Welcome! And Call for Volunteers


Kimberly MillerI’m writing to welcome you to another great year for ACRL-MD. I am excited to serve as ACRL-MD president, and one of my primary goals for the year is to learn more about how we connect with Maryland academic library personnel in order to create a strong network for sharing information relevant to academic and research libraries. I look forward to continuing some of our new traditions while looking for more ways to explore trends shaping contemporary academic library services, spaces, and resources.

As an ACRL-MD officer, I’m frequently asked, “How do I know if I’m an ACRL-MD member?” ACRL-MD is a division of the Maryland Library Association, which means you can select “ACRL-MD” as a division affiliation when you join MLA. An MLA membership qualifies you for member registration rates at paid programs. We hope you’ll join as a member; however, ACRL-MD programs and events are open to both members and non-members. You may also receive messages (like this one) from us if you are an ACRL national member who lives in Maryland.

Call for volunteers

I hope you’re ready to get involved! ACRL-MD virtual business meetings are the third Friday of every month at 11am via MLA’s Blackboard Collaborate. You can also learn more by exploring this blog.

In addition to meetings, we have several active needs for short- and long-term volunteers. See the “Volunteer Opportunities” page for some additional details:

Leadership roles

Our nominations for next year’s officers (term beginning July 2020) are due soon! See  “Volunteer Opportunities” page for descriptions of the Vice President/President Elect and Secretary roles. Interested? Email me kimberlymiller@towson.edu by August 26th

MLA/DLA annual conference

  • Conference proposal review – We are looking for a few volunteers to peer review proposals for ACRL-MD-sponsored MLA/DLA annual conference programs. Interested in learning more? Contact ACRL-MD VP Lois Entner lentner@Harford.edu September 6th
  • Poster program: The MLA/DLA conference committee is excited to have someone from our division coordinate the poster session at MLA/DLA 2020, and we need reviewers! For more information, contact Sean Hogan at shogan@ubalt.edu

Program and social event planning

ACRL-MD tentatively plans to offer a professional development program during January 2020, but we need help! Have a great idea for a professional development program or social event you’d like to see come to life? Just want to help out with the planning? Email kimberlymiller@towson.edu

Bylaws revision:

Past president Mike Kiel will lead our bylaws revisions this year. If you’d like to volunteer for this project, contact him at skiel@ubalt.edu

If you have any other questions or ideas you’d like ACRL-MD to consider, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I hope to see many of you at our meetings and events this year!

Kimberly Miller

ACRL-MD President

Happy new year from your ACRL MD!

If your new year resolutions include professional engagement, get involved with ACRL MD in 2018. There are many ways!


Attend the monthly virtual meetings and bi-monthly journal club!

Join our 11 am discussions online at: https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2012176&password=M.EFF327145BA70AF1D6C64C108FC41A

The schedule for the rest of this membership year is:

  • January 19, 2018 (includes journal club)
  • February 16, 2018
  • March 16, 2018 (includes journal club)
  • April 20, 2018
  • May 18, 2018 (includes journal club)
  • June 15, 2018
  • July 20, 2018 (includes journal club)

Join a work group to help build ACRL MD!

Contact Sara Arnold-Garza sarnoldgarza@towson.edu (except where noted) to express interest in a work group:

  • Membership/outreach
  • Social/networking
  • Scholarship/sponsorship
  • Mentoring/job shadow
  • CRAB submissions – Please contact Monique Clark (mclark@ubalt.edu) and Claire Holmes (cholmes@towson.edu) if you are interested in writing about Maryland’s academic libraries and librarians for the CRAB.

Participate in Professional Development Programming and Socializing!

More details coming soon about our winter social. We will reprise duckpin bowling in February for some family fun!

ACRL’s “Assessment in Action: Demonstrating and Communicating Library Contributions to Student Learning and Success” Workshop is jointly co-sponsored by the USMAI Library Consortium (USMAI), the Congress of Academic Library Directors of Maryland (CALD), and ACRL MD. This day-long event is scheduled for March 23, 2018 at Loyola University of Maryland’s Columbia Campus. Registration details coming soon.

