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Personal Librarian & FYE Conference: A Reflection

As the academic year comes to an end and planning begins for the next, I’d like to stop and take a few moments to again say thank you to ACRL-Oregon for awarding me a professional development scholarship. The scholarship was for my attendance at the Personal Librarian & First Year Experience Library Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Personal Librarian & First Year Experience Librarian Conference was definitely a worthwhile experience. I walked away with some very applicable information my library will incorporate this fall as we launch the second year of the Concordia University Personal Librarian program.

The conference sessions seemed to focus on one of two main ideas. The first idea was the practical implementation of such programs and what helps lead to their success; the second idea was the potential implications and results of student outreach. While the practical tips were the most tangible takeaways, what I valued the most was the reminder of the importance that just one positive interaction between a faculty member and a student can have on that student. To paraphrase one of the keynote speakers, “[A]t the end of the day, this still is a people business.” These are ideas that resonate throughout all of higher education.

Overall, I believe what I learned lends itself to broader initiatives at my institution, as well as to colleges and universities statewide, because the bottom line is about student success and retention. Those two themes are at the very heart of Personal Librarian & First Year Experience programs; it’s all about outreach. Everyone in higher education is striving to provide students with meaningful experiences that challenge their thinking and inspire them to become the best that they can be.

Ultimately, there were way too many great ideas to implement all at once or that may not apply specifically to my particular university, but as we continue our planning for our personal librarian program, we will be influenced by what I learned at the conference. I have had the opportunity to share with my fellow Concordia librarians about my experience as well as the librarians at George Fox University. They currently are considering implementing a similar program at their library, so I was able to directly reference a number of tips I learned from the conference.  My ultimate goal will be to continue to improve our program, gather data, and present at a local conference on the successes we’ve had.

Thank you again for a wonderful opportunity.

Kim Olson-Charles
Reference & Instruction Librarian
Concordia University – Portland

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