Jan 07

Member of the Month: Marilyn Myers

Lucida Sans fontEach month, the University Libraries Section will feature a ULS member in a Member of the Month blog post.  Members will be asked a series of questions and we’ll share some of the answers. To kick off this new series, today we feature ULS chair, Marilyn Myers.

Marilyn Myers, Associate Dean for Public Services at the University of Houston Libraries

What inspires you in your work?

The breadth of libraries’ engagement within their universities is very energizing for me. I like to think we help all components of the university succeed. We contribute to programs that recruit students, support student academic success, provide comfortable work space, work with faculty to enhance and assess the effectiveness of learning, and offer events for both the campus and metropolitan Houston community. We provide customized research support to graduate students and offer the faculty research assistance throughout the scholarly communication process. I am further inspired by the fact that at the University of Houston Libraries we do this collectively, harnessing the expertise and creativity of a cadre of library professionals who do amazing things every day to demonstrate the value of the library to the institution.


Are you currently working on a project that is exciting or interesting? Tell us about it!

I am taking the lead on the design of a biomedical sciences library. It will be new space in a new building in support of patient care services, workforce training programs, research endeavors and community outreach being brought together from across the University. We will be hiring individuals with the expertise to design new programs of support for teaching and research.


What do you do when  you’re not being a librarian?

I am a workplace coach supporting clients and promoting a coaching culture within the University of Houston Libraries. I am in the processing of gaining the expertise and experience to become a credentialed coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF). I am an active member of the Association for Conflict Resolution and the ICF.


What are you reading?

I just finished Sum It Up, Pat Summitt’s story of her incredible career in women’s basketball. I am making my way through Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a collection of poets and writers definitions for terms that describe land masses and forms water takes, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. Over the [Thanksgiving] holidays, I re-read selections from my collection of Christmas mystery short stories. I had a new volume this year—Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop by Otto Penzler.


Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most people would not guess by looking at you?

I am a weightlifter. My personal best deadlift is 250 lbs.


What is your favorite non-library website? Why?

Sprott’s Fractal GalleryI love fractals and a new one is posted every day.

Jan 05

“On-the-Fly” Mentoring Service: Call for Mentors!

From the ULS Membership Committee:

Call for Mentors: Seeking a convenient way to connect with other librarians and give to the profession?

The ULS Membership Committee has a role for you!

We’re providing an “On-the-Fly” Mentoring service at the upcoming ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago, based out of the ALA Placement Center. If you’d like to help new librarians and job seekers, talk though questions, and provide feedback and advice, sign up to participate as a mentor.

The hours for “On-the-Fly” Mentoring at ALA Midwinter are Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sign up for as many 1-hour time slots as you’d like. Do it today! Deadline for volunteering is Tuesday, January 20.

Click here to sign up!


Dec 23

On-the-Fly Mentoring Service at ALA Midwinter

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Want to share your experience and make new connections at ALA Midwinter?

ULS has created an opportunity for mentoring, advising, and learning with and from other members and the ALA community. It’s called On-the-Fly Mentoring, and it might be just the thing for you . . . as a mentor, a mentee, or both!

An ad hoc committee was formed earlier this year to investigate the possibility of providing mentoring opportunities to ULS members. That group developed an On-the-Fly Mentoring service for ALA Annual 2014.

The service allows a mentee to talk with a mentor for a 20-minute session, on a scheduled or drop-in basis. The service was offered from the ALA Placement Center, which proved to be a great location since so many new librarians and job seekers were attending Placement Center programs, and the concept was a hit.

The ULS Membership Committee will provide On-the-Fly Mentoring again at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago, so watch for details and plan to join us!

Dec 11

Guns on Campus: Implications for Libraries


The University Libraries Section Campus Administration and Leadership Discussion Group presents a discussion about guns on campus and the implications for libraries. Led by Rick Stoddart, Head, User and Research Services, University of Idaho Library, this discussion will explore issues for libraries related to concealed weapons laws and how they are implemented, and other topics related to guns on campus. Free, open to non-members.

