Conference Report by Carol Hansen
Thanks to the Stewart Library for supporting my conference registration, the preconference fee and most of my airfare to attend the ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia. I was involved in the following activities:
1) I attended a preconference workshop on "Creating a Continuous Assessment Environment in Academic Libraries" given by Bob Fernekes from Georgia State University and Bill Nelson from Augusta State University. This was a full day workshop designed to provide hands on experience in applying the ACRL Standards for College Libraries (2000 ed.) to assessment planning of college library programs and services. Attendees were expected to use the ACRL standards and integrate current evaluation practices in order to assess student learning outcomes and the educational impact of the library. "Standards and Assessment for Academic Libraries: A Workbook" coauthored by the co presenters was provided and I will route it to members of Library Council. If anyone else is interested in seeing it, let me know. It provides a possible outline for a process and sample activities to better assess academic library programs in relation to the national standards. I was particularly interested in their mention of LibQual, the ARL quality survey, and how it might be used to better compare our service satisfaction levels and programs with peer institutions. LibQual, as I understand it, tries to measure overall service quality, rather than user satisfaction with a specific experience. Another useful idea was using the standards as a basis for goal setting and creating a culture of evidence (or assessment) within a library. In this way assessment is used to make specific improvements, meet specific goals and therefore close the loop in the planning process.
2) I attended the open hearing on the ACRL "Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices." This hearing was chaired by Tom Kirk of Earlham College, and was a mini version of what we did in Atlanta last June. Those that weren’t invited to Atlanta were able to make some suggestions regarding the wording of the "Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices" document. Overall there was very strong support for the document. There weren’t really any new ideas or major changes presented so I imagine the document will go forward without any or perhaps with very minor alterations.
3) I had hoped to attend a meeting of the SAILS working group, but even though I had been trying to get them to set the time for months, they finally scheduled the meeting the day the conference began at a time period after both Shaun and I were gone (late Monday). They apologized and have assured us they will send us minutes and updates.
4) I was invited to interview for a faculty position with ACRL’s Institute for Information Literacy. If I am selected, it will involve teaching in the information literacy immersion program each summer for a week in July or August.
5) All in all, Shaun and I had a nice time in Philadelphia. We had a lovely dinner with Jill Newby and Dan and it was wonderful to see them. They both seem to like Arizona very much. We were on the "library plane" on the way to Philadelphia, with dozens of Utah Librarians, I sat between Jill Moriarty from U of U and Lynnda Wangsgaard so it was a good chance hear about what's happening in other libraries.