Ways To Engage With ACRL

Editor’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. Next up in the series is a personal reflection on ACRL 101 from Hui-Fen Chang, Assistant Professor, Humanities & Social Sciences, Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University – Stillwater.

Hi, I’m one of the ALA Emerging Leaders for ACRL 101. As a new-to-the-profession librarian, I joined ACRL less than a year ago. So far I only have good things to say about the organization.I became a member because ACRL is the leading professional organizations for academic and research librarians. Through my involvement, and especially through my work with the Emerging Leaders program, I’ve become more aware of all of the practical and useful resources for professional development for academic librarians.

When I attended my first ALA Annual Conference last year in Chicago, I started out by going to the ACRL 101 & Membership Meeting where I was able to meet with the ACRL leaders and section representatives. I also found out about various ways to get involved in ACRL (like volunteering to serve on committees), and useful tips for making the most of the ALA Annual Conference. Overall it was a useful and informative orientation for me as a first-time ALA Annual attendee. It inspired me to select the ACRL 101 program within Emerging Leaders. I strongly recommend it to this year’s first timers at Annual 2010.

Between now and then though, if you’re at all like me, you’ll probably want to start planning how to get involved so you can make the most of your conference. In addition to blogs like this one, ACRL publications such as College and Research Libraries and College and Research Libraries News have helped me stay current with scholarly research and with issues germane to academic librarianship. With regard to getting personally involved, ACRL has 17 sections each with committees eager to add new members. In ACRL volunteers are always welcome to serve on committees. I really found committee work an excellent way to network and gain professional experience. I sent in my committee volunteer form, and the next thing I know I’m working with other academic librarians on the Instruction Section Research & Scholarship committee. Through committee work, I get to learn more about the structure of the organization, and how a committee functions and operates, not to mention that I actually get credit for contributing to national projects and publications.

What are some of the other resources worth noting?

* 7 interest groups and 42 discussion groups to join and network with librarians

* OnPoint Chats , blogs , wikis, Facebook and other interactive resources for librarians to communicate and share ideas 25 standards and guidelines on topics of academic librarianship such as information literacy and collection development

*A variety of online seminars, webcasts and courses like Instructional Design for Online Teaching and Learning, Creating Usable and Accessible Web Pages and Copyright and the Library

ACRL National Conference, March 30 – April 2, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There is still time to submit your proposal (by May 10, 2010)!

If you are new to ACRL and want to learn more about ACRL resources and ways to get involved, consider attending the ACRL 101 & Membership Meeting at ALA Annual. In addition, our group of Emerging Leaders is hosting three ACRL 101 mini-sessions for prospective ACRL members and first-time ALA Annual attendees in the ALA pavilion on June 26 and 27 (in the Exhibit Hall). Participants will get to meet with ACRL members and representatives, and to hear about these insiders’ experience with ACRL. It’s as useful and interesting for us to meet new people as it is for you, so we hope to see you there!

Who’s Counting Posts Anyway

Over the last few months at MPOW we searched far and wide for just the right book for an event to commemorate the addition of the 3 millionth book to our collection. You know how these things work. It isn’t really the 3 millionth book. It’s a ceremonial representation of the 3 millionth book. You’d hardly want to build a campus event around your actual 3 millionth book, especially if it was something from the “For Dummies” series or a graphic novel. So we obtained a rather distinguished rare book upon which to develop a nice campaign to publicize our great collection and all the hard work that goes into building a common intellectual resource for an academic community. I suspect that many academic librarians take a “who’s counting” attitude, and just focus on the work at hand without much routine thought about the size of the collection.

