Last week, in the middle of this crazy semester, I took a few days to present at ALAO. I’m still catching up, but it was also nice to have a bit of a breather! :)
ALAO is the Academic Library Association of Ohio. They hold an annual one-day conference on issues related to academic libraries, and had a really strong lineup of programs. Everyone affiliated with the conference was so friendly and helpful, and I just can’t say enough about what a nice event it (and how nice the organization) was.
I participated in the preconference. ALAO doesn’t always hold a preconference, but as this one took place in Toledo (as far north as you can go and still be in the state if you’re not familiar with the area. ALAO organized a preconference the day before to give people something to do the day before if they needed to travel to get there. The preconference consisted of lunch, a keynote, and a panel.
I spoke on Change & Opportunities for Today’s Academic Libraries, one of my favorite themes. The arc of the talk was that as we’ve moved from a read to a read/write environment, librarians have transitioned (or are transitioning, or have partially transitioned) from servant to supporter, and that as the information environment continues to shift, we can position ourselves to be more collaborators, partnering with faculty and bringing our specific expertise to the discussions that are happening on campus about digital collections, finding and creating information in today’s environment, and teaching students using these tools. Can you tell I’ve completely bought into the discussions we’ve had around faculty status? :)
If you’re interested in my slides, here they are:
Following my presentation, a panel moderated by John Burke, Director, Gardner-Harvey Library, Miami University Middletown spoke onACRL’s The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report. ThePanelists were Sara Bushong, Dean of Libraries, Bowling Green State University,Susan Scott, Director of the Library, Ohio State University – Newark Campus,Kathleen Webb, Dean of University Libraries, University of Dayton, andAl Zavar, Director, West Campus Library, Cuyahoga Community College. The report is fascinating. It’s full of information that can both inform what we do but also what research we could pursue. I recommend checking it out. This panel was particularly nice because each speaker was a leader from a different type of library. This gave a much wider perspective on the report and insight in how it might be adapted for different settings.
The next morning I was able to hear Steven Bell speak, which I always appreciate. Steven is both clear leader in the field, an innovator, and someone who I found particularly welcoming when I was just getting started. His talk, as always, was spot on and engaging. As part of his talk he showed part of a video of IDEO working on improving the shopping cart. (I hope this is the same video!)
He talked about design thinking and processes in libraries (again, something that’s particularly relevant to me) and threw out so many quick ideas that I had a hard time jotting them down.The one I’m still thinking about, though, is about textbooks. He talked about how we all know there’s a problem with the cost of textbooks and no clear solution. He pointed to that as an example of what we should be looking for: a common pain that isn’t being addressed. In this case, he discussed an idea from Temple to give faculty grants to pull together custom resources for a course rather than use a textbook. That’s exactly where we need to be! It positions the library in the familiar space of providing academic resources, but also shifts us to being more partners and enablers for faculty willing to try something new. It also opens the doors for all kinds of copyright and publishing related questions. Love it! Anyway, I have a list of those types of ideas if anyone is interested. :)
So, it was a lovely time. A great event, friendly people, informative and inspirational sessions, and I even managed to catch up with a few folks I only see at ALAs. And now, it’s back to my class! :)