Karla Schmit: Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian


Karla Schmit

Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian and Assistant Director of Pennsylvania Center for the Book

Karla is a Core Faculty member for this grant project, and she hopes to do further study on the data that is gathered. She is interested in how technology can play a role in instruction. She also would like to learn more about how faculty archive and collect their information, as well as how librarians can assist them in that process.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving 

Karla argues that digital archiving is important because it tells a history of research and work for a faculty member and also tells a history of time. She views digital archiving as allowing us to have an historical record, which is helpful because if you know what happened in your past, it will help you in your future. Karla cannot begin to fathom what digital archiving will be like in the future, but she predicts that the way we work will continue to change, most likely growing more efficient but consisting of even less face-to-face interactions.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without

Karla’s computer plays a central role in her workflow, particularly in terms of writing papers and articles, as well as crafting longer responses to emails. However, she has begun to use her iPhone more for her job, such as answering reference questions, because she likes the instantaneousness of it.

Patricia Hswe: Digital Content Strategist


Patricia Hswe

Digital Content Strategist and Head ScholarSphere User Services
Patricia consults on data curation and management. She reviewed reports and survey results, as well as reviewed presentations given related to the project.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
Patricia feels that digital archiving may not currently be playing as prominent of a role in society as it should be. She thinks it is necessary for digital archiving to take on a central role because so much of our cultural heritage is tied up in it. Patricia is optimistic and predicts that in the future people will begin to see the significance of archiving and will grasp the benefits of it. In the future, she hopes that a uniform infrastructure could be created to take archiving to a national level and a larger scale.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Patricia’s laptop has a prominent place in her workflow because of its versatility. Patricia’s duties include overseeing repository services and overseeing online digital collections, and thus email plays such a central part of communication in her role. She sees the laptop as enabling her to be a producer, whereas she envisions the iPad and iPhone as falling more on the consumer end of the technology continuum.


Dawn Childress: Humanities Librarian

Dawn Childress

Humanities Librarian
Dawn’s work is focused on examining how academics in the humanities manage their data. She distributed surveys to departments in The College of Liberal Arts and participated in the interview process. She is analyzing data from the humanist participants and comparing it to data from science, math, and other areas.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
Dawn sees digital archiving as a crucial component in preserving a historical record, which will be important for future generations. Additionally, the way in which digital archives are constructed aids utility and the ability to conduct meta-analyses. In academia, more and more of our work is in the digital realm.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Portability and accessibility of documentation is important to Dawn, which is why her laptop is her favorite piece of technology. Dawn works on consultations with library patrons, academics, and students in many different areas, and the MacBook Air’s lightness and portability allows her to demonstrate new technologies in all locations. She uses her laptop for everything, including instruction, communication, and research.

Initial Survey Results – Searching

* This post is the second of several installments where we describe our initial findings from our scholarly workflow survey. This post centers our participants’ thoughts on the searching component of the research process.
When searching for new relevant research-related information (books, articles, etc.) our respondents largely rely on library databases (72%), Google Scholar (64%), and Google (48%).A majority of survey participants (87%) widely agreed or strongly agreed that it is easy to find relevant research articles and other information needed for their work.
searching graph

Penn State’s 2012 FACAC survey of technology use by faculty and students provides an interesting comparison with our study’s data.  FACAC is administered to approximately 2000 respondents, 11% of which were faculty.  In the FACAC study, the library resources and services most used by faculty were: The CAT (library catalog) (73.4%), Library databases (58.7%), Google Scholar (48.0%), and My Library Account (45.7%).   Our study placed the CAT under the general category of library databases, and our numbers correspond with the FACAC findings.  The only disparity between the two studies is that more faculty in our study indicated that they use Google Scholar on a regular basis than FACAC respondents. (see chart below)

FACAC searching

What does all of this say about faculty’s searching habits and preferences?  Both the FACAC and our study’s findings indicate that the library is still a primary destination for faculty to search for, find, and retrieve information.  This runs somewhat contrary to the recent ITHAKA study of historians, which indicated that faculty are turning to Google first for research.  This means that for the time being, libraries should continue to optimize, enhance, and direct significant energy toward refining, embedding, and enhancing their web presence.  The library web site’s primacy in scholarly research may not last for much longer.

Initial Survey Results – Background Information


* This post is the first of several installments where we will describe our initial findings from our scholarly workflow survey. Our first post focuses on the general background information of our participants.


We received 324 full responses to our Personal Scholarly Archiving Survey from a variety of Penn State affiliated individuals.These individuals included graduate students (39%), instructors (2%), fixed-term faculty (16%), tenured faculty (31%), and tenure track (nontenured) faculty (9%).

We had a variety of age groups respond, with individuals ranging in age from 21 to over 60 years old. However, the most frequent responders were from the 21-30 and 31-40 age groups. Slightly more females participated than males, with a ratio of 60/40.

Participants came from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, including the College of Health and Human Development (38%), Eberly College of Science (34%), the College of the Liberal Arts (14%), the College of Education (9%), and the Graduate School (5%). The College of Arts and Architecture, the College of Agricultural Sciences,  the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, and the School of  Medicine each had 1% or less of respondents. The two academic colleges with the most responders were the College of Health and Human Development and the Eberly College of Science.