That’s how I’d describe my position on blog posts. Who’s counting? And until a few months ago I had no idea how many posts I’d written for ACRLog. But then one of our staff technical experts (ACRL spares no expense in supplying behind-the-scenes IT wizards to keep this blog operating at peak efficiency -right Kevin) said “Hey, we can add a side bar that gives the post count for each blogger.” I seem to recall it was there before I had a chance to chime in, but it certainly does offer a good way to quickly get to all the posts any one ACRLog blogger has written. If you should happen to have, oh, 20 or 30 hours where you have absolutely nothing to do and you want to read every post I’ve contributed to ACRLog, well, all I can say is here’s to better living through technology. But now that a running count of my posts was available I did take notice that I was closing in on number 400. Not that there’s anything particularly special about 400 posts. Now 500 posts might be special – some sort of landmark event – but like most bloggers if I get an idea for a post – well, why wait.

None of this is to suggest that quantity makes for a quality blog experience. I’d like to think that most of the posts have offered good quality – good ideas delivered with good writing – but a blogger will probably miss the mark more often than he or she hits it. I just try to keep writing, trying new or different things, and hoping they’ll work. So I thought this seemed like a reasonable time to take a look back at some old favorites – posts that I think did work. You may not agree:

Are You Where You Want To Be – some thoughts about career tracks; a rare post with a personal side to it

The Information Literacy Facade – maybe what we call it does make a difference

Debating the Future of the Reference Desk – this issue is still being discussed

Sense and Simplicity – the tension in our profession between simplicity and complexity – the “simplicity-complexity conundrum” is a topic I’ve returned to throughout the years

What It Really Means To Be A Faculty Member – what would a blog about academic librarianship be without posts about faculty status, tenure and academic freedom

What makes a post work? One good indicator would be comments – did readers care enough to share their thoughts with the blogger and other readers? We don’t get many comments at ACRLog, but those we do get are typically thoughtful and add to the conversation. Beyond that I’d like to think a post I write gets the reader thinking about things in a different way, perhaps seeing something that he or she didn’t see before. Most of all, I hope it’s something worth remembering. Of course no one is going to remember most of them – I sure don’t. But I know readers do because every now and then I’ll meet a librarian who will mention a post and tell me why it struck a chord with him or her – and chances are I’ll be asking myself if I actually wrote that post (or maybe it was Barbara and they think it was me – or it was some other blog all together). Of course it can help a blogger to say something challenging or controversial, but there’s no point in doing it just for the sake of playing the role of rebel or heretic.

Looking back, most of the posts seem to run together like a blur. Still I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to blog for ACRLog and share them all with you readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I look forward to writing a few hundred more.


When ACRLog first appeared one of the most frequent questions put to blog team members was “Why is your URL www.acrlblog.org instead of www.acrlog.org?” Uhh…great question. The answer…”Because it is.”

Well, we finally got around to making that adjustment, just a mere 2 years and 4 months after we blogged our first post. Now, www.acrlog.org is our new URL. We’re all about change here at ACRLog.

If you have the old link bookmarked or sitting on a page, no need to rush to update it. We have a redirect that will get you to the new URL. But our URL is so easy to remember now, you won’t even need them.

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!

Introducing Our New First-Year Academic Librarian Bloggers

We should have known better than to think we’d find just one person to be our new first-year academic librarian blogger. We got more than a few applicants, and it became obvious that we wouldn’t be able to choose just one because the submissions were that good. So we decided to invite four of our new professional colleagues to join us here at ACRLog as first-year academic librarian bloggers. We hope you will enjoy sharing their experiences and their views of and perspectives on the issues that impact our profession and higher education. Our new bloggers are:

Brett Bonfield is a recent grad who currently holds a part-time business librarian position at the University of Pennsylvania and also works part-time in the library systems office at Temple University. We previously published a guest post by Brett that was well received.

Kim Leeder just started a position as a reference librarian at Boise State University. Kim has previously served as an ACRLog conference reporter who provided posts from ALA.

Melissa Mallon began her position as the library instruction coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown in August.

Josh Petrusa was recently hired as the electronic resources librarian at Norwich University.

So we welcome our four new blogging colleagues. You’ll soon be seeing a first posting from each of them in which they’ll write a bit more about themselves and their initial impressions from the field.

The ACRLog blogging team extends its thanks to all the new academic librarians who submitted sample posts. We regret that we could not accept them all, but we wish all of you much success in your careers.