Conference Circuit

ACRL in Washington, D.C.

ACRL programs at the ALA Annual Conference

A LA’s 138th Annual Conference was held June 20–25, 2019, in Washington, D.C. More than 21,400 librarians, library support staff, exhibitors, writers, educators, publishers, and special guests attended the conference. Ed. note: Thanks to the ACRL members who summarized programs to make this report possible.

Realizing inclusive work environments

To a packed room of more than 250 attendees, Angela N. Spranger presented “Equity, Diversity, Inclusion . . . and Leadership: Where Do We Go From Here?” a talk about inclusive leadership and why diversity initiatives fail. The session was the culminating event of the yearlong ACRL President’s Program on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

Angela N. Spranger, lecturer in management at the Luter School of Business at Christopher Newport University and the principal/owner of StepOne Consulting LLC.

Angela N. Spranger, lecturer in management at the Luter School of Business at Christopher Newport University and the principal/owner of StepOne Consulting LLC.

A business school faculty member at Christopher Newport University and management consultant, Spranger described how workplace behaviors and biases affect people’s decision to join and stay in organizations. She described how, despite professed efforts and articulated priorities, the inherent interest in maintaining the status quo, confirmation of groupthink, and diversity fatigue all have an impact on employee recruitment and retention.

Engaging attendees through small-group discussions, Spranger offered ways of thinking about recruitment and organizational culture that strive towards inclusion and innovation:

  • Rather than hiring someone for their perceived “fit,” we should be hiring for what the organization needs now and in the future.
  • Workgroup effectiveness depends on different cultural norms represented by the group. While cultural communication differences can be a hindrance, diverse groups can yield innovation.
  • Leading inclusively requires emotional and cultural intelligence, and self and social awareness, and self and relationship management.
  • Progressing into equity requires inviting people to change (without coercion or shame) and consciously responding to that change.
  • Foster belongingness and value uniqueness by sharing the spotlight, rotating responsibilities, empowering others, and seeking opinions.

Emphasizing that we are all leaders who can create safe and inclusive places for people to work and succeed, Spranger described EDI work as messy, necessary, and complicated. She advocated for moving beyond our best intentions toward realizing inclusive and effective work environments—Nastasha Johnson, Purdue University and School of Information Studies, nejohnson@purdue.edu, and Jason Sokoloff, University of Washington, jksok@uw.edu

Grassroots advocacy and librarians: Using research power to make change

Cosponsored by the Politics, Policy and International Relations Section and the Anthropology and Sociology Section, the panel discussion “Grassroots Advocacy and Librarians: Using Research Power to Make Change” addressed how librarians interact with library users interested or involved in grassroots advocacy. After brief presentations summarizing their relevant experience, Aliqaue Geraci (Cornell University) and Darcy Gervasio (Purchase College-SUNY) responded to questions from the moderators, from each other, and from the audience. A consistent theme of the discussion was a concern with how the panelists dealt with issues of neutrality. Their responses converged on the observation that trying to maintain complete neutrality is impossible, reminding the audience that librarians, libraries, and the library profession have never been neutral with regard to many social issues, with the same observation applying to larger institutions in which libraries may be embedded. Instead of rejecting such requests in the interest of maintaining “neutrality,” librarians should carefully consider how the goals and values of the movement or movements in question articulate the mission and core values of both their library and their broader institution. In situations where mission and values don’t align or requested services violate library policy, librarians should call attention to the relevant policies, mission, goals, and core values of their institution when explaining why they cannot provide the requested assistance. The panelists noted, however, that in their experience such situations are quite rare. Finally, the panelists strongly encouraged members of the audience to be courageous in pushing up against the real and imagined boundaries separating appropriate from inappropriate services related to helping people seeking to use research power to advocate for social change. Additional information regarding this session can be found at https://acrl.libguides.com/ppirs/grassroots.—Wade Kotter, Weber State University, wkotter@weber.edu

The sense of self: How identity informs academic librarianship

The ACRL Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee sponsored this session, an open conversation with four academic librarians of color at various points in their professional careers to share how their identities and experiences contribute to their whole and authentic selves as information professionals.

Prompted by a chapter submitted by moderator Derrick Jefferson to the ACRL-published book The Self As Subject: Autoethnographic Research Into Identity, Culture, and Academic Librarianship, the session featured a panel who candidly discussed their lives prior to librarianship and what identity means to them personally.

Shannon Jones spoke about growing up as a Girl Scout and how the closeness of her family created a foundation that continues to serve her today in her role as director of libraries at the Medical University of South Carolina.

For Symphony Bruce, her six years teaching at a predominantly white high school in St. Louis prepared the resident librarian at American University with the skill set for advocating for the needs of students of color in majority white spaces.

Del R. Hornbuckle spoke frankly about being a queer woman of color and bringing her partner to high profile campus events with other university faculty and administrators as dean of library services at California State University-Fresno.

