Member of the Week: Britt McGowan

Britt McGowanBritt McGowan is Coordinator of Library Instruction at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Britt has been an ACRL member since 2009 and is your ACRL member of the week for August 25, 2014.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Laughing, caring, dreamer.

2. What are you currently reading?  I just checked out Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I read Housekeeping last year, and I think it will be one of those books that I read over and over again.  So, I’m excited to start this one.

3. Describe ACRL in three words:  Supportive, dynamic, community.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I value the connections with other librarians that I’ve been able to make, as well as the professional development opportunities.  I appreciate that ACRL supports a culture of information-sharing and mentoring, which has been so useful to me since I became a librarian in 2009.  I have served on the Instruction Section Program Planning Committee and have been a mentee through both the Instruction Section and the Literatures in English Section. Being able to form relationships with people and rely on their expertise has been extremely helpful.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? As the Instruction Coordinator and Information Literacy Librarian, I try to find new ways to teach and assess instruction classes while also sharing and streamlining this process for the rest of the librarians. I work hard to coordinate with our Composition and First-Year Experience Programs to ensure the library is a vital part of first-year students’ academic and personal experiences.  I am fortunate, too, that the size of my library allows me to work on a number of tasks, including staying active in collection development and marketing, among other things.  I have to say that my favorite parts of the job are connecting one-on-one with students and writing our silly bathroom newsletter, The Stall Street Journal.

6. In your own words:  New initiatives and projects are great, but what I have loved about working in libraries since I started as the Reserves Coordinator about 10 years ago are the people.   I am motivated by helping and getting to know the students and the faculty, and I could truly never say enough about my co-workers.  Our library is full of interesting, funny, and whip-smart people who take ownership in what they do.  We draw upon each other’s talents and value each other’s opinions.  And? We cut-up.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.

2014 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award

ilml-logo-270-2014Nominations are open through September 12, 2014,  for the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award. The award encourages library users – professors, administrators, students – to submit nominations about how their librarian makes a difference on campus or in the community.

Up to 10 librarians will be selected. Each librarian will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a travel stipend to attend the awards ceremony and reception in New York City, hosted by The New York Times.

Nominate your favorite College, Community College, or University librarian today!

Keeping Up With… Net Neutrality

The latest edition of Keeping Up With…, ACRL’s online current awareness publication featuring concise briefs on trends in academic librarianship and higher education, is now available.  This month’s issue features a discussion of Net Neutrality by John Jackson.

Keeping Up With… is available on the ACRL website and each issue will be send via email to ACRL members. Non-members  can visit our email subscription page to sign up to receive Keeping Up With… and a variety of other ACRL awareness publications including the ACRL Update newsletter and table of contents alerts for C&RL and C&RL News.

ACRL is currently accepting topic suggestions for future editions of Keeping Up With… . Visit the Keeping Up With… website for more information or contact David Free at with questions or to submit topics.

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.

Putting the User First

Putting the User FirstACRL announces the publication of Putting the User First: 30 Strategies for Transforming Library Services by Courtney Greene McDonald.

User experience is everywhere. From a library’s website to the signage by the elevators, everything contributes to the overall experience of library patrons. Just one simple idea can transform libraries: put the user first. But just because an idea is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. How can libraries best identify, implement and evaluate user-driven changes in order to improve physical and virtual services?

The good news is that even small changes can make big headway. Putting the User First provides 30 hands-on strategies, activities and practical suggestions to enable the transformation of libraries and library services, along with individual approaches and practices, to a more responsive, effective and user-centered model. These practical strategies are coded for cost, technology, physical space, personal practice and organizational culture to easily identify areas of impact. MacDonald’s work is essential reading for all librarians interested in improving overall user experience.

Putting the User First is available for purchase in print through the ALA Online Store and; and by telephone order at (866) 746-7252 in the U.S. or (770) 442-8633 for international customers.

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