UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Three Penn State University Libraries employees at Berks Thun Library, Penn State Berks, have received the 2020 Innovation in College Librarianship Award from the College Libraries Section (CLS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association.
Reference and instruction librarians Alexandria Chisholm, Sarah Hartman-Caverly and Brett Spencer were recognized for their work on creating the library’s Discovery Lab, a learner-centered library space with complementary collections that facilitate exploration of information and knowledge building. The awards committee praised the Discovery Lab as “a great example of the ways in which library staff can support undergraduate research and scholarship, and beyond into a person’s career."
"It's exciting to see the Discovery Lab recognized as an innovative way to engage undergraduates in research and inquiry,” Hartman-Caverly said.
The idea for the Discovery Lab grew from a desire to repurpose space in the library’s reading lounge using feature browsing collections as sources of inspiration, background information and access to emerging research methods. Six collections — Idea (ready reference), First Draft (current periodicals), Campus Portfolio (faculty and student publications), Ethics and Sustainability, Beyond Berks (career and postbaccalaureate transition information) and Engaged Scholarship (guides for research methods, service learning and publication styles) — were incorporated into guided exploration activities for programs like first-year experience and service-learning courses.
“The integration of curated print browsing collections, pop-up instruction space and passive engagement programming is designed to provide students with a number of on-ramps into scholarly communication and the academic community, from piquing their curiosity, to highlighting emerging research methods, to identifying potential faculty research advisers,” said Hartman-Caverly.
The library staff plans to expand learning activities once on-campus learning resumes.
“While we look forward to returning to campus and reengaging students in this dynamic and interactive space, we are also in the process of building a virtual Discovery Lab experience,” Hartman-Caverly added.
Sponsored by the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), the $1,000 award honors librarians who demonstrate a capacity for innovation in working with or serving undergraduates or instructors in the areas of programs, services and operations or creating innovations for library colleagues that facilitate their ability to better serve the library’s community.
Word of the team’s achievement follows recent news of Berks Thun Library employees Corey Wetherington and Scott Wagner winning the American Library Association’s Emerging Technologies Section 2020 Best Emerging Technology Application (BETA) Award.