APA's Library Advisory Council

Meet APA's Library Advisory Council, our liaisons with the library world.

APA pursues numerous outreach initiatives to stay in touch with the rapidly changing library environment. These activities include American Library Association librarian roundtable breakfasts at the Midwinter and Annual Conferences; trainings and user group meetings at the Medical Library Association, Special Libraries Association, and Association of Independent Information Professionals Conferences; and a librarian dinner at the Charleston Conference.

Input from all of these avenues is channeled to the management team responsible for content development and database production. Another and vital part of our outreach to the library community is our relationship with the talented group of individuals that constitutes the APA Library Advisory Council.

The Council began in 2004 as a response to APA's recognition that we needed an insider's up-to-the-minute interaction with new trends in the acquisition and use of electronic resources. Since that beginning, the group has provided information, guidance, and recommendations on a wide range of topics, including pricing models, information seeking behavior, market conditions and trends, the Google phenomenon, open access, institutional repositories, and the APA PsycNET delivery platform. The members have also helped us stay connected with other elements in the changing library landscape, updating APA on the effect of library consolidation, budget cuts, and emerging research trends.

The council comprises 11 librarians, who represent institutions of various sizes (small, medium, and large), from geographical locations scattered across the country, and with an equally broad range of library perspectives—members have included library deans and directors, specialists in acquisitions, collection development, curricula, electronic resource management, administration, and reference in the fields of psychology and the behavioral sciences.

The group also includes consortia representatives, who interact with APA on behalf of large regional or statewide library groups. In addition, one of the members, Marietta Plank, has been the library liaison to our Electronic Resources Advisory Committee, ensuring coordination between the two groups.

The Council has met twice a year (spring and fall) since the fall of 2004. We're pleased to introduce our current members.

Becky Albitz

Electronic Resources and Copyright Librarian, Penn State University

Becky stated:

As a humanist, with undergraduate degrees in English and film and a master's in film, I am certainly not the typical member of the APA Library Advisory Board. My total exposure to psychology as an academic pursuit was in Psych 101 (which I ended up taking twice—8 a.m. lecture classes were not my thing as a freshman). I know, however, that my subject expertise was not why I was asked 3 years ago to join this group. Rather, I believe it must have more to do with my 10 years of experience managing electronic information content and making them available to the Penn State University community.

For those who don't know about Penn State, we consist of 24 locations across the Commonwealth, all of which are interlinked via the same computer network. My responsibility is to negotiate contracts for products such as PsycINFO for all campus locations, as we are unable to isolate any single location. I have worked with representatives from almost every publisher, professional organization, and commercial information provider, creating agreements that meet our needs as an educational institution and theirs as self-sustaining or profit-generating entities. This is not as easy as it might sound, because there is an inherent tension between information providers and the educational community. Information, or knowledge, for one is a pursuit, and for the other is a commodity. In this epic struggle, I am Switzerland.

Thus, while many of my colleagues on APA's library advisory board are well versed in the intricacies of social science and psychology information resources and offer expert advice on content and product development, I offer my experience in the trenches and am hopeful that my input has had a positive effect on APA's ability to develop useful business models and licensing strategies that bridge the gap between education and commerce.

Tobeylynn Birch

Associate Dean of the Library and Library Liaison to the Psychology Department, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

Tobeylynn wrote:

I currently work as the Associate Dean of the Library and serve as the library liaison to the psychology department at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), in Los Angeles. Before coming to LMU two years ago, I had worked for the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP)—now known as Alliant International University—for 27 years. Starting at CSPP as an assistant librarian, I soon became the Director of the Los Angeles Campus Library and then in 2001 was asked to serve as the first system-wide University Librarian of Alliant International University.

Despite my administrative duties at CSPP/Alliant, I continued to work closely with doctoral psychology students, providing library instruction to classes and research consultation with individuals. During this time, I developed a strong appreciation for the sophistication and powerful capabilities of PsycINFO products. Through my participation in PsycINFO events at ALA conferences, I was eventually asked to serve on the APA Library Advisory Council. My first meeting was in Spring 2008.

Service on the Council has been quite satisfying. Not only do I get to learn about upcoming new developments in products and services, I also get to help influence future developments. PsycINFO staff are sincerely interested in knowing what works and what doesn't work for libraries and our end-users.