The MLA/DLA Annual Conference will be held May 2 – 4, 2018 at the Hyatt-Chesapeake in Cambridge, MD and has a full track of programming sponsored by ACRL MD. Registration information will be provided when it becomes available.

Watch this space for updates about our Spring and Fall programs for 2018. We look forward to an exciting year of professional development and fun!

Nominations sought for 2018-2019 ACRL MD Officers!

Do you know someone who would be great at leading and shaping this ACRL chapter? Perhaps it’s you! We are seeking candidates for the July 2018-June 2019 terms of Vice President/President-Elect and Secretary. More information about duties of office is detailed below.

Nominations start in October, and election results are announced in May. To be qualified, candidates must have attended at least 1 planning meeting during the year leading up to their nomination and participate in the planning of an ACRL MD program or other event prior to the start of their term. Significant contributions to other aspects of MLA will be considered in place of the other requirements. During their term of office, individuals holding these positions must be registered MLA members.

Please send nominations, including self-nominations to Sara Arnold-Garza (sarnoldgarza@towson.edu) or contact her for more information, if needed.

Uncle Sam style hat
Created by Nikita Kozin from Noun Project

Vice President/President-Elect
The role of Vice President/President-Elect is a three-year commitment, with varying responsibilities.

As vice-president:

  • Serve as the ACRL MD representative on the MLA Conference Committee, including coordinating ACRL MD’s call for proposals and proposal review
  • Attend all MLA Conference Committee meetings (varies in-person and virtual)
  • Attend all ACRL MD planning meetings
  • Assist with other program planning and initiatives
  • Contribute content to the ACRL MD blog (acrlmd.wordpress.com) or other social media platforms

As president:

  • Plan the fall program
  • Attend the Congress of Academic Library Directors (Maryland) meetings as ex-officio (alternating virtual and in-person)
  • Attend MLA Executive Board Meetings (held every other month, in person at the MLA office)
  • Set agendas and run ACRL MD meetings
  • Submit bi-monthly reports to MLA and annual reports to MLA and ACRL Chapters Council
  • Attend all ACRL MD planning meetings
  • Assist with other program planning and initiatives
  • Contribute content to the ACRL MD blog (acrlmd.wordpress.com) or other social media platforms

As past-president:

  • Plan the summer program
  • Attend all ACRL MD planning meetings
  • Assist with other program planning and initiatives
  • Contribute content to the ACRL MD blog (acrlmd.wordpress.com) or other social media platforms

The role of Secretary is a one year commitment.

  • Attend all ACRL MD planning meetings
  • Record and publishing the minutes for these minutes
  • Communicate events to Marylib and other media channels
  • Coordinate meeting schedule with MLA Office
  • Assist with other program planning and initiatives
  • Post content to official ACRL MD social media accounts


New Opportunities – Get involved with an ACRL MD Work Group!

Based on recent feedback and our conversations at our Forum, we are expanding the opportunities for manageable leadership roles and involvement in some key areas of our chapter. The scope of projects and activities will be up to you to shape, in collaboration with ACRL MD officers, based on your available time and ideas. Contact Sara Arnold-Garza sarnoldgarza@towson.edu (except where noted) to express interest in any of the work groups below:

  • Membership/outreach
  • Social/networking
  • Scholarship/sponsorship
  • Mentoring/job shadow
  • CRAB submissions – contact Claire Holmes cholmes@towson.edu if you would like to help us write for The CRAB (MLA’s quarterly publication), or if you have ideas for articles.

If you have ideas for other work groups, or questions about any of the opportunities, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Is it the end, or just the middle?

As I sat down to write an essay for this blog, I thought about a post that would look at the transitional period between the fall and spring semesters – an odd time that’s simultaneously the end of a year in our personal lives, but only halfway through the main part of the year in our professional lives. I think there are a lot of tensions and competing emotions in that space that would be interesting to look at. Now, you may be looking at me sideways – it’s true, I don’t work in a library anymore. But I can still remember the feeling of exhaustion that would wash over me during that last quiet week of the semester, when library instruction was done and the building was full of panicked students cramming for exams and writing papers, and mostly just asking for help citing their sources.

