Author Archive

Instruction, Happy Hours and Journal Clubs at the ACRL MD

October 19th, 2012 No comments

At the ACRL chapter in Maryland, we’re having an active year creating a variety of opportunities for our members to collaborate and network year-round.ACRL MD Happy Hour

We set up an Instruction Observation Network for our members by compiling a list of academic librarian volunteers willing to be observed in their bibliographic instruction sessions or in their for-credit classes. Those interested in observing can contact a librarian off of the list. The Instruction Observation Network will allow us to see how others approach similar information literacy topics, and will give us the opportunity to observe others teaching in a completely different subject area. We hope this Instruction Observation Network inspires colleagues to try new techniques and use one another as teaching resources.

Our ACRL MD Happy Hours give us a chance to unwind and meet each other in a casual setting. Our first one of the academic year was in September in Baltimore, which had an excellent turnout and included members, other librarians, and family and friends. Future ones will be held in locations across the state to include as many of our members as possible. We are also planning a winter happy hour to team up with the Developing Emerging and Aspiring Librarians group, the former student interest group.

On a more scholarly note, we held an online journal discussion group last year to talk about articles from ACRL’s College & Research Libraries.  This year we decided continue the discussions by hosting regular online groups every other month. Once the latest issue of College & Research Libraries is published, the discussion host of the month sends out a poll to select the articles our members are most interested in reading. Our ACRL MD members can remotely join the online room where we talk about three articles from the journal and application to our own work.

Natalie Burclaff

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VLACRL Holds “IPads in Libraries” Program

July 23rd, 2012 No comments

The Virginia Chapter of ACRL (VLACRL) synchronously held its annual summer program, “iPads in Libraries,” at four different locations, all of which were connected via the TelePresence video conferencing system. The program featured a morning discussion about innovative uses of iPads in various academic library settings, including circulation and instruction. It also introduced a range of tablet applications for workflows and professional productivity. Presentations included “Building an iPad classroom” (Meridith Wolnick, UVA), “Teaching with iPads” (Rebecca Kate Miller & Carolyn Meier, Virginia Tech), “Circulating iPads” (Patrick Tomlin & Heather Moorefield-Lang, Virginia Tech), and “Experimenting in an iPad Sandbox” (Cindi Sandridge et al). Thanks to the video conferencing technology and the popularity of the topic, we tripled the number of attendees for the summer program in comparison to years past. We also had a fruitful exchange of innovative ideas for incorporating iPads into our professional environments.

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Starting a Mentoring Program for Academic Librarians

June 4th, 2012 No comments

Members of the executive board of The Greater New York Metropolitan Area Chapter of ACRL had been talking about starting a mentoring program for several years, and we finally did it.

The New York City Area is home to four library schools and numerous academic institutions. Our chapter had already started up a New Librarians Discussion Group which offered programs and meetings and events geared for new(er) librarians and library school students, but we also realized that we had a wealth of resources – in our members and librarians working in the NYC area who were eager to give back to the profession and support new librarians and library schools students by sharing their knowledge and experience and advice. Here is what we did:

We formed an ad hoc committee to research mentoring programs from other ACRL chapters and other organizations; we set out to define our program by writing a mission and coming up with guidelines for the initial run; we created application forms for mentors and mentees and sent out information about the program, and requests to apply, to various email lists and social media platforms. This is the “mission” of our program:

“The ACRL/NY Mentoring Program contributes to the professional development of academic librarians by pairing experienced academic librarians with recent LIS graduates and/or those new to the field. The program creates a formal and informal forum for the exchange of ideas between paired mentors and mentees, provides them with opportunities for a shared learning experience, and makes available the benefits of networking within the academic librarian community.”

We left the application period open for about a month and after we received a good number of applications (more than we imagined we would get!) we paired up mentees with mentors based on goals and experience and the needs of the mentee. The initial round (with twenty participants) started in January 2012 and ends in June 2012. Our next round will go throughout the academic year, September 2012 through May 2013.

Once a month, the coordinator of the program emails the participants a reminder to connect with one another. This email also contains a discussion topic to kick start communication. Some of our recent topics: keeping-up-to-date, networking, leadership, and online identities. We encourage the pairs to meet in person and to attend other ACRL/NY events such as discussion group meetings, but we understand that it may be difficult to actually make this happen. So, communication between mentor and mentee is primarily by email or by phone.

The ACRL/NY Mentoring Group
The Mentoring Program, along with the New Librarians Discussion Group, held a joint meeting on May 16, where we discussed the mentoring experience. Attendees included a library school director, a retired librarian, librarians looking for jobs, librarians recently hired, and librarians serving as both mentees and mentors in the program. We brainstormed ideas for offering more services and resources for new librarians, for doing more outreach to library schools, and we came up with a list of ideas of programs and events geared for new librarians.

We look forward to evaluating, developing and expanding our program, and we expect that it will continue to change as the needs of our participants and members change.

