The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference is held every two years in the early springtime. This year it was in Philadelphia, PA, and several Hope librarians, myself included, were able to attend. I always enjoy this conference as it is the largest, most diverse of its kind, dedicated to all aspects of academic librarianship. This year’s program included a large selection of contributed papers, three invited papers, numerous poster sessions and roundtable discussions, distinguished keynote speakers, and many more interesting sessions.
I usually find that I get the most out of the contributed papers as these report current research and innovation in the field, much of which can be be directly applied to what we do here at Van Wylen Library including: research instruction, assessment, collection management, evaluating new resources, etc. Other papers report on broader issues pertaining to the current state, trends, and future of academic libraries/librarianship in general.
Several sessions dealt with generational differences among academic librarians, examining the attitudes and opinions of “Baby-Boomers”, “Gen Xers”, and the up-and-coming “Millenials” or “Gen Y”. As a Gen Xer (i.e. in the middle) myself, I found this topic very interesting and even amusing. There was also much talk about where and how librarians fit into the bigger picture of higher education and student learning. I really enjoyed a paper presented by librarians at Carlton College. It explained the unique perspective that librarians have of students’ academic journeys via the considerable number of individual research consultations they schedule each semester. They explained that what librarians know about students and their research processes is quite different from their professors and found it beneficial to present this information to faculty during an informal “Learning and Teaching Center” lunch event. During this session they discussed and explained things such as: why students come to librarians for help, the “teaching” that really goes on during research appointments (not just giving students the answers or handing them information), and, while maintaining confidentiality, what are some of the common struggles and frustrations students wrestle with. While their session was a singular event, it served as a launching pad to further discussion and collaboration with professors who may have previously been ambivalent or unsure of what their students are getting from their interactions with librarians.
Aside from hearing presentations, attending panel discussions, and keynotes, I was able get out and explore the great city of Philadelphia.
Liberty Bell – check.
Cheese steak – check.
Flyers hockey game – check.
Run up the the “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art – umm, check.
— Todd Wiebe, Reference and Instruction Librarian