For anyone who thinks that librarians just work in a vacuum behind our desks shushing people, they have never been to a librarian conference. Baltimore stood witness this past month to just how loud, energetic, and vocal librarians can be about their work and how it impacts the world around them as Balitmore hosted the 2017 Academic Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference.
There was so much to do from countless sessions on topics ranging from management to social justice to information literacy to desk yoga (I kid you not) to over 200 posters on student training, engaging with faculty, open access, archives, creating zines, not to mention the vendor tables, roundtable discussions, and workshops! As a first timer to the conference, overwhelming is definitely a word I would use, but I use the term with positivity and enthusiasm because clearly, in a profession whose value is constantly questioned, we have a lot to say.
You could easily fill a few pages talking about everything that went on at ACRL, but I will highlight two programs that have become directly applicable to my work at WSSU just in the following week after the conference. The first was the session Turning “Lemonade” into a Libguide where Jennifer Ferretti at the Maryland Institute College of Art talked about a Libguide (or those “Resources by Subject” guides seen on the O’Kelly page) which lays out resources that give further background on Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” that came out last year including resources on literary and culture references, background on Black womanhood, the Black Lives Matter movement, and reception of the album. This was a resource that I had previously been aware of, but having the opportunity to listen to Ferretti talk about her thought process in creating the guide, and the response she got from people, was a unique opportunity. Imagine my delight when in my instruction session on the Monday after the conference, a student tells me she is writing her paper on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and modern feminism. To which my response was “I have something to show you.” Here is the link if you want to check it out yourself: libguides.mica.edu/lemonade.
The other session that became directly applicable was Different Paths to the Mountaintop: Crossing Organizational Divides to Sustain Partnerships, which was a session I ended up in by happenstance (mainly the original session I was going to go to was packed to the brim and so I wondered into the nearby session). This session was a panel of two librarians and two members of university writing centers who discussed the collaboration between the two entities and strategies for maintaining the relationships through regular communication, data sharing, workshops, and team-building activities. This ended up being applicable as our Evening and Weekend Librarian, Sharnette Evans, and I are looking to collaborate more closely with The Writer’s Block here at WSSU and even met with the director, Darius Cureton, this past week to learn more about their services to our students.
Imagine my delight when in my instruction session on the Monday after the conference, a student tells me she is writing her paper on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and modern feminism. To which my response was “I have something to show you.”
I would be personally remiss if I didn’t mention the closing keynote at the 2017 ACRL conference. Carla Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress confirmed under President Barack Obama. She is the first female AND first African American to serve as Librarian of Congress. Before being appointed, she was the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system in Baltimore, which made news when she kept Baltimore’s libraries open to the public during the protests in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray. Now as the Librarian of Congress, she hopes to open up the Library of Congress’s priceless collection to the public so everyone can marvel at its content as she has.
I’ll leave with some of Hayden’s words which were very reflective of the energy present at ACRL. In relation to fake news, Hayden notes that librarians are still viewed as trustworthy and now is our time. She says “If we’re having a moment, let’s seize the moment!”
Author: Breanne Crumpton