Saturday, January 31
3:00-4:00 pm
Sheraton-Chicago Ballroom 06

Nov 21

ALA Midwinter Meeting Schedule for ULS

meetingAre you heading to ALA Midwinter in Chicago? It’s never too early to start planning your schedule. We hope to see you at these ULS events!


Meeting Number Meeting Name Date Time Location
SUB52762 Academic Outreach Committee Sat Jan 31 10:30 am – 11:30 am SHER – Ontario Room
52705 ULS Social Sat Jan 31 05:30 pm – 07:00 pm Elephant & Castle, 185 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago 60601
SUB52744 Membership Committee Sat Jan 31 10:30 am – 11:30 am SHER – Ontario Room
52748 Public Service Directors of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group Sun Feb 1 04:30 pm – 06:30 pm SHER – Michigan A & B
52763 Evidence-Based Practice Discussion Group Sun Feb 1 08:30 am – 10:00 am SHER – Michigan A & B
SUB52704 Committee on the Future of University Libraries Sat Jan 31 10:30 am – 11:30 am SHER – Ontario Room
52764 Campus Administration and Leadership Discussion Group Sat Jan 31 03:00 pm – 04:00 pm SHER – Chicago Ballroom 06
52761 All-Committees Meeting Sat Jan 31 10:30 am – 11:30 am SHER – Ontario Room
52747 Committee on the Future of University Libraries Sun Feb 1 08:30 am – 10:00 am SHER – Superior A & B


You can also take a look at the ALA Midwinter Schedule at a Glance at ALA’s web site, or see the full schedule with room assignments in this PDF.









Nov 20

Our Thoughts are with FSU

By now you have probably heard about the tragedy that unfolded early this morning at Strozier Library on the campus of Florida State University. Our thoughts and hearts go out to our colleagues at FSU Libraries and to all the university students, faculty, and staff. The University Library Section hopes for a full recovery for the students who were wounded, and for peace and healing to all involved.

Nov 06

Share Your Thoughts on “New Rules for the Road Ahead”

From ACRL:

As part of its 75th Anniversary celebration, ACRL has released of an initial version of “New Roles for the Road Ahead:  Essays Commissioned for ACRL’s 75th Anniversary,” authored by well-known bloggers and thought leaders Steven Bell, Lorcan Dempsey, and Barbara Fister.

Pam Snelson, the chairperson of ACRL’s celebration of its 75th anniversary, asks, “Looking to find your way to that elusive sweet spot between the present and the future? The best map you will find to navigate the changing intersection of higher education and librarianship is the collection of essays in ‘New Roles for the Road Ahead.’ Bell, Dempsey, and Fister define the issues, ask questions, create new roles, offer directions, and challenge thinking. By framing the road ahead and positioning librarians in innovative roles, their essays offer compelling instructions for creating a new library landscape.”

In a series of twenty essays, Bell, Dempsey and Fister share their thoughts on the world in which academic libraries will thrive, ways libraries are responding to change, and new roles for libraries and librarians. The essays include reflections on ways academic libraries can succeed in a changing higher education environment, take advantage of opportunities, and think about the best ways to deliver both ongoing and innovative services to students and faculty.

A draft of “New Roles for the Road Ahead:  Essays Commissioned for ACRL’s 75th Anniversary” is now available for open public discussion through a CommentPress site at http://acrl.ala.org/newroles/. Your thoughts on this emerging publication will help shape the authors’ final work, so log in and comment now.  You’ll see sections entitled “Framing the Road Ahead”, “Shifts in Positioning”, and “Responding to Opportunity: Creating a New Library Landscape” with three thoughtful voices chiming in to shape an exciting vision for our collective future.  Weigh in with your thoughts though November 30!

Nov 03

Call for Proposals: ALA Annual Conference Poster Session

Share your best ideas and work with the national library community by presenting a poster session at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco!

