I recently had the pleasure of attending the ALA 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida thanks to being awarded the Wiley Scholarship for Early Career Librarians. This was my second time attending an ALA Conference, and I was much more prepared this time around. I had all of my sessions, events, and exhibit floor exploration planned ahead of time and this greatly improved my conference experience. Despite the 100+ degree temperature and humidity, I have returned to work invigorated with many great ideas that I look forward to implementing in the upcoming fall semester.
Many of the sessions I attended provided me with some useful ideas for my work as a liaison librarian. One of my favorite ACRL programs was titled “Data to Discourse: Subject Liaisons as Leaders in the Data Landscape.” The panelists, Daniel Shanahan, Shannon Farrell, and Jessica Ritchie, discussed ways in which instruction librarians can better teach students to find appropriate data as well as ways to partner with faculty to identify data sources and figure out ways to use the data to formulate research questions. As a social sciences librarian, teaching students about data is becoming increasingly important, so I was thankful for the panelists’ insights.
Another session that stood out to me was “Framing out New Partnerships: Redesigning Library Instruction and First-Year Writing Programs Through Shared Understanding.” Brittney Johnson and Moriah McCraken discussed their approach to incorporating and assessing threshold concepts into their information literacy instruction. As my library is in the experimentation stage of using the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy, I appreciated their practical advice. This session was timely as well, as the ACRL Board of Directors voted to rescind the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education at this conference.
Another highlight of the conference was providing my own contributions. I presented two ACRL programs with my esteemed colleagues Michelle Costello (SUNY Geneseo) and Kimberly Hoffman (University of Rochester). Our interactive presentations included “Expanding Your Assessment Toolbox: Creative Assessment Design for the Novice Instruction Librarian” and “Practical Instructional Design: Diverse Perspectives in Academic Librarianship.” Curious readers may find our presentations on the ALA Annual website. Our turnout was impressive and we have received offers to present our ideas in other venues.
As a leader of the ACRL Distance Learning Section’s Award Committee, I was able to host the DLS Awards Luncheon at the Hilton Orlando with my co-chair, Rebecca Norwicki (Ashford University). During this event, we presented Elizabeth Brumfield of Prairie A&M University with the DLS Award. This award recognizes a librarian’s contributions and dedication to the field of distance librarianship. Elizabeth’s 19-year career in libraries has been devoted to serving the needs of distance students through the development of mobile apps, her role in developing quality online education at her campus, and her numerous scholarly contributions to the field. Elizabeth’s acceptance of the award was both moving and inspirational.
Overall, ALA 2016 turned out to be a fantastic experience. I appreciate the opportunities that the Wiley Scholarship for Early Career Librarians provided me. I hope next year’s recipients have a transformative experience as well.
Brandon West is a Social Sciences Librarian at State University of New York, Geneseo.
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