Conference Reflections

I just returned from the national conference of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). It was a lot of fun and very informative. This week’s blog post highlights a few of the current trends in academic librarianship that I learned about at ACRL. Mark Puterbaugh, our Information Services Librarian attend Computers in Libraries two weeks ago and he offered to share some of his insights from that conference as well.

Computers in Libraries (Washington, D.C., March 21-24)
by Mark Puterbaugh

  1. E-books have penetrated the market to the extent that they can not be ignored.
  2. The full-text searching of e-books changes the way academic literature is read and used. Like e-journals the e-book is not seen as single entity but now exists as searchable chapters, paragraphs, sentences and words.
  3. The iPad and slate computers changes the future of academic textbooks. It allows the textbook to become a multi-media learning tool.
  4. The real world off campus is more and more mobile. The silo of the campus life often insulates us from what is really happening.
  5. The Mobile Web will rule by 2015.

Association of College & Research Libraries (Philadelphia, March 31-April 2)

  1. It’s all about embedding librarians! We must go where our users are, whether that means physically “embedding” ourselves in the halls of McInnis or at Jammin’ Java, or digitally embedding ourselves in Blackboard courses and other media learning tools. This conference was full of presentations & poster sessions on new ways college & university librarians are seeking out users and connecting with them. All the sessions I attended on embedding library services were very encouraging. It was nice to hear the many successful instances of students seeking out research help from librarians and how useful students and faculty felt it was to have a librarian so incorporated in the curriculum & course. I can only remain optimistic that this will one day be the case at Eastern as well.
  2. Harnessing mobile technologies is a must. I sat in on a really interesting presentation from Miami University. It was entitled “The Library’s Swiss-Army Knife: Using Smart Phones for Information Discovery, Content Delivery and Inventory Management”. They presented about their library’s mobile site and the ways they are continuing to improve it. For example, in the next release of it they hope to incorporate a “computer availability map”. It’s pretty much a floor map of the library and computers that are available are highlighted in blue, while computers currently in use are highlighted in red. They also talked about their use of QR (Quick Response) codes (which are apparently all the rage now…). They are placing QR codes in their top 400 circulating books so that when you have the book in front of you, you’ll use your smart phone’s QR app to snap the book’s QR code and on your phone loads a page featuring reviews of the book & related articles. Pretty cool!
  3. More and more libraries are incorporating media labs in their building, which I would love to have here in Warner if we had the space. These media labs are equipped with audio & video editing equipment and students have the ability to create media-rich projects. One example came from the University of Minnesota. A biology professor assigned each student a type of aquatic organism. The student then had to create a vodcast of their organism. The library also provides video & audio equipment that students can check-out. This movement towards libraries containing media labs is very indicative of the growing emphasis on media literacy in higher education. Not only are colleges & universities training students to be literate in the traditional sense, but now there is a growing demand to teach students how to also be media literate. I think it’s a wonderful creative way for students to learn. Who wouldn’t rather make a vodcast on the sea anemone instead of writing a 8-10 page paper on it?!
  4. I learned about a very innovative services– “Movies, Music and Professional Development: Indiana University’s Residence Hall Libraries“. Indiana University-Bloomington has this great service for students that places mini-libraries in each dormitory. These libraries were originally funded by IU Libraries, but are now funded by the university’s Residential Programs and Services department. They are open from 5pm until midnight and students can check out DVDs, music and books using their library card. Very convenient!
  5. “Assessment” was definitely a buzz word that the conference. Almost every session I attended addressed assessment on some level. I think there is a lot of truth in this. The only way librarians can best serve our users, whether it be faculty or students, is by constantly assessing our services and our instruction sessions. I think this conference has helped bring to light for me, how crucial it is to assess library services. I don’t think we do enough of this in the library. Hopefully we can start incorporating more assessment into our services and instruction. One presentation used a really cool “assessment-on-the-fly” tool that utilizes mobile phones & texting. I am hankering to try it out on one of my library instruction sessions…

We’d love to hear what you think about these trends! Post a comment below.

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