Teresa Helena Moreno, who pursued librarianship after already working in higher education, talked about rising tensions in conjunction with anti-Blackness since the 2016 elections and how examining these concepts will go far in bringing all marginalized and underrepresented communities towards justice. Moreno is undergraduate engagement coordinator and African American studies librarian at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

The opportunity to hear from such a wide-ranging group of academic librarians and women of color provided much-needed insight in embracing ACRL’s focus on embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education libraries.—Derrick Jefferson, American University, derrickj@american.edu

Accessibility, online learning objects, and universal design for learning

The Distance Learning Section and Instruction Section cosponsored the program “Accessibility and Online Learning Objects: Applying Universal Design for Learning,” which brought together a panel of instruction and accessibility librarians.

Liz Johns (Goucher College) gave a persuasive opening talk about the benefits of adopting universal design for learning (UDL)in all instruction to students. She pressed hard on reframing the conversation surrounding accessibility and suggests moving away from discussing accommodations in a negative way. Instead, frame things in a positive way. “People are not problems,” she reminded the audience. UDL, she argued, goes beyond accessibility to support any possible way of learning.

Rebecca Oling (Purchase College-SUNY) followed with a discussion of training faculty on accessibility issues and online object creation. Oling explained that faculty often carry an emotional weight when it comes to this work. Faculty may feel anxiety, embarrassment, and shame about their course content. Her process involves identifying problem courses in partnership with the registrar, Office of Disability Resources and Blackboard’s Ally tool, reviewing all the files within a given course, and giving faculty a tailored email review of issues and suggestions for improvement.

Teressa Keenan (University of Montana) spent the next segment giving helpful how-to tips for creating accessible documents while remembering the principles of UDL. She suggested, “Strive for progress not perfection.” Her core principles involved organizing content well, providing alternative access to media, and consistency. She gave specific tips for word processors, PDFs, audio and video, and presentations.

Amanda Roth (University of California-San Diego) used her time to discuss instructional tools and accessibility. She warned that there are several guidelines for accessibility that instructional software might be using and stressed reading the fine print to make sure they are meeting the standards you require. Roth strongly recommended, “Include accessibility testing in your development plan.”—Natalie Haber, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, natalie-haber@utc.edu

Diversity in digital collections and archives

The ACRL Digital Scholarship Section, Literatures in English Section, and European Studies Section cosponsored “Difficult Discussions: Diversity in Digital Collections and Archives,” a panel session featuring the expertise and experiences of three scholars emphasizing the lack of equitable attention to diverse perspectives in digital archives and the need for librarians and digital scholars to actively address these voids.

Amardeep Singh (associate professor of English at Lehigh University) began the panel discussion by presenting on what he termed the “archive gap” or the “disparity between the extent and quality of digital archives for white and canonical writers vs. those for writers of color as well as those from the postcolonial/decolonial world.” Singh noted that archival gaps are “due to ignorance” among scholars—emphasizing the need for accessible critical digital archives.

Sylvia Fernandez (Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston) discussed her work on the Borderlands Archives Cartography, a “transnational project that records nineteenth and twentieth century U.S.-Mexico borderlands newspapers.” The project presents history and the “borderlands identities” through alternative sources, and makes newspapers from both sides of the border accessible, which gives a more accurate depiction of life for those living near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Alex Gil (digital scholarship coordinator at Columbia University) reflected on the lack of diversity in digital collections and archives and called for “professional grassroots movements” to address archival gaps. Emphasizing the need for digital scholars to pay careful attention not only to what materials are included in critical digital collections, but to the digital infrastructure of these collections, he cited his work on Wax, a tool to assist with the creation of static digital exhibition sites—which allows these collections to be accessed “outside of the [I]nternet [...] outside of the mainstream.”—Eden Parks, Towson University, eparks@towson.edu

Beyond CRAAP

At least 160 librarians attended the ACRL-sponsored program “Beyond CRAAP: An Updated Approach to Source Evaluation.” Mary Thill (Northeastern Illinois University) opened the session with a general introduction to the proposed approach: the Leeder, Markey, and Yakel Taxonomy. The taxonomy, as the speakers have chosen to implement it, gives students, librarians, and instructors a common framework for evaluating sources through source authority. In a sample classroom exercise, session participants practiced using the taxonomy themselves before the speakers expanded on the research and assessment applications of the method. Frank Lambert (Middle Tennessee State University) shared preliminary findings from a three-institution study conducted in Spring Semester 2019 that involved coding 300 student sources with the taxonomy. “Librarians can relax!” Lambert reported, “Most resources cited in student research papers in the English Composition classes we examined used some of the best [academic, peer-reviewed] resources.” Yet students still turned to uncredentialed “lay” authors at a greater frequency than, for instance, government resources. James Rosenzweig (Eastern Washington University) concluded the program with an overview of how the taxonomy might be used to assess instruction and other information literacy programing at the library and institutional level. During the general discussion period, participants provided examples of how they hoped to use the Leeder, Markey, and Yakel Taxonomy at their own institutions. The modified Leeder, Markey, and Yakel Taxonomy, along with other supplementary program materials, is available at the website research.ewu.edu/beyondcraap.—Mary Thill, Northeastern Illinois University, m-thill@neiu.edu