The poster session committee encourages submissions from all types of libraries and on any topic relevant to librarianship. Submissions may include a description of an innovative library program; an analysis of a solution to a problem; a report of a research study; or any other presentation that would benefit the larger library community.

Poster session participants place materials such as pictures, data, graphs, diagrams and narrative text on boards that are usually 4 x 8 feet. During their assigned hour time periods, participants informally discuss their presentations with conference attendees. Titles/abstracts from previous years are available on ALA Connect. (Note: that this site is only serving as an archive for previous Annual Conference poster sessions) More information on this year’s posters.

The deadline for submitting an application is February 6, 2015. Applicants will be notified by the end of March, after a double blind peer review process, whether their submission has been accepted for presentation at the conference. The 2015 ALA Annual Poster Sessions will be held June 27 and 28, 2015 (the Saturday and Sunday of the conference) in the exhibits hall.

Start your application process now. You must create a username and password for the site before you submit your application, you must choose to submit a poster session proposal after you log-in, and you will receive a confirmation e-mail after you have completed your submission.

Questions about poster session presentations and submissions may be directed to:

Melanie Griffin, Chair of the ALA poster Session Committee

Candace Benefiel, Chair of the ALA Poster Session Review Panel

Website for More Information

Oct 27

Summary of April 23 Online Discussion

Academic Library Outreach: The Intentional, the Desperate, and the Serendipitous – Summary of April 23 ULS Members-Only Online Discussion

Author: Jennifer Lee, University of Calgary, on behalf of the ULS Membership Committee

On April 23, 2014, ULS held its second members-only online discussion.  About 60 attendees attended to discuss academic library outreach. The two speakers, Lizz Zitron and Matt Upson, offered two contrasting perspectives: intentional, planned outreach, and “on-the-fly” outreach. More information on the speakers can be found at http://www.acrl.ala.org/ULS/?p=907

The discussion started with two polls. The first asked attendees whether there was outreach at their institution; most answered in the positive, though they would also like to do more. The second asked attendees what roadblocks to outreach they had; many reported the lack of human and financial resources.

Lizz Zitron started with a roadmap for intentional outreach:

  1. Create an outreach vision: library and institutional vision  statements are a good starting point because they provide terminology  that can be used in the outreach vision. Lizz reported great success  with her programs when using library and institutional vision  statements this way.
  2. Create goals: create specific, measurable goals that lead to observable behavior. Create some goals that can be measured quantitatively, and others that can be measured qualitatively. Qualitative measures provide invaluable comments and observations that  can be used in reflection and assessment (step 4).
  3. Form plans: these are courses of action based on the goals. For example, “to have [goal], we will do [plan]”. Start with a few manageable goals and plans.
  4. Reflect and assess: assessment helps administrators support outreach, especially if the goals reflect your mission or vision. Qualitative data helps “tell the story” behind the numbers of quantitative data. For example, while numbers tell how often an “Ask a Librarian” chat reference service is used, qualitative data can indicate whether users would recommend the service to others.

Lizz then gave examples of outreach activities involving students. Some connected students with the community by asking them to volunteer their time or expertise in a library event held for the community. Others connected students to the library through contests and use of library materials, including using weeded books to create poetry, and inviting students to create displays.

Matt Upson talked about co-creating a comic that served as an instruction, advocacy, and outreach tool. As a new library director with minimal staff, he realized that the traditional instruction methods formerly used at his institution were ineffective and that the library was under-used. Since his new library assistant had 20+ years of experience creating and illustrating comics, a library zombie comic was born (both digital and physical). It met instructional goals, but it was also an interesting outreach and marketing tool that re-defined the perception of the library. The comic incorporated stakeholders such as the faculty, student workers, and other community members. The comic was heavily promoted before its publication. For example, students who “liked” the library on Facebook got a chance to be drawn as a zombie; a teaser poster was put up on campus featuring the front of the library, which attracted many questions.

a few hundred hardcopies were purchased with a grant and the library held a pizza release party after both the digital and physical versions were published. Since there were close to a million downloads at the time of the party this was also announced during the print release.

