All posts by Editor

The Making of the Mass Aggie Seed Library: A Gardening How-to for Others

By Paulina Borrego
Science & Engineering Librarian
University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Seed Libraries have been sprouting up in public libraries across the country, but what about a seed library in an academic library? Is such an idea in line with the mission of the library or even a viable option?

A seed library offers excellent opportunities to highlight University strategic plans and connect with academic departments and extension services, along with student and community groups. What follows is the story of the Mass Aggie Seed Library, how it came about, lessons learned, and steps to set up a seed library within an academic library.

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Trading Eights: Teaching Collaboratively with Primary Sources

By Jill E. Anderson, Humanities Instruction Librarian
and Kevin Fleming, Popular Music & Culture Archivist
Georgia State University Library


This case study focuses on how Kevin Fleming, Popular Music and Culture Archivist, and Jill Anderson, Humanities Instruction Librarian, have developed a series of “Teaching with Primary Sources” library workshops at Georgia State University, an R1 public university. We designed these workshops to introduce faculty and graduate-student instructors to creative strategies for incorporating primary sources into their instruction. Drawing on historical comic books in the archivist’s collections, the active-learning exercises we devised for these workshops are meant to encourage attendees to consider and share their own ideas about instruction with archival and other primary source types. Rather than presenting ourselves as all-knowing “experts,” we aim to make ourselves available as possible partners for this kind of instruction. With these workshops, we hope to foster attendees’ own imaginative ideas about teaching with primary sources, while at the same time encouraging instructors to consider including us as partners in their classrooms. We received a 2019 Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC) Award for Excellence in the Educational Use of Historical Records for these workshops. In this article, we will describe our collaborative processes in the context of the evolution of our workshops. We will begin by discussing our initial collaboration in support of the librarian’s Honors freshman seminar, describe the evolution of our instructor workshops, and close with a discussion of our embedment in a College of Education and Human Development graduate course on Children’s and Adolescent Literature as a direct result of these workshops.

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Enhancing the Self-Service Library with Visual Workplace Principles

By Christopher Raab
Associate Librarian, Franklin & Marshall College

Take a look around your local library, or any modern library for that matter.  You will likely see people interacting with a variety of Self-Service Technologies (SSTs) or Do-It-Yourself (DIY) service points. From self-discovery (catalog and database searching) to self-selection (open stacks and computers) to self-service (printer/scanners and checkout machines), the modern library is, in many ways, a veritable gas-and-go service station for the brain.  While modern sociologists have at times noted the negative attributes of self-service – such as diminished human interaction and increased consumer labor – this article seeks to explore and enhance the self-service experience within libraries, empowering patrons (and staff) through the application of visual workplace solutions.

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Making Stone Soup: Integrating Academic Libraries into International Outreach Programs and Initiatives

By M. Nathalie Hristov, Associate Professor & Music Librarian
and Allison L. Sharp, Associate Professor & International Education Liaison Librarian
University of Tennessee, Knoxville


The international student population in the United States has risen by over 72% over the last twenty years; however, a review of the literature seems to suggest that the LIS field would continue to benefit from greater research in this particular area of librarianship (Click, Wiley, and Houlihan, 2017, p. 328). Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of articles published in the library literature focus on services and activities that promote the international education of domestic students rather than the library needs of international students. Future efforts call for academic librarians to define their role in the information seeking activities of their international constituents (Click et al, 2017, p. 344). It is the contention of this article that a solid platform for the engagement of international students by librarians must first be established.

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Square Peg, Round Hole: Big Picture Planning and the Opportunities and Limits of Design Thinking

By Ashley Roach-Freiman
Research and Instruction Librarian
University of Memphis


Strategic planning is an important issue in academic libraries, and a practice that doesn’t often come easily. Recent literature shows that academic libraries suffer the consequences of poor planning by struggling with low morale, personnel turnover, and burnout (Kendrick, 2017). In an effort to combat and prevent such situations, one Instructional Services department at a large Southern urban graduate-degree granting university library sought ways to plan for the future. As a department, we were in a unique position, having recently acquired several new faculty members, replacing others who had retired or otherwise left. The incoming librarians included a hire new to the university, a Department Head who had served recently as Interim Dean of Libraries, the former Dean of Libraries returning to the faculty,  and myself, a librarian formerly in a visiting position with this department who had left the university for a period of months before being rehired in a tenure-track position.  We needed an opportunity to both get to know one another as colleagues and determine the department’s vision at a crucial stage of growth. To help the department heal from the effects of high turnover, we planned for a two-day departmental retreat to take place during the university’s Fall Break. Inspired by recent trends in library planning, we decided to incorporate design thinking methods into the retreat’s structure. After discovering the open-access IDEO toolkit Design Thinking for Libraries, we created an agenda that led us through brainstorming, ideation, and goal-creation.

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