Member of the Week: Esther Stampfer Grassian

Esther Stampfer Grassian

Esther Grassian is Adjunct Librarian at Pierce College in Los Angeles, California and Distinguished Librarian Emerita of UCLA. Esther has been an ACRL member since 1986 and is your ACRL member of the week for June 15, 2015.

1. Describe yourself in three words: “A librarian forever!”

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? Just recently I enjoyed reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, then finished Unbroken, and am just starting The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Also eagerly awaiting Hilary Mantel’s 3rd Thomas Cromwell novel, though I’m not a fan of the TV mini-series. I also still read books in paper– I just finished The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and I’m currently reading Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up (about his career as a comedian). I have waiting in the wings, Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, 1776 by David McCullough, My Ántonia by Willa Cather, Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, I’ll Mature When I’m Dead by Dave Barry, and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, as well as Active Learning Techniques for Librarians by Andrew Walsh and Padma Inala. Whew!

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Opportunity, networking, and “quality control.”

4. What do you value about ACRL? I truly value the many opportunities ACRL offers to learn, connect with others, and contribute to the profession through committee work, elected office, publications, and continuing education. Basically, you can make a difference with ACRL!

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus?

Just a few highlights from my 41-year career at UCLA, in a variety of capacities, beginning with Reference Librarian (1969), through Reference/Instruction Librarian, Information Literacy Coordinator, Interim Head (College Library), and ending with Information Literacy Outreach Coordinator (through June 2011)…

  1. CAMPUS LEADERSHIP AND COLLABORATION: Worked with campus computing center staff on Internet training. Led the UCLA Library’s Internet Training Group, teaching UCLA librarians, staff and students how to use the Internet, beginning with Gopher (1993/94) and proceeding through the Web (1995 +); also wrote one of the first web evaluation guides: “Thinking Critically About World Wide Web Resources” (1995).
  2. UC LEADERSHIP: Served in various leadership capacities, including chairing the local (UCLA) Librarians Association of the University of California (LAUC-LA), as well as the statewide LAUC, and served as Interim Head of College Library (UCLA’s undergraduate library), August-December 2007.
  3. PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP: Have chaired local, regional, and national groups, including the ACRL Instruction Section; established and chaired LILi (Lifelong Information Literacy), a grassroots California multi-type library group focused on supporting and encouraging development of sequential lifelong information literacy instruction curricula.
  4. iSCHOOL INTERNSHIP DEVELOPMENT & SUPERVISION: Established and supervised many UCLA iSchool Interns who worked on a variety of projects, including an extensive online tutorial (“Road to Research”), a number of point-of-use guides, as well as an adaptation of the University of Minnesota’s open source “Assignment Calculator.”
  5. CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FOR THE PROFESSION: With Joan Kaplowitz, proposed and then alternated teaching a 4-unit graduate course in information literacy instruction for MLIS and PhD students in the UCLA iSchool (1990-present); co-authored two ILI textbooks for this course.
  6. CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT WITH FACULTY COLLABORATION: Working collaboratively with UCLA faculty, proposed and taught two 1-unit undergraduate IL courses: a lower-division course in the Honors program, and an upper-division course in the English Composition Department.

As a part-time Adjunct Librarian at Pierce College (1 of the 9 Los Angeles Community Colleges), just since February 2015, I am very happy to be back doing reference, teaching one-shots, and now also working on student success (Equity-funded) projects. Here are a few highlights…

  1. Adapted point-of-use guide for EBSCO databases from UCLA College Library guide.
  2. Created UCLA iSchool Reference/Instruction Internship for the coming year and will have two Interns in Fall 2015.
  3. Publicized and promoted Pierce Library Research Appointments to support student success (Equity-funded) initiative.
  4. Developed LibGuide for English (language and writing).

