"Shift: Where Will You Grow?": Illinois Library Association Conference
By Susan R. Franzen, Illinois State University
The 2019 Illinois Library Association (ILA) Conference was held in October. The theme, “Shift: Where Will You Grow?,” encouraged innovative programs and ideas from libraries throughout the state. For the past several years, the Conference included a special section of programs called Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries (IACRL) @ ILA.
The IACRL sessions covered a variety of topics including time management, building remodeling, Census 2020, academic freedom programming, collection mapping tools, makerspaces, open educational resources, and inclusive librarianship. Attendees also viewed poster presentations in the exhibit hall and visited the IACRL table to pick up materials and chat with other IACRL members.
The IACRL @ ILA program also included the yearly chapter meeting and luncheon in addition to the Unconference. The Unconference, a successful, reoccurring event, drew a crowd of academic colleagues from across the state. Two IACRL members facilitated the Unconference, but participants led the event themselves by generating a list of topics to discuss. Attendees then spent fifteen minutes at a table assigned to a particular topic, recording their conversation on large Post-It Notes, before moving to another discussion. At the conclusion of the table talks, the larger group reconvened, and participants shared insights from the various conversations. Unconference topics included data management, staff morale, and open educational resources. The sponsor for this year’s Unconference was the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), which provided breakfast without a separate registration fee.
At lunch, the outgoing IACRL President introduced the incoming officers, including the new President, Vice President, and Secretary. Then, the IACRL committee chairs shared the work of their groups, and our 2019 Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year was congratulated on her award. The conference was an excellent opportunity to meet with colleagues, exchange good ideas, and return refreshed to our libraries.
COVID-19 Open Forums: Minnesota Academic and Research Library Division
By Jenny McBurney, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
When the COVID-19 pandemic began and academic librarians had to quickly learn how to support students and faculty remotely, the Minnesota Library Association’s Academic and Research Library Division (ARLD) board wanted to find a way to provide community support for their members. The board set up three open forums via Zoom where academic librarians could talk about the effect of the pandemic on their libraries and work.
At each session the participants split into smaller breakout rooms for discussion, then gathered for a large group discussion toward the end, and the questions for each session were focused on different aspects of the pandemic and academic libraries:
Each session had around 25 attendees, and it seemed that having a space for these conversations, especially right at the beginning of the pandemic, was helpful for our colleagues. Because this model worked well, we plan to have a similar series focused on unpacking white supremacy in libraries in the fall and winter of 2020/2021.
ACRL Virtual Webinar Viewings: Georgia Chapter of ACRL
By Mary Ann Cullen, Georgia State University
Every year Georgia Chapter of ACRL takes advantage of the opportunity to offer ACRL webinar viewings to Georgia members. We usually organize webinar viewings in multiple locations across the state to give members in different parts of Georgia an opportunity to get together to discuss relevant professional issues. This year presented a unique challenge. In March many academic libraries’ physical buildings closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to find a different way for academic librarians to experience ACRL webinars in a group setting. We have selected the “Developing your Leadership Potential: Effective Practices and Innovative Ideas” webinar to view in May 2020. The webinar was devoted to recently published ACRL books that address different aspects of leadership. One hundred fourteen academic librarians registered to participate because topics of leadership, mentoring and career advancement in academic libraries are of great interest for many academic librarians. It was important for us to still offer a group discussion experience even though we no longer could gather librarians together in the same physical location. We sent all registered participants a recording of the webinar to view independently, then the opportunity to participate in a live virtual discussion of a webinar content. The discussions led by Mary Ann Cullen and Ashley Hoffman were scheduled on two different dates to give more people opportunity to participate. Discussion leaders prepared a series of questions based on a webinar content including questions like, What is your definition of a leader? or What is the difference between leadership and management? and others. Participants were able to share their own leadership experience or questions and concerns about library management issues. As one participant stated in the follow up survey: It is very helpful to see that I have other colleagues experiencing the same issues and concerns across the state and the country.
Innovations for Next Generation Libraries: A Florida Learning and Network Event for Academic Libraries
By Cristy Moran, Broward College
The Florida Chapter of ACRL (FACRL) hosted our annual conference at Nova Southeastern University’s Alvin Sherman Library in Davie, FL. On October 19, 2019, 112 attendees came from across the state to network and learn at the library’s art gallery and meeting spaces. Innovation, diversity, and access were key concepts through planning and organization. The 2019 event marked our chapter’s foray into a multi-track format and included a pre-conference. The half-day ACRL Project Outcomes workshop facilitated by Sara Goek was free for all FACRL members and conference attendees. Three student scholarships were awarded thanks to the generosity of thirteen vendor and publisher sponsors.
The conference theme, “Innovations for Next Generation Libraries” inspired FACRL to experiment in program format and previous day activities. Over 40 submissions were reviewed by our Program Conference Committee for breakout sessions, panels, and poster presentations. The single-day conference featured eight breakout sessions and ten poster presentations. Like the chapter’s membership, presenters came from diverse academic institutions and from different areas of librarianship and library services. Presentation topics included innovative leadership for academic libraries, textbook affordability, data services in libraries, digital collections, learning management system integrations, and OER. A panel presentation on library integration into online courses featured presenters from the University of North Florida and the University of Denver.
The 2019 conference proved successful to chapter members, with post-event surveys identifying the quality of presentations, variety of topics, and the breakout sessions as the most popular features of the conference. Presentation slides and poster files are archived on the FACRL website.
Iowa ACRL Virtual Town Halls
By Carrie Dunham-LaGree, Drake University
What began as an emergency response to share information and hear from our membership as things rapidly evolved in early March has become a regularly scheduled town hall where people come together to share, support, and connect. Town Halls are open to all who work at Iowa academic and research libraries, regardless of their membership.
Whether it is planning for re-opening, exploring inclusion and equity in teaching online, advocating for library workers’ safety and rights, or discussing anti-racist education and the protests against police violence, these meetings have brought us closer together as an organization and presented an unparalleled opportunity for us to work together.
A few reflections from our membership underscore the value of these town halls:
“For me, starting these town halls were important because with so much information being thrown out there, so much uncertainty, I needed help processing things, and I found that by talking to my peers across the state. When George Floyd was murdered and the Black Lives Matter protests picked up, I felt like I wasn't doing enough, and talking to others about resources and actions they were taking allowed me to step up in certain respects to become a better librarian.”
“As someone who works at a facility some distance from my main campus and whose is (to my knowledge) unique in the state, I've really appreciated the opportunity to meet and get to know my chapter colleagues and to work with them in ways unavailable prior to the pandemic. It's really been a privilege to work with everyone, and our regular town halls are always a schedule highlight for me!”
“Having a safe place to vent, to get solutions to problems, and help others find solutions to theirs, made me feel so much less alone. A lot of times, it also helped re-frame my mindset and pulled me out of the dark rabbit hole, thanks to the humor of others in the group. It was an hour I looked forward to every week (and still do on a bi-weekly basis now), and was a non-negotiable part of my schedule”
“As someone who is newer to Iowa academic libraries, I’ve appreciated the chance to get to know and learn from colleagues across the state as we all respond and adapt. Seeing colleagues turn to each other for advice and support has been affirming. I hope the town hall is something we can continue in some form to keep the momentum of connection and collaboration going.”
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we tentatively scheduled only three meetings of our Zoom town halls. While we’ve moved from a weekly to a bi-weekly format, these meetings remain a vital aspect of pushing forward and supporting our colleagues during this time.
Chapters Council Roster
Alison Marie Larsen
Lisa T. Nickel
Eric Anthony Edwards
Carrie E. Dunham-LaGree