Bolstering academic libraries as integral safe spaces for mental health

Sabrina Thomas began the session by proposing a question to those in attendance, “Think of one enormous problem facing the world today. In what small way, in your corner of the world, can you lift that burden, if even for a moment?” As a member of the Marshall University (MU) committee Student Conduct and Welfare, Thomas had the opportunity to actively contribute to the conversations happening about the problems that MU students face.

She discussed the enormous problem that we find ourselves faced with in Huntington, West Virginia: the number of students that arrive on campus with high adverse childhood experience (ACE) scores, many caused by the opioid epidemic that has impacted the state of West Virginia profoundly. This led to the creation of the MU Mental Health Initiative, a partnership between MU Libraries, the Counseling Center, and the Women’s and Gender Center.

Using the previous year’s art exhibition in the library as a springboard, the MU Mental Health Initiative, “Don’t Call Me Crazy,” began as an art exhibition, but quickly grew to include panel discussions with campus and community mental health professionals, educational resources, and campus, community, state, and national resources.

Leah Tolliver talked about the unique mental wellness challenges that MU students face, how West Virginia has some of the highest ACE scores in the country, how most MU students hail from West Virginia, and how more students than ever were using the available support services.

Michelle Alford discussed how the technology that was used to livestream the panel discussions allows for anonymous questions from audience members and statistics for each panel discussion that we hosted.

Kacy Lovelace discussed the various SpringShare products that were used to bring the initiative to fruition, including LibGuides, which she used to create the Mental Health Initiative research guide, found at https://libguides.marshall.edu/mentalhealth.—Sabrina Thomas, Marshall University, tho4@marshall.edu

Bystander or change agent? An examination of BTAA social media content for radical democracy

Ashley Hosbach (University of Virginia) and Julie Marie Frye (Indiana University-Bloomington [IUB]) presented their research on social media’s role in connection with social justice principles and advocacy. At the beginning of the presentation, Hosbach and Frye reflected on the equity, diversity, and inclusion statements from ALA,1 ACRL,2 and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA).3 They believe these statements should also be represented through each library’s social media presence.

Hosbach and Frye explained that their study initially began as an environmental scan to inspire the reboot of IUB’s Education Library Twitter page. However, they started to notice patterns of behavior that indicated a gap between the LIS profession’s core values and practice on Twitter.

Hosbach and Frye used a mixed-methods, applied linguistics approach to examine the BTAA libraries’ tweets. Using two analytical categories, “voices heard” and “radical democracy,” their preliminary findings revealed the majority of tweets were inward facing rather than highlighting student voice and opportunities to connect with the greater community. Under the radical democracy framework, the majority of tweets were categorized as “absent entirely.” Putting it simply, they observed libraries are unintentionally (or intentionally) choosing to not engage in advocacy discussions on social media.

Discussing the debate over library neutrality, Hosbach declared, “Each tweet is a political act. Claiming neutrality is not only impossible, but is also incredibly problematic.” During the presentation, Hosbach and Frye solicited feedback from the crowd. In the audience, a mix of librarians, administrators, and marketing specialists debated policy restrictions and intellectual freedom, concerns of appeasing donors, and rising interest in activism from their student populations.4

Hosbach and Frye look to expand their study and research team, continuing on to publication. Frye concluded, “We know you’re doing amazing, on-the-ground work on this front, but we aren’t seeing this reflected on social media platforms. We want to change that.”— Ashley Hosbach, University of Virginia, aeh5mg@virginia.edu


  1. ALA, www.ala.org/aboutala/sites/ala.org.aboutala/files/content/governance/council/council_documents/2017_mw_council_documents/cd_35_2_Strategic%20Direction_Equity%20Diversity%20and%20Inclusion_FINAL.pdf.
  2. ACRL, www.ala.org/acrl/standards/diversity.
  3. BTAA, www.btaa.org/resources-for/faculty/diversity-and-recruitment.
  4. Zachary Jason, “Student Activism 2.0,” Harvard Graduate School of Education, accessed July 25, 2019, https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/18/08/student-activism-20.

Citizen science and libraries: Strange bedfellows or dream dates?

(Left to right): “Citizen Science and Librarians” presenters Robin Salthouse, Danica Lewis, Darlene Cavalier, and Dan Stanton.