I have also been impressed with the range of topics and the future thinking in which APA and the other Council members are engaged. The Council's focused discussion of such topics informs my own practice and planning at LMU. For example, in the two short years I have been on Council, I have seen the members' discussion of PsycBOOKS move from complaints about the length of the embargo on the electronic publication of APA books to a strong recommendation that APA revise its business model to reflect the primacy of publishing in electronic format, with print being secondary. Many libraries can no longer afford to purchase titles in both formats, and the preference is now for electronic. This reality will impact even libraries, such as LMU, that still have healthy print materials budgets.

Kay Buchanan

Head, Education Services, Curry Library Innovation Commons, University of Virginia

You can read about Kay's career track and, specifically, her experience as a librarian in residence in The Embedded Librarian: New Models for Information Service Professionals, from PsycINFO News, Volume 28 Issue 5, 2009. Briefly, she has been at the Education Library at the University of Virginia since 1990, most recently as an embedded librarian in the Curry Library Innovation Commons (CLIC), which provides digital scholarship, community-building, and online and distance education services.

Kay noted:

Serving on the APA Liaison committee has been immensely informative and lots of fun! It has afforded me the opportunity to discuss many issues with other librarians serving on the committee as well as with APA staff. Sometimes I'm on the receiving end. Recently, another council member recommended that librarians should have a single interface for searching multiple databases and limit it to peer-reviewed articles only. And sometimes I'm on the giving side (emailing a Council member to explain how to set up RSS feeds in RefWorks).

I've also been asked to be involved in projects outside my normal scope of expertise, for example, last year, I was asked by an APA representative to provide feedback on a draft of an APA Electronic Book Collection license. This request afforded me the opportunity to work closely with our library's attorney and the Head of Acquisitions on the project. We shared our feedback with APA staff. I hope our assessment sped up the process and the resulting license is faster and easier for both parties to accept. Publishing, technology, and librarianship discussions at the Council meetings have enlightened me on a multitude of issues that I will most likely soon encounter.

I appreciated the response the library community got from APA after we discussed patron training needs. Last year, all of us were crafting support documentation, often reinventing the wheel in the process. Now, APA staff have taken on this task and produced quality videos such as this one on locating articles in PsycINFO and limiting them to a specific methodology.

The final item that I'll mention was the terrific field trip the members of Council took to the roof of the APA office building. There we found a 3,000-square-foot green roof that helps prevent pollution in local waterways and a labyrinth for quiet reflection.

Gene Damon

Director of Library Automation for the Virginia Community College System

Gene has worked in libraries and library service for more than 35 years. Since 1996 he has served as Director of Library Automation and Learning Resources for Virginia's Community Colleges. He is currently chair of the Virtual Library of Virginia's Steering Committee and served as chair of VIVA's Resources for Users Committee for over 10 years. Over his career he has managed library systems at the University of Waterloo, Northeastern University, and Virginia's Community Colleges, playing an important role in the initial years of library systems automation. For the past 14 years, in his role at the Community Colleges and with VIVA, Gene has helped acquire and ensure access to a vast array of information resources for Virginia's Community College libraries, enabling students and staff to easily access and exchange information.

Monica Metz-Wiseman

Coordinator of Electronic Collections, University of South Florida

The University of South Florida (USF) is the seventh largest university in the United States. Monica serves on four publisher library advisory boards and presents at the national level on all things related to electronic resources. Active at USF in the Faculty Senate and chair of the Budget Advisory and Textbook Affordability Committees, she led the University to mandatory submission of electronic theses and dissertations. For over 5 years she held the position of Virtual Library Project Manager, in which she led over 100 librarians and staff to move services and collections online. This initiative led to a number of "firsts" for the State of Florida University System.

I've been a member of the APA Library Advisory Council since 2006, representing a focus on online resources. From the APA Library Council, I gain a big-picture perspective of current issues and trends in academia and an understanding of APA as a vendor of library content. Work on the Library Council serves as evidence to the importance of library–vendor relations, open communication, compromise, and trust. The librarians don't win every argument on the Council, but we are heard and seated at the table. The librarians who serve on the Council are part of the circle of vendor, end-user, and library, which collaborate to improve the end-user experience.

Laura Mullen

Behavioral Sciences Librarian, Rutgers University Library of Science and Medicine

I have been an academic science librarian for many years. I have worked in reference from the time of print to the incredibly complex digital climate of today. Our psychology departments have their main presence on the science campus. My current position responsibilities also encompass work as the "Science Team Leader," a capacity that allows me to work extensively with all aspects of the collections. My roles make it a necessity to understand scholarly communication trends in psychology and the sciences, and this includes all aspects of scholarly publishing.

