Notable Events of 2007

Well, it’s time again to look over the past year’s posts and discuss some of the most notable ones. This year, the ACRLog veterans are letting a few of us first-years take a stab at reviewing the important events of 2007. In a few days, you’ll see Part 2 of our ’07 recap, courtesy of Kim Leeder. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how these events have (or perhaps have not) influenced your year as an academic librarian. Please, also, leave a comment if there is something you think should have been included in our recap.

Academic Librarian of the Year Named

In February, ACRL presented the 2007 Academic/Research Librarian of the Year award to Lizabeth (Betsy) A. Wilson, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Washington. This award was well-deserved and the ACRLog bloggers joined academic librarians around the country in congratulating Betsy on such a great honor.

The Changing Role of Academic Librarians

ACRL published an interesting report based on an invitational summit held in Chicago in November 2006. The summit report focused on three tasks individual libraries must take on to heighten exposure on campuses (such as promoting their institutions as gateways to reliable information sources, providing more services and guidance to users, and becoming active participants in asserting the evolution of their institutions), as well as outlining several potential roles for ACRL in the future. Among these roles, it was suggested that ACRL facilitate communication and open dialogue with key constituencies, make a nationwide attempt to foster successful learning, embrace the changing environment of libraries, provide leadership in assisting librarians in using technology in their libraries, and take a more active role in communicating and embracing the paradigm shifts and changing demands of the academic world. ACRL made a point of encouraging feedback from academic librarians on the summit report, and designated ACRLog as the official “comments collector.” Thanks to all of you who contributed thoughts and suggestions.

ACRL Joins World of Podcasts

Following the 2007 ALA Midwinter meeting, ACRL unveiled a new podcasting series, which is designed to recap various programs. Steven Bell posted on the first podcast in the series, which featured ACRL vice-president/president-elect candidates Erika Link and Scott Walter answering a round of questions about academic librarianship. The podcasts are an excellent way for those unable to attend Midwinter to still benefit from ACRL’s many important programs and talks.

ACRL Storms Baltimore

This past year’s ACRL National Conference was held in Baltimore, MD, home of John Waters and Chesapeake Bay cuisine. Several of the ACRLog team attended the conference, and the blog benefited from their reports. Here are a few highlights, based on the various experiences:
*Michael Dyson started off the conference by encouraging librarians to using traditional stereotypes to our advantage by drawing on them to promote change and creativity in higher education settings
*ACRL unveiled a new conference bag, which offered useful amenities such as a water bottle holder and cell phone pocket
*Professor Emerita at Towson University, Luz Mangurian, offered insights into how people learn, and how librarians can use this information in their teaching. One of the main points she stressed was skipping the traditional lecture, and getting students involved with the learning processes – this will help information find its way into the long-term memory
*Bill Miller, Jerry Campbell, and Brian Matthews gave tips and suggestions for improving reference services by asserting the value of our services to students, collaborating with faculty to get students serious about quality research, getting out of our “comfort zones,” and connecting with users through social networking. According to our blogger, the main emphasis in this presentation was “pre-emptive reference.”
*It was suggested that ACRL could do a better job with increasing attendance on Sundays, the last day of the conference. Perhaps a last-day brunch or an extra booth with door prizes or drawings would benefit those smart enough to stick it out until the last day.
*There were many programs devoted to social computing, or “Library 2.0” (blogs, wikis, etc.), with the highlight being PennTags, a project that uses tagging in catalogs.
*Another popular topic was cooperation with fellow librarians. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open if you want to run a successful library and implement the aforementioned social tools.
*One of the most important aspects of conferences such as ACRL is networking. Academic librarians have the perfect opportunity to talk with like-minded individuals and meet colleagues they can partner up with on a new project. It’s important to foster these relationships even after you return home from the conference.
*If you missed out on the conference, or want to relive the wonderful moments, check out the conference video produced by Nick Baker (of “March of the Librarians” fame).
*Finally, in the words of blogger Marc Meola: “Charm City lived up to its name. Everyone loved Baltimore and John Waters.”

University of Michigan Skips MLS Choice for University Librarian

Some heads turned when the University of Michigan decided not to choose an MLS-degreed librarian to fill the position of University Librarian and Dean of University Libraries. Instead, UM hired Paul Courant, former provost and professor of Public Policy, Economics, and Information Science. At the time of hire, Courant was a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Library and Information Resources. This appointment raised questions in the world of academic librarianship as to whether or not there is a new trend of hiring non-librarians for administrative positions. While this is not the case with Courant, who has experience with academic libraries and higher education, the issue may be compounded by the fact that some libraries hire administrators that have little or no experience with or knowledge of academic librarianship. This “trend” is definitely worth watching, as it could have quite an impact on academic librarians in the future.

Thanks again for your loyalty to ACRLog. Our readers are very important to us, and we hope our posts have given you new perspectives and insights into the trends and stories that have shaped academic librarianship in 2007. The entire blogging team sends well wishes for a fantastic new year; let’s hope 2008 proves to be just as exciting and newsworthy!

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