Nov 28 2016

Interview with ULS Chair Rebecca Blakiston

Rebecca Blakiston is the 2016-2017 Chair of the University Libraries Section. Currently she works at the University of Arizona Libraries as a Team Lead for Web Design & User Experience. In this interview Rebecca talks about her involvement with ULS and what she hopes to accomplish as Chair.


Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be an academic librarian?

As an indecisive sociology major in college not sure of my future, I took an aptitute test my sophomore year to find out what type of profession might suit me best. The results pointed me to a career in librarianship! Not immediately sold on the idea, but intrigued by the possibilities, I soon got a job shelving books at the campus library. By my senior year, I’d worked the coordinated shelving students, worked the circulation desk, and collaborated with a number of librarians. I had a taste of the inner workings of the academic library and fell in love with it. I enjoyed helping other students while learning something new every day. Next thing you know, I’m applying for graduate school and working full-time in access services. After graduating, I was able to get my first librarian job in undergraduate services.

How long have you been involved in ULS and what attracted you to the section?

My colleague, Leslie Sult, was an informal mentor to me when I started working as an instruction and outreach librarian. She had been involved in ULS committees, particularly the Membership Committee, and encouraged me to volunteer within the section. She had great things to say about the people and networking opportunities. I was fortunate to be appointed to the brand new Technology in University Libraries Committee in 2010. I wasn’t disappointed, and found it was one of the most engaged committees I’d worked on – we organized online learning opportunities, shared content through social media, and landed a regular “Tech Bits” column for C&RL News. I was then elected as a Member-at-Large from 2013-2015. It’s been a great experience all around. I’ve found that people who work in university libraries share many of the same passions for teaching, learning, and the research mission of a university. It’s great to be around likeminded professionals to share challenges, successes, and lessons learned.

What do you think are one or two major issues academic librarians face today and how can ULS help address these?

Just one or two? It’s hard to know where to start. The landscape of higher education is changing and we struggle with funding, retention of students, balancing our teaching and research missions, and our very identity. The research lifecycle for faculty is changing: funding requirements, data management, digital publishing models, etc. Student expectations and challenges are changing as we hear about massive student debt, the high cost of textbooks, and concerns over the value of a university education. Not to mention trends towards more online education, an increasing global and non-traditional student population, and shifts in technology we can’t yet imagine. Not to mention the recent 2016 presidential election and upcoming shifts in priorities at the federal level. It’s a crazy time to live in.

As far as how ULS can help address these: ULS is 4,000 members strong – the largest section in ACRL. As a strong community of members, we can help drive some of these conversations and share creative solutions. We have an active email list, a strong presence on social media, and we put together speakers and other programming. Our program proposal for ALA 2017 was recently accepted and will bring together experts to talk through how to best navigate the evolving scholarly communication landscape. This is a collaboration with EBSS and ReSEC, and is a major issue for our profession. I encourage everyone to attend!

How did you come to serve in this ULS leadership role — chair of the section?

When serving as member-at-large, I became pretty familiar with the workings of the section. I was thrilled and honored when the Nominating Committee reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in running for Vice Chair. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

What advice do you have for members who are interested in taking on a leadership role within the section?

Start somewhere and get involved. Be open-minded and flexible. Build relationships with other members, and reach out to committee chairs and discussion group conveners if you’re interested in their work. As you participate in different committees, learn what type of work you enjoy most, whether it’s conference programming, seeking award nominations, facilitating discussions, or sharing content via social media channels. There are lots of opportunities and ways to get involved.

What goals do you have for the section during your term? How do you envision committees and members helping the section achieve those goals?

One of the new exciting things this year is our brand new Professional Development Committee. The goal of this committee is to provide members with opportunities outside of ALA conferences to learn, grow, and connect with one another. Jason Martin, Past Chair, is chairing this new committee and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. I was innagural chair for a professional development committee for our state library association and it was incredibly valuable. I have no doubts this new committee is going to do great things, and other ULS committees and discussion groups are already contributing ideas, whether it’s topics of broad interest or potential speakers for programs.

Also, as a user experience librarian, I care deeply about how members (and potential members) access our valuable content on the web. So one of my big goals is to improve the content, architecture, and design surrounding our web presence. This includes our blog, social media, manual, best practices, and soon our LibGuides. I want current members to have easy access to content they need to get involved, do their committee work, and engage with the ULS community. I also want potential members to be able to easily see what ULS does and how they can get involved. If I can accomplish that this year, I’ll be super happy.

Where do you see ULS going in the future? How does it need to change and evolve to stay relevant to academic librarians?