(Left to right): “Citizen Science and Librarians” presenters Robin Salthouse, Danica Lewis, Darlene Cavalier, and Dan Stanton.

The ACRL individual program “Citizen Science and Librarians: Strange Bedfellows or Dream Dates?” offered a look at citizen science partnerships from the lens of two academic librarians, a public librarian, and a university professor. Dan Stanton (librarian from Arizona State University [ASU]), kicked off the panel by asking the audience how many of them had heard of citizen science. Much of the very engaged audience were not only familiar with citizen science, but had in fact participated in citizen science at some point. Stanton and ASU Professor Darlene Cavalier (founder of citizen science portal and research platform Sci Starter at https://scistarter.org), explained common features of citizen science as well as some challenges such as difficulty or expense involved in accessing needed tools, and the solitary nature of the participation. Libraries, the panel reminded us, are uniquely positioned to overcome many of the challenges given their close community ties, their role in providing resources and lending items to community members, and their ability to offer a public gathering space for citizen science participants.

The team discussed their creation of public library partnerships and circulating citizen science kits, which are now available for check out at several Phoenix-area libraries. Public librarian Robin Salthouse (adult services supervisor for the Maricopa County Library District) discussed marketing, public programming, and discoverability of the kits.

Danica Lewis (life sciences librarian at North Carolina State University) discussed the Hubble Space Telescope project and how from a tiny window in the night sky, galaxies began to appear and how citizen scientists helped catalog them. The team spoke about the potential for and specific examples of citizen science on university campuses, school districts, and public libraries, leaving the audience with many concrete ideas of how to incorporate citizen science into their libraries.— Joyce Martin, joyce.martin@asu.edu, and René Tanner, Rene.Tanner@asu.edu, Arizona State University

Climbing the ladder: African American deans and directors speak on leadership

Trevor A. Dawes (vice provost at the University of Delaware) encouraged the audience to follow their own paths. It was not his intention to go into leadership at the outset of his career, but by attending conferences and workshops, he developed vision plans that led him in that direction. Dawes cautioned not to go into leadership for higher status and pay, but to effect change and to do a better job. He stressed establishing goals, publishing, and being professionally active as a part of moving forward intentionally.

“It takes grit and resilience,” was the advice given by Theresa Byrd (library dean at the University of San Diego). Library leaders should find success in negative events, engage others, possess integrity, passion, and emotional intelligence. She suggested having a BHAG—“Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” Byrd recommended librarians invest in themselves by paying their own way to conferences, if employer funding was unavailable. She provided a chart showing how librarians in specialty areas like scholarly communication or Black studies could transition to management. Her recommended reading was The Psychology of Top Talent by Eric Frazer.

Having been the director or dean at four historically black college and universities (HBCUs) libraries, Richard Bradberry (Morgan State University) shared his perspectives on advancement in that environment. Using his career as an example, he demonstrated that a librarian can change jobs many times, but attain valuable assets while moving through the process. He proposed willingness to take a risk when the opportunity for leadership arises. Bradberry discussed the Maryland HBCUs promotion and tenure guidelines, and recommended that following the guidelines at their own institutions would provide credentials to move into leadership at other institutions.—Glenda Alvin, Tennessee State University, galvin@tnstate.edu

Tenure-track, institutional supports, and occupational stress

Sponsored by ACRL, Laura Cameron and Stephanie Pierce from the University of Arkansas presented “Mental Health and Tenure: Examining the Intersection Between Institutional Supports and Work-Related Stress” to a crowd of approximately 45 people. The session shared findings from a two-phase study that looked at institutional supports for tenure-track librarians and their correlation to occupational stress. Phase one gathered information on demographics, institutional supports offered and used, and tenure requirements by sending a survey to listservs. Phase two used the Job Stress Survey from PAR, Inc., to measure occupational stress of participants who opted in at the end of the phase one survey. This particular instrument has been normed against corporate/university employees, which provided comparable data for analysis.

Findings from the research showed key institutional supports (mentorship, requestable research time) were either underused or lacking, tenure expectations remain unclear and inconsistent, stress for tenure-track librarians is linked to lack of support, and there is a correlation between professional confidence (i.e., confidence to do their jobs and achieve tenure) and occupational stress. These implications show the need for clarity in the tenure process while supporting previous research related to the importance of institutional supports for tenure-track librarians. Data from this study can assist library administrators, managers, librarians, and higher education institutions in identifying areas that contribute to high occupational stress and low professional confidence so that they can take steps to reduce stressors and increase confidence.

Follow-up questions and comments addressed ambiguity but also how too much specificity in requirements could pose issues, ways directors and managers can ensure that tenure-track librarians know and understand their processes and expectations, the difficulty of having nonlibrary faculty understand the importance academic librarianship work for tenure, and how access to information regarding the tenure process might play a role in stress levels.—Stephanie Pierce, University of Arkansas, sjpierc@uark.edu

The scoop on scoping reviews in the LIS field

Librarians across disciplines are encountering scoping reviews in their work. A program sponsored by ACRL, “Minding the Gaps: Conducting and Using Scoping Reviews in the Library Context” presented ideas about how librarians can actively lead or contribute to scoping reviews.

