Category Archives: About ACRL

It’s Good to Give Back…To the Kick Start the Future Campaign

One of the things that make me most proud to be a member of ACRL is that we care about our own and we try to help them succeed professionally. One of the ways our association does that is by providing scholarships to academic librarians so they can attend our biennial ACRL Conference. In 2013, ACRL provided 75 scholarships for deserving individuals. The challenge is that there were over 250 applications for the scholarships, so too many of our colleagues could not receive the assistance that can make the difference between attending or staying home. We can do better – and we will.

In conjunction with ACRL’s 75th Anniversary, our association leadership has announced the Kick Start the Future Campaign. According to the official fundraising website for the 75th Anniversary celebration, ACRL seeks to raise $50,000 by December 31, 2014, to provide 75 additional scholarships for these members to attend the conference to be held March 25-28, 2015, in Portland, Oregon. Members have already raised more than $33,000 during the advance phase of the campaign. This is great progress but we still have a long way to go to reach the goal over the next few months. The good news is that our ACRL division-level committees and Communities of Practice groups have made commitments and begun to raise funds for named scholarships.

As chair of the Kick Start the Future Campaign, I am encouraging every ACRL member to take this opportunity to give back to the association and profession by making a personal contribution – or joining with others for a group donation – that will enable a deserving colleague, whether it is an early career academic librarian, support staff or library school students, to experience ACRL 2015. To further encourage and inspire you to make this commitment I wanted to bring your attention to two donors worthy of recognition for achieving a distinguished “first” as a contributor to the campaign.

Stephanie Davis-Kahl, the Scholarly Communications Librarian and Associate Professor at the Ames Library at Illinois Wesleyan University was the first ACRL member to submit a donation during the public phase of the campaign and is also contributing to the College & Research Libraries Editorial Board named scholarship. Flora Shrode, the Government Documents Librarian and Subject Librarian for Sciences at the Merrill-Casier Library at Utah State University, was the first ACRL member to submit a donation as part of a section (STS) named scholarship contribution. I’d like to share some insights from Stephanie and Flora on why they were eager to make a pledge.

Why did you decide to contribute to the campaign?

Davis-Kahl, Stephanie 2009-02Stephanie: Last year was a banner year for me professionally, and when you have those good moments in your career, you definitely stop and think about the people who supported you at the beginning of your career and throughout. Colleagues at my previous positions at the University of Southern California and the University of California – Irvine, played a huge role in encouraging me to attend ACRL and, more importantly, showed me through their own involvement that ACRL was a wise investment. As I became more engaged with ACRL committees and task forces, ACRL members helped me find role models and connected me to a larger community of colleagues, peers and friends. So when the campaign started, I couldn’t not give back. ACRL has been my professional home, and my hope is that new librarians will find their professional home in ACRL as well.

Flora Aug 2013Flora: I gave money to the ACRL Kick Start the Future Campaign because involvement with the ACRL Science & Technology Section (STS) and attendance at ACRL conferences have been among my most rewarding professional activities over the years.  The ACRL conference’s size and themes are both more manageable and relevant to my work as an academic librarian than the larger ALA meetings, although I attend those too in order to fulfill committee membership and chairperson duties (which have mostly been with ACRL STS).  This is my 25th year in the profession, and I’m celebrating that by donating to scholarship and other career development funds.

What are your aspirations for the members who get these scholarships to the 2015 conference?

Stephanie: Learn and participate! Attend sessions outside of your usual work to broaden your horizons and get a new perspective, go to the reception to meet new colleagues, and ask questions – especially ask questions!

Flora: I hope that scholarship recipients find ACRL to be a valuable organization to belong to and that the conferences enable them to learn from other librarians’ ideas, research, and programs. Some of the most meaningful personal relationships within librarianship that I’ve formed over the years have resulted from chance meetings, conversations, and follow-up contacts after ACRL events. I wish for scholarship recipients to have similarly positive experiences.

What would you say to other members to encourage them to contribute to the campaign?

Stephanie: There’s power in participation – contributing to this campaign in the short-term helps one person attend, but long-term, we will all gain from sharing our expertise and knowledge with one another. Whether we each give a little or a lot, it’s helping our new librarians become our colleagues and leaders.

Flora: If many of us give a little money, we can develop a fund that will go a long way to assist people who may not have the financial means to pay their own way to conferences like ACRL and/or whose employers’ budgets cannot support many professional development opportunities. I would ask STS members to consider the benefits they have enjoyed from participating in the section, and I’d remind them that a way to give back is to donate to the scholarship fund so that others may benefit as well.

