José Aguiñaga and Lauren Pressley share plans for ACRL: Cast an informed vote in the election this spring

José Aguiñaga; Lauren Pressley

Ed. note: C&RL News offered candidates for ACRL vice-president/president-elect, José Aguiñaga and Lauren Pressley, this opportunity to share their views with the membership. Although many of the issues facing ACRL are discussed informally at meetings, we want to use this venue to provide a forum to all members. We hope this will assist you in making an informed choice when you vote in the election this spring.


José Aguiñaga

I am thankful to ACRL’s Leadership Recruitment and Nomination Committee and am honored and humbled to be nominated, with Lauren Pressley, as a candidate for ACRL vice-president/president-elect. ACRL has been my professional home since the beginning of my career as an academic librarian. As the landscape of higher education, as well as academic libraries, continues to evolve and technology continues to transform our organizations, academic libraries and librarians must continue to remain relevant, highlighting our scholarship, teaching, and service to students, faculty, and administrators. I am very proud of ACRL initiatives such as the recent Diversity Alliance, which addresses a personal mission of mine to increase the numbers in the pipeline for hiring qualified and talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Another ACRL initiative, the joint action-oriented research agenda with OCLC will address the value of academic libraries to student learning and success. When I considered accepting this nomination and opportunity to serve my professional organization, I reflected on my varied library experiences and how I will be able to represent the spectrum of academic libraries.

My career as an academic librarian began after receiving an MLS from the University of Arizona. I have served at various higher education institutions and organizations for the past two decades. The combination of these experiences has enlightened my professional perspectives as an academic librarian and member of the academy. At the University of Houston, I was a social sciences librarian and interim library personnel coordinator. At the University of San Diego, I was the electronic resources librarian.

I also served as a social sciences librarian at Arizona State University-West Campus and in the same capacity at California State University-Long Beach. For more than a decade, Glendale Community College (GCC) in Arizona has provided me with an array of experiences: library web developer, electronic resources librarian, branch operations coordinator, and, currently, archives coordinator. I have just completed my term as Faculty Senate president at GCC, the first library faculty member elected to that position.

For more than 20 years, I have been an active ACRL member, serving as chair of CJCLS and participating on many division-level committees. My ACRL engagement in many capacities has aided my professional development and awareness as an academic librarian. In addition, completing my MPA from California State University-Long Beach and my EdD in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University were life-changing events that enhanced my knowledge base regarding scholarship, teaching, and research. Because of these experiences, I plan to continue to be engaged with ACRL and our profession.

Plan for Excellence

ACRL’s strategic plan provides the foundation for this organization to emphasize the factors that will influence the success of academic librarians, libraries, and higher education. The four components of the Plan for Excellence are: Value of Academic Libraries, Student Learning, Research and Scholarly Environment, and New Roles and Changing Landscapes. ACRL members can engage in many ways in our organization to advance these priorities.

Good progress has been made in the Value of Academic Libraries. However, much more work needs to be done in this area, incorporating the qualitative and quantitative variables in this era of accountability. Our institutions, faculty, and students need to be shown how libraries contribute to students’ (and institutions’) success. Student Learning is our raison d’etre. Academic librarians and libraries need to be the pillars of information literacy and build student skills for lifelong learning and an informed citizenry. Creating an informed citizenry that contributes to society would be the end result. Another priority, Research and Scholarly Environment, promotes the transition to open educational resources and the dissemination of scholarly information that is readily available to students and researchers. New Roles and Changing Landscapes, the fourth part of the strategic plan, is an important bridge to our current national landscape, a period of transition and a number of uncertainties for academic libraries and all of higher education. How will our present and future information professionals contribute to teaching, scholarship, and service to students, faculty, and the academic community? Fostering an environment that values creative contributions and enriching partnerships with our academic colleagues will provide greater visibility and value within the academy and society.

Information Literacy

The newly adopted Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education is a document that addresses the effect of our present and future contributions as academic librarians within the higher education environment. The ACRL Board’s approval of the six frames has sparked conversation since the task force began developing the framework. The work and research that created this change are noteworthy, and our colleagues that were heavily engaged in revising the previous standards should be commended. This is an example of thinking outside the box and the end result should assist in determining the value of academic libraries in our colleges and universities. In this age of accountability, rich data can inform institutional leaders, showing the contributions of academic libraries and librarians to student success. I look forward to advocating for the continued development and implementation of the Framework for Information Literacy.


Advocating for the ACRL Diversity Alliance is another of my priorities. I will promote the expansion of academic libraries participating in this new opportunity in our association. Creating a hiring pipeline of academic librarians from varied racial and ethnic groups is vital as we embrace the necessity of reflecting the demographics of our communities. Sustaining this initiative is important, as changes seldom happen rapidly in higher education. However, the end results will provide the necessary diverse perspectives among academic librarians and within libraries, which will further enhance the higher education experience for all.


Our future as academic librarians and libraries begins by being active participants, continuing to transform and contribute to the academy. I hope that I have given you an overview of my experiences, thoughts, and priorities as an ACRL member and candidate for ACRL vice-president/president-elect. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. I appreciate your vote and support and look forward to working with you and the ACRL Board of Directors.


Lauren Pressley

I am an academic librarian because I believe in libraries as institutions, and I believe that the world is a better place because of libraries. Academic libraries have the power to transform research, teaching, learning, and ultimately society, through their position within the academy. Throughout my career I have worked to help libraries, and those who work in them, adapt to new and emerging patron needs. I strive to ensure that future generations will continue to see their library as a cultural cornerstone that provides information, resources, expertise, and spaces for their local communities.

