Association of College & Research Libraries

ACRL issues for the 80s

Thomas Kirk

Hannelore Rader

This presentation of statements from ACRL’s candidates for vice-president/president-elect is an information service for ACRL members. Many of the issues and concerns facing ACRL are discussed informally at meetings, but this does not provide a national forum available to all members. These statements provide the basis for an informed choice when you receive your ballot next month.— Sharon J. Rogers, ACRL president.

Thomas Kirk:

I have just returned from Washington, D.C., where I participated in the activities and meetings of the Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. As I write this statement of candidacy my thoughts of those meetings are very much on my mind. ACRL is a vital and active organization. The many committees, task forces, and sections of the Association are hard at work addressing important professional and organizational issues. The planning process which our recent ACRL presidents began is well underway and we can expect to see the fruits of that effort in the coming years. In addition to ACRL organizational planning I observed many committees focusing on professional concerns such as College Library Standards, a new model statement on bibliographic instruction, library legislation, and the planning of programs for this and next year’s annual conferences, to name just a few.

In the context of ACRL’s strength I believe that my task, should I be elected, is to see that the planning effort already underway is completed. In the past I have watched the noble planning efforts of one president get lost when they left office. I believe we have a good effort underway and I am committed to seeing that planning process continue during my tenure.

There is one aspect of the Association which has not received much attention and I believe will need serious consideration over the next few years. That issue is how to best represent the concerns and interests which are primarily those of a particular type of library. The reorganization of the ACRL Roard of Directors, if approved by the membership, and other proposed changes in ACRL will weaken the role of the type-of-library sections within ACRL. Rut I am not interested in just preserving those sections. Instead I want the Association to explore and experiment with ways of strengthening members’ participation in activities and programs which focus on type-of-library concerns. ACRL must not lose the capacity to speak effectively for the interests of a particular type of academic or research library.

The Association, however, should not spend all its energies on organizational concerns. ACRL has as its mission “the enhancement of library service, in the broadest sense, to the academic and research communities.” ACRL is addressing these concerns through development of standards and model statements, development of library legislation, provision of continuing education programs, and many other activities. One subject that I would particularly like to see the Association address in the coming years is the changing role of academic librarians in an evolving automation environment. As I observe the current academic library scene no issue seems more critical to strengthening our ability to serve the information needs of our communities. Unless we can effectively implement the use of new computer technology, which includes reorganizing our libraries to accept the technology, the academic library will be supplanted by alternative information delivery systems.

While the. impact of library automation on libraries and librarians is a subject of particular interest to me there are no doubt other issues of interest to ACRL members. It is my intention, if I become an officer of ACRL, to use my position to see that membership concerns get reviewed by the appropriate units within ACRL. I am particularly concerned that section issues get the appropriate attention of the ACRL Board.

This commitment to an open and responsive ACRL does not mean that suddenly the things you or your ACRL unit want done will immediately be accomplished. What I can offer is the challenge that you actively participate in the work of the Association. We need the active participation of all of ACRL’s members. In turn I will make every effort to see that the Association remains open and responsive to its membership in the context of ACRL’s ongoing planning effort.

Hannelore Rader:

At this time, ACRL is a financially sound organization with the largest membership of any ALA Division. As an organization ACRL is dynamically dealing with important issues within the academic library profession and higher education. This is being accomplished through the formation of liaisons with many professional organizations, through planning and implementing successful national conferences, through the sponsorship of appropriate and much needed professional publications, and through addressing staff development and other needs of academic librarians using continuous needs assessments.

The long-range planning and review process, begun approximately five years ago under the energetic leadership of the ACRL Board, is beginning to show tangible results. The Association is becoming stronger, more responsive to membership needs, and has begun to align itself more closely with higher education objectives. Task forces and committees have been formed to address new and continuing concerns of the membership, especially as related to the impact of constantly-changing technology on information issues.

It will be a challenge for the next ACRL President and the Board to keep ACRL strong and vital in the immediate future, yet flexible enough to address newly emerging information, technology, and education issues. At the same time, ACRL must continue to be aligned with ALA goals and objectives while addressing ACRL’s many membership needs. Another important task for the next ACRL President and Board will be to keep ACRL membership strong and vital by involving as many members as possible in association activities, and to provide members with adequate resources for this. Both ACRL services and activities must continue to be based on members’ needs in order to keep present members and to obtain additional ones.

As President of ACRL, a challenging and exciting task which involves three years of commitment to hard work for the candidate, I would continue the process to strengthen the Association by supporting previous planning efforts, while aggressively addressing new technology issues facing college and research libraries. I would try to strengthen and increase ACRL membership by working very actively with the ACRL chapters to bring some of their dynamic energy back into the Association. Through my active membership in ACRL for 16 years, which provided me with experience on committees, task forces, chapters (Michigan and Wisconsin), and sections (EBSS, BIS, CLS), and through my service on ALA Council, other ALA committees and divisions, I have obtained a clear perspective on ACRL’s role and its importance as a major part of ALA and academic librarianship. If elected, my first priority will be to work closely with all ACRL units, other ALA units, and higher education groups to address jointly the challenges facing libraries and higher education.

Editor’s note: Thomas Kirk is the librarian of Berea College, Kentucky. Hannelore Rader is director of the Library/Learning Center at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside.

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