How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love OneSearch

LILAC has been talking about how OneSearch works and how to teach with it. Based on those conversations as well as on Allie’s presentation to LILAC last fall and just plain old experience, I am ready to tell you How I Learned to Stop Worrying
and Love OneSearch

What is OneSearch is anyway?

We librarians know it as a “discovery layer” and that’s probably not a bad way to talk to students about it. But it is also really important that they understand what’s in OneSearch. So, it includes what the classic catalog has always had – our holdings! What’s on the shelf in (or checked out from) the library. It also searches across many, but not necessarily all, of our databases. And it includes other stuff too: LibGuides and digital items mostly. This image that no longer appears in the OneSearch landing page may or may not help in understanding that.

Background info, Books and Articles all in one place.

For instruction purposes, the filters in OneSearch offer a one-stop way to show students how to see reference entries, books and scholarly (or news) articles all in one place. For example, in a search in the CUNY instance of OneSearch for the term immigration (see it here) you can see that there are reference entries, books and articles. The filters on the right allow the researcher to see just one resource type at a time.

Reference Resources for Topic Exploration

The reference resources filter is a great way to get a list of background articles that provide different perspectives on a topic. In the same immigration search with the Reference Resources filter on (see it here), just looking at those few sources we can already see religion, law, history and child development as perspectives to explore. Sometimes, especially with introductory or composition classes, looking at reference entries first can help students to consider how to approach their topics.

Speaking of Filters . . . .

You can “lock” filters in place, which is really, really useful for continued searching/keyword exploration within a single resource type. Once the filter is in place just hover over it and a “lock” will appear; click to set in place.

Pre-formatted Citations, Ready for Proofreading!

On any record, just click the quotation mark to see the standard citation style options. Works best for books and articles, but overall seems pretty accurate. Don’t forget to remind students to proofread these computer-generated citations before handing them in!

 OneSearch is the Instant Pot of library databases

Seriously! It does kinda do everything, except when it doesn’t, just like Instant Pot.

Anyway, students are going to ask you this question: Why would I ever search in different databases if I can just search in OneSearch for everything? And sometimes the answer is – OneSearch is all you need. Just like you can use the Instant Pot to cook almost anything.

However, there are 2 main reasons why a researcher might end up at another database instead of (or in addition to) OneSearch.

  • Can’t find what you’re looking for. Sometimes OneSearch doesn’t actually provide all the answers, so another database is always a good bet.
  • Need more precise, subject-focused research. For example, if you need to use specialized vocabulary such as MESH terms which work great in Medline, but not so well in OneSearch. As well, subject databases allow researchers to find only works written with a disciplinary lens, and that can be tricky to identify in OneSearch since it has so many results.

Basically, it’s one more tool in the researcher tool box . . . or an Instant Pot in the research kitchen!

Posted in General | Leave a comment

LILAC Spring Training Call for Proposals

Call for Proposals/ Potential Sessions

LILAC Spring Training: Up Your Game!
Practical innovations beyond traditional information literacy

Friday, June 8th, 2018
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
CUNY Central
205 East 42nd Street

We are seeking proposals for 10-45-minute presentations, discussions, or workshops on any of the following information literacy topics:

  • How I learned to stop worrying and love OneSearch
  • New approaches to “fake news”
  • Student agency in the research process
  • OER – teaching beyond the firewall
  • Information literacy and resistance in action beyond academia
  • Public higher education and social justice
  • New kinds of skills our students are expected to master
  • … or any other information literacy innovation

Event Format:

  1.      Welcome
  2.      Opening ice-breaker activity
  3.      10 minute break
  4.     Breakout sessions (10-45 minute, multiple concurrent sessions)
  5.      10 minute break
  6.      Session sharing and wrap-up

Please submit a description for a 10-45 minute breakout session using this form.
Deadline: April 15, 2018

Not sure about presenting? Register to attend the June 8th event here.
Registration is required.

LILAC Spring Training Committee:
Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, co-chair
Daisy Domínguez, co-chair
Anne Leonard
Linda Miles
Robin Brown
Julie Turley
Jonathan Cope

Posted in Spring Training | 1 Comment

Open access and ScienceDirect/Scopus

From Elsevier’s newsletter, this article might be useful for teaching and researching:

7 tips for finding open access content on ScienceDirect and Scopus

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Open access and ScienceDirect/Scopus

IL Instruction Overload

As a relaxing summer is behind us and we are in a new academic year, everything goes back to a normal rhythm from Adagio to Andante. That means IL teaching activities pick up the tempo and are likely to accelerate to Allegro as semester progresses.

May I recommend a timely article, “Forty Ways to Survive IL Instruction Overload; Or, how to Avoid Teacher Burnout.”

Like recommended in the article, I sometimes play music by using audio files in PowerPoint to calm down/entertain/relax/wake up/energize my classes, “Sleep Away” at the beginning and “Kalimba” at the end.


Badia, Giovanna. “Forty Ways to Survive IL Instruction Overload; Or, how to Avoid Teacher Burnout.” College & Undergraduate Libraries (2017): 1-7.

