Just Connect: Getting Involved In ACRL

Editor’s Note: This is the finale of our series of posts from the ACRL Emerging Leaders Team about the upcoming ALA Conference in New Orleans. Is it hard to get involved in ACRL? Not really. But if you need some advice on how to get started Tabatha Farney, Web Services Librarian, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Elizabeth Berman, Science & Engineering Librarian, University of Vermont, have some great ideas for you. Headed to ALA? Then get yourself to the ACRL 101 program (details below) to start your path as an active, involved ACRL member. The ACRLog team wishes to thank the Emerging Leaders for all of their contributions.

One of the most popular questions asked at the ACRL 101 session held at ALA Annual is, “How can I get involved with ACRL?” Whether you are a seasoned library professional or new to the profession, the answer is simple: get connected . We asked three former ALA Emerging Leaders, Beth Kumar (EL ‘09), Maliaca Oxnam (EL ‘10), and Kim Leeder (EL ‘08), to talk about their involvement in ACRL and share their best advice to those interested in getting connected with the association.

What is the best advice you can give to a new librarian who is interested in getting involved with ACRL?

Malaica Oxnam, past Chair of the Science and Technology Section (STS), first became involved in ACRL by volunteering to serve on an STS committee. After serving on the committee for two years, she was asked to step into the chair position; from there, she became involved in STS Council and was elected as Chair of STS. She offers practical advice on getting involved: “Get involved with the conversations! Sit in on meetings that interest you. Introduce yourself to others at section social events and most importantly – have fun meeting and working with new colleagues!”

Beth Kumar, Web Editor for the Education and Behavior Science Section (EBSS), wanted to get more involved in ACRL after participating in the Emerging Leaders program. She was encouraged by her supervisor to apply for the Education and Behavioral Science Section (EBSS) Web Editor position, a position that has allowed her to work closely with all the committees and section chairs to keep the website up-to-date. Her advice? “Find a section that suits your interests. ALA can be large and overwhelming, but in a section of ACRL you’ll find other academic librarians who are in similar positions and understand your specific area. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask, as I’ve learned much from the listserv, the meetings and programs.”

Kim Leeder, current Chair of the University Libraries (ULS) section, also had a mentor who was involved in ULS and encouraged her to take a committee position while in library school; from there, she gradually moved up the ACRL ladder, moving from committee member, to being asked to chair a committee, to being elected chair of the section. In her experience, “What you get out of ACRL is based on what you put into it, so it starts with putting yourself out there, talking to people and asking for committee appointments, and then once you’ve got one, contributing your best, regularly. If you try one and it doesn’t work, try something else. If you make the effort, it’s bound to pay off. And if you’re feeling discouraged and ready to give up, call me. I’d be happy to help.”

And it is this attitude that keeps the committee sections strong. Once you’re connected with ACRL, you’ll be introduced to new opportunities such as enlarging your professional network and engaging in innovative ideas. Kim shares, “ACRL’s infrastructure provides us with amazing opportunities all the time to meet interesting new people in our field, and to build relationships with those we’ve met before. Conferences and committees and webinars give us the chance to break out of our daily routine and see our work in new ways. It also helps us keep the big picture in mind when we might otherwise become overly focused on our specific job tasks.” Beth and Maliaca agree that by getting involved with ACRL, each have benefited by forming relations with other librarians across the nation. Maliaca believes her involvement on ACRL committees has led to “long-term professional mentorships and friendships that are particularly helpful to lean on when I want to get input from somebody outside my own institution!” So get involved with ACRL and get connected with your colleagues and profession.

Summary of Tips for Getting Involved with ACRL

* Look locally for experienced library professionals already involved with ACRL. They can help introduce to specific committees and become potential mentors.

* Find a committee that interests you. With over 30 division-level committees and over 200 section level committees, task forces, and discussion groups, there will be something for you. Appointments are typically for one or two years, beginning after ALA Annual. While it’s too late to volunteer for a committee position for 2011-2012, it’s never too early to start planning ahead. To volunteer, simply fill out the form by February 2012 and indicate your interests.

* Getting involved with ACRL does not necessitate committee work. There are other ways to get involved, including attending an ACRL conference or workshop and reading and contributing to ACRL listservs.

* Be an active participant. As the joke goes, “Show up, volunteer to do something, do it, become chair.” The more active you choose to be, the more you will get out of your experience.

* Mingle at the ACRL 101 Program at ALA Annual Conference. Stop by on Saturday, June 25th from 8 – 10AM in the Memorial Convention Center, RM 293-295. Learn how you can get involved and meet your ACRL Leadership. It is a great place to network and excellent opportunity to hand out those business cards.

Many thanks to our interviewees:
Beth Kumar (2009 ALA Emerging Leader), Electronic Resources and Serials Librarian at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and the liaison librarian for the College of Education
Maliaca Oxnam (2010 ALA Emerging Leader), Associate Librarian at the University of Arizona and part of their Digital Libraries Team.
Kim Leeder (2008 ALA Emerging Leader), Librarian/Assistant Professor in Reference and Instruction at Boise State University.

Congrats To Winners Of ACRL’s Big Awards

Two of ACRL’s biggest awards are the Academic/Research Librarian of the Year and the Excellence in Academic/Research Libraries Awards. We just learned who the latest winners of those awards are, and we wanted to extend our congratulations.

Congratulations to Gloriana St. Clair, dean of university libraries at Carnegie Mellon University. St. Clair is the 2009 ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. Anyone who has met Gloriana knows what an incredible person she is. I personally recall how willing she is to help colleagues. In the early days of portal, as editor, Gloriana would provide much encouragement to potential authors, providing mentoring and support. Here is what the official press release had to say:

“Gloriana St. Clair is deserving of this award on all counts. She epitomizes the Librarian-Leader-Scholar model through her long and notable career as an academic librarian, her contributions to ACRL and other professional organizations and in particular her record of scholarship and scholarly contributions with both national and international influence and impact,” said award committee Chair Robin Wagner, director of the Gettysburg College Library.

St. Clair has a distinguished record of service to the profession. She has contributed to the body of scholarship and scholarly communication by serving as editor of three prestigious journals – College & Research Libraries (1990-96), Journal of Academic Librarianship (1996-2000) and portal: Libraries and the Academy (2000-03). St. Clair has additionally contributed to the body of scholarship as the author or co-author of numerous articles.

In addition to her work as an author, editor, and scholar, St. Clair has served as director of the Universal Digital Library Project since 1999. A broad coalition of libraries and computer scientists in the United States, India and China, the project aims to digitize one million scholarly volumes and make them freely available online. She has contributed to the future of the profession by serving as an adjunct professor in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, teaching academic library management.

And it looks like we have another group of first-class academic libraries being added to the ranks of those recognized for their excellence. Here is the rundown on those three libraries from the official ACRL press release:

ACRL is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award – The Moraine Valley Community College Library, Palos Hills, Illinois; the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virgina; and the University of Minnesota Libraries – Twin Cities. Sponsored by ACRL and Blackwell’s Book Services, the award recognizes the staff of a college, university, and community college library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution.

The Moraine Valley Community College Library, winner of the community college category, was recognized for creating an environment that fosters numerous relationships with partners outside those traditionally associated with libraries.

The staff of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University, winner of the college category, impressed the selection committee with their “can do” attitude that has resulted in many innovative and creative programs.

The University of Minnesota Libraries, winner of the university category, was praised for developing excellent strategies to successfully transform and rebrand the libraries to secure a highly valued position on campus.

Again, congratulations to Gloriana St. Clair, and the staffs at all three Excellence in Academic Libraries award winners.