I attended the American College and Research Library (ACRL) 2011 meeting in Philadelphia, PA. My husband and I drove down to Philly on Thursday, March 31. The drive was easy, and we pulled into the city around 2:30 in the afternoon. After hastily pulling into a parking garage across from the Convention Center, we got our aging bodies out of the car and prepared to explore the city for a bit. Our first stop was the Reading Terminal Market where, after a dizzying tour of food choices, we split a gigantic Philly cheesesteak. Then, we needed a walk.
We decided to head out to the Philadelphia Art Museum, 1.5 miles in the drizzling rain. We did see people running up the stairs Rocky-like to have pictures taken by friends and family. We wandered around the museum grounds, stopping at the statues of General Casimir Pulaski and other Europeans who assisted in the American Revolution. The pathways and pavilions are very attractive. Nicely done.
As we headed back, the rain picked up. We ducked into the Nodding Head Brewery (think bobble heads) to dry off and quaff a beer or two. Then, back to our car to grab our bags and check into the lovely Loews Hotel. A complementary upgrade got us onto the 30th floor with breakfast on the limited access 31st floor every morning. Sweet!
But, our evening was not over! Despite the fact that normally we are ready for bed by 9:00pm, we headed out to Monk’s Cafe in Rittenhouse Square. Monk’s is notoriously crowded (All About Beer Magazine puts Monk’s on the list of Top 10 Places in the WORLD to Have A Beer Before You Die)–you need to be prepared to wait. We had a great time.
Friday, April 1
Roundtable Discussion. I facilitated a Roundtable Discussion on Civic Engagement & Your Library. The tables were set up for 10 participants. I had three librarians join me. They work in small institutions in Pennsylvania, Utah and Michigan. I started the discussion with my experiences with the Community Workshop Series, a collaboration between UNC Libraries and local public libraries. I also spoke about my current collaboration with the Springfield City Library’s Hi!Tech classes and with the Healthy Community Collaborative in Mason Square. I promoted the idea of using our skills, resources, and students to address the digital divide.
One of our participants talked about the National Issues Forum. This took the discussion in a different direction. We pulled at the distinctions between community service/service learning opportunities and civic engagement. How do librarians promote or inform civil discourse? I made a note to myself to check out this organization.
Contributed Papers. My morning continued with listening to Nancy Sims, Copyright Librarian from the University of Minnesota, discuss her paper on copyright misconceptions. University of Missouri’s John Budd and Zack Coble presented their findings on the continued citing of retracted biomedical journal articles. And, Rosemary Del Torro, from Marquette University, spoke on scholarly communication initiatives in medium and small institutions.
Poster Session. After lunch, I took a walk through the posters. I was happy to see Jen Ditkoff from Keene State College with her colleagues and their poster on multimodal library orientation. And, I was stopped in my tracks (literally) by John McConnell from North Georgia College and State University. He sold me on his Jing project–using students to narrate librarian-scripted tutorials on how to use library resources. Too bad that Baystate Health blocks YouTube.
Panel Session. I stepped into a panel discussion on assessment hosted by Megan Oakleaf (Syracuse University–Go Orange!), Michelle Millet (University of Texas–San Antonio) and Rachel Fleming-May (University of Tennessee). Assessment is one of those things we just need to make ourselves do. I jotted down three reminders:
- Document beyond how many sessions I teach; find a way to link my efforts with the ultimate outcome as related to the mission of my institution. (Don’t ask me how I am going to do this! I don’t know yet.)
- Document beyond the hits on our electronic resources—what is the end result? How does use of our resources contribute to the institution’s mission?
- Know the language to speak to your administrators (i.e. “evidence-based” library services).
Dinner at Maggioni’s; Dancing at the National Constitution Center. Ever been dancing with a bunch of librarians? Ed and I prepared for the event with a dinner at Maggioni’s. After eating almost too much food, we walked over to the National Constitution Center. The museum is lovely at night and, for American history geeks like ourselves, chock full of fascinating exhibits. The icing on the cake was shakin’ it to MJ’s “Billy Jean” with a golden TJ (Thomas Jefferson). He’s quite a dancer!
Saturday, April 2
Keynote Speaker. Jaron Lanier, author of You are Not a Gadget, spoke on the topic “The Bipolar Library: How Humanizing and Digitizing Must Both Be Advanced”. To be quite honest, I wasn’t that impressed with him. He did explore the idea that librarians shouldn’t overly worry about making services easy for users. People fall in love with what they have to struggle for. Lanier urged us to create an inconvenience ritual for using our resources, and romanticize ourselves in a way that makes us known to them. OK.
Panel Session. I attended a presentation from the librarians at the University of Michigan Undergraduate Library (UGLi). They gave a great presentation on the repurposing of library space. Here’s a student news clip about Bert’s Study Lounge.
Keynote Speaker. The last speaker was What Not to Wear‘s Clinton Kelly giving tips for embracing change. He was an engaging speaker, and his advice is hard to beat:
- Admit that style matters.
- Stop making excuses,
- Honor your body.
- Get out of fantasyland.
- Lose the haters.
- Shut up about other people.
- Shop with purpose.
With that, the conference ended.
But, we stayed in Philly one more night.
After dropping off my librarian gear, Ed and I headed to Franklin Court for some Benjamin Franklin history. The afternoon was sunny and beautiful, and the flowering trees were just budding. We walked over to City Tavern and ordered a flight of four colonial beers–General Washington’s Tavern Porter, Thomas Jefferson’s 1774 Tavern Ale, Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce, and Alexander Hamilton’s Treasury Ale. We had an assortment of yummy breads, too. A couple from North Carolina joined us for some conversation. A pleasant afternoon.
Supper at the Lee How Fook. After more wanderings through the scenic Society Hill neighborhood, Ed and I headed to the Lee How Fook restaurant. This is a sweet little restaurant.
We watched game 1 of the NCAA Final Four in our hotel room and then headed to a sports bar for the beginning of game 2. But, I was fading. Rapidly. We headed back to Loews and I snoozed through the end of the game.
Breakfast and home. Our third breakfast on the 31st floor was more crowded than the previous days. Loews does a nice job. Fresh fruit, bagels and lox, coffee. The view of the city is stunning. It was worth staying an extra day (on our own dime) for such a nice ending to the weekend.
Margot – it was great to see you in Philly. I’ve been there twice in the last few years and still haven’t made it to Monk’s. Hope you had some mussels.
My only quibble with what you’ve said is about Jaron Lanier. He was my favorite keynote by far, because he actually addressed the future of libraries in the digital world. I’m about 2/3ds through You are not a Gadget, and he’s definitely not a fan of cookie-cutter social media applications. It’s a plea for originality and expression. Make art. Make music. Make something. And perhaps libraries can find a role in helping you do that.
Maybe we can put this on the next WMHIC agenda!
Thanks for commenting. I guess I should take a look at Lanier’s book. I wasn’t that enthralled with the idea of managing raw data for my job, but I am not a cataloging kind of gal. I do see merit in the library taking that role, as well as other KM for the institution. But, the idea of libraries supporting creativity does appeal to me.
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