Smiljana Antonijevic: Research Anthropologist


Smiljana Antonijevic

Research Anthropologist
As the research anthropologist working on the project, Smiljana comes with the various methodologies, such as developing questions for interviews, creating consent forms, and developing and working with focus groups. Additionally, she conducts the faculty interviews, analyzes the data, presents findings at conferences, and writes papers about the results.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
Smiljana sees archiving currently expanding into different parts of society. Before you had to be a really important person or have extremely important work in order to get archived, but now everyone has the opportunity to digitally archive their work. In this sense, broadening the base of what is getting archived results in the democratization of the entire field of archiving. We are now able to capture more details of everyday life, which is really intriguing to Smiljana, especially in her role as an anthropologist.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Because DropBox has so many different functions, such as storing and sharing, Smiljana finds that it is the most crucial piece of technology to her workflow. DropBox is important because she travels frequently for work, alternating between living in Chicago, Illinois; State College, Pennsylvania; and Denmark. When she is in between places and works from different spaces, it is important to have a tool where she can share information with herself and with others.

Scott McDonald: Co-Primary Investigator


Scott McDonald

 Co-Primary Investigator, alongside Ellysa Stern Cahoy
As Co-Primary Investigator, Scott was involved with the conceptualization of the project, and he will work on data analysis and the writing up of research results upon his return from a sabbatical.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
Scott believes that we currently don’t have a very systematic way to archive, especially when it comes to academics and intellectuals. Navigating the continually changing technologies is a lot like navigating the Wild Wild West. Ultimately, we as a society don’t completely know what we’re doing, and it could result in major consequences. Scott argues that this is why it is important to engage in this project, since we are trying to figure out how to support a transition to archiving systematically.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
The pieces of technology that Scott deems most important to his own life essentially help facilitate the various components of his workflow, including the intake, organization, and output. Sente, a bibliographic software, plays a major role in his intake, enabling him to organize the research he gathers. Likewise, he finds out about new research from GoogleReader, allowing him to digest and read other peoples’ work. He then uses the note taking application Notational Velocity for his preliminary notes.  A word processor application, such as Microsoft Word or Pages, is an important tool for the output portion. Thus, different pieces of technology are central to different aspects of Scott’s workflow, all working together to create an efficient and systematic workflow.

Benjamin Goldman: Digital Records Archivist

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Benjamin Goldman

Digital Records Archivist
As Digital Records Archivist, Ben is involved with faculty interviews and can speak to issues on long term preservation. After faculty have done all their research and built up a body of work, he is interested in how to keep it around for other people to use in their research later. As an archivist, he is curious about what technologies faculty members use to create anything that may end up in an archive, as well as what their personal archiving habits are, whether they delete often, whether they are using standard or unusual software, and so on.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
Sadly, Ben does not see digital archiving playing as much of a role in society as it used to. A lot of people know that they should back up their information but don’t. Additionally, technology changes quickly, making it hard to keep up with. Ultimately, data growth has skyrocketed because technology allows us to create infinitely more. Ben cites photography practices in the past and present as an example. Photographers were more careful and took less pictures in the past because they had larger cameras and film was extremely expensive. They produced less, yet the photos were of higher quality. Now, it is so easy to take digital photos that the quantity people take are much greater, even though the quality is not always very high. Essentially, the amount of stuff people have to manage has grown so much, which makes it overwhelming for many people. Ben is unsure of whether this will change in the future.

 Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Ben uses email heavily for professional reasons and personal reasons. Email helps him to collaborate with other people, to communicate, and to move work between various computers. From an archivist’s perspective, email is curious because people started using it and, in some sense, forgot about cleanliness, as shown by how email inboxes often are disorganized with messages sprawled out all over the place.

Eric Novotny: History Librarian

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Eric Novotny

History Subject Librarian
As the history subject librarian, Eric’s main role has been to recruit participants and serve as a liaison for the History Department. He wanted to ensure that the perspective of historians was represented. Eric was also involved with the survey design and is hoping to do analysis specifically with the historians’ survey results. He will also be involved with the follow up focus groups.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
As an historian, Eric has unique archiving needs. The research is usually book intensive and therefore he has accumulated a large body of paper. As part of his work, he has to travel and go to archives around the world to make photocopies of materials, since until very recently most archives wouldn’t allow scholars to make digital copies. Currently, Eric’s archive is a hybrid of paper files stored in drawers and digital files on the computer. He thinks that in the future a global archive would be advantageous and, in his view, it would be very valuable if historians could somehow share all the paper information locked up in their drawers. In the future, he would also like to see a tool in digital archiving that is customized for historians.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
Eric finds Google, Google Scholar, library databases, and LionSearch to be extremely helpful during the discovery process when he is conducting research to broaden an idea, like his current project on censorship in the libraries. Once he has identified his specific research, he uses citation tools like Mendeley or Zotero, although he believes that citation management tools are not very well integrated into the work that historians are doing. For example, there are citation issues with nonpublished materials, like diaries, that historians use.

John Meier: Science Subject Librarian

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John Meier

Science Subject Librarian
John has been involved with the project by planning interviews and surveys for the faculty subjects. As the science and technology subject librarian, he represents the College of Agriculture, the College of Health and Human Development, the College of Engineering, the Eberly College of Science, and the College of Information Science and Technology. In his supportive role, he has worked with the deans of the colleges and with the faculty to promote participation.

Now and Later: Digital Archiving
John thinks that when it comes to current digital archiving most people assume that it is being done for them. For example, while many people are constantly producing content (such as uploading large amounts of pictures onto Flickr or Facebook), they don’t necessarily see themselves as responsible for backing up their own materials but rather rely on the website(s). Therefore, when it comes to the awareness of the general population, John doesn’t think that we’re fully there yet. However, on the plus side, a certain segment of the population is aware of the need to back up and archive materials, such as using external hard drive.  One positive John sees about digital technology is that it enables us to actually live with less material stuff; even if one loses his/her possessions, he/she may still have photos saved on a website somewhere.

Survivor: Technology We Can’t Live Without
A desktop computer used to be the most pivotal piece of technology for John’s workflow, but now it is his iPad with keyboard, which is much more portable. Portability is essential to John because the amount of time he spends actually sitting at his office desk is less than half the total hours he works during the week.