To stay relevant, we need to be flexible, agile, and proactive. Just because we’ve done something a certain way for ten years, doesn’t mean we should keep doing it for the next ten years. Let’s rethink how we do things, continue to question our assumptions, and evolve as a section. A good example was creating the new Professional Development Committee this past year – we realized that there was a strong desire to provide online opportunities, and we needed a group of people dedicated to seeing it happen. So when we see those gaps or a needs, we should address them. We need to be responsive to members and make sure we’re providing value through content, community, and professional development. And with the energy and dedication I’ve seen from our members, I’m confident we will continue to do just that.

What last words would you like to convey to ULS members?

Thank you for reading. I hope you get involved in our community if you aren’t already!

Nov 12 2016

How Does Your Library Contribute to Learning & Research?

academic library

As the debate around the high cost of a college education continues, Julie Todaro and Irene M.H. Herold (via Inside Higher Ed) provide an excellent essay on how academic libraries and librarians make meaningful contributions to learning and research.

In summary, they highlight that libraries often meet student and faculty needs by providing access to high-end technology (software and hardware) that would otherwise be out of reach, create spaces to fit unique study and research needs, and often provide a safe zone for students. Librarians are collaborators seeking to help students improve their critical thinking skills and learn how navigate the complex information environment we live in. We are advocates for open educational resources which reduce student expenses. Using our professional training and experience, we provides access to a vast array of resources that otherwise would not be available to students or faculty.

In the Comments section, we’d love to hear how your library contributes to the learning and research needs of students and faculty.

Smartphones Can’t Replace Libraries
By Julie Todaro and Irene M.H. Herold
November 10, 2016
Inside Higher Ed

Oct 25 2016

Outstanding Professional Development Award – Call for Nominations


This award recognizes librarians, archivists, or curators whose contributions to providing professional development opportunities for librarians have been especially noteworthy or influential. The effect of these contributions may be the result of continuous or distinguished service to the profession, but may also be the result of extraordinarily active, innovative, or collaborative work that deserves national recognition.

Electronic Nominations are now being accepted! Please view the announcement flyer for nomination criteria.

The award consists of a certificate and $1,000 sponsored by Library Juice Academy.


Oct 13 2016

Announcement: NMRT Candidates for 2017 Elections

The NMRT Nominating Committee is pleased to announce the following candidates for election. Before the elections next April, NMRT members will have the chance to get to know the candidates via our Candidate Forum.

The forum will take place on the NMRT blog, Notes, in late February. Each candidate will be discussing their qualifications and motivations for running, as well as answering questions posed from the NMRT membership.

Have questions about the nomination and election process? Contact Sarah Wade (nominating committee chair) at

Nicole LaMoreaux
Nicole Spoor
Amy Steinbauer

Leadership Development Director
Leigh Milligan
Kim Copenhaver
Kate Tkacik
Alyse McKeal
Veronica Milliner
Madison Sullivan
Holly Kouns

Christina Rodrigues
Leah Sherman
Melanie Kowalski
Camille Mathieu

Jun 16 2016

Data and Privacy: Where to draw the line?

Sunday, June 26
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Join us on for a discussion of privacy issues and data collection in university libraries.

We will have four topics of moderated discussion:

  • The use of data in assessment,
  • The use of data to add value,
  • Location based services, and
  • Privacy, legal issues and collaboration.

We hope you’ll be able to join us and share your thoughts and experiences with this critical question.

This event is being facilitated by the ULS Committee on the Future of Libraries.

Jun 14 2016

Taking Our Seat at the Table: How Academic Librarians Can Help Shape the Future of Higher Education

Be inspired! Join ACRL’s University Libraries Section (ULS) panel discussion, Taking Our Seat at the Table: How Academic Librarians Can Help Shape the Future of Higher Education, and learn from four diverse academic leaders who positioned their campus libraries at the center of dialogues addressing issues facing higher education.