Teaching information literacy (IL) sessions can be emotionally exhausting, especially when faced with a heavy instructional workload that requires repeating similar course content multiple times. This article lists forty practical, how-to strategies for avoiding burnout and thriving when teaching.




Posted in General, Tutorials | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on IL Instruction Overload

Subject Liaison Librarian

One of the programs often seen in academic libraries is the subject liaison program. Librarians are assigned responsible area(s) based on their education background and/or professional training. They serve as a bridge between teaching faculty and the library. A liaison librarian’s tasks may include, but are not limited to, bibliographic instruction, collection development, and research consultation. In addition, the liaison librarian is responsible for informing the target department/program about current status of relevant information sources should any changes occur. In the teaching front, some libraries, in collaboration with teaching faculty, embed liaison librarian in the program as a co-teacher for the class.

At York College Library, we have assigned 24 subject areas among 10 librarians.  One librarian served as an embedded librarian in a health science class in 2012-13. An exciting event occurs every year when we receive the budget for new book acquisition. Each of us will get a share of the pie and update our collections with his or her wisdom.

A recent article on the topic by Karen Stanley Grigg, Science Liaison Librarian at University of North Carolina at Greensboro Libraries, is worth reading.

Building a Successful Liaison Program from the Ground up

Posted in Advocacy, General | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Subject Liaison Librarian

A teaching tool

I found this 5-page handout rather useful.

Literature Search: A Librarian’s Handout to Introduce Tools, Terms and Techniques co-developed by Katy Kavanagh Webb, Head of Research & Instructional Services at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library, and Library Connect newsletter of Elsevier.

Each page of the handout can stand alone or be used together as a teaching tool that covers:

  • Keywords, operators and filters
  • Search tools
  • Types of literature
  • Evaluate information
  • Organize research

You may download the handout in PDF here.

“It’s not a replacement for librarian-led instruction,” says Katy, “but it can act as a calling card to introduce key concepts or as a leave-behind visual reminder to continue these best practices when we librarians are no longer in the room.” (Library Connect April 7, 2017)

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Library anxiety

“Library anxiety” was identified thirty years ago when Constance A. Mellon of East Carolina University published her paper, “Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and Its Development,” [College & Research Libraries 47.2 (1986): 160-165. <>], describing college students feeling intimidated, embarrassed, and overwhelmed by libraries and librarians. Library literature has been enhanced by this topic since then.

The anxiety appears to be more common among freshman students. This phenomenon ascertains the importance of library instruction for first-year undergraduates, as well as calls for user-friendly learning environment. A recent report on Columbia libraries is fun to read: “The Strange Affliction of ‘Library Anxiety’ and What Librarians Do to Help” <>

Posted in Advocacy, Tutorials | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Library anxiety

Reference and Social Justice conversation at the LILAC Spring Event

As part of the Lilac Spring Training event, Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, and Eamon Tewell led a very interesting conversation on the connection between reference work and social justice. This is a conversational format, which was very helpful in terms of hearing not just from the presenters, but from the community.
Among the topics that were discussed were  space issues (including eliminating the reference desk, on-call reference etc.) and  the real importance of finding venues for substantial conversations with students. We discussed the power dynamics that are behind many of the academic structures that we take for granted. We also debated whether standard librarian best practices are social justice oriented already. We discussed the difference between reference as passive knowledge transfer, and reference as a conversation.
This was a very worthwhile and interesting event.
Posted in General | Comments Off on Reference and Social Justice conversation at the LILAC Spring Event

Hosting an IDNYC Pop-Up On Your Campus: A Checklist

Bronx Community College hosted a pop-up location for IDNYC from February 17th through March 9th 2016.  Overall, it was a great success with over 560 IDNYC cards handed out.  Here is a checklist of items to consider if you are thinking of hosting the program in your library.

Step One: Contacts at IDNYC

The main contact I worked with was Larry Siegel.  He is the Pop-Up Coordinator. I found him to be very responsive and an excellent resource who is very invested in making sure everything came off without a hitch and was a tremendous support throughout the duration of the pop-up.

Step Two: Reach out to all of your internal stakeholders

Your internal stakeholders will vary but, at minimum, you will need full cooperation from:

CUNY Public Safety: Your Chief of Public Safety or equivalent Head of Security will need to be brought into the loop at the very beginning of the process in order to ensure viability of the pop-up.  IDNYC has a policy of advertising all of its pop-ups on their website and they will want assurances that members of the NYC community beyond CUNY members will have access to the pop-up.  In particular, the Human Resources Administration of the Mayor’s Office, under whose jurisdiction the IDNYC program falls for coordination and staffing, had a high sensitivity to members of the public being forced to show ID to CUNY Public Safety Peace Officers to gain campus access.  The sensitivity being that some applicants would self-select out of going to the pop-up because of interactions with uniformed Peace Officers, fears regarding information sharing among CUNY Public Safety and various immigration agencies and also fear of tracking due to having a history of domestic violence and or stalking.  These are all valid concerns that we should have sympathy towards while also balancing those concerns with that of CUNY Public Safety’s charge.

