College librarian writes chapter for technical services book
The librarian for information technology initiatives at Pennsylvania College of Technology has written one of 13 accepted chapters in the American Library Association’s “Technical Services in the 21st Century,” spotlighting the substantial behind-the-scenes work that allows students to seamlessly access scholarly digital material.
Jessica Urick Oberlin wrote “Data of e-Resources: Moving Forward with Assessment” for the 42nd volume of Emerald Publishing’s “Advances in Library Administration and Organization” series.
“In college and university libraries, students sit down to finally start their research paper. After a failed Google search, they reach the library’s website hoping to see results that match their expectations,” her 20-page chapter begins. “Will this be a pleasant experience for them? Or will they turn elsewhere for the answers they seek?”
Oberlin answers those questions with a comprehensive look at the data-driven decisions behind Penn College’s e-resources for students, as well as the constant evaluation and reevaluation to make sure the library’s collection stays relevant in the ever-changing curricular and real-world landscape for the campus and beyond.
“From nursing to brewing beer, we have to have the most streamlined and accurate processes for acquiring the vastly different items for students,” she explained upon the book’s publication. “In today’s online environment of unreliable information, it’s important we, as a college, lead them to the most reliable and accurate information out there for their future careers.”
Many of Madigan Library’s resources are generally available only to industry, complicating the library’s mission to make them accessible to students.
The library added an online database of American Welding Society standards and codes, for instance — information that had been available only in hard-copy form, cumbersomely wheeled from lab to lab on a bookcart. It is one of 175 databases covering the array of academic majors at the college, with faculty and students regularly encouraged to provide online feedback about the information’s value to their instruction.
“Concrete science is another,” Oberlin noted. “When that program was added to our construction majors, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Do we have anything to cover this area of expertise?’ and we had to ensure it was available in a digital format accessible to all.”
Campus audiences are made aware of new online resources through eye-catching promotional materials created by part-time library staffer Heather L. Macpherson, of Basom, New York, a graphic design major due to graduate in May.
“Jessica’s chapter is an excellent example of ‘next-level’ assessment,” said Tracey Amey, Madigan Library director. “She looks beyond simple usage data to examine how well a resource fits in our unique applied technology programs. Is it intuitive for our students? Does it provide the real-world information our faculty are looking to provide? Does it align with the work students will be doing in their chosen field?”
“Jessica is truly a 21st Century librarian,” Amey added, “and her chapter demonstrates her skills. She incorporates data-driven assessment, student needs and program suitability into a complex, yet effective method of resource management.”
Oberlin has a master’s degree in library science from Clarion University and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Lycoming College.
Before joining the Penn College faculty in Spring 2016, she was an instructional librarian and coordinator of access services at her Lycoming alma mater, where she provided instruction and supervised Snowden Library’s interlibrary loan and circulation departments.
She started her career as a communications teacher at Mifflinburg Area High School and later was a librarian at Warrior Run High School, holding Pennsylvania teacher certifications in English (grades seven to 12) and Library Media (kindergarten to 12).