Kate Mercer (University of Waterloo), having conducted a number of scoping reviews herself, shared background on the methodology, “The key difference—at a high level—is that systematic reviews will answer a clinically meaningful question or provide evidence to inform practice. Scoping reviews have more flexibility and help investigate what has been done in a field therefore identify gaps in literature.”

The uninitiated should be warned: scoping reviews are just as rigorous as other reviews, and take just as long. Ariel Stables-Kennedy, a recent Western University MLIS grad, discussed some challenges the presenters had when conducting their own LIS scoping review, which can be found at https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/140/papers/24617/view. Boundary work to synthesize interdisciplinary texts and negotiating the publication process with an emergent research methodology were chief among them. Attendees were concerned about managing numerous requests to coauthor. In cases where one does not wish to author, Mercer suggests negotiating a set number of consultations to help manage demand.

Kari Weaver (University of Waterloo) sees gWood alignment between scoping reviews and our interests in LIS, “It’s one thing to think something is missing in literature (or services), but it’s another thing to go out there and demonstrate it. The fact that the scoping review itself is the demonstration of that gap offers a lot in discussions about resources. . . . We have unique opportunities to explain the value and impact of our work, both services and our expertise in navigating information, through work on reviews.”—J. Ariel Stables-Kennedy, Western University, jstables@uwo.ca

California higher ed academic libraries

“California Minority-Serving Institution Academic Libraries” presenters (front row, left to right): Stephanie Brasley, Mai Soua Lee, and Haipeng Li (back row, left to right): Catherine Fonseca, Mark Stover, Del R. Hornbuckle, and Alesia McManus)

“California Minority-Serving Institution Academic Libraries” presenters (front row, left to right): Stephanie Brasley, Mai Soua Lee, and Haipeng Li (back row, left to right): Catherine Fonseca, Mark Stover, Del R. Hornbuckle, and Alesia McManus).

California library administrators and faculty presented the ACRL-sponsored session “California Minority-Serving Institution Academic Libraries: Responsive Leadership, Transformative Services and Radical Inclusion.” The challenges and opportunities faced by California’s academic libraries are a model for what higher education libraries nationwide might look like in the near future.

Two faculty librarians, a university librarian, and three library deans presented a panel discussion highlighting individual campus demographic profiles and library accomplishments.

The session began with an overview of California’s Master Plan of Higher Education and the formation of the three-tiered system (the campuses of the University of California [UC], California State Universities [CSU], and the California Community Colleges). Statistics included a California student profile and issues and challenges in higher education in California. The presentations outlined the case study of California’s public systems and the impact on their representative libraries’ leadership, community engagement, service delivery, and first-year/student success programs.

Alesia McNamus (UC-Davis) discussed high-impact practices for student success in her library, which includes the Norma J. Lang Prize for Undergraduate Information Research, Haipeng Li (UC-Merced) and Mai Soua Lee (Reedley College) have successful human library programs, and Catherine Fonseca (CSU-Sonoma) shared how identity programming is a part of the 2025 Strategic Goals.

Stephanie Sterling Brasley (CSU-Dominguez Hills) discussed radical inclusion in leadership with annual retreats with an EDI focus along with librarian and staff councils, Del R. Hornbuckle (CSU-Fresno) shared images of her library’s intentional representation in building design celebrating Native American culture and history in the area, and Mark Stover (CSU-Northridge) discussed diversity and inclusion as a part of his library’s mission statement.

There was representation from each California system in the session, which demonstrated unique approaches to services, programs, and leadership for a student demographic that is shaping what higher education will look like in the coming years.—Del R. Hornbuckle, CSU-Fresno, dhornbuckle@csufresno.edu

Equivalent access

Audience at the “Providing Equivalent Experiences” session.

Audience at the “Providing Equivalent Experiences” session.

A sizeable crowd stopped by to hear Victoria Raish and Anne Behler (both of Penn State University) present on “Providing Equivalent Experiences: Flipping the Script for Online Students,” in a session sponsored by ACRL. The presentation started with an emphasis on equivalent access as stated in the ACRL Standards for Distance Learning Services. This guiding framework drives the decisions Behler and Raish make in serving online students.

The presenters were glad to hear that most of the audience members knew what digital badges were. From there, they talked about their strategy behind creating The Library Connection. This is an interactive orientation program for online students, where they receive personalized feedback from a group of librarians who are helping them discover relevant library services and resources. They then discussed their research study, which involved a content analysis of large bodies of text. In this study, they used the expertise of their literary informatics librarian, who introduced them to a really awesome software tool known as AntConc. This tool permitted analysis of text that would have been impossible to analyze by hand.

