75th Anniversary Scholarship Recipient: Sarah Ralston

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.

Sarah RalstonSarah M. Ralston is a librarian at East Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon.

“I would like to say the scholarship made all the difference in terms of my being able to attend the ACRL conference in Portland, and I had a fantastic learning experience.

I work in a small, rural, academic library where the next nearest public university is three hours away. There are no librarians in the K-12 schools here, and I really only have my own colleagues to network with. In these early years of my career, I have only been able to attend one conference or meeting per year, usually put on by a small state-level library group or organization on the other side of the state. We just don’t have the travel budget for more.

While I learn a lot from my colleagues, I am the only person in my small library whose job is solely dedicated to information literacy instruction. I read a lot of blogs and literature, attend webinars, and manage to keep up to date, but there is nothing like talking with other instruction librarians about teaching strategies and instruction ideas. I learned a lot from the sessions I attended about the Framework, which was a goal of mine in attending, but the best experiences I had were hearing practical advice and strategies from student-centered instruction librarians like myself, from all different points in their careers.

The experience was affirming and inspiring. I returned with ideas that I immediately put into practice as I redesigned a course that I teach, to great success (as my assessments and student evaluations can confirm)! So my being able to attend ACRL 2015 did not only impact my professional life, it impacted my students in a documented and positive way. I know that will continue as I continue to explore resources that I learned about and continue discussions with people that I met.

I really want to thank the donors to the scholarship fund, and let them know how worthwhile their donations are! I plan on donating when I can so that other early career librarians can experience the professional enrichment and inspiration that I did. Thanks so much!”