Susanne Markgren
ACRL/NY Mentoring Program Coordinator



News from the Virginia Chapter

May 24th, 2012 No comments

The Virginia Chapter of ACRL (VLACRL) held its annual Spring Program “Starting at the end: Rethink your instruction based on student bibliographies” at Sweet Briar College on April 9, 2012. The program featured keynote speaker Sandra Jamieson, Director of Composition at Drew University, who discussed the findings of the Citation Project, a multi-institutional study of student source use in 174 papers from 16 US colleges and universities. The keynote was followed by a reverse engineering workshop, which was facilitated by Candice Benjes-Small, Coordinator, Information Literacy and Outreach at Radford University, and Luke Vilelle, Public Services & Social Sciences Liaison Librarian at Hollins University. The workshop allowed participants to practice applying information literacy assessment by grading a sample student paper. The program ended with a presentation by Shaunna Hunter, Public Services Librarian, and Liz Rand, Head of Rhetoric and Writing, both from Hampden-Sydney College, about the importance of collaboration between faculty and librarians to empower students in their research endeavors.
We are now in the process of planning a summer program and seeking proposals for the fourth conference-within-a-conference at the 2012 Virginia Library Association annual conference (October 24-26, Williamsburg Hotel & Conference Center).
Links of note:
Sandra Jamieson’s Presentation:
Presentation by Shaunna Hunter and Liz Rand:


National Library Legislative Day and Academic Librarians

April 20th, 2012 1 comment

This year’s National Library Legislative Day, sponsored by the American Library Association, is scheduled to take place April 23-24 at the Liaison Hotel in Washington, D.C. Click here ( for more information, registration, etc.

Isn’t this an event dominated by public librarians? Why should academic librarians care? In answer to the first question, yes, most participants tend to come from the public library world. The short answer to the second question is that it is in our interest as academic librarians to let our legislators hear our voices. A longer answer is provided below.

There are several good reasons why legislators need to hear from us in the academic library world. For one thing, many of our interests overlap with the public library constituency. However, there is a shocking level of ignorance found in at least some of our Representatives and Senators about how their actions can have either favorable or deleterious effects on higher education in general and library services in particular. A lot of legislators, federal or on the state or more local level, really do not understand that slashing education-related budget appropriations hurts academic and school libraries which in turn hurts the quality of education of our students which, ultimately, hurts our society and makes us less competitive on a global level. I don’t want to sound too reductive and equate the value of higher education solely with professional or vocational success but sometimes the practical, monetary and social implications of library-related budget cuts need to be spelled out in such a way for the legislator to understand the consequences of his or her vote.

Many of you might think, “I’m no lobbyist. I have no aptitude or desire to approach my Congressperson and, basically, ask for money.” The good news is that, no, you are not expected to do actual lobbying. No political connections or great rhetorical skills are needed. Typically, your encounter with the Congressperson, or more likely, his/her office staff member, is brief – perhaps around 10 minutes or so – and, in my own experience, it has been of a cordial nature. Legislators are busy people but they do pay attention to their constituents, especially if contact is made in person as can be done during National Library Legislative Day.

What this day is about is advocacy, not lobbying. This means briefly and clearly explaining to the legislator (or his/her office staff member) why certain bills or appropriations are important to academic librarians and also to the social and economic well-being of the legislators’ home state. You are definitely NOT expected to provide favors, take the legislator out golfing, etc.! You do not need to know all the minutiae of a particular bill although it certainly would not hurt to indicate that you at least have a good understanding of a bill’s implications for the academic library world and thus to the social and economic well-being of the legislator’s home state. If your legislator is already on board and supportive, this would certainly be a good occasion to thank him/her in order to encourage continued support.

Participants in National Library Legislative Day are briefed and provided with some basic orientation by ALA Washington Office staff, so you want to be prepared to address perhaps no more than two or three at most basic points when you visit the legislators’ offices. Having one or more specific anecdotes to relate to the legislator concerning the effects of funding (or lack of it) can also be helpful. The ALA Washington Office has some very helpful ways of keeping you informed about federal legislation and how it relates to libraries. Take a look at the ALA Advocacy & Legislation page at and also the ALA Legislative Action Center at for very helpful information and tools you can use anytime, not just in connection to NLLD, to contact legislators to express your concern or support as the case may be. Finally, I strongly encourage you to sign up for an e-mail subscription to the District Dispatch at . This is a great way to stay informed.


So far, I have directly participated in only one National Library Legislative Day but it was a very rewarding experience. In May 2008 I was part of a tiny delegation of librarians from the state of Alabama. I was the only academic librarian. We visited the Washington offices of all seven Representatives and two Senators from Alabama that day. Each meeting was a rather pleasant, almost conversational experience. The three of us in the Alabama delegation each spoke for about five minutes on a single separate issue. Generally, the legislator or his/her staff member listened, so there weren’t many questions to answer. I concisely explained why legislation pertaining to the National Agricultural Library was important to higher education, especially in Alabama. Coming from a large land-grant state university with a major College of Agriculture and with connections to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Extension Service, I was able to concretely demonstrate to the legislators why maintaining full funding for the NAL was a very good idea.

Even in this age of fiscal strain and the posturing of some legislators against the evils of Big Government, getting through directly to such a legislator or his/her office staff with your advocacy on behalf of academic libraries is important and worthwhile. Contacting legislators by letter, telephone call, or e-mail message is worthy and helpful, but an in-person visit is even more effective.
I hope you will consider taking part in National Library Legislative Day on April 23-24, 2012.

Tim Dodge
Auburn University

ACRL Chapters Council Legislative Network Representative

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