75th Anniversary Scholarship Recipient: Zemirah Lee

As part of the celebration of ACRL’s 75th Anniversary, we’ve asked the ACRL 75th Anniversary scholarship recipients to describe the impact of attending the ACRL 2015 Conference on their professional life and/or their library.

Lee, ZemirahZemirah Lee is the User Engagement Librarian at National University in San Diego, California.

“I am a new professional in this field so when I received last year’s scholarship to attend the ACRL conference in Portland, Oregon, I was thrilled. While I was a regular conference goer as an MLIS student, attending wasn’t a problem because it’s always so much more affordable to attend at the student rate. I knew it wouldn’t be the case once I was no longer a student and worried how I’d still manage to support my professional development as a new professional when attending conferences and being active with membership organizations was going to be even more crucial.

I received my MLIS July 2014 and landed my first job (temporary, 1-year contract) at an academic research library a few months after graduating. This job was located in another city entirely making my total commute back and forth 4-5 hours each day. 6 months into the position, February 2015, I got hired on in a permanent position at another University in San Diego closer to home! If it wasn’t for the promise of the ACRL Early Career Professional Scholarship, I would not have been approved to attend the conference, nor would I have been able to incur the costs to attend!

This scholarship made it possible for me to attend my very first ACRL conference and the experience was a game changer for me, professionally. As an instruction librarian, I was thrilled to be right in the hub of all the most recent discussions on the ACRL Framework. I couldn’t believe I was able to sit in on some of the sessions and panel discussions with some of the biggest names in our field related to information literacy and assessment. I figured out how to finally use Twitter and joined the groups adding notes to the sessions (which helped me track the discussions after the conference). My professional network doubled and I’m still in contact with some of the new friends I’d met in Portland! I was inspired. I felt motivated and I had so much more to share with my library when I left. In turn, my library benefited from my notes and was able to share in some of the past recordings of sessions after the conference. We’ve already begun to implement some of the ideas I’ve brought back in terms of embedded librarianship, marketing, and the creation of online tutorials.

One of the best memories I had of the conference was sitting at the scholarship breakfast and looking out and meeting so many new librarians, who like me, were also attending their first conference. It was inspiring to hear everyone’s stories around me. It was in that moment, that morning in that ballroom in Portland, that I really felt like I was a real professional with colleagues who shared my passions for working with students and my interest in librarianship. I’d like to take this opportunity now to thank the committee again and all the scholarship donors for their very generous contributions. If it wasn’t for all of your efforts and donations, I wouldn’t have been able to experience the conference this year. The experience has changed my perspective, has made me feel welcome as a new professional in the field, and has given me a new network of professionals who share, contribute, and encourage new scholarship in the field. Plan on seeing me again in Baltimore! Many, many thanks!”