That’s when I realized that I really never managed to get anything done in those couple of weeks before the library closed for the holidays. Even reading all those blog posts and issues of C&RL News that had piled up was sometimes too much for me. Professionally, I needed some time to relax and reset.

So, in the spirit of providing a useful diversion, I’m going to talk about some of the best books I read this year. In particular, books that have nothing to do with libraries, except for the fact that you can probably borrow them from your local branch. Continue reading “Is it the end, or just the middle?”

Stop Learning, Start Thinking!

That title is probably a bit counterproductive coming from someone who is involved in an organization that spends a fair amount of its time planning professional development programming (ACRL MD, that is). But, I stand by the statement, inspired by a pretty amazing TEDxTeen talk given by Jacob Barnett, a “child prodigy and mathematics genius“.

Stop learning. Start thinking.

It’s not that I think we, as librarians, shouldn’t learn. In contrast, our profession values the importance of life-long learning – a value with which I undoubtedly agree. However, I think this desire to learn often inhibits our ability to act.

I am reminded of my own experience as an undergraduate student learning the craft of music composition. I used to spend copious amounts of time trying to “learn” how to write music – reading textbooks about music theory, harmony, and instrumentation; learning about the thought processes and practices of other composers; and, of course, listening to a lot of music, waiting to discover the secret to it all. I am sure these all contributed greatly to my ability to actually write music, and I would strongly suggest intense study to anyone interested in such endeavors, but they also greatly inhibited my ability to actually compose. I was hindered by information overload, disproportionate expectations related to my years of experience, and a general lack of confidence in my ability to emulate my idols. I was in school, so I’m pretty sure I was still learning something, but I remember a distinct moment where I threw aside the entire musical canon, made peace with music theory as a “means for understanding” rather than a set of rules, and entered my most prolific period of writing music (none of it good, in retrospect). By thinking about what I had learned, I was able to put that knowledge to work in a way that satisfied my needs rather than attempting to appease the lofty expectations of my exaggerated idols.

So much of the way we are raised and educated emphasizes learning, sometimes at the expense of thinking. We learn to walk, learn to communicate, learn to be polite, learn (or attempt to learn) math and science and the arts, learn to play a sport, learn to drive, learn to catalog (or not), learn to research, and learn best practices for ‘x’ variety of tasks. Now, how often were you encouraged to think about the effectiveness of your communication methods, what it means to truly be polite, or whether accepted cataloging practices were really the best way of doing things? Learning is part of us, regardless of whether or not we think of ourselves as someone who enjoys learning, and learning how things have been done often overshadows the importance of considering why things are.

The same thing happens in our libraries. Why is it that the majority of academic library websites have a tabbed search box and why hasn’t Google caught on to this? Why do so many of our professional position titles end with the word “librarian” and why don’t corporations end their professional titles with the word “businessman” (gender implications aside)? How many times have you been asked to “find out how other libraries are doing ‘x'”? Now, compare that to how many times you have been asked to “sit at your desk and think about ‘x'”. It’s probably pretty imbalanced, yet the latter is crucial to new developments and breakthroughs in academic librarianship. This imbalance isn’t without cause, though; most of us are already working long hours, juggling too many priorities, and dedicated to the sound approach of following best practices. And, it’s much more difficult to justify taking a nap as an exercise to boost your creative thinking than it is to justify time spent researching best practices. As a profession, we need to reclaim our “thinking time”. The next time you embark on a mission to learn how other libraries are doing something, mark your calendar to devote equal time to think about what you have learned, claim ownership of that knowledge, and explore your instincts.

Jacob Barnett isn’t telling us to stop learning and make uninformed decisions. His own work is definitely informed by the learning he has done. Rather, he’s telling us to take control of our learning, prioritize what it is we actually need to know in order to do what we want to do, and create the time to think about what we learn.

