75th Anniversary Scholarship Donor: Scott Walter

As part of the celebration of ACRL’s 75th Anniversary, we’ve launched a fundraising campaign to fund 75 scholarships for ACRL 2015. Over the course of the campaign, we’ll profile the ACRL 75th Anniversary scholarship donors and learn why they chose to support to the campaign.

BlueScottScott Walter is University Librarian at DePaul University and an adjunct member of the faculty of the Dominican University Graduate School of Library & Information Science and the San Jose State University School of Information. Scott has served ACRL in a number of capacities, including as Chair of the Education & Behavioral Sciences Section (2003-04), Chair of the Research Coordinating Committee (2007-09), Convener of the International Perspectives on Academic and Research Libraries Discussion Group (2011-13), and Editor-in-Chief of College & Research Libraries (2013-2016). Scott has also represented ACRL at the ALA level, including as a member of the ALA Special Presidential Task Force on School Libraries (2011-12) and as an ALA Councilor-at-Large (2013-16). He has been a Friend of ACRL since 2010.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Innovative. Collaborative. Inquisitive.

2. Why do you support the 75th ACRL Anniversary scholarship campaign? I supported the 75th Anniversary scholarship campaign because involvement with ACRL has been critical to me at every stage in my career, and I know that the costs associated with such involvement continue to fall more and more on individuals in the current economic environment. I supported the campaign because it provided opportunities for both early-career librarians and mid-career librarians, and I believed this to be an important statement about the need for continuing professional education in our field. Finally, I supported the campaign because I believed that the recognition an individual might feel upon receipt of a scholarship could help to deepen that individual’s engagement (or re-engagement) with the Association, and I believe that a strategic commitment to member engagement is critical to the future health of the Association.

3. What might someone be surprised to know about you? I suppose that depends on how well the person knows me and whether or not we’re friends on Facebook. I come from a family of bakers, for example, though I do all my baking from boxes. I come from a union family even though I am now management. I marched alongside my parents, then members of the student leadership at Long Island University (Brooklyn), to protest the shootings at Kent State. And, I was one of the first people accepted into the American-Soviet Theatre Initiative, bringing together my long-time interests in Russian Area Studies and Theatre (both of which I’ve maintained in some way even though I eventually chose librarianship as my profession).

4. Since you’ve become a member of ACRL, tell us about someone who influenced you in some way. I have learned from many people over the years, though I should note that my naming them here in no way burdens them with any responsibility for decisions I have made. All errors are my own. Dane Ward welcomed into ACRL at my very first ALA conference by inviting me into an ongoing project of the EBSS Instruction for Educators Committee. Without Dane, I might never have found my home here. Richard Fyffe, my colleague at Kansas and now on the C&RL editorial board, taught me the value of patience. Karen Schmidt, my colleague at Illinois, always reminded me of the value of caring in the workplace. Clara Fowler, a fellow member of the inaugural class of the Information Literacy Immersion program, taught me that the greatest value of ACRL membership is found in the people you meet and the lifelong connections you build. And Jim Neal and Paula Kaufman have been my models for librarians who see the full potential of the library in the academic community and the power of always being willing to think in new ways about the work that we do.

5. What do you hope ACRL will achieve in the next 75 years? I hope that ACRL will continue to provide leadership for new thinking about the role of the library in higher education, to promote engagement with other professional and disciplinary associations, and to support innovative collaborations with other areas in the higher education sector. Higher education has changed in many fundamental ways since ACRL was founded and the Association has always provided its members with the tools needed to be successful. The next 75 years – heck, the next 10 years – promise an array of changes at least as fundamental, and I trust my ACRL colleagues to do the work that will make continued investment and engagement with ACRL the right choice for its members.

6. In your opinion, what is the most important work that ACRL does? ACRL is one of several professional associations with which academic librarians may affiliate, but it is currently the only one with a strong presence at both the national and local levels. At the national level, ACRL must continue to serve as a voice for the profession, a supporter for national (and international) dialogues about best practice in a swiftly-evolving academic environment, and a provider of opportunities for professional development that support a lifelong learning approach to our work. But where we can be even stronger (and make a unique contribution) is in building upon the local opportunities made possible by our network of chapters and by the initiatives pursued by our member libraries. It’s the people who make ACRL the unique association that it is, and the most important work the Association can do is to support the work of the people who make up the Association and to build upon the strength of that people-powered network.