6. In your own words: Academic/research librarians make a tremendous difference in the lives and success of students, staff, and faculty, helping them leap “thresholds” of all kinds (we’ve been doing that for many decades), though usually not in a single bound… “Information literacy vaccine” requires repeated “booster shots” for everyone–i.e., a lifelong learning mindset. Faculty need updates; grad students need to learn about and expand their information resources/tools horizons; undergrads need introductions to the world of library resources beyond (though also encompassing) Google and Wikipedia; staff need to learn about library resources. Of course, information literacy represents just one aspect of the added value that academic/research librarians bring to their institutions.

In fact, ACRL has put a lot of emphasis on studying and promoting the value of academic and research libraries. But, will we continue to have academic/research librarians? Many library administrators need consciousness-raising regarding the value of academic/research librarians with MLS/MLIS degrees. Some are hiring people with PhDs who have deep subject expertise in specific subject areas, highly useful for collection development. But do those with PhDs have the “big picture”– an overview of information tools and resources, of the history, roles and functions of libraries and librarians, of knowledge organization and access, data preservation, data and culture, privacy and confidentiality, digital and information literacy? Generally not, and the same is true for others with expertise now valuable to libraries–e.g., in digital humanities, cultural anthropology, technologies of various kinds, data management, etc. Adding these kinds of experts can expand a library’s scope, but should they be hired as librarians or into new positions that focus on their expertise?

Academic/research librarians, as I said above, your work and your help are crucial to the success of your academic community. You are expert researchers and many of you are also scholars. I urge you to use that expertise to search for evidence to support arguments regarding the value of the MLS/MLIS degree, to develop and conduct your own research on the value of the degree, and to publicize the results widely before the MLS/MLIS-holding academic/research librarian vanishes.

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

ACRL Joins Other Scholarly Associations To Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin

ACRL has joined with 21 other scholarly societies in a statement protesting proposed changes to the structure of the University of Wisconsin system that threaten to undermine tenure, shared governance, and academic freedom in Wisconsin. Read the full statement below.

Membership in ACRL supports this work to advocate for the interests of academic librarians throughout the country. We need your help to continue these efforts. Please join, renew, or donate today.

Scholarly Associations Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin

The American system of higher education is the envy of the world.  It’s not perfect; few things are.  But at a time when many Americans fear their nation may be falling behind competitively, U.S. colleges and universities continue to be universally regarded as the best in the world. The University of Wisconsin system, in particular, is noted for its standards of research and teaching excellence, with the Madison campus recognized among the top fifteen of American public universities by U.S. News and World Report. The University of Wisconsin is a critical contributor to the state’s economy that provides exceptional value with its thirteen campuses serving over 180,000 students. With $1.2 billion of state investment, the system generates over $15 billion of economic activity.

The undersigned associations of scholars across a wide variety of disciplines are gravely concerned with proposals pending in the Wisconsin legislature that threaten to undermine several longstanding features of the state’s current higher education system: shared governance, tenure, and academic freedom.

By situating the locus of control inside the institution, in a partnership between faculty and administrators, the U.S. system of higher education has generated an unmatched diversity that enables students to find the educational environment that works best for them.  And by granting faculty tenure after an appropriate period during which their work is rigorously evaluated, we have ensured the continued intellectual vitality and classroom independence so essential to innovation, dynamism, and rigorous scholarship.

Academic freedom is the foundation of intellectual discovery, including in the classroom. It nourishes the environment within which students develop critical habits of mind through encounters with diverse perspectives, experiences, and sources of evidence across disciplines. Our democracy depends on the educated citizens that this system is intended to produce: wide-ranging in their knowledge, rigorous in their ability to understand complicated questions, and dedicated to the public good.

