February 18, 2018

Taking the Long View | ACRL Preview 2015


ACRL is celebrating its 75th anniversary, so it’s no surprise that many of the offerings look to the long-term health of the academic library landscape—reinforced by the conference’s theme, “Creating a Sustainable Community.”

While “sustainable” was once more apt to refer to a library’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification, these days it’s all about growing lifelong learners and keeping institutions robust. Whether focusing on information literacy, collection development, or inclusion, ACRL 2015 has its eye on longevity.

Foundations for learning

Sustainability calls for strong foundations, and ACRL’s recent work on the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education has garnered wide interest; controversy about sunsetting ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards resulted in the adoption of the framework while keeping the standards in place as well. In addition to a workshop for educators, Putting the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education into Action (Thurs., Mar. 26, 8:30–11:30 a.m.), the framework serves as the topic for several sessions, including Shifting Our Focus, Evolving Our Practice: A Collaborative Conversation About the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (Thurs., Mar. 26, 1–2 p.m.), a panel of information literacy experts in instructional design, assessment, and faculty cross-collaboration; and The Framework for Information Literacy and Its Impact on Student Learning (Fri., Mar. 27, 1:30–2:30 p.m.), which will explore current information literacy trends and ways the framework can shape institutional conversations.

More than 50 of the conference’s 300-plus sessions and contributed papers reference information literacy as a subject or jumping-off point. Some options include Integrating Information Literacy into the Core Curriculum: Creating Sustainable Models (Thurs., Mar. 26, 8–9 a.m.); Enriching Teaching and Learning at the Intersections of Scholarly Communications and Information Literacy (Fri., Mar. 27, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.); and discussions covering both ends of the academic continuum, from Racing to Learn: Engaging First Year Students by Gaming Library Instruction (Fri., Mar. 27, 1–2 p.m.) to Faculty Are Life-Long Learners so Why Not Teach Them! Information Literacy Instruction Offered to Faculty (Sat., Mar. 28, 9:45–10:45 a.m.).

Raising consciousness

An abundance of this year’s content is aimed at a socially conscious cohort. The Neoliberal in YOUR Library: Resisting Corporate Solutions to Collection Development (Thurs., Mar. 26, 8–9 a.m.) features speakers Julie Adamo and Caro Pinto, both of Mount Holyoke College, and Caroline Nappo of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, discussing how current trends can both conflict and affirm libraries’ core values. On a more peaceful note, Mindfulness Practices in the Classroom for Engaged Learning (Thurs., Mar. 26, 8:30–11:30 a.m.) examines ways to facilitate attentive, aware learning environments.

Issues of diversity and inclusion are also front and center this year, with a wide range of programs, including From the Individual to the Institution: Exploring the Experiences of Academic Librarians of Color (Thurs., Mar. 26, 10:30–11:30 a.m.); Collection Development, e-Resources, and Meeting the Needs of People with Disabilities (Thurs., Mar. 26, 3–4 p.m.); and Scholarly Communication as a Tool for Social Justice and Diversity (Fri., Mar. 27, 4–5 p.m.).

Practical matters

Sustainability is addressed in the nuts-and-bolts concerns of academic libraries as well. Use-Driven Acquisitions Plans: Practical Approaches for Building Sustainable PDA/DDA Programs in Your Library (Fri., Mar. 27, 9 a.m.–noon) offers a hands-on workshop in designing user-driven plans in a variety of formats. From Data Sharing to Data Stewardship: Meeting Federal Data Sharing Requirements (Thurs., Mar. 26, 10:30–11:30 a.m.) examines—and demonstrates—a number of data sharing models. Cultivating Sustainable Library Publishing Services: Perspectives from a Range of Academic Libraries (Fri., Mar. 27, 11 a.m.–noon) looks at the details of library-led publishing services in three very different institutions.

The past few years have not been without difficulties, and crisis management is on the minds of many. Sessions such as Emergency Planning for Safe Learning Environments: Simple, Sustainable Solutions for Complex Times (Thurs., Mar. 26, 8:30–11:30 a.m.) take a level-headed look at initiating workplace safety discussions and implementing safety measures in academic libraries—and a contributed paper, Bed Bugs and Other Bad News: An Opportunity for Media and Public Relations (Thurs., Mar. 26, 10:30–10:50 a.m.) offers some creative solutions for managing crises after the fact.


KEYNOTE WORTHY (l.–r.) G. Willow Wilson, Jad Abumrad, & Lawrence Lessig

Naming names

The ACRL 75th Anniversary Invited Panel—New Roles for the Road Ahead (Thurs., Mar. 26, 3–4 p.m.) is sure to be well attended, featuring astute thinkers from different sectors: Steven Bell, associate university librarian at Temple University; Lorcan Dempsey, VP of OCLC research and chief strategist; and Barbara Fister, professor and academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College, adressing potential new roles for academic librarians in today’s shifting landscape. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition’s (SPARC) executive director, Heather Joseph, speaking on her invited paper, Open Expansion: Connecting the Open Access, Open Data and OER Dots (Fri., Mar. 27, 4–5 p.m.), will likely be another draw, as will the panel convening for Putting the “Research” in the Association of College & Research Libraries: 75 Years of “College & Research Libraries” and Other ACRL Research Programs (Fri., Mar. 27, 8:30–9:30 a.m.).

The opening keynote session (Wed., Mar. 25, 4–5:45 p.m.) will be given by G. Willow Wilson, a talented writer and cartoonist who tackles cross-­cultural themes of feminism, Islam, and the media in her work. Jad Abumrad, host and creator of public radio’s big-topic investigative show Radiolab, will give the middle keynote (Thurs., Mar. 26, 4:15–5:30 p.m.). At the closing keynote session (Sat., Mar. 28, 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.), academic activist and Remix-er Lawrence Lessig will offer some substantial ideas for ACRL’s attendees to take away, use, and reuse.

Outside the lines

With the prospect of so much content, conferencegoers may need the opportunity to blow off some steam. Consider the preconference social event Battledecks: Creating Sustainable Agony! (Wed., 8–9:30 p.m.), where speakers offer up PowerPoint presentations they have never seen before. Yoga sessions will be available, and the conference even has its own book club—three of them, in fact, complete with discussion groups, talking about G. Willow Wilson’s The Butterfly Mosque (Thurs., Mar. 26, 10:30–11:30 a.m.), Brook Muller’s Ecology and the Architectural Imagination (Thurs., Mar. 26, 1–2 p.m.), and Mark Hatch’s The Maker Movement Manifesto (Fri., Mar. 27, 4–5 p.m.). All three have Goodreads groups as well.

The popular ACRL UnCon from 2013 will be back for two sessions on Fri., Mar. 27, 8:30–9:30 a.m., and 11 a.m.–noon. Twitter users can follow the proceedings with the hashtag #ACRLUnCon.

This year’s conference is strong on cross-discipline initiatives; as the program reminds participants, “Beyond our borders…academic libraries must also interact productively with other interrelated systems including publishers, public policymakers, information technology experts, and more.” To that end, the ACRL 2015 website’s detailed tagging system is a boon for attendees planning their agendas. And for those who can’t be there (or can’t attend every session that appeals), ACRL offers a Virtual Conference with 12 live webcasts, available for a year from the conference date.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 1, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Lisa Peet About Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Associate Editor, News for Library Journal.

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