Well, as I sit here and watch Winter Storm Linus blow snow sideways up the river, I will take some time to post my notes about my ALA Midwinter.
My MW started on Friday afternoon at the ACRL Leadership Council Meeting. I am the current Vice-Chair/Chair Elect of the Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) of ACRL. We start off each conference with a Leadership Council meeting for all ACRL leaders where we get updates, provide feedback and hear about upcoming initiatives. This year we heard updates from the three ad-hoc committees formed with the ACRL Strategic Plan: Research and Scholarly Environment, Student Learning and Information Literacy and Value of Academic Libraries. The big news is, of course, the proposed new Framework for Information Literacy (more on that later) but it was also interesting to hear that the Value of Academic Libraries committee is working on materials to help schools going through accreditation meet the requirements – templates, examples, etc. Too late for our SACS reaffirmation, perhaps, but will be useful to other schools.
Friday night I had dinner with SAGE and other members of their Library Advisory Boards. I am on an advisory board with SAGE and it’s always nice to visit with other members of the board in person and not just virtually. Dinner was at The Tortoise Club, a lovely, lively restaurant founded by one of the people who oversaw the construction of the Panama Canal. Dinner conversation focused on the future of reference publishing in the Social Sciences and how the old model of multi-volume sets only updated once a decade may need to be rethought. Interesting to hear how others from different kinds of institutions all seem to agree on that while disagreeing on what the new model needs to be. I would not want to be a publisher trying to figure out the new model and ways to continue to make money in this environment but SAGE always asks the right questions so if anyone can figure it out – it just may be them.
Then Saturday morning we had our LPSS Executive Committee meeting and our general membership meetings. I won’t bore you with the details, but our program for ALA Annual in San Francisco will be a panel presentation about libraries serving prison populations. We are partnering with the Anthropology and Social Sciences Section and the Libraries in Prisons interest group on this and it sounds like it will be really amazing.
Saturday afternoon I made the rounds of the vendor floor where I had to speak to a couple of vendors about specific products. Along the way I stopped by the Agati booth to see their amazing furniture and Mission Bell Media booth to visit with Rolfe Janke (formerly with SAGE) and Steven Bell. I am writing a chapter in their new book (edited by Steven, published by Rolfe) on library leadership. Also chatted with our reps from De Gruyters, Proquest, ABC-Clio and other vendors. No big news from any of them but good to check in.
I then made my way back (as the skies started to darken) to my hotel to attend the ACRL Board of Directors meeting where they were considering the final draft of the proposed Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. There was about 45 minutes of questions from the Board and then there was an open mic period where others could comment. For those who don’t know – the proposed framework is built around the idea of threshold concepts and would ultimately replace the current Standards for Information Literacy. The sunsetting period for the standards that the task force proposed is 18 months. There is A LOT of controversy about the framework with opinions ranging from ‘FINALLY we are getting it right’ to ‘It’s good but we have to have standards, too’ to ‘Throw out the framework – let’s just revise the standards.’ So the questioning was lively and the comments interesting. If you want to see some of the activity – check out the twitter hashtag conversation.
I have mixed feelings about the new framework – the threshold concepts are very much what we try to cover in LIB100 and LIB200 classes so they make sense to us. We never did more than use the standards as guidelines when developing our for-credit classes, but there are institutions out there that worked tirelessly to get the standards into graduation requirements or GenEd requirements at their institutions and I understand why they are really, really concerned about the idea of sunsetting the standards. The Framework works really well in talking to faculty about curricula and pedagogy but doesn’t work very well to roll up higher into your institutional goals or accreditation process. The final vote on the standards will be at the final ACRL board meeting Monday (tomorrow) and I get the feeling that they will not be given a free pass – I suspect some group will be tasked with revising the standards so they more closely align with the framework and the two will coexist. But don’t quote me on that.
And with that Winter Storm Linus has arrived and Mary Beth and I are pretty much stuck in our hotel today. We will check out afternoon sessions that are being held here but are doubtful that many, if any, will actually happen. We are staying warm and will be home at some point this week, but are not very confident that it will be tomorrow :)