Friday, April 15, 2011

ACRL Part 2

Viola, in the grass

I finally got around to sorting through my notes and reviewing what I did at ACRL. Instead of dragging readers through a detailed play-by-play, I'll just make a few points here: 

Many events I hoped to attend were scheduled simultaneously, and I was disappointed not to be able to do everything I wanted to. This may have been inevitable at a highly relevant conference like ACRL, as opposed to a conference with fewer events targeted at academic libraries. In any case, I now really appreciate the existence of the Virtual Conference, which I'm just starting to explore. It sounds like I will be able to catch some of the things I missed this way. I hope the Virtual Conference continues to be active during the summer when things slow down a little at the college.

Sarah Faye Cohen over at The Sheck Spot put it well when she said of ACRL: "I heard an awful lot of the same talk as I've heard before" and "I feel like those are the same talks we've been having on blogs, in articles, and at conferences for years." This was my first time attending an ACRL conference, and to be honest I thought I would encounter more that was new to me. Particularly working at a community college, my reaction at professional events is often 'ack, there's so much we should be doing that we need to catch up with!' -- but not this time. While I was inspired and motivated, I didn't have any huge revelations.

Along similar lines, I thought some of the ideas presented could have been very satisfactory blog posts rather than events at a national conference. However, I do understand, and I can report from personal experience, that a blog post does not typically generate as much fanfare or professional accolades as presenting a paper on a stage as large as ACRL's. When testing a hypothesis was carefully planned around a project (rather than analyzing a project upon completion, which results in more of a report); when literature was thoroughly reviewed and methodological questions were anticipated; and when ideas had the potential to be applied beyond one single library or institution, the resulting presentation at ACRL was impressive. And there were plenty of presentations of this caliber, but to be honest I thought they all would be that good. At certain events I expected better. 

I'm sorry if all this doesn't sound as upbeat as my posts about ALA in Chicago in 2009 (found here, here and here), but to be honest my expectations were a little higher for ACRL. I definitely found the conference valuable, though, and will do my best to attend again. 

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