I am always looking for, and greatly enjoy, collaborations and conversations with publishers, vendors, researchers, and everyone else involved in the scholarly communication chain. I recently authored a book on open access and its potential impact on the daily work of librarians.

The opportunity to join the APA Library Resources Council came out of my work with the ACRL EBSS Psychology Committee and the EBSS Research Committee. While participating in committee meetings at ALA conferences, I was fortunate to meet APA's Susan Hillson and Linda Beebe. Their generosity and great interest in the work of psychology librarians was very refreshing and their presentations informative. I found myself drawn to the gatherings where APA and librarians together shared a meal or a training session. They probably noticed me because I was always asking questions!

The Library Advisory Council allows for a give and take of information from a variety of perspectives. I think we all learn a tremendous amount from each other while enjoying a targeted conversation focused on psychology research in the library. There is a lot of listening on all sides—and also some time for fun.

I hope that I bring a perspective to the group that is maybe more focused on the scientific aspects of psychology librarianship as well as a window into the needs and challenges inherent in the current collections and services environment of a large academic library with many types of constituencies. I like to think that our collective work on the Council together has gone far to provide more effective products and services for researchers. Being part of this productive group has been one of the highlights of my career in librarianship and should be a model as we all seek collaborative solutions to the many issues playing out in a very fast moving information climate.

Darlene Nichols

Psychology and Sociology Librarian, University of Michigan

Darlene has been in Ann Arbor since 1998. She is responsible for library materials and research support in psychology and sociology. Active in the ALA Education and Behavioral Sciences Section of the Association of Research Libraries, she has been a member of or chaired the Psychology Committee for many years.

She wrote:

Participation in the committee provided me an opportunity to interact with staff from APA, and I eagerly volunteered to join the Library Advisory Council when it was proposed by ALA in 2004. Working on the committee has given me an education about the operations and challenges that a large professional organization faces in supporting scholarship in the 21st century.

Questions and issues have become more complex even in the few years I've been on the committee. We're talking more about the state of scholarly communications and less about how well databases function. We're talking about economic challenges, and those conversations get more and more difficult every meeting. So the question becomes, how does APA work with libraries to provide information and meet research needs without someone on one side or the other going bankrupt?

Dottie Persson

Head of the Psychology Library at the University of Iowa

Dorothy (Dottie) Persson, PhD, MLS, earned her doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Iowa and very early in her career became a branch librarian at the University of Iowa Psychology Library. Thus, her work has long been concentrated in psychology. In the late 1990s she became an adjunct professor at the School of Education. She teaches several courses, including a library research class for PhDs since 2000, and serves on both comprehensive exam and dissertation committees.

Dottie has been an invaluable friend to APA and provides frank feedback. She was one of the people who encouraged APA to become more immersed in the library community with user group meetings such as the Council. She's been a willing contributor to various APA publications, including a previous issue of the newsletter (see The Embedded Librarian: New Models for Information Service Professionals in Volume 28 Issue 5 2009) and GradPSYCH (see Psychology Research Done Right). She's also participated in in-house training at the association and even offered to help us with our tutorials. She is one of our best sources for feedback on APA's vendor platform, APA PsycNET. She was also a charter member of the Council.

Marietta Plank

Librarian Emerita, University of Maryland

Marietta has served the academic, private, and public sectors for more than 40 years. She was first Head Serials Librarian for Georgetown University Library and then Head Reference Librarian. She then led information and instruction services at the Undergraduate Library of Pennsylvania State. She spent a number of years in the private sector as Senior Librarian at Costabile Associates before returning to academia at the University of Maryland as first Associate Director and the Director of Technical Services.

Marietta was a charter member of the Council, beginning in 2004. In addition to her service on the Council, she was the first librarian to serve on APA's Electronic Resources Advisory Committee (ERAC), joining in 2002, and she served as the lone librarian in a sea of psychologists. (She was even the impetus for the first Librarians Roundtable in 2001, an event that has occurred at each ALA meeting since.)

Among her many skills, she's a consummate consensus builder. One of the things she has appreciated about her role on the Council is the way her work on the two committees support each other. As she put it, "It's been a great pleasure to have the librarians' meeting and a great support for my work with ERAC. And it's a major step forward for APA to have these meetings."

