, wrote 4 articles, presented 4 poster sessions, did 3 presentations, attended 2 workshops, 2 conferences, 1 unconference and 1 webinar. And only posted 33 entries to libraryscenester… whoops.

Life Update

  • Looking for a new apartment in the city of Lancaster, enjoying what the city has to offer – specifically the market(s), Square One Coffee, the secret alleyways, brick sidewalks, residing in the oldest inland city in the country, and some gems of new friends.
  • 2008 marked the first September since 1989 that I have not been enrolled in a formal education program. For 19 of my 24 years of living, I have been learning in Kendall, Rochester & Syracuse. In 2009 I continue with my first stint in PA: taking my first course towards an MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
  • Missing my family immensely.
  • Exploring via bike, testing sushi places within walking distance, scouring thrift stores (best finds of ’08 include a brand new french press & a Visions Corningware Cranberry saucepan w/lid) listening to new music (She & Him), podcasts (radiolab) & seeing sweet films (Slumdog Millionaire, MILK).
  • Best show of 2008 = Neko Case in Ithaca, NY.

Ohh 2009… You pounced onto me like a kitten onto a ball of catnip. The things I have in store for you!

(…first Midwinter, first ALA Annual, cross country road trip, Anthony Raneri solo shows, ASHLEYah!… ya know, the norm)

Written by Erin Dorney

January 17, 2009 at 7:29 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,


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