Wisconsin in fact helped pioneer the concept of academic freedom for the entire United States when its Board of Regents declared in 1894 that they would not terminate the employment of economist Richard Ely even though his research and teaching on the benefits of labor unions had offended one of its own members. The Regents’ report in the wake of that controversy remains one of the most ringing endorsements for academic freedom in the history of American higher education: “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere,” they wrote, “we believe the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

The policies recommended by the Joint Finance Committee and included in the 2016 budget pose a direct threat to academic freedom by expanding the circumstances under which tenure can be revoked (beyond dire financial emergencies and just cause) while simultaneously removing its protection under state statute. Tenure is a linchpin of vigorous shared governance and independent rigorous scholarship. This assault on the structure of Wisconsin’s model arrangements poses a threat to the university’s stellar reputation and international leadership in research and education—and it betrays a celebrated Wisconsin tradition that began with the Ely case in 1894.

Since 1904, the “Wisconsin Idea” has stood as an inspiring educational model for the entire nation, demonstrating the immeasurable benefits of a robust partnership between the state university and state government predicated on intellectual independence and active engagement by students and faculty members with the wider world. An earlier draft of the current budget bill sought to remove language about the Wisconsin Idea from the mission statement of the university. This most recent draft now poses no less a threat by undermining several of the most important practical pillars of shared governance and academic freedom that have made Wisconsin a beacon among its peer institutions around the world.

Rather than making the University of Wisconsin system more fiscally nimble, the Joint Finance Committee recommendations threaten to damage, possibly irreparably, the distinguished educational system that has justifiably been the pride of Wisconsin residents for more than a century and a half.


American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
American Comparative Literature Association
American Folklore Society
American Historical Association
American Society of Comparative Law
American Society for Environmental History
American Sociological Association
American Studies Association
Association of College & Research Libraries
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
College Art Association
German Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Communication Association
National Council on Public History
Oral History Association
Rhetoric Society of America
The Shakespeare Association of America
The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference
Society of Architectural Historians
World History Association

Member of the Week: Phil Waterman

Phil WatermanPhil Waterman is Head of Research Support Services at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Phil has been an ACRL member since 2012 and is your ACRL member of the week for June 8, 2015.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Dedicated, helpful, and humorous.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device(s)? I finally got around to reading The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.  I hope to use some of his ideas to tip information literacy into our new core curriculum.  Just before that, I read The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester.  This is such a Librarian book!  Next on my list, for the flight to and from ALA San Francisco, is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Professional, educational, and engaging.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I value the opportunities that ACRL provides to learn from and connect with fellow librarians. I value the first-rate professional development that ACRL provides through its conferences, online programs, and publications.

5. What do you, as an academic librarian, contribute to your campus? I feel that I contribute to my campus community through my work within the library as Head of Research Support Services, and through my work outside the library as a member of various college committees. First, through the services and resources the library offers, my colleagues and I strive to contribute to the academic successes of our students. We know that we have a role to play in our students having successful academic careers and we constantly work to fulfill that role as best we can. Whether it’s by answering questions at our research help desk, meeting with students one-on-one for a research consultation, teaching a research instruction session, or creating online research guides, we believe we are contributing to their learning and their academic success. In this way, we are contributing to our college community.

Second, I contribute to my campus community and support its goals and mission by volunteering to serve on campus-wide committees, such as our Academic Honesty Advisory Committee, Curriculum Review Committee, NEASC Accreditation Group, and our Technology Advisory Committee. I know that to be as successful as my community wants to be, and needs to be, in advancing student learning, requires committing one’s self to these additional roles. Also, being involved with these committees raises the profile of the library within my college community. I want my college community to think of the library as an active campus participant; one that is interested in and qualified to contribute to the academic success of our students.

6. In your own words: I often find myself describing my job as fun when asked by friends or family, “How’s work?” I’m always taken aback when I respond that way. It’s a job. How can it be fun? Maybe it’s because previously I worked for 25 years in the banking industry, which would definitely not be described as fun. I know that’s part of it. But the academic environment with its focus on learning and helping others is definitely a better fit for me, and I find this environment invigorating. There is always something new to learn, something new to try, or some unexpected turn in the road that leads to a new venture or adventure. I find that I can’t be bored being a research librarian.

