Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference

March 2023

I am so grateful for the professional development grant from CLRC to attend the ACRL Conference 2023 in Pittsburgh. I am currently a staff member at the Syracuse University Libraries, and I am taking courses online to earn an MLIS at the iSchool. I submitted a lightning talk proposal, “Enriching the Student Employee Experience with a Professional Development Program,” and was thrilled that it was accepted. This was my first opportunity to attend a professional conference in the field of academic librarianship, as well as my first time in Pittsburgh.

There were so many wonderful sessions and opportunities to meet other people in the profession. I divided the panels I attended into those that addressed my professional growth and those that addressed some of the work I currently perform in the SU Libraries. There was, of course, overlap between all of those.

The most overlapping panel was about a study of the shift in the use of primary sources by faculty during the Covid-19 shutdown, the ways that faculty adapted, and how those lessons continue to be useful for both in-person and online courses. Two panels that were most directly relevant for my professional growth were a conversational meeting of paraprofessionals who are in the process of becoming professionals, and a panel about the beneficial and challenging aspects of faculty status for librarians. I happened to sit next to a faculty librarian who took me out for coffee after the panel. We had a long and helpful conversation about tenure, the distinction of staff librarians, and her own experiences. Two other panels addressed issues that I currently face daily. One was about a statewide initiative in New Jersey to ease the problem of students entering college without adequate skills for doing college-level work by facilitating peer-to-peer collaboration between academic and school librarians that improve college readiness. The other addressed economic and performance issues that students face with the expense of buying books, particularly textbooks. Librarians from small and large colleges, both public and private, shared the ways that they are attempting to support student success by providing them with access to the books they need as well as their experiences with promoting OER with faculty.

I did get to see some of Pittsburgh – wonderful architecture and, wow, so many beautiful bridges. A medical school librarian invited me to join her for a reception that she was invited to by EBSCO at The Andy Warhol Museum. Later, the conference had a reception at the Senator John Heinz History Museum, which was really fun.

I think my presentation went very well – yay! The audience laughed at the funny part – a good sign! I was so delighted to see that other people in the field share my interest in supporting student employees. Since the conference, two librarians have contacted me to share my PowerPoint and, in one case, chat over Zoom.

Many thanks again for supporting my attendance. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about the conference or my presentation:

Patricia Giles, Syracuse University Libraries

Are you interested in being our next Professional Development Award recipient? Check out the award page for the rules & requirements!