Behler and Raish commented that their favorite part of offering The Library Connection to online students is hearing from each student as to their prior knowledge and what they are learning about the library and how it will help them in their studies. Audience questions were primarily interested in scale and growth of the project. The presenters admitted that they are working through issues of scale right now but have no doubt about the impact of the program or the positive feedback from collaborators. Future directions include recruitment of more evaluators, refinement of content, and the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence.— Victoria Raish, Penn State University, vrc112@psu.edu

The fourth factor of fair use

The ACRL program “Show Me the Money! Or Not? Making Sense of the Fourth Factor of Fair Use” featured a panel of four copyright experts who used significant court cases to provide insight on interpreting the fourth fair use factor “effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

After the moderator provided a brief review of the fair use exception (see https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/more-info.html), the panelists summarized and discussed five seminal court cases. Even lightly reading these cases demonstrates how, over the years, the courts build on previous cases to further refine fair use practices. For details on the moderator, presenters, and court cases, see http://hdl.handle.net/2374.MIA/6435.

The panelists’ remarks yielded the following insights:

  • Fair use analysis requires holistic, case-by-case consideration that isn’t prescriptive (using the 1997 Classroom Guidelines, a 10% or one chapter rule, or a mathematical rubric).
  • If the use of a work is transformative—meaning the new use is significantly different than the original purpose and/or appeals to a different audience—this use will weigh strongly in favor of fair use.
  • The flip side of transformative use is substitutive use—the new use only substitutes for the original work in the marketplace, appealing to the same audience—a use that weighs strongly against fair use.
  • Nonprofit educational use weighs heavily in favor of fair use, even when the use isn’t transformative.
  • The availability of licensing for a work can weigh against a fair use argument, but it is never the sole determinant.

Presenters cited Nicole B. Cásarez’s statement, “The Supreme Court has held that the ultimate goal of copyright law is not to promote new markets or economic growth, but rather to advance learning and thereby further the public good,” as their key takeaway.1


  1. Nicole B. Cásarez, “Deconstructing the Fair use Doctrine: The Cost of Personal and Workplace Copying After American Geophysical Union V. Texaco, Inc.,” Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal 6 (2): 641–720, https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/iplj/vol6/iss2/5.— Billie Peterson-Lugo, Baylor University, billie_peterson@baylor.edu

Unlike others

Denyse Rodrigues (liaison librarian for the Social Sciences at Mount Saint Vincent University) presented the ACRL-sponsored session “Unlike Others: Developing an Online Face for a Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection Through the Lens of Social Justice.” Rodrigues began the session by providing definitions of the Lesbian Pulp Fiction genre and the concept of social justice to set the stage for moving away from a purely bibliographic approach to producing an online exhibit for a book collection with historical significance for the LGBTQ+ community. She led the participants of the session in an exercise whereby they identified their connections to Lesbian Pulp Fiction. Their feedback was used to generate metadata that could be used to connect individual and community interests to specific books in the collection. After the exercise, Rodrigues demonstrated how themes related to censorship, visual metaphors in cover art, and lesbian history and identity were developed to provide visitors with contextual access to the Lesbian Pulp Fiction collection at the Mount Saint Vincent University Library. The session concluded with the practical elements of creating the online exhibit, emphasizing the aspirations versus the reality of the planning process and implementation of the project. These elements included determining the scope of the project, making informed decisions about metadata and controlled vocabulary, guarding against scope creep, incorporating user feedback, and battling imposter syndrome. The online exhibit for the Lesbian Pulp Fiction collection at the Mount Saint Vincent University Library can be viewed at https://msvulpf.omeka.net/.—Denyse Rodrigues, Mount Saint Vincent University, denyse.rodrigues@msvu.ca

Will they stay or will they go?

Aubrey Iglesias presenting “Will They Stay or Will They Go?”

Aubrey Iglesias presenting “Will They Stay or Will They Go?”

Aubrey Iglesias (assistant professor/cataloging librarian at New Mexico State University)presented the program entitled “Will They Stay or Will They Go? ‘Sense of Belonging’ as a Foundation for Creating Inclusive Library Services for International Students,” cosponsored by the ACRL Academic Library Services to International Students Interest Group and the ALA International Relations Committee. Iglesias gave a carefully researched presentation citing a variety of statistics, theory, and research on international students and the concepts of “belonging” and “cultural diversity.” She presented statistics on international students that show decreasing numbers in enrollment of first-time international students in U.S. universities, which have declined significantly since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. She noted that international students contribute more than $39 billion and supported more than 455,000 jobs in 2017–18. Iglesias identified challenges international students face, such as cultural and linguistic difficulties, discrimination, and mental health issues. She taught the audience about multi-context theory, noting that U.S. institutions now need to do more in terms of helping the system adjust to people from a larger range of diverse backgrounds, such as with high- and low-context cultures. Iglesias also presented Vincent Tinto’s theory of student departure as a starting point for measuring students’ sense of belonging. Tinto looked at why students leave and stressed the importance of individuals interactions with the campus community from a mainstream point of view. Most of the research she found either looked at immigrants to the United States or domestic minority groups such as Latinx students, which identifies a literature gap on international students Iglesias wants to pursue. During the general discussion several participants presented their own experiences. One audience discussion take-away was the importance of informal mentorship and connections with people who share a similar background.—Bobby Bothmann, Minnesota State University-Mankato, bobby.bothmann@mnsu.edu