In my experience with the pop-up, this ultimately led to no problems at all, but was originally a “sore spot” that almost led to the pop-up not happening at all.  The approach taken by Public Safety was one of monitoring the day-to-day entries on campus and reserving the right to shut down the pop-up should any security incidents arise related to unmonitored/unrecorded guests from the wider community.  So while I do not want to magnify these concerns beyond what actually happened (which was no reported incidents), it is wise to keep this contingency on your radar as you put together your program.

Office of Communications and Marketing & Your Office of Strategic Initiatives: These Offices may not uniformly exist on your respective campuses, but the chances are high that you have equivalent personnel whose roles entail communications with outside stakeholders such as the Mayor’s Office, IDNYC, and the like.  They may have policies that entail at minimum contacting them as a courtesy or may involve more coordinated efforts between the Library Department and those offices.  Further, they will be able to provide increased exposure for advertising purposes that would be mutually beneficial for both a high number of enrollments and public relations opportunities for the school.  Generally it is under this umbrella of offices is where you find the person in charge of Government Relations on your campus who can coordinate communication with your local Community Board, local elected officials and can coordinate a press release or press conference along with further press coverage of your pop-up.  Admittedly, this was a missed opportunity on my part and I would advise those Libraries who plan to go ahead with a pop-up to push for news coverage, photo ops, and the like in order to help raise the profile of the school, your Library and to get as many people into your pop-up as possible.

Your Administration: Securing buy-in from your President or Provost is key to a successful program.  At the risk of being trite, “all the doors open up” once you have buy-in from your college leadership.

Your Student Government Association: They are powerful advocates who can spread word of the program to the student body.  Also, this is an excellent opportunity to fortify liaison relationships with your SGA.  It is also a good time to go to an SGA meeting and promote the program to SGA directly.  Also, if you plan on housing the program in the Library in one of the study rooms—such as what we did at Bronx CC—you will want to inform the SGA to preempt concerns about the loss of a study room during a peak season such as midterms or finals.

 Your Office of Student Life: The mix of professional and student staff are also an excellent “ear to the ground” who will help you ensure a successful program.

Physical Plant: They can provide logistical support for whatever chairs, tables, storage and other unique concerns arise from the existence of the pop-up.

Office of Room Scheduling: This may be moot if you plan on housing the program in your Library, but it is always good to keep them on your radar.

Step Three: Consider Anticipated Physical Plant Needs

Room size: We were able to house the pop-up comfortably in a 16’ x 14’ room.  You will need a study table with seating for 6 for the required workspace to accommodate their materials.  They will also need some space to set up a makeshift picture booth, so make sure the lighting in the room is normal.  Note that they will have their own secured hotspot so coordinating with your Information Technology Department should not be necessary unless they want wifi for their personal devices.

Staff Needs: In our experience, they supplied three full time employees from the Human Resources Administration who were excellent. The employees will need access either to food by way of a local café or vending area and, if possible, space in a staff refrigerator for food.  Relatedly, try to be sure the staff has a lounge or place to eat during their breaks.  This rest area can be the student café as long as it is a reasonable distance from their location.

Storage: Also, the room in which their materials are stored needs to be secured under a lock and key.  When they set up their equipment on day 1, they have some storage boxes and the like that should optimally be stored in a location close to their pop-up for ease of breakdown on the last day.

Seating: Another point to keep in mind is the area right outside of the pop-up should have a small seating area for people to wait while applicants ahead of them are being processed.On day 1, it is helpful to coordinate with Public Safety to ensure that they can bring the moving van on site as close as possible to the Library to facilitate ease of shipping.

Parking: Also, if you have on-site parking, try to facilitate parking for their staff through the duration of pop-up.  In our case, this involved getting a make, model, color and plate number to Public Safety.  These are all little details that make the pop-up run smoothly.  Finally, on closing day, be sure to coordinate with Public Safety to ensure the van can gain similar access to Day 1 for ease of transfer and that the saved storage containers are available for packing.

At bottom, while it looks like a great deal of coordination, almost all of the heavy lifting on the part of the Library is on the front end.  It really involves staying on top of the external relationships and making sure everything is ready for Day 1.  After Day 1, the program essentially runs itself until closing day.  I made it a point to drop by twice a day to check up on the staff and I gave them my personal information in case they needed a contact on site.  Ultimately, I wanted to make them feel at home.  If you have any follow up questions, please feel free to contact me.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Hosting an IDNYC Pop-Up On Your Campus: A Checklist

LILAC Meeting April 12, 2-4pm

Hello to LILAC members new and old! This post is to remind you that we have a committee meeting on April 12, 2016, from 2-4pm at CUNY Central, 205 E. 42nd St., Room 962.

We have a lot going on this spring, so we’ll be using this meeting to discuss all of our initiatives. Expect an agenda a few days before the meeting!

Please RSVP to Diane if you are attending for the first time! And if you can’t make it, why not send a sub?

Posted in General | Comments Off on LILAC Meeting April 12, 2-4pm