Meet the ACRL Presidents: Helen H. Spalding

Over the course of ACRL’s 75th anniversary celebration, we’ll highlight the association’s history by profiling our past presidents. Helen J. Spalding served as ACRL President from 2002-2003.Spalding

1. Three words to describe your ACRL presidency:  Collaboration, Commitment, Productivity.

2. What is your most enduring memory of your presidential year? Our members’ amazing willingness and commitment to serve!  All the new programs mounted in 2002-2003 required many volunteers with extraordinary expertise, creativity and dedicated labor, to work within a very short time-frame.  Volunteers recruited for each effort responded with enthusiasm and miraculously had strong new programs in place by the end of the year, exceeding expectations in size and quality.  This was in spite of the SARS epidemic that slashed attendance at the ALA Toronto Annual Conference, requiring most work to be done through telephone and email collaboration.

3. What are you most proud of accomplishing during your presidential year and why? Accomplishing all the goals I had stated as a candidate, and finding the programs not only remaining in place but being dramatically enhanced over time and continuing to have a positive impact across the profession.

  • Creating the Campaign for America’s Libraries’ Academic and Research Library Campaign (link to  with marketing toolkits, manuals, web site, electronic list, standing committee, and training,
  • Creating the ACRL/Dr. E. J. Josey Spectrum Scholar Mentor Program (link to
  • Formalizing cross-border relationships with the Canadian Association of College and University Librarians, and the Mexican Consejo Nacional para Asuntos Bibliotecarios de las Instituciones de Educación Superior;
  • Establishing a new electronic list to discuss scholarly communication issues;

4. Any advice for future ACRL presidents? Get to know our members across the association, and intentionally diversify the committees and task forces.  Give those a chance to those who have not had the opportunity to participate, even if you risk offending close and long-serving colleagues.  Participation of all the energy, talent, and ideas our members possess is hampered if they perceive that only the inside, self-perpetuating cliques are able to contribute leadership to the profession.