The following post is written by Garrett Trott, ACRL-OR Member at Large (2015-2017)
I am in the middle of my second term on the ACRL-OR board. My first term was from 2007-2010 as VP/President-Elect, President, and Past President. In the spring of 2015, I was voted in as a member-at-large. I started in September of 2015, and my term will end in August of 2017. I have found involvement with ACRL-OR very valuable, and I would like to encourage others, if you are not already, to be involved to some degree in ACRL-OR.
What makes it valuable? I work at Corban University library. We are a small institution (about 1100 FTE), and we have a small library staff (3.5 FTE) – this includes both professional and paraprofessional staff. One of the reasons I originally pursued involvement with ACRL-OR was because I wanted to be able to serve my institution better by learning about what other libraries are doing, having a little more interaction with colleagues, and learning from them how they are dealing with issues impacting libraries throughout the state of Oregon.
My first term proved incredibly beneficial. What did I learn? The first thing I learned was the power of association. I am certain that many are familiar with this concept, but to be honest, after having worked in a fairly small institution for some time, that concept is easy to forget. The power of association simply implies that groups and organizations are much more powerful and can accomplish more than a single individual.
A second aspect that has made the ACRL-OR board valuable is how they work. I have served on a handful of differing boards, some have been driven by certain agendas, and some have had a very narrow singular focus. While I do not want to say that ACRL-OR does not have a focus nor do I want to suggest that it lacks any agenda, one remarkable element that I found immensely valuable in my terms on the board is the fact that the board was willing to listen, offer feedback, and often times accept and even embrace new ideas. They serve as a wonderful sounding board for not only what works in their libraries, but what can work to impact academic libraries throughout the state of Oregon. If you want to see change take place in Oregon academic libraries, ACRL-OR is a very viable venue to speak your voice.
As academic librarians, we work in education. Although I realize that this is not true in all scenarios, I do find it a bit ironic (and I hope many would agree) that there are educational institutions that are lacking support for education (AKA professional development) for their own faculty and staff. I do understand the warrant for fiscal restraints in this area, but at least in principle, all academic institutions should support professional development. We are also aware that individuals have differing learning styles. One of the ways that I learn best is through dialog with my colleagues, learning how they handle certain situations, and empathizing with their frustrations. My involvement with ACRL-OR granted me these opportunities in my first term, and I have found them available abundantly in my second as well.
If you are looking for opportunities to grow and develop as an Oregon academic librarian, I would encourage you to pursue looking at ACRL-OR as a venue through which this can happen. For my particular context, working in a small library, involvement with the ACRL-OR board has been an incredibly worthwhile investment of my time and effort. The rewards of being on the board have far outweighed the time and effort invested.