At the Helm: Leading Transformation Academic Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2017

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Blustery winds rolling off the harbor and the Baltimore Orioles baseball stadium served as the backdrop for the 2017 Academic Colleges and Research Libraries Conference. This year’s theme, At the Helm; Leading Transformation was more than just looking at how librarians can be innovative change agents in the  services and resources provided to library users, it offered attendees the opportunity to discuss many of the social issues addressing our nation and the world.

Programs such as Opening an Uncomfortable Conversation on Privilege and Social Justice, highlighted the fact increasingly librarians are being asked to attend and/or sponsor workshops and trainings that address cultural sensitivity and diversity. In order for these programs to be successful it is important to acknowledge that everyone has biases and individual experiences often reinforce those biases. Understanding our own biases is necessary before starting those often difficult conversations.

Verna Myers program, What If I Say the Wrong Thing? Interpreting Bias in Ourselves and Others focused on how the words we use can often be interpreted differently by the listener. Because it is so difficult today to know the right things to say many choose not to interact with others at all. A better approach is to change the cultural lens in which we see things and remember the platinum rule, “your way is not the only way.”

Diversity is like being invited to the dance but inclusion is being asked to dance. Ask somebody to dance this week. You might learn a new dance move.

How Would You Like to Be Remembered? Expanding Your Pedagogy and Professional Practice, examined how important beginning these conversations on diversity, social justice and culture before librarians enter the professional world can impact their interaction with library users. The University of Illinois School of Library and Information Science is implementing this concept in their graduate program. These themes: sexuality, race, gender and social justice are highlighted in a variety of classes that will hopefully assist librarians in better understanding their users.

ACRL Floor
So many vendors to see!

The overall message these and many other programs that focused on diversity and social issues provided is that “diversity is like being invited to the dance but inclusion is being asked to dance.” Ask somebody to dance this week. You might learn a new dance move.

Frye ACRL 2017 Pro Headshot.jpgIn addition there were 100’s of vendors to meet and a plethora of free stuff. One of the coolest was the professional headshot studio and the mid -morning Mimosas sponsored by Gale Cengage.

Go Orioles! First pitch  Monday, April 3rd.

Harbor image: By G. Edward Johnson – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Oriole Park at Camden Yards: By Keith Allison –, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Vendor floor image:

Author: Michael Frye


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