Apologies, loyal readership! I took a bit of a vacation from blogging, but I’ve returned. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about what I’ve been up to these past few months, starting with the symposium I attended in December.
On December 7th, I attended the ACRL/NY annual symposium for the very first time. What an event! So many great speakers, so much great information — in other words: this event is a keeper and I’m already looking forward to attending next year’s symposium.
This year’s theme was “Cultivating Entrepreneurship in Academic Libraries,” with speakers Steven Bell, Maureen Sullivan, Naomi House, Lisa Carlucci Thomas, and Stephanie Walker.
Bell, 2012-13 ACRL President, opened the symposium by providing great insight into institutional cultures that promote or stifle progress. Essentially, Bell asked librarians to shift their thinking of entrepreneurship from product-centric to process-centric, and to focus not on outcomes measured by profit but rather to concentrate our creative energies, as library entrepreneurs, on developing environments and personal characteristics conducive to innovation.
Naomi House followed. As a user of the INALJ digest since its early days, I was ridiculously excited to see House speak. Her perspective on being entrepreneurial during the job hunt was quite refreshing, so I was surprised to see her catch some flack for drawing attention to the fact that our profession-wide ethic of teamwork can sometimes be counter-intuitive for job-seekers. That is, due to the nature of our work, job candidates have a tendency overemphasize their roles as team players to the extent that they often understate their creative abilities or leadership qualities. Personally, I think it was a rather astute and helpful observation, one that in no way couched our brand of teamwork in the negative.
Stephanie Walker from Brooklyn College followed House. I was completely blown away by the fact that their IT department and librarians were able to collaborate to create products they could use in-house and sell to other libraries. In an age where departmental budgets are rapidly shrinking, what better way to prove the value of your library than to generate a profit? It will be interesting to see how the endeavor proceeds and how this particular instance of library-generated profit opens up the conversation about academic libraries and self-sustainability.
Unfortunately, my crew and I had to leave early, so the last presentation we caught was given by Lisa Carlucci Thomas. Much of Thomas’s talk reinforced what Bell spoke of at the start of the conference with particular emphasis on the role that culture plays in supporting and sustaining innovation.
Again, it was a great symposium, and I look forward to next December’s!