ACRL MD held its 2017 fall program on November 6, at Towson University in Northeastern Maryland. “Shape Shifting: Academic Libraries and Change Agents” drew forty-three attendees from throughout the state and a couple even traveled from Pennsylvania! Because change management concerns all levels of library workers, we had the opportunity to connect with and learn from paraprofessionals, librarians, and managers who are actively initiating change in their libraries. In areas as diverse as usability, social media, library scholarship, copyright, and human resources, program participants shared their ideas and experiences as change agents, shifting the shape and direction of their organizations.
The keynote address was given by Lauren Pressley, ACRL Vice President/President Elect, Director of the University of Washington Tacoma Library and Associate Dean of University Libraries.
Lauren’s talk highlighted imperatives for change in higher education, and consequently academic libraries. These familiar topics include the dynamic information environment and conversations of diversity and inclusion. Using frameworks like Bolman and Deal’s Four Frames, or a Strengths and Appreciate Inquiry perspective can help us organize and gain insight within our contexts. Lauren’s recommendations for being a change agent, from whatever position you hold, emphasized characteristics which we can adopt and hone. These include being adaptable, taking a problem-solving approach, and engaging people and relationships. The talk concluded with a tour of the tools our professional organization and networks can provide to support our efforts in making positive change.
Takeaway: Anyone can be a change agent. If you are not the one who sets the organizational agenda, communicates priorities, or distributes resources, you can still shape your environment by employing the tools, opportunities, relationships, and challenges in your environment, as well as your own abilities, to drive toward your vision.
In two concurrent 45-minute sessions, presenters gave in-depth demonstrations showing how they acted as change agents by implementing specific projects at their libraries.
Emily Spangler, Library Services Specialist, The Universities at Shady Grove
Leah Rufus, Graduate Assistant, The Universities at Shady Grove
Emily and Leah have evolved Priddy Library’s social media program into a robust web presence. They manage the library’s Facebook and Instagram posts through scheduling software and thoughtful approaches to content, keeping in mind audience, inclusivity, and efficiency. The presentation focused on Adobe Spark, free software with which you can produce attractive graphics even if you don’t have design experience. Emily and Leah also showed how they leveraged the talents of student workers, turning the students’ internships into a positive, creative experience.
Takeaway: With careful planning, even a library with a small, busy staff can create a dynamic social media presence.
Julia Caffrey, Web Services Librarian, Towson University Libraries
Bill Helman, IT Librarian, Towson University Libraries
Traditionally, libraries wait a long time to redesign their websites, at which point major changes are needed, making the project potentially overwhelming. Julia and Bill introduced us to an agile alternative employed by software development teams: the Scrum method enables you to roll out website improvements on a regular basis. Scrum emphasizes collaboration with users and responsiveness to needs rather than adhering to an inflexible plan.
Takeaway: Don’t wait until your library website needs a drastic overhaul. Employ agile methodologies to make regular, incremental changes. Such a model benefits your users and your staff.
Seven presenters spoke for 5-7 minutes each in a fun, informative round of lightning talks. The audience exchanged ideas with all presenters in a Q&A afterwards.
Kimberly Miller, Learning Technologies Librarian, Towson University
Kimberly showed how librarians can apply ideas set forth in Everett M. Rogers’ book, Diffusion of Innovations. By understanding networks within the library, we can leverage the influence of opinion leaders and innovation champions.
Takeaway: Applying innovation-management theory can bring practical results in your library.
Mike Kiel, Reference/Instruction Librarian, University of Baltimore
Mike proposes that Maryland academic librarians team up to replicate research studies from library literature. There is a need for that kind of research, and it can include partnerships with public librarians, too.
Takeaway: Maryland academic librarians can learn valuable research skills, pursue publication opportunities, and further library science by replicating research studies.
Kyle Breneman, Integrated Digital Services Librarian, University of Baltimore
Kyle transformed the way that his library captures building-use statistics, moving from a handwritten tabulation to Google Forms: the result is a more efficient process and more useful data.
Takeaway: Thoughtful adoption of tech tools can bring improved workflows and actionable information to your library.
Kimberly Arleth, Electronic Resources Librarian, Loyola Notre Dame Library
Julia Caffrey, Web Services Librarian, Towson University Libraries
Kimberly and Julia showed the value of open-source code to help create persistent links for off-campus users. The code can be useful during a proxy migration and adapted to the needs of different libraries.
Takeaway: A tool that easily creates proxied links to database resources will be welcome by library staff and users alike.
Danielle Whren Johnson, Copyright and Special Projects Librarian, Loyola Notre Dame Library
Though most academic librarians are not in a position to give legal advice, we can be campus leaders in copyright education. Danielle shared ways to prepare staff to provide much-needed answers to copyright questions.
Takeaway: Short of offering legal advice, librarians are uniquely qualified to offer copyright services to faculty, students, and campus staff.
Cindy Frank, Architecture Librarian, University of Maryland
Employing the talents of architecture students themselves, Cindy redesigned and transformed the UMD Architecture Library into a multi-use space accessible 24 hours a day.
Takeaway: Increase gate-counts and user engagement by reimagining the service model of a campus branch-library.
Claire Holmes, Assistant University Librarian for Research & Instruction, Towson University Libraries
Claire showed how academic libraries can become leaders in campus programs that hire workers whose abilities match selected jobs. The jobs themselves are valuable opportunities and can also lead to further employment for differently-abled workers.
Takeaway: Individuals with varying abilities benefit from working in an academic library, and the library will benefit, too!