Highlights from the Charleston Library Conference

Posted by Raymond Pun on 11/19/18 12:07 PM

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I recently attended the annual Charleston Conference in Charleston, South Carolina (November 5-9, 2018) for the first time. This conference is known as an important event to attend if your work involves scholarly communication, library publishing, collection development, acquisitions or e-resource management. The sessions and discussions covered many interesting and emerging issues including discovery, technology trends, budgeting, analysis and assessment, and user statistics. I learned quite a bit in this conference and chatted with publishers and vendors who shared some upcoming features in their products and services too.

While instruction librarians are typically less likely to attend Charleston than their technical services colleagues, I found no shortage of important discussions centering on academic librarianship and information literacy work in collection assessment and services. Here are three highlights from the conference I found particularly relevant:

  1. Open Educational Resources (OER) – There were many sessions held on this increasingly popular topic. The sessions covered latest trends, case studies, and challenges/opportunities of implementing OER programs in academic libraries. For example Librarian Regina Gong shared how the library partnered with faculty members at Lansing Community College in Michigan to create and launch a series of sustainable open text books in various disciplines and the fruitful collaboration and results in reducing financial barriers for community college students. In another session, Mark Cummings from ACRL’s Choice discussed the new Choice OER Review Template and the review parameters including format, licensing, accessibility, adaptability, pedagogy, interface design, and more. It can be a helpful way to think about these categories when considering OER content. OER discussions will not be going away any time soon and there are opportunities for librarians, particularly FYE ones, to engage with teaching faculty that such content can be designed to be accessible and free for all first-year students to ensure that the students do not face additional financial burdens as textbook prices continue to rise.

  2. Hiring for Sustainable DisruptionIn this panel discussion, five associate university librarians in major academic libraries answered a series of questions and provided thoughts on how to create innovative positions or “disruptive hire” to promote change within their organizations. The questions range from how they have successfully recruited someone outside of the library industry to cultural/training issues to retention and support. Each speaker gave a perspective of how their organizations embraced these hires. For example, New York University Libraries’ Nina Servizzi talked about how one individual had specific skills in coding and ideas from outside of the libraries. It was opportunity to align the department’s projects into a development cycle to increase collaboration and sync project management timelines. Princeton University Library’s Peter Bae discussed recruiting professionals from the publishing industry because of their unique experiences, soft skills, and abilities to manage different workflows relating to scholarly information and services. When thinking about library instruction, are there any catalytic positions that can “disrupt” the status quo in our own workplaces? Some innovative positions have included blended learning and instructional design duties, while other roles have combined subject liaison work with functional services such as assessment, marketing, or student engagement activities.

  3. Keynote Plenary: Navigating Access to Knowledge – Harvard Professor of Law Ruth Okediji, a renowned scholar in international intellectual property law passionately shared her wisdom at the conference. In the beginning Okediji reflected on her relationship with libraries over the years and her love for reading and learning. She delved into the historical role of libraries in copyright education; she explored the current intergenerational users of libraries and the data points that reveal how “millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries.” Okediji also covered the issue of “fake news” and cited the new report by Project Information Literacy. There’s a wealth of information and thought that Okediji shared and you can see the full recorded version here.

Overall, I encourage academic librarians to explore this conference to hear about the intersections of scholarly communication and collection assessment in academic librarianship; there are new features coming from database vendors in responding to our needs for learning assessments, student retention, and success. If you are interested in getting into collection development work or focusing on open educational resources and/or scholarly publishing in academic librarianship, you definitely want to check this conference out to learn the latest trends and best practices. Also, Charleston is an amazing city to visit!

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