Thank you Stephanie and Flora for sharing your stories and inspiring others. I hope it will encourage them to join in and support the campaign. For more information on how to do that, see ACRL’s Kick Start the Future FAQ.

- Steven J. Bell is ACRL 75th Anniversary Campaign Chair

75th Anniversary Scholarship Donor: Steven J. Bell

Steven BellAs part of the celebration of ACRL’s 75th Anniversary, we’ve launched a fundraising campaign to fund 75 scholarships for ACRL 2015. Over the course of the campaign, we’ll profile the ACRL 75th Anniversary scholarship donors and learn why they chose to support to the campaign.

Steven J. Bell is the associate university librarian for research and instruction at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He served as the 2012-13 ACRL President and is currently serving as the ACRL 75th Anniversary scholarship fundraising campaign chair.

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 75th ACRL Anniversary scholarship campaign? I had the pleasure to attend the scholarship breakfast at ACRL 2013. Meeting scholarship winners was both rewarding and eye-opening. It was the scholarship that made it possible for these students to attend. It was clear that receiving a scholarship makes a huge difference to these academic librarians. Those I spoke with indicated that it would enable them to engage with ACRL – and in the future they hoped to give back to ACRL. If we can use this campaign to double the number of scholarship awards for ACRL 2015 it will be a win for our members and our association.

3. What might someone be surprised to know about you? This is the first time in my career that I am actively involved in a fundraising campaign.

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 next 75 years? Being recognized as THE higher education association for librarians – by both academic librarians and all of our colleagues in the higher education enterprise.

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 Communication 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.

Help Identify the 75 Reasons Why ACRL Membership is Valued

PrintIn honor of the 75th Anniversary of ACRL, our Membership Committee is compiling a list of the top 75 reasons why members value ACRL. Once complete, the list will be shared at the 75th Anniversary website. Initially, the Committee analyzed the collective responses to this question submitted by academic librarians who are selected as the ACRL Member of the Week. Now the Membership Committee would like to open up submissions to all ACRL members to contribute their reasons for valuing the association. What’s your reason? The ACRL conference? Opportunities for engagement with colleagues? Taking advantage of continuing education? Helped you get tenure? Submit up to five reasons through the online survey by August 31, 2014.

Information Literacy Strategist Position

ACRL, a division of the American Library Association is seeking an Information Literacy Strategist for its Chicago office for a two-year project assignment.

Responsibilities:  Reporting to the Executive Director, the Information Literacy Strategist will encourage adoption of ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education within the profession in order to support ACRL’s strategic goal that librarians transform student learning, pedagogy, and instructional practices through creative and innovative collaborations.

Major responsibilities will include:

-Provide educational programming that increases knowledge and encourages use of the new (IL Framework) within the academic library profession.

–Create and promote a pilot campus program.

–Develop and maintain an online “sandbox” so that ACRL members and academic librarians can try out approaches to using the IL Framework and share their experiences.

–Support ACRL Officers and official representatives who are promoting the new IL Framework at relevant higher education, library, disciplinary and topical conferences.

Starting salary negotiable from the mid-30s; based on experience. ALA has an excellent benefit package for this two year regular part-time position with a 17 and a half hour work week; that includes medical, dental, generous paid vacation and a retirement annuity.

Requirements:   Experience designing and delivering training, in concert with others, for an audience of academic librarians. Rich knowledge and understanding of trends in academic librarianship and higher education.

Proven writing and public speaking experience, including online presentations and knowledge of webinar systems. Demonstrated project management, organization, and customer service skills. Excellent oral and written communication.

Ability to work independently with minimal supervision, and strong initiative, yet with a team orientation. Strong project management skills; ability to manage multiple projects with competing deadlines; ability to conceptualize, with others, high-level plans and processes; demonstrated success in committing to a long-term projects (12-18 months).

Knowledge of stakeholders within the higher education sector with an interest in information literacy, threshold concepts, and competency based education.

Minimum of 5 years work experience in libraries and/or academia.


Apply online at (additional documents are uploaded on the same screen as your resume)


Send resume, cover letter and two writing samples to:

American Library Association

Human Resources Department

Ref: infoliteracyACRL

50 East Huron Street

Chicago, IL 60611

Fax:  312/280-5270


The American Library Association is an affirmative action, equal-opportunity employer.