Diana Ramirez

Social Sciences & Education Librarian, Texas A&M University in College Station

Diana wrote:

I received two degrees from the University of Texas at Austin: BA in Sociology (1985) and an MA in Library and Information Science (1990). I began my professional career as a Social Sciences Reference Librarian as a visiting Assistant Professor at Texas A&M in 1990. In 2008, I was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor and granted tenure.

Around 1994, our roles as "reference librarians" changed to "subject specialists" and grew to encompass a heavier emphasis on collection development, instruction, and outreach. In 1992, and again in 1999, I also held the position of Interim Coordinator of Instructional Services. Over the years, I also assumed subject responsibilities for anthropology, sociology, women's studies, communication, journalism, and government documents during vacancies in those positions.

How I came to join the Council

I came to know about APA as a result of my assigned role as liaison to the psychology and educational psychology departments on campus and through my responsibilities for reference, collection development, instruction, and liaison to those departments. I regularly attended American Library Association (ALA) Conferences and visited the APA exhibit booth, attending the APA updates presented by Linda Beebe during EBSS Psychology/Psychiatry Committee meetings and the APA Librarian Breakfast events. When asked to serve on the APA Council in August 2004, I became part of the original group of 9 (now 11) librarians.

How has my participation influenced my work?

My experience on the Council has been a very positive one. I've come to know many APA staff members who work in a variety of areas within the organization—Customer Relations, Product Development, Books and Journals Publishing, Sales, Marketing, and Licensing—and I've learned a great deal about operational details related to their specific areas of the organization. I've met librarians from other areas of my profession that I wouldn't normally interact with due to the types of conferences they usually attend or the committee meetings and programs that I attend during ALA conferences. Through participation on the Council, I've also reconnected with subject librarians that I had met previously through ALA committees and other conference events.

In large organizations such as mine, librarians tend to be isolated from the work that goes on in other departments within the library—serving on the Council helps me to understand some of the issues my colleagues face in their jobs day-to-day. Discussions by Council members over the years have included issues relating to copyright, cutting edge technologies, instructional resources that can be used by librarians, marketing of APA products and services, access to products by students and faculty, licensing and pricing models, user behavior, how librarians teach users to search databases, new product development, improving PsycINFO's field structures, and current economic decisions facing libraries all around the country. Something that stands out through all my time on Council is the importance APA (publishing group) places on maintaining high standards and quality in all of their products (books, journals, databases).

I've learned a great deal from other librarians on the Council—about how they are handling problems in their own libraries and institutions. I've taken away ideas for my own work relating to areas such as collection development (books, journals, and electronic resources), instruction and embedded librarians, outreach and marketing to faculty and students, and reference: research guides, web page content and construction, issues relating to discoverability and access to resources. It helped to know that other institutions all around the country face some of the same issues as my own library—that our problems are not as unique as I might think.

I've also learned a lot from the APA staff members, who've clarified my understanding about PsycINFO database structure, field values, and update schedules; about all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into publishing books, journals, and all of the databases; about customer relations and efforts in producing user guides and instructional materials that librarians can use; about the difficult issues related to product pricing models and licensing; and about the APA organization itself. All of this information helps me to be more knowledgeable about the APA products I use everyday to help students and faculty and helps me to be a more effective librarian.

Bruce Stoffel

Psychology Librarian, Illinois State University

Bruce has been at Illinois State University since 2002. His duties include coordinating reference services and acting as liaison to the philosophy program. He is a relatively new librarian, having received his MLS in 2001; prior to this, he had a career in public administration and planning. When asked about his participation on the Library Advisory Council, Bruce noted—aside from his observation that visiting D.C. is always a challenge because its layout is much different from the Midwest grid system he is used to—that his participation here is one of the highlights of his year.

Having a background in social sciences but not psychology, I had to learn quickly about the discipline and its resources. I began by attending meetings of the Psychology/Psychiatry Committee of ACRL/Education and Behavioral Sciences Section. At those meetings I benefited greatly from updates by Linda Beebe regarding APA services and resources. I served as co-chair of the committee for 2 years, working with Linda and Susan Hillson during that time.

This is my second year serving on the Council. Attending Council meetings is a highlight of my year. I learn much from APA staff members and from my Council colleagues. They bring a diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the group. I especially appreciate the opportunity to have input into new APA products like the exciting PsycTESTS database now in development. I also appreciate learning about trends in behavioral sciences librarianship at institutions across the county.

For my part, I strive to contribute to the Council a perspective from a smaller, regional institution with a greater emphasis in our curriculum on practitioner training, particularly in school and clinical/counseling psychology.