ACRL Circle of Friends: Steven J. Bell

Steven J. BellThe ACRL Circle of Friends acknowledges the sustained generosity of those who have been Friends of ACRL for five or more years. The Friends of ACRL was created to provide a means for the association to take bold steps above and beyond its traditional member programs and services. Rapidly changing demographic, economic, and technological trends are presenting academic libraries and librarians with new challenges and competition that demand immediate solutions. The Friends of ACRL have responded to these new challenges and provided additional support that will enhance and ensure the relevance of our profession. To join or learn more about the Friends of ACRL, please visit the ACRL website.

This month we profile ACRL Circle of Friends member Steven J. Bell. Steven is Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University in Philadelphia, 2012-13 ACRL President, and has been a Friend of ACRL since 2000.

1. Describe yourself in three words:  I was the ACRL Member of the Week on May 25, 2008. Back then my three words were “Blended. Passionate. Learner.”  I think those three still work pretty well for me. I’d change it up slightly to reflect what I’m doing more of these days: Learner. Speaker. Writer.

2. Why do you support the Friends of ACRL? Because I care about the future of ACRL. I’ve been engaged as a member-leader for a long time. Now, as I start thinking about the end of my career, I want to make a difference by helping to ensure that ACRL has the resources to develop our next generation of engaged member-leaders. I am a Friend because I want those coming after me to enjoy the benefits of ACRL just as I have – well – hopefully even better. ACRL has a great future and by supporting the Fund I help make that possible.

3. What might someone be surprised to know about you?  I’m a grandfather. My granddaughter, Ava-Elizabeth is 2 years old. She calls me Zayda.

4. Since you’ve become a member of ACRL, tell us about someone who influenced you in some way? Quite a few folks but Larry Hardesty has always had a big influence on me. I regard him as the total package. Great ideas. Great research. Gets things done. Makes a difference. Enduring contributions. Always humble. Sticky messages. Always willing to listen. Kind to others. No drama. I think where he influenced me most is in understanding that academic librarianship is about more than libraries; it is about higher education. He was one of the best ACRL presidents and I can only hope that when my time as president is over I’ll have done even half a good a job at it as Larry did.

5. What do you hope ACRL will achieve in the near future (or the long term)? Being recognized as THE higher education association for librarians

6. In your opinion, what is the most important work that ACRL does? It’s something I refer to as “initiative-centric development.” Where I see ACRL doing the most good and bringing consistent value to its members is developing initiatives for application at the local level. What ACRL does for its members is create high-level initiatives they can then adapt to their institutions. The effort required to develop these initiatives is beyond the resources of individual members. But as a collective force, guided by ACRL, we can accomplish something powerful that benefits all academic librarians. That’s the essence of a member association. Our initiative-centricity is directly connected to the Plan for Excellence. Take student learning.  ACRL’s Immersion Institutes give academic librarians who attend the power to be better educators as they use the tools and techniques learned at Immersion to implement local information literacy initiatives.

In the scholarly communications domain ACRL sponsors the Scholarly Communications Roadshow that enables academic librarians across the country to build the skills needed to engage their community members in reforming scholarly communications. Perhaps our most ambitious initiative-centric project to date is the Value of Academic Libraries. With the new Assessment in Action program taking off an entirely new way of empowering members to demonstrate the library’s value on the local level is being made possible. I am looking forward to the launch of ACRL’s next initiative. I’m not sure what it is yet but I know it will be great.