Strategic outreach efforts

The ULS Academic Outreach Committee and the Library Marketing and Outreach Interest Group cosponsored the session “Stay on Target!: Stellar Practices for Strategic Outreach Through Collaborations, Marketing, and Peer Leaders.” Moderated by Rosan Mitola (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), this panel shared ideas on targeted and strategic library outreach. The presentation’s slides can be viewed at http://bit.ly/targetala.

Moderator and panelists for “Stay on Target!” (back, left to right): Rosan Mitola, Amy Wainwright, Eduardo Martinez-Flores; (front, left to right): Sabine Dantus and Kimberly Shotick.

Moderator and panelists for “Stay on Target!” (back, left to right): Rosan Mitola, Amy Wainwright, Eduardo Martinez-Flores; (front, left to right): Sabine Dantus and Kimberly Shotick.

Sabine Dantus (Lynn University) spoke about using personas in library marketing efforts. She explained that through data gathering and user research, libraries can develop personas to represent actual users. Dantus showed a template for creating personas and a sample student persona in “Cara the Commuter,” and explained how this can be used for targeted marketing and effective outreach.

Kimberly Shotick (Illinois Institute of Technology) focused on the importance of campus collaborations in library programming and marketing. Shotick described the “Programming Collateral,” a group of campus units that discussed collaboration opportunities. After the group fell apart and collaborations halted, the library employed event mapping. Mapping events to organizers, audience, and outcomes helped identify new partners and renew the group.

Amy Wainwright (John Carroll University) spoke about students as partners and leaders when organizing events and promoting the library. Examples included students leading final exam activities for a class project and students coordinating focus groups on the library’s social media. Wainwright stressed the importance of relationships in outreach and marketing, but noted that it can often take years. Her advice, start by building on existing connections.

Eduardo Martinez-Flores (a senior at University of Nevada-Las Vegas) described the Peer Research Coach program, an endowment-funded opportunity for underrepresented students to work for the library in a unique way. Martinez-Flores and other coaches contribute to student engagement with the library by coteaching instruction sessions, coordinating orientation events, leading cocurricular activities like Wikipedia edit-a-thons, and codesigning outreach activities for first-generation students.—Jason Kruse, Northwestern University, jkruse@northwestern.edu

Civic engagement in the regulatory process

Librarians from the University of Minnesota (UM) presented the ACRL Professional Values Committee-sponsored session “Research Data and Federal Regulations: Commenting and Advocating from an Academic Perspective.”

(Left to right) “Research Data and Federal Regulations” presenters Shannon Farrell, Allison Langham-Putrow, Alicia Kubas.

(Left to right) “Research Data and Federal Regulations” presenters Shannon Farrell, Allison Langham-Putrow, Alicia Kubas.

Alicia Kubas (government publications and data librarian) presented about the regulatory process overall, giving all attendees a baseline framework for understanding the case studies used in the presentation. She discussed the process a rule goes through to become a regulation, how librarians can learn about these opportunities for comment, and why academic libraries should care about commenting on proposed rules and requests for information (RFIs).

Allison Langham-Putrow (engineering liaison and scholarly communications librarian) spoke about when the libraries commented on a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which recommended that all regulatory action be based upon publicly available data, regardless of confidentiality and security of human subjects data. In addition to outlining the libraries’ response, she also focused on the reactions from the media, academia, and library organizations to the proposed rule.

Shannon Farrell (natural resources librarian) honed in on what was learned from commenting on the EPA-proposed rule and how they hoped to engage more stakeholders when commenting on future proposed rules and RFIs. She discussed how UM brought together stakeholders from across campus to comment on an RFI from the National Institute of Health that asked for input on data management and sharing for grant proposals. Farrell also presented about the benefits and challenges of writing a coordinated response.

