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PaLA Annual 2015 Recap: PA Forward for Academic Libraries

Melissa Correll
Currently reading Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information edited by Troy A. Swanson and Heather Jagman.

by Melissa Correll,
Instructional Services Librarian,
Lycoming College

PaLA Annual offered lots of programming and ideas for putting PA Forward to work at your library. Academic librarians, this includes you, too! Monday’s “Cream of the Crop: PA Forward and Academic Libraries” spotlighted creative ways that librarians are bringing PA Forward into higher education.

Basic Literacy
At Penn Highlands Community College, Associate Dean for Learning Resources/Library Barbara Zaborowski coordinates a One Book One Community program for local middle school students. The college-wide event is held on campus between Spring and Summer semesters, run by faculty and staff, and funded entirely by donations. Zabrowski always makes sure that the book ties back to Pennsylvania, and enhances the event by partnering with the National Park Service to bring in historical reenactors and other engaging presenters. More than 11,000 students have participated in the program, now in its 11th year.

Information Literacy
How can we teach students to move beyond simply accessing information to begin to think about it critically? Kelly Cannon, Outreach and Scholarly Communication Librarian at Muhlenberg College, suggests actively engaging students in the classroom. Hands-on time and the freedom to make mistakes and figure things out for themselves increases learning, and retention. Cannon suggested focusing on fewer learning objectives in one-shots, emphasizing deep engagement rather than surface contact with information literacy concepts.

Financial Literacy
Lauren Reiter, Librarian for Learning Innovations and Business Liaison at Penn State, shared several great ideas for bringing financial literacy programming to the library. For example, students trained in budgeting, credit, and student loans provide peer-to-peer financial education in one-on-one consultations and in class presentations, as part of the Student Financial Education Center. The library hosts monthly workshops with MoneyCounts: A Financial Literacy Series. Presenters include faculty member and credit union representatives, and topics include mortgages and credit cards. Partnering with local banks or credit unions can mean support and free stuff. Reiter also mentioned that Penn State will be taking part in Money Smart Week @ Your Library this April, and noted the SEPLA Chapter Financial Literacy Summit coming up in March 2016.

PA Forward Logo of Five LiteraciesThe Five Literacies in Action
Head Librarian Barb Eschbach and Stephanie Diaz, now Reference and Instruction Librarian and Penn State Erie, created ConnectED: A Penn State York Library First Year Experience. This game-based program uses all five literacies to engage students in campus life. Students earn points for attending outreach events in the library, which are organized around one of the literacies. For example, students exercised their civic and social literacies by listening to a political science professor present his election predictions. In the wake of Robin Williams’s suicide, a conversation facilitated by a psychologist from the campus counseling center helped students develop their health literacies. All of the ConnectED marketing materials were designed to reflect their corresponding PA Forward literacy. What a fun way to use PA Forward!

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