Editorâ€™s Note: ACRLog is hosting a team of ALA Emerging Leaders. Each month one of our Emerging Leaders will contribute a guest post, and each will focus on some aspect of gearing up for the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. This month we have Amanda Dinscore, Public Services Librarian at California State University, Fresno, offer her perspectives on the value of participating in ACRL at the regional level.
If there is anything good that I can take away from the poor economy these days, it has to be my renewed appreciation of what I do have. As a new librarian at a state-funded institution in California, I, like many of our colleagues, have a very limited travel budget that makes attendance at national conferences difficult. While I would never make the case for not attending national conferences, I would like to advocate for becoming more involved in the ACRL regional chapters that are often right in our own backyardsâ€”many of which hold events that are hours, if not minutes, away.
While involvement at the national level is unquestionably important, there are many opportunities that are a little closer to home and are certainly easier on our travel budgets. There are 42 regional chapters affiliated with ACRL, all of which are independently governed and provide a variety of opportunities for involvement. Some host annual or biennial conferences, while others host programs at state library association conferences. Most sponsor professional development and social events that provide opportunities for learning and networking with other academic librarians. Each organization is unique in what it offers, but all provide opportunities to learn more about the issues facing your own particular region or state and provide opportunities to get involved at a local level. Membership dues vary by chapter but are usually relatively low.
My own regional chapter, California Academic and Research Libraries (CARL), hosts a conference every other year, usually in April. I attended the conference for the first time this year and found it to be a thoroughly worthwhile experience. These smaller conferences are often a great, accessible opportunity for new librarians to present our work. For instance, a colleague and I had the opportunity to lead a discussion and present our research on usability testing of our library web site. We both found it immensely rewarding to share our experiences with a group of librarians who were also interested in this topic, many of whom shared experiences similar to our own. The added bonus was that we were able to make connections with other librarians who worked in our own state, many of whom are employed by the same state university system. There are often many points of commonality between individuals involved in regional chapters which can make for very rewarding networking and collaboration opportunities. I am still in contact with several people I met at the conference and weâ€™ve discussed topics as diverse as tenure requirements for librarians, library web design, and library instruction. And, the conference cost about a quarter of what a national conference would have.
To learn more about getting involved in your regional chapter visit the ACRL list of chapter web sites. You can also contact the chapter officers with additional questions. If you’re attending ALA this year, you can also make connections with chapter officers at the ACRL Chapters Council Annual Conference meeting in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, June 27 from 8:00 a.m. – 12 noon in the Capital Hilton, Room Federal A. Additional information is also available on the ACRL Chapters page.