Discussion following the formal presentation focused on how librarians and libraries can become more involved in civic issues, including commenting on proposed rules and RFIs. In addition, an ALA staff member talked about ALA’s involvement in responding to federal proposed rules and how they coordinate responses across divisions and sections of the organization.—Alicia Kubas, University of Minnesota, akubas@umn.edu

Knowledge is global

The session “Knowledge is Global: Expanding the Awareness and Impact of Research from the Global South,” sponsored by the ACRL Research Assessment and Metrics Interest Group, was convened by James P. Morris-Knower (research and global initiatives librarian, Cornell University), who defined “Global South” as developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and much of Asia.

Collection development of Global South research in the AgEcon Search platform was described by Julia Kelly (science librarian at the University of Minnesota) and Linda Eells (associate librarian at the University of Minnesota). AgEcon Search (https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/) includes curated small society journals, working papers, and conference papers on agriculture and applied economics. “We feed Google,” by seeking content from the Global South and dispersing content to the Global South, the presenters noted.

Anna Hatch (community manager at the American Society for Cell Biology) identified barriers to Global South participation more broadly than just access, it also includes representation on editorial boards and being involved in the scientific conversation.

Juan Alperin (assistant professor in the publishing program and research associate with the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University) advocated that the scientific conversation needs to be globally inclusive. It leads to a “larger knowledge ecosystem, positioning universities and researchers globally, and improving the research culture.” He highlighted RedALyc (www.redalyc.org/home.oa), the full-text database of Latin American journals in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Panelists agreed that libraries’ control and expertise over infrastructure can be better utilized.

Researchers need to broaden the scientific conversation by publishing in journals that are available in all parts of the world, publicizing preprints and sharing work globally, normalizing globally inclusive behavior by holding and attending conferences in global regions, and actively seeking out collaboration worldwide. This will take intentional sustained effort.— Kimberly Hoffman, George Mason University, khoffma@gmu.edu

The scholarship of teaching and learning

One of the best ways to inform teaching and learning is by asking questions, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a perfect model for which to do so. In their workshop “Librarians as Researchers: Designing and Implementing Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Projects,” sponsored by the ACRL Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee, librarians Lauren Hays (University of Central Missouri), Rhonda Huisman (St. Cloud State University), and Melissa Mallon (Vanderbilt University) presented an overview of the scholarly discipline of SoTL, and discussed strategies for using this approach to frame research questions related to librarians’ own teaching and students’ learning.

“Librarians as Researchers” presenter Lauren Hays.

“Librarians as Researchers” presenter Lauren Hays.

During the session, attendees worked their way through a SoTL Action Plan, which asks the researcher to:

  • describe their local context (e.g., What questions do you have about how students engage with information in your classes?);
  • brainstorm SoTL research questions using the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education as a guiding document;
  • define the SoTL level (e.g., is the research question at the classroom, program/campus, or national level?);
  • identify resources and stakeholders on campus;
  • start the research process (e.g., decide which data collection method is most appropriate); and
  • explore methods for sharing and disseminating the research, which can include more informal methods such as campus brown bags, or more scholarly outputs, including journal articles and conference presentations.

The SoTL Action Plan is available at http://bit.ly/SoTLActionPlan_ALAAC19.

Workshop attendees shared ideas for research questions and information literacy connections, and left the session with concrete ideas for moving forward with their own SoTL projects, some of which were already in progress. As one attendee remarked, “I think I’ve already been doing this. I just didn’t realize it was SoTL!”—Melissa Mallon, Vanderbilt University, mallon.melissa@gmail.com

Pitfalls of Neutrality: What Does Inclusivity Mean in Libraries

The program “Pitfalls of Neutrality: What Does Inclusivity Mean in Libraries” was sponsored by ACRL’s Women and Gender Studies Section (WGSS) and cosponsored by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA-OIF). Four speakers grappled with issues of concern to librarians deciding how best to make patrons feel welcome and included in our libraries. Laura Bonella, WGSS past chair, served as convener.

Raymond Pun (instruction/research librarian at the Alder Graduate School of Education) spoke about his experiences sponsoring a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women’s history, including sharing some critical emails received from community members. He noted that the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of contributors identify as female, leading to skewed content.

Jennifer L. Dean (dean of university libraries and instructional technology) and Julia Eisenstein (associate librarian) at the University of Detroit Mercy Libraries discussed the process of implementing gender-inclusive restrooms in their Catholic university.

Despite already having single-stall restrooms, the process of converting them to gender-inclusive spaces involved more red tape than expected.

Kristin Pekoll (assistant director of ALA-OIF) concluded the program by providing resources for librarians dealing with similar challenging situations. She reminded us of the ALA Code of Ethics provisions requiring us to “distinguish between personal convictions and professional duties.” She then reviewed examples of several recent challenges to library programs.

OIF provides confidential resources for implementing intellectual freedom best practices, and Pekoll encouraged attendees to report any challenges they received to www.ala.org/challengereporting.

During the discussion period, attendees asked about outreach, freedom of speech, and working with different affinity groups on campus.—Laura Bonella, Kansas State University, laurab@ksu.edu

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