3 Insights From ACRL 2011

acrl keynote

image from Susan Sharpless Smith on Flickr

ACRL 2011 wrapped up this past weekend and much like the last time I attended, it was a great conference. There was a lot of great content and ideas in the papers, panels, posters and Cyber Zed Sheds. There were also some excellent keynotes that challenged us to think outside of the echo chamber of the library world. But my favorite part of ACRL conferences are the people and the networking that goes on. I love connecting with smart, like-minded people who are thinking about the same problems that I am. I got a lot out of the conference and figured I would share a few of the ideas that got my mind buzzing:

Planned abandonment

One great session I attended was called When Interdependence Becomes Codependence: Knowing When and How to Let Go of Legacy Services by Katherine Furlong and Mary Evangeliste. I’ve thought a lot about the idea of dropping services, but this presentation really brought the idea home for me. Libraries often keep adding new services, but we rarely drop them. We need to examine services from time to time to see if they are still really best serving our users. The presentation drew from literature in the field of management and exhorted people to ask two big questions of their current services: “would we do this service again” and “is it still relevant?”

Image is important

Clinton Kelly talked about how to be stylish. But he also talked about why style counts. On a personal level, Kelly says that image is important because “how you dress tells the rest of the world how you expect to be treated.” This can also apply to the profession as a whole. The way we act and present ourselves will be how others treat us. If we are quiet or deferential we’ll be treated accordingly, but if we own our expertise as information professionals and assert that expertise, then students, faculty, and administrators will treat us as such.

Intentional Innovation

David Dahl, in his session Lightning in a Bottle: Managing Ideas to Spur Innovation, discussed innovation, but he didn’t use it as the buzzword that it is often used as these days. He talked about it as an intentional process as opposed to something that just happens. It’s something that can be fostered and recreated. We need to set aside time just for idea generation. He also said that there must be people who select and champion ideas or the ideas will never go anywhere. In addition, ideas come to us all the time, but if we don’t purposefully collect these ideas, we’ll lose them. Having a process and structure in place are necessary in order to consistently generate and implement useful new ideas.

There was so much awesome stuff going on it couldn’t all make it into this post, but there’s another great writeup over at Library Journal . Did you attend in person or virtually? What was an insight that you had?

Andy Burkhardt


  1. Excellent photo! And great insights on ACRL, as well as the link to Mary Evangeliste and Katherine Furlong’s paper on dropping services. Very interesting. I would be interested in seeing a top ten list of the top ten services/programs/technologies that are either being phased out, should be phased out, or are ideal for “Planned Abandonment” in libraries…

  2. I attended virtually and while it was great, I really missed seeing everyone in person in Philly 🙁 I did blog most of the virtual conference sessions, so check it out if you’re interested! Also, the slidecasts (PPTs with synched audio for contributed papers, Cyber Zed Shed, invited paper and panels) should be posted on the Virtual Conference website (http://www.learningtimes.net/acrl/2011/) soon (along with all 12 of the recorded webcasts). You could have professional development for months, all included in your ACRL registration! Glad you got a lot out of it, and thanks for blogging for the rest of us!

  3. Erin, I’m sorry you couldn’t go but I’m glad you could participate virtually. I’m planning on watching your virtual session sometime soon. If you get the chance, you should watch our session called “In the Spirit of Ben Franklin: The 13 Virtues of the Next-Gen Librarian.” I mention you and the renovation project that you folks have going on.

    I’m really excited about all the virtual sessions going up. There were so many good ones that I couldn’t get to even close to all the ones I wanted.

  4. Hello!
    Thanks for your interest in Katherine and my paper from ACRL! Just wanted to tell everyone that we just got approved by ALA to start collecting stories of Planned Abandonment in all kinds of libraries to create a book. We know from the interest in our session that many people are ready to talk about this! So if you know of any librarians who has used this method please write me. And yes Will I can imagine when we are compiling the book that we will be able to create the kind of list you are thinking of.

  5. Hello!
    Katherine and I are collecting proposals for a forthcoming ALA book on planned abandonment in libraries. DUE DEC 15th.
    Have you a planned to abandon or change a legacy service, resource or space? Did you use strategies or methods that other librarians can learn from?

    Here is the formal call:

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    * *


    * *

    Abandon all Fear: assessing, evaluating and letting go of legacy
    services (forthcoming 2013)

    * *

    We invite proposals for case studies to be published in a forthcoming
    ALA Editions book Abandon all Fear: assessing, evaluating and letting
    go of legacy services, an edited collection of case studies examining
    how librarians in all types of organizations are responding and
    adapting to cataclysmic budgetary and programming changes.

    * *

    The book will be edited by Mary Evangeliste, owner of the consulting
    collaborative Fearless Future and Katherine
    Furlong, Director for Access and Technical Services for the libraries
    of Lafayette College

    * *

    Have you had to change, adapt, even abandon services, spaces or
    programs in light of the recent economic conditions? We’re looking
    for case studies focusing on how libraries of all types are changing
    and adapting service models to let go of obsolete or less useful
    programs. Given the current economic climate, libraries can no longer
    afford to maintain the status quo. But instead of reacting in a
    panicked fashion to budgetary and staffing challenges, librarians can
    choose a measured, proactive response. If you think you’ve found a
    new means of being relevant to your users, please share your story.

    We welcome proposals from librarians, library administrators,
    trustees, faculty or other partners both individually and as teams.
    The proposal should consist of an abstract of 500 words together with
    all author contact information. Please include in proposal the issue
    faced, the strategies and assessments used to examine the issue and
    the result. Case studies should run at least ten double-spaced pages

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