The other reason why I find this career so enjoyable is the people. Librarians are definitely a different breed from bankers! Their focus on learning, their unfailing willingness to help others – be they students, faculty or fellow librarians – makes working with librarians so refreshing and energizing. Finally, the students with their youthfulness bring their own source of energy to the work environment. That’s why I thoroughly enjoy being a research librarian.

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

Wendi Arant Kaspar Appointed College & Research Libraries Editor

crl squareACRL announces the appointment of Wendi Arant Kaspar to the post of editor for College & Research Libraries (C&RL). Kaspar will serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2016.

“Wendi brings a wealth of editorial and scholarly communication experience to the C&RL editorship” said ACRL President Karen A. Williams of the University of Arizona.  “Having previously served as co-editor of two respected LIS journals, she will continue to lead ACRL’s flagship journal into the future, following in the tradition of innovation and experimentation exemplified by outgoing editor Scott Walter and his predecessors. I’m looking forward to watching the ongoing evolution of the journal under Wendi’s leadership.”

Kaspar will serve as editor designate from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, when she will assume full editorial responsibility. In the position of editor, Kaspar will also serve as chair of the C&RL Editorial Board. She succeeds Scott Walter, university librarian at DePaul University in Chicago, as C&RL editor. Walter will work closely with Kaspar over the next year to ensure a smooth transition.

“I’ve have watched C&RL’s evolution with interest, particularly as it provides a leadership model for open access and considers the opportunities that technology and new media bring to scholarly publishing,” Kaspar said. “I am excited at the prospect of being a part of this effort, contributing to the innovative voice of ACRL, and framing quality scholarship and best practices in academic librarianship.”

“Kaspar’s experience and energy will be a great asset in sustaining the momentum and reputation that C&RL has built as the premier open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal for academic and research librarianship,” added Priscilla Finley, chair of the ACRL Publications Coordinating Committee.

Kaspar currently serves as policy sciences librarian at the Texas A&M University Policy Sciences and Economics Library, where her duties include working as liaison librarian and subject selector to the Departments of Economics and Political Science as well as the Bush School of Government including International Affairs and Homeland Security. Her extensive publishing experience includes serving as co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Academic Librarianship (2012-2014) and co-editor-in-chief of Library Leadership & Management (2010-2012).

Published since 1939, C&RL is the open access, online-only scholarly research journal of ACRL.


C&RL News – June 2015

C&RL News June 2015The June 2015 issue of C&RL News is now freely available online.

Assessment of library services continues to be a major trend across academia. At the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, librarians created impact story logs to add “Micro assessing” of interactions to their assessment portfolio in order to present a more holistic picture of their work. Jennifer Gundry writes about their efforts in this issue.

In this month’s Scholarly Communication column, Najla Rettberg and Brigit Schmidt discuss “OpenAIRE,” an open access project designed to gather metadata of research output funded by the European Commission.

Academic libraries can often be places of stress, especially during times such as finals, and on a day-to-day basis with the distractions of constant information flow. At the University of Oklahoma, librarians installed a projected Sparq labyrinth to attempt to reduce stress among both library users and staff. Matt Cook and Janet Brennan Croft write about the project in their article “Interactive mindfulness technology.”

At Emerson College, librarians worked with campus partners to create a course design spa program to reduce faculty stress and rejuvenate course assignments and teaching. Karla Fribley outlines their “Massages in the library” program in this month’s issue. Yes, there were actual massages in addition to spa-themed course design services.

Rhonda Rosen of Loyola Marymount University discusses an ongoing, highly successful campus and community outreach program in her article “What’s a nice Jewish book group doing in a Catholic university?

In this month’s The way I See It essay, Donald A. Barclay makes the case that it may be time to kill print textbook reserves in his piece “No reservations.”

Make sure to check out the other features and departments in this month’s issue, including full results of the 2015 ACRL election, Internet Resources on LGBT workplace protections by Donna Braquet, and a look back at ACRL in the 1970s as part of our continued celebration of the association’s 75th anniversary.


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