acrl 2013 and biennial milestones.

For the record, I tend to love this conference and this year was no exception. It is organized by people I respect, draws focused talent from a broad range of specializations, and I am invariably able to touch base with well-loved colleagues past/present/future. I have also found that ACRL seems to coincide with and/or create significant milestones in my working life, providing a convenient excuse to reflect at two-year intervals on the professional route I and others have taken, and how we view ourselves in relation to the field.

More thoughts on this front below, but (first things first) here are the decks and audio for three collaborative presentations I gave at ACRL 2013:

love your library: building goodwill from the inside out and the outside in

Audio for this fabulous panel session on creative and stealable library outreach strategies with Lia Friedman (USCD), Alice Whiteside (Mt. Holyoke), and Adrienne Lai (NCSU) can be found here. Our handout (PDF) links to templates and additional information for all that we discussed, and our hashtag was #makerlib.

methods behind the instructional madness: enhancing learning through mapping, rubrics, and portfolios

I also recorded this panel, which I had the privilege of presenting with two shining examples of smarts and collegiality: Sean Stone and Natalie Tagge, also of the Claremont Colleges Library’s Instruction Services Department. Our tag was #methodsmadness, and a big shout out to Sara Lowe and Alex Chappell, integral to the fabulous team that works on all of these projects at Claremont: couldn’t ask for better collaborators, truly.

powers of ten dialogue

Last but not least, I had the pleasure of teaming with the brilliant Kathryn Deiss of ACRL on an experimental dialogue session built around the ideas of scale and magnitude developed in Ray and Charles Eames’ wonderful late 1970s Powers of Ten concept/film (audio of the intro slides needs to be edited, and will be forthcoming here soon). The three themed dialogues we constructed drew many interesting and at times emotional perspectives from participants, and the result was far from typical conference fare. In other words, an approach worth repeating.

I was so harried by presentations/meetings this conference that I had less time than I would have liked to attend and (more importantly) digest programs, but content of note for me this year included Accardi, Drabinski, and Kumbier’s feminist pedagogy session, Friedman, Drabinski, and Freeman’s authority panel, several sessions connecting scholarly communications/publishing/oa with information literacy (1 | 2), and Brian Mathew’s invited paper on problem discovery.

Considering ACRLs past the significance of this conference for me was that it focused on collaborative efforts: I’ve had the sense over the last year of far too many solo ventures and not enough idea cross-pollination, so was interested in pursuing only co-contributions. While planning for these is more intensive, the result seems rich in a different and highly appreciated way. Now, a bit of ACRL conference retrospective:


In 2007, about a year into my first librarian job I gave my inagural professional presentation on an ill-fated but nonetheless interesting video kiosk a few colleagues and I built at Ohio University. It was held in the original Cyber Zed Shed in Baltimore, that year enclosed in a curtained hutch on the loud and social anxiety-inducing exhibits hall floor. I remember dissociating almost completely as I talked, and that the speaker platform was elevated so high that I could see the heads of milling vendors and librarians over the presentation space partitions. I also recall recognizing a few faces from UT and OU in the audience, and realizing at the time that, instead of making my nervousness worse, how key this was to staying grounded in public speaking. Speaking for the first time empowered a sense of voice and the confidence to continue developing ideas for public communication. Unknown to me at the time, grappling with that slide deck also catalyzed a long, obsessive love affair with information design. I don’t recall literally any of the programs I attended, but I do remember a sense of general excitement about technological innovation and thoroughly enjoying the city (especially a bizarre aquarium reception with, if memory serves, pinafores).


In 2009 the conference was in Seattle. I presented a paper titled If You Build it, Will They Care? Tracking Student Receptivity to Library Techonlogies with my friend and colleague Chris Guder, which dealt with research examining student interest in various twopointoey library tech experiments carried out when I worked at OU. It was also shortly after I moved to Oakland to start a (frankly, terrifying) new job at UC Berkeley, and a time of much professional excitement and nervousness. This was the largest audience I had spoken to, which was strangely both fine and energizing, leading me to realize that my skin was getting a bit thicker in terms of confidence in public address. At the same time there was a feeling of pressure and a need to prove and posit that would follow (haunt?) me for some time… any profession has its darker drives, and I was definitely about to submit myself to a terrifying degree of overwork. I also recall feeling a lot of pride that many early-career people I knew from library school and other arenas were making such awesome contributions to our collective work, a feeling that honestly seems to surge every year. If this conference signified the true beginning of a massive collegial love affair, I hope it never ends.


Fast forward two years and I found myself at ACRL in Philadelphia, where I gave the most significant presentation of my career to date, an invited paper called The Librarian as Situated Educator: Instructional Literacy and Participation in Communities of Practice. This talk was the culmination of my time at UC Berkeley and on the threshold of publishing a book I had been working on for several years (remember the overwork part?) plus moving to my present job at the Claremont Colleges. The presentation outlined ideas about design, pedagogy, and instructional literacy I had been developing for what felt like EVER, and its delivery came at a moment when a lot of people in the library world were forming a new orientation to their role as educators and seeking to empower themselves as such. It also banished much of the all-too-common impostor syndrome that drags the (by no means exclusively but far more frequently) ladygendered among us down in the confidence and actualization realms. Working very hard and very earnestly on something and putting it out to a thoughtful and critically positive reception is a marvelous thing, and one that finally allowed me to loosen my death grip sense of self-proving. Which is an even more marvelous thing.

Who knows what comes next, but what I hope to project two years out is continued engagement with brilliant colleagues and putting my heart into work I can stand by/behind (not to mention wandering Portland again).

5 thoughts on “acrl 2013 and biennial milestones.

Add yours

  1. Oh, gosh, yes. The 2011 talk in the ballroom with, like, 500 people SRO and you asked how many people had been adequately prepared for their teaching role and about 10 people raised their hand? That was indeed a fabulous talk. I just looked at the slideshare and even remembered the images and content 2years later. Agreed, ACRL 2013 is going to be a tough act to follow.

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