The project morphed from an instructional resource to a tool for increasing engagement. It tied into things the library was already doing: they had a graphic novel collection, and were already trying to use the library for non-academic purposes.

In closing, Matt encouraged attendees to play to their strengths, and to involve the community in the planning process. This avoids the perception of “performing outreach for the sake of outreach”. The library zombie comic is available at: http://bit.ly/gFUNmd. Other institutions with library comics include  Kansas State University Salina Library, Fresno City College, and Lehman College.

The session was then opened up for questions and comments, including:

Attendance and scheduling: definitely keep track of numbers, which may be low at the beginning. It is also useful to talk with other coordinators on campus (e.g. residence hall directors, student life staff) to avoid duplication of activities and scheduling overlap, and as another source for promoting outreach. Library events may also be hosted outside of the library with these same coordinators. Lastly, food, of course, helps attendance!

Other activities suggested as part of the planning process: work with students who are interested in planning, and meet regularly. Assess immediately after every program, including attendee comments, things that worked, or did not work. A student can keep track of comments and then they can be discussed at a weekly meeting. For some, planning may not be reflexive, but it results in better quality outreach. If it works at your institution, a general call for volunteers may attract those with complementary talents.

Tips on getting students excited or finding appropriate working opportunities for them: student workers are a big part of the community and the student population, so ask them what will get them in the library. This increases buy-in as well. If working with students on planning, it also helps to model what you want to see, and to give them a framework for planning and assessment; while this takes time to set up, it can save time in the long run.

ULS hopes to hold these discussions in the fall and spring to highlight ULS member work, to extend conversations beyond ALA Annual and Midwinter, and as a benefit to ULS members. ULS also hopes to briefly summarize these as an added member benefit.

*The next members-only discussion*, Thursday, November 20 from 3-4 pm EST, will be about student success. To register, go to: https://acrl.webex.com/acrl/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=295479088

*Interested in university libraries?* Join your colleagues at ACRL ULS, where you can find opportunities to participate in continuous learning activities like our lively and engaging online discussions, to volunteer on professional committees, to make connections with a great network of university librarians, and more! For more information on ULS, including an archive of past events and discussion forums, see also our Section website. To become a member, simply update your ACRL division memberships at http://www.ala.org/acrl/membership/applications and select the University Libraries Section under ACRL. Membership is free is you are not already enrolled in more than 2 sections and only an additional $5.00 if you are. We look forward to welcoming you as a member!

“See” you at the next discussion!

Oct 24

Members-Only Online Discussion: Student Success

Members-Only Online Discussion: Student Success
Brought to you by the ACRL-ULS Committee on the Future of University Libraries

The ULS Membership Committee is pleased to provide a FREE online discussion for ULS members on Thursday, November 20 from 3-4 pm EST.  Registration Information

Assessing How Libraries Contribute to Student Success

Feeling pressed to prove that your library contributes to student success?  Are administrators demanding evidence that funding the library helps retain and graduate students?  While it may seem obvious  to librarians that students would not succeed without the library, demonstrating that can be a challenge.

Read short descriptions of ways three libraries have effectively assessed their contributions to student success, and then join this online discussion, where assessment librarians will encourage discussion of various ways to measure and demonstrate how your library helps students succeed.


Eric Ackermann (Head of Reference Services and Library Assessment, Radford University) will speak on how his library has tracked how the library’s participation in freshman orientation and core courses has affected retention.

Jennifer L. Jones (Assessment & User Experience Librarian, Georgia State University) will explain how her library followed three cohorts of undergraduates to assess the effect of using library workstations, study rooms, and research clinics.

Shane Nackerud (Technology Lead for Libraries Initiatives, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) and Janet Fransen (Engineering Librarian, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities) will discuss the big data model the library used in partnership with the university’s Office of Institutional Research to assess the library’s contribution to student outcomes.

The speakers have shared descriptions of their successful projects to help you prepare for this discussion. 

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