Turning Outward on Data Management

On Thursday January 23, ACRL kicked off activities at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting by hosting a forum on data management with Drexel University Libraries.  The goal of this forum was to have a dialogue between disciplinary faculty and academic librarians on the management, curation, and sharing of research data.

Rather than having the standard “focus group,” we used the concept of “turning outward,” a practice identified by Richard Harwood of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to engage the faculty in a discussion about their research and data management practices. Turning outward asks a community about their aspirations to inform internal discussions about how best to develop programs to serve the members of the community.


Federal mandates and recent studies underscore the need for thoughtful management of research data. A study just published in Current Biology found that 80% of scientific data from a random sample of studies was lost over two decades. “The current system of leaving data with authors means that almost all of it is lost over time, unavailable for validation of the original results or to use for entirely new purposes” according to Timothy Vines, one of the researchers. This underscores the need for intentional management of data from all disciplines and opened our conversation on potential roles for librarians in this arena.1

Dealing with “big data” is particularly challenging.  Although there is no definitive definition big data, it is typically characterized as being high-volume, high-variety, and high-velocity.  The Wikipedia definition is useful, defining big data as “. . .a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization.”

Conversations with Faculty

Danuta Nitecki, Dean of Libraries at Drexel, recruited a half dozen faculty to spend two hours talking with us about their data management needs and desires.  Most of the faculty were from the sciences, with one from media studies.  The conversation was very rich and I’ll share just the nutshell version here.  The faculty agreed that they would want to share most of their data, although they allowed for the possibility that some data might need to remain private for a period of time, depending on the nature of the data and whether or not the scholar was still working with it.  (We began with the premise that shared data is always depersonalized if it involves human subjects.)  They saw strong roles for librarians including providing consultation on data management plans, curation, and long term preservation of data.

We discussed the fact that not all data can or should be stored forever.  Both data management plans and the actual capture and description of data should facilitate downstream use, including elements like the version of software used for data capture and analysis.  While the faculty noted a desire to share data as a fulfillment of the mission of higher education and a necessary part of the scientific process, they all agreed that this sharing was far more likely to happen if it did not impose extra burden on the scholars.  If normal workflows don’t make it easy to manage and share data, many will not do so.  While most of the faculty were aware of existing and proposed federal mandates, they noted that beyond turning in data management plans, there has been no real enforcement of implementing said plans to date and faculty overload often leads to the minimum required effort.  The faculty urged librarians maintain an active role in data management.

Unpacking the Conversations

On Friday morning, about 20 librarians who have been working in this arena assembled (some from remote locations) to hear a summary of Thursday’s session with faculty and to discuss potential roles for ACRL.  Drawing on their own experiences, they concurred with the faculty that there are strong roles both for librarians on their own campuses, and for ACRL. Discussions about possible ACRL action ranged from clearinghouse type roles (e.g., developing knowledge banks of specific information) to extending the ACRL Scholarly Communications tools and programs to include data management to extending the information literacy model to data literacy.

Other suggestions included the development of a strong advocacy role for librarians in the area of research data management, the need to help librarians redefine their roles to include managing research data and helping their institutions to think programmatically about research data management.

Along the way, the participants also considered the question “What is the essence of librarianship in the 21st Century?”  We began by providing collections and then added services to the mix.  Now we’re working with scholars on knowledge creation; how do we meet our role as intellectual partners? What at the core makes us a profession?

With a wealth of suggestions to consider, the ACRL Board asked its Research and Scholarly Environment Committee (ReSEC) to work with ACRL’s Data Curation Interest Group to develop a background paper for the ACRL Board that suggests potential programs and services ACRL might undertake to assist the profession with the newer role of data management.

ReSEC will be guided by these four basic questions as they develop their report:

  1. What do we know about the needs, wants and preferences of our members, prospective members and customers relevant to this decision?  (Sensitivity to member views)
  2. What do we know about the current and evolving dynamics of our profession relevant to this decision? (Foresight about future environment)
  3. What do we know about the strategic position and internal capacity of our organization relevant to this decision? (Insight about the organization)
  4. What are the ethical implications of our choices relevant to this decision? (Consideration of our choices)

The Board will discuss the report at its Spring meeting in early April And assess the relative advantages and disadvantages of the strategies suggested as it determines the best direction for ACRL in this domain.

Karen WilliamsACRL Vice-President/ President-Elect

1 Julie S., “80 Percent of Scientific Data Gone in 20 Years,” HNGN, Dec. 20, 2013,

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