ULS panel ALA Annual 2016 image

Date: Sunday, June 26
Time: 1:00-2:30pm
Location: Orange County Convention Center, Room S320 A-C
Scheduler link:

Panelists will share the innovative ideas and partnerships they have developed related to student success, open educational resources, learning spaces and tools, and faculty support in order to inspire librarians to think strategically about how academic libraries and librarians can extend their reach and leverage expertise to participate in – and lead – important campus conversations about the future of higher education. Now is the time for librarians to step outside of their comfort zones, envision new areas of library work, and collaborate with partners to help lead positive organizational change that benefits students, faculty and communities.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Maria Martinez-Cosio, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Monica Metz-Wiseman, Interim Director Academic Resources, University of South Florida Libraries
  • Catherine Murray-Rust, Dean of Libraries and Vice Provost for Academic Effectiveness, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Sue Ryan, Betty Drees Johnson Dean of the Library & Learning Technologies, Stetson University

Jun 01 2016

Inclusion on Campus: How Libraries Foster a Welcoming Culture

Sponsored by the ACRL ULS Campus Administration and Leadership Discussion Group, please join us for a lively conversation about inclusion on campus. Extending beyond hiring practices and programming, we hope to facilitate a discussion around the structures, systems, and processes that perpetuate inequality in the academy and in librarianship. In today’s politically-fraught climate, what ways are campus leaders addressing critical social issues such as racism and sexism within their organizations? How are organizations contributing to sustainable solutions and discourse that goes further than checking a box? And what can (or can’t) libraries do to foster a welcoming and inclusive culture on our campuses?

Brian LeafThe discussion will be facilitated by Brian Leaf, Instructional Design Librarian at the Ohio State University. He was a 2009 ALA Spectrum Scholar and a 2010 ARL Career Enhancement Program Fellow. While attending graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was an early driver of diversity efforts that led to creation of the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Diversity Advocate Certificate. Currently, he serves on the Executive Board as a Member-at-Large for the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association.

Please join us on Saturday (June 25) from 1-2:30 pm in the Hilton Orlando, Room Lake Eola A.

More info at:

May 11 2016

ACRL ULS On-the-Fly Mentoring @ ALA Annual 2016

Looking for objective input or feedback from seasoned professionals, or seeking a convenient way to connect with other librarians?  Do a “fly by” at ALA Annual!

The University Library Section (ULS) Membership Committee is providing its “On-the-Fly” Mentoring service in Orlando, which allows a mentee to talk with a mentor for a 20-minute session, on a drop-in basis*.

Based in the Placement Center in the Orange County Convention Center, the service is available during these windows of time:

Saturday, 6/25, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Sunday, 6/26, 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Whether you want to talk with a mentor or provide mentorship, we’d love for you to participate!

Mentors, sign up here today:

*Note: Mentors, please sign up now so we can gauge capacity for drop-in sessions. Mentees, sign up to participate on-site, when you visit the ALA JobLIST Placement and Career Development Center

May 10 2016

ACRL ULS Social @ ALA Annual 2016

Taverna Opa Orlando interior

Going to ALA Annual in Orlando? Interested in university libraries or in just casually meeting some fellow librarians? We’re once again hosting a social to help you unwind after a busy Saturday of programs. Details are below:

When: Saturday, June 25, 5:30-7:00pm
Where: Taverna Opa Orlando (9101 International Drive, Suite 2240 [2nd level of Pointe Orlando], Orlando, FL 32819) – just a short distance (~.5 mile!) from the Orange County Convention Center

Enjoy free appetizers and a cash bar, while also networking with fellow ULS and other conference attendees. Also meet, greet, and celebrate with inaugural ACRL ULS Professional Development Award winner, University of Arizona’s Nicole Pagowsky!

See also the Facebook event page and conference scheduler page. Hope to see you there!

Event organized by the ACRL ULS Membership Committee.

Apr 25 2016

ACRL ULS Online Discussion: Integration and High-Impact: Educational Practices for Student Success

ACRL ULS, through its Online Discussion Group, is pleased to host the following online discussion: “Integration and High-Impact: Educational Practices for Student Success.”

The discussion will be held on Thursday, May 5, 2016 1:00pm CST.

Please join us! To register for this discussion, go to:

When planning for instruction, do you look beyond the formal classroom setting for hands-on, informal, or non-traditional experiences, relationships, and strategies to help students succeed and persist? This discussion will include definitions and examples of high-impact educational practices (Kuh, 2008), as well as experiences from two university librarians on how they have collaborated with various partners across their campuses to engage with students outside of traditional instructional sessions.


  • Rhonda Huisman, Director of University Library Services, Marian University (, ACRL Vice-Chair, Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee (SLILC)
  • Margaret N. Gregor, Instructional Materials Center Coordinator & Associate Professor, Appalachian State University (
  • Jenny Dale, Coordinator of First-Year Programs, Liaison to Departments of English and Communication Studies, UNC-Greensboro (

Note: For those who cannot join us for the live event, the discussion will be recorded.

If you have ideas for future topics, please share those with the members of the ACRL ULS Online Discussion Group: Jessica McClean (, Apryl Price (, and Drew Smith (

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