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2018-19 Annual Report to the Membership by Meredith Farkas, ACRL-Oregon President

As I prepare to step down at the end of my year as President of ACRL-Oregon, I wanted to share with you some of the terrific work our Board has done this past academic year. 

In October 2018, we held another successful ACRL-OR/WA Conference at Menucha. The theme was focused on “Reimagining Advocacy: Personal, Professional, Political” and one of the highlights of the conference was OLA lobbyist Amanda Dalton’s presentation on how to develop a convincing elevator pitch. We hope to see many of you at this year’s ACRL-OR/WA Conference at Pack Forest which is focused on another very important topic: “Whiteness and Racism in Academic Libraries: Dismantling Structures of Oppression.” We are currently seeking ideas for the 2020 conference theme — please fill out our survey!

When I decided to run for ACRL-Oregon President-Elect, I really wanted to explore the possibility of offering webinars. Plenty of people working in academic libraries have little or no access to professional development funding and I wanted our organization to offer professional development that is accessible to every academic library worker in the state regardless of membership status. I also know that we have a lot of talent and wisdom across the state and I’m hoping this will give people opportunities to present that they may not have otherwise had (if you’re interested, please fill out our proposal form!). We offered three pilot webinars in the Winter and Spring of 2019 and will start our official webinar schedule on September 13th at 10am with a presentation entitled “Data Visualization: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How.” Please register if you’re interested; it’s free to members and non-members alike. Getting this program off the ground was definitely a passion project for me and my partners-in-crime on the project (Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy from OIT, Katherine Donaldson from UO, Sarah Rowland from EOU, and Candise Branum from OCOM) and I hope you find it valuable.

ACRL-Oregon offers a number of scholarships every year, including professional development scholarships, scholarships to the ACRL-OR/WA Fall Conference, and funding to support a collaborative project between K-12 and academic library workers. The latter was awarded this year to librarians at Eastern Oregon University and library and instructional staff at the North Powder School District to support the development of information literacy instructional strategies for students at the high school. A full report of their activities can be found on our blog. 

One area that is nearly impossible to plan for is advocacy, and this was a big year for the Board in terms of advocacy work. After we heard reports about the racist incidents at ALA Midwinter, we felt compelled to write a statement of concern to ACRL encouraging them to address the issues and suggesting anti-bias and bystander training for staff and volunteer leaders. When we learned that the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) had a draft revision of their standards that significantly pared down the library section and removed any language about academic freedom, we took action. In our letter to NWCCU, we advocated for the importance and value of academic libraries and library personnel to student learning as well as the importance of a robust support of academic freedom. We also worked with various state and regional membership organizations, colleges, and universities to coordinate advocacy efforts. They have since added in additional verbiage about the critical human resources in our libraries and added back in the section on academic freedom. The ACRL-OR Board provided written testimony in favor of Oregon HB 3263 which supported school librarians in Oregon. We also encouraged our members to advocate in support of two bills regarding Open Educational Resources (one of which was successful). Finally, our fantastic ACRL-OR Legislative Representative, Kim Olson-Charles from Concordia University served as Oregon’s representative at National Library Legislative Day this year.

Another big project we took on this year was documenting all of the different roles people play on the ACRL-Oregon Board, so if you decide to serve on the Board in the future, you’ll have a clear sense of what each volunteer position entails along with useful tips from people who have had the role in the past. 

It has been an honor and a pleasure leading ACRL-Oregon’s work this year. I can’t recommend highly enough service on the ACRL-Oregon Board; it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know other fantastic and committed library workers in Oregon and to help support librarianship across the state. It has definitely been one of the most fulfilling service opportunities I’ve taken on. I look forward to supporting Candise Branum, your incoming-President, this year in my role as Past-President. If you have any questions about the Board’s activities or what it’s like to serve on the ACRL-Oregon Board, please get in touch (meredith.farkas@pcc.edu)!

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