Illinois Chapter Holds Annual Meeting and Other Activities During Illinois Library Association Virtual Conference
By Eric Edwards, Illinois State Library
The IACRL @ ILA program track has been a significant part of the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference over the past several years. Since the Illinois chapter no longer holds a stand-alone meeting, IACRL @ ILA is the main opportunity for chapter members and other Illinois academic librarians to learn and network. With the ILA Annual Conference moving to an all-virtual format this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IACRL followed suit with its activities.
While logistical challenges did not allow IACRL to hold its regular unconference (a participant-led event in which different tables discuss various issues before reconvening as a group), the other activities proceeded in the virtual format. On Wednesday, October 21, IACRL held its Annual Meeting, during which attendees learned more about the organization’s recent and ongoing projects and initiatives. These included revising the organization’s bylaws for the first time in a number of years, creating a “directory of experts”, and forming an EDI taskforce to address issues of racial and social justice in IACRL and the broader profession.
In the afternoon of October 21, IACRL held its President’s Program. The speaker was Jon E. Cawthorne, Ph.D., who is the Dean of the Wayne State University Library System and is the 2020-21 ACRL President. The title of Dr. Cawthorne’s talk was “Mountains to Climb: Finding the Silver Lining During a Pandemic”. With the pandemic forcing more librarians to work remotely, there are also greater opportunities for reflection on creating a resilient and inclusive organizational culture. Dr. Cawthorne stressed the need for libraries to involve as many employees and stakeholders as possible in the decision-making process, along with evaluating the role libraries can play in society as a whole, including responding to social and racial injustice. He also discussed initiatives ACRL has undertaken recently, particularly its Diversity Alliance.
“Bridging the Digital Divide: Library Communities Respond”: Mini-Conference sponsored by the North Carolina Library Association College and University Section.
By Dawn Behrend, Lenoir-Rhyne University
The North Carolina Library Association College & University Section sponsored a virtual mini-conference in October to explore ways that libraries are working to bridge the digital divide for their library users to ensure equitable access to online content. The digital divide has become even more challenging during COVID-19 as library and educational services have shifted to being offered virtually. The College & University Section partnered with the Community and Junior College Library Section, Literacy Section, Public Library Section, and North Carolina School Library Media Association to sponsor an event to provide much needed information and support for libraries seeking to better meet the needs of library users facing barriers to utilizing online content.
Conference sessions included presentations, panels, and roundtable discussions. A variety of topics were addressed, such as supporting online learning in higher education, forming partnerships between school and public libraries, improving the quality of virtual programming, and collaborating with nonprofits and other community partners to address digital equity such as through the receipt of grant funding. The keynote speech was provided by Rob Ross, Executive Director of NC LIVE and provided an overview of the digital divide and its relation to social inequities.
This one day event brought together university, community college, public, and school librarians to share information, suggestions, and initiatives designed to meet the needs of library users who struggle with lack of a usable electronic devise, access to the internet, or the digital skills necessary to access online resources. The event was well-attended with over 100 registrants with most sessions having 40 to 50 attendees.
Chapters Council Roster
Alison Marie Larsen
Lisa T. Nickel
Eric Anthony Edwards
Carrie E. Dunham-LaGree