Section Spotlight: ACRL IS

Editor’s Note: This post is the second in a series highlighting ACRL sections written by a group of ALA Emerging Leaders. Check ACRL Insider over the next several months for more. And don’t miss their posts on ACRLog as well.

I joined the ACRL Instruction Section (IS) in 2009, only months after I started my first professional position in an academic library.  As instruction is one of my primary library assignments, I knew that I wanted to get involved in ACRL-IS and network with other teaching librarians.  ACRL-IS is a community that fosters over 4000 academic librarians, and its mission is to  ‘enhance the ability of academic and research librarians to advance learning, teaching and research with respect to information literacy in higher education’.  Being an IS member for over a year now, I found that IS delivers exactly what it offers, a wealth of professional development opportunities and resources.

First of all, consider the committees. There are more than 20 standing committees and task forces, all of which look for volunteers to serve. I sent out my committee volunteer form, and I was appointed to the Research and Scholarship Committee (IS-RS).  Right away I was in meetings with my committee members and began to work on projects and publications like “Bibliography of Citations Related to the Research Agenda for Library Instruction and Information Literacy” and “Five Things You Should Read About.” Through committee work, I get to learn more about the structure of IS, and how a committee functions and operates, not to mention that I actually get to make a valuable contribution to our profession through participating in projects.  Members are friendly, easy to work with, supportive and resourceful. I can say that volunteering to serve on a committee is really an excellent way to network and to gain professional experience.

Several other IS committees such as Instructional Technologies and Teaching Methods have ongoing projects and publications, all of which share a common goal of supporting and promoting library instruction and information literacy. PRIMO database, for example, a project of the Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online (PRIMO) committee, contains a wealth of peer-reviewed instructional materials all created by librarians. I personally have used one of the PRIMO materials Peer Review in Five Minutes in my information literacy class to help students understand the peer-review process. Students agreed that the content is effective and the production is of high quality.

Even if you are not a member, consider subscribing to the IS listserv, ILI-I (Information Literacy and Instruction Listserv). I found it a good way to stay informed of current issues, research activities, calls for conference proposals, job announcements, and much more.  Even when I only need help with a question, I’m always amazed at the quick responses and helpful feedback from the librarians.

I feel that I’ve found a professional home in this section. ACRL-IS is really a supportive community for academic librarians who have common interest, commitment and enthusiasm in library instruction and information literacy. As you think about finding a section for yourself, consider ACRL-IS. I have a feeling you’ll like it too.

Hui-Fen Chang
Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences
Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University-Stillwater

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