So, in addition to learning opportunities (which are important!), I hope that ACRL MD and other library organizations and institutions will take on the task of facilitating thinking, creating opportunities to share and develop ideas that will cause truly remarkable breakthroughs in the profession. I think we’re taking a step in the right direction by creating opportunities for individuals to network with each other – both around topics in librarianship and more informally managed discussions. Talking with each other is an important component! I would love to hear any ideas you might have about how ACRL MD can provide a balance between thinking and learning in the profession.

The Social Network

In the freshman experience class that I teach, one of my students recently balked at the idea of “networking” in order to find work or internship opportunities. He objected to the thought of people getting hired because of connections they had made rather than the merit of their work. The class then discussed the issue and concluded that connections could offer a person a foot in the door so that their merit could at least be considered. I was thrilled to watch them arrive at this point through their conversation rather than having to make it myself. I was even more thrilled when the original student who dislike the idea of networking recently submitted a reflection about an event he attended. The event focused on getting a job with any college major and the speaker zeroed in on the importance of networking. The student wrote that he now understood that there was not anything underhanded about this practice, rather a way to learn more about people in your field, what they do, and who else they might know who you might find of interest.

I think a lot of adults feel the same way when they hear the word “networking”. It helps when we think of this practice as a casual way to learn more about our field from those who are already working in it.  In addition, we learn more about who they know and the research on which those people might be working.  By having a conversation at a social event, we may have just found a new research collaborator or an interested party for an upcoming professional program. For those who are new to a field or changing careers, networking can be invaluable as they may not have a lot of experience to stand on but they can meet new people to show that they are eager and ready to learn more.  It doesn’t have to be intimidating or feel sleazy. It is supposed to be fun and usually works best in a less formal, casual environment. And speaking of fun, there are several upcoming opportunities to meet your colleagues and possibly learn about new techniques for conducting research.

The ACRL MD fall program, “Stats Amazing!”, is scheduled for Friday, November 16th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Learn more about research methods and meet more library professionals! Space and time are running out for this event so go to this link http://bit.ly/statsamazing to find out more and register! An informal social event will take place after the day’s workshop.

The SLA Maryland Chapter is holding its Holiday Cheers celebration at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. This will take place on Wednesday, December 5th, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Register by November 26th and learn more about this event here: http://maryland.sla.org/2012holidayevent/

Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming ACRL MD co-sponsored happy hour in early December! Hope to see you all there!

Behind the Scenes of ACRL MD

A lot of Maryland librarians have been involved in planning programs for ACRL MD over the years, but many more have not. If you fall into the second category, you may wonder how our events and workshops go from idea to reality.

One important thing to know is that with the rare exception, all of our planning meetings are open to any librarian to attend (including the one coming up on Wednesday). We value the input we get from librarians around the state, and it’s especially helpful to us to have people with new ideas and perspectives in the room. This year and last, we have used MLA’s WIMBA online meeting room software to try to encourage people who cannot physically attend the meeting (either due to distance or to time constraints, or both) to join us virtually. This is not just an empty nod to our more remote colleagues – last year as president, I actually ran several of the meetings over WIMBA. Naturally we’ve experienced some technical difficulties, but I think it is still working out pretty well overall.

And you are invited to do more than just attend the meetings and observe. ACRL MD members do almost all of the program planning – we come up with ideas, identify and schedule speakers, find a place to host the meeting and plan the catering. We also run the show on the day of the meeting, making sure attendees sign in and handling any walk-in registrations – and of course managing any last-minute problems that might crop up with the venue. But the MLA office staff also play a large part, processing program registrations, and using MLA’s official channels get the word about our programs out to all members of MLA.

In the last year or so we have also been expanding our informal programs. We’ve hosted some successful happy hours to foster networking between Maryland librarians, and we also run an online Journal Discussion Club to make sure we’re all keeping up with at least a little bit of the library literature. We are always glad to see new faces and names at these – they are a great way to see what we’re all about without having to dedicate much time or money to doing so.

If you ever see an announcement about an ACRL MD event and have questions, or if you have an idea to share but can’t attend a meeting, let us know! We usually include someone’s contact information in our announcements, and you can always look us up on the About page of this blog.