I am both excited and humbled to be one of your candidates for ACRL vice-president/president-elect. ACRL has provided so much for me—a professional home; a source of colleagues, mentors, and friends; a resource in my day-to-day work; and a place of service and growth. I enthusiastically look forward to the opportunity to give back to this association and our field.

ACRL as a resource

ACRL is the preeminent association for academic librarianship and library work: whether skill building early in one’s career, creating a personal learning network, participating in professional development opportunities as the field evolves, or turning to authoritative guidelines, standards, and frameworks, ACRL meets the needs of academic library professionals throughout their careers.

I have been impressed with ACRL’s active membership, excellent staff, and ability to quickly address new themes and engage in emerging issues. Members are passionate about the association, volunteering their time and perspectives. ACRL has a strong identity. The ACRL Plan for Excellence is a roadmap that benefits the association as well as librarians interested in moving their own libraries forward. Its innovative approach to its structure and services enable it to be relevant and useful to a broad cross-section of the profession.

ACRL as an organization

I joined ACRL when in library school, and immediately participated in the Women’s Studies Section Instruction Committee. There I found enthusiastic and supportive colleagues to collaborate with as we examined the information literacy standards through a disciplinary lens. Since then I have served on other ACRL committees, written for ACRL, and have presented an ACRL preconference and several panels at ACRL conferences. I know ACRL as an involved member: someone engaged with the work of the association, who uses it in day-today life, and contributes back to the whole through committee work, publications, and presentations.

My most relevant governance experience comes from serving on the Library Information Technology Association (LITA) Board of Directors. As a director at-large, I gained a perspective on association governance, how to be an effective board member and leader within the association, and a sense of what is possible for divisions within ALA. While serving in that role, I was elected by the board as the director at-large for LITA’s Executive Committee, giving me perspective and deeper insight into association budgeting and the conference planning.

I have also served on ALA Council since 2010. Serving as a councilor at-large has given me a big-picture view of the association and librarianship, providing perspective on how academic libraries function within the field. This work has also has sharpened my understanding of how divisions work within ALA and how to lead and contribute effectively within the organization.

This deep involvement with ALA and division work has given me insight into the process and structure for operational work and leadership within the association. I look forward to the opportunity to use that knowledge to further the impact of ACRL as a division and as part of ALA.

My vision for ACRL

I have built a career focused on building strong and collaborative organizational cultures. Whether introducing a service, creating a new team, or repositioning my library within its local community, I focus on bringing diverse voices into conversations, finding points of collaboration and partnership, developing strong relationships, and working with stakeholders to jointly identify the path forward. The skills and perspectives I have developed to do this work have prepared me to lead ACRL as vice-president/president-elect.

In thinking about my own expertise, ACRL’s vision and its strategic plan, I have targeted three areas I would focus on advancing should I be elected.


I am a passionate believer in collaborative leadership and creating opportunities and spaces for community members to share their insight and perspective. As ACRL vice-president/president-elect, I plan to engage members and potential members working at different types of academic and research libraries. Academic libraries serve a wide variety of institutions, but no matter the type of academic and research libraries, we do similar work and benefit from sharing our approaches. Large institutions that are well-resourced can pilot new services and imagine new futures. Small libraries that are struggling to find resources often innovate in creative ways due to their constraints. The strongest libraries have adapted their program to meet the needs of their unique institutions. We can all learn from each other. When ACRL makes decisions that impact all types of libraries, we need to value the different perspectives that are part of the conversation. I want to ensure that we value and reflect the diversity of experiences and perspectives we all bring to the profession.


It is exciting to be part of a field wresting with all kinds of interesting issues. In the course of my own career, I have worked in areas impacted by educational technology, the changing publishing ecosystem, and new forms of scholarship. I have also seen others deal with emergent areas in the field. Academic librarianship will need to continue to strike a balance of building on our traditional strengths and services while exploring what changes in higher education means for our work.

In my career, I’ve needed to rapidly build skills in pedagogy, instructional design, emerging technology, management, organizational change management, and library administration, and I am certain that there are other domains that I will need to learn quickly in the future. We all face these learning challenges. As new trends and developments surface within higher education, we must learn about them, and in some cases make changes in response. For this work, ACRL will need to provide the tools and professional development necessary to meet our common challenges, including working with the Framework for Information Literacy, addressing emerging research practices, and developing leadership and change management skills.


My career has been focused on contextualizing the library for today’s information environment. As a library director on a rapidly growing urban-serving campus, I work to evolve my local community’s understanding of what academic libraries are and to position my library to be ready for future demands. In this role my job is outreach, relationship-building, and strategically positioning the library to be a critical partner in meeting the university’s teaching and research missions. I look forward to the opportunity to use these skills on behalf of our field and for ACRL. I would be thrilled to build on our successful past to expand ACRL’s role in shaping the future of higher education through outreach to targeted external organizations dealing with issues of higher education, information, and publishing.

It is an exciting time to work in academic libraries: we are imagining, creating, and demonstrating the promise of the 21st-century academic and research libraries. We are fortunate to be partners in advancing discovery and encouraging the growth of knowledge. We anticipate and meet the information needs of our diverse communities. We prepare students for success in life and to be smart, informed citizens. And we do this not only because we believe in libraries, but also because our work contributes to a better informed citizenry with the ability to access, evaluate, create, and share knowledge that is crucially important in this information age. I believe that academic libraries contribute to profound positive change in higher education and our society, and I’m inspired by the work I see being done by colleagues at academic and research libraries of all types and sizes.

In closing, let me thank the ACRL nominating committee for inviting me to stand as a candidate for ACRL vice-president/president-elect. Let me also thank the University of Washington Libraries and the University of Washington-Tacoma for their support and encouragement in accepting the nomination. It would be a privilege and honor to serve you and ACRL.

Copyright 2017© American Library Association

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