2009 ACRL Friends Fund National Conference Scholarship Recipients Share Their Gratitude

Heidi Lynn Martin Jacobs
Information Literacy Librarian
Leddy Library
University of Windsor
Ontario, Canada

“I distinctly remember the moment I learned I had been awarded an ACRL National Conference Librarian scholarship.  It was a cold, grey, January day and I was back in my office after 4 hours of teaching.  I was late for a meeting, my voicemail light was blinking, my email in-box had 9 new messages and my phone would not stop ringing.  As I gathered my notebook for my meeting, my computer tweeted to announce the arrival of a new email.   On my way out the door, I stopped to glance at the subject line: “ACRL 14th National Conference Scholarship Notification.”  “Congratulations,” it began.  For the first time all day, I stood still.  A feeling of calm washed over me.  Knowing I could go to ACRL made things that, moments before, had seemed impossible appear to be possible. 

As a new librarian, I had been, at certain points in the semester, confused as to how the work I was doing on a day-to-day basis fit into the larger picture of librarianship.  At this early point in my career, I was also feeling a need to connect with librarians from across North America so I could see a broader intellectual landscape for my work and my library.  As I noted in my scholarship application, “The ACRL National Conference seems like a much-wished for immersion into the ideas, issues and culture of academic librarianship.”  Indeed, within the first fifteen minutes of the ACRL Scholarship Recipient Breakfast, I knew I had found that immersion.  While at the ACRL conference, I went to many stellar sessions and had some fantastic conversations with other librarians about what we had seen and learned.  I reconnected with several friends from my MLIS program and met some new colleagues.  I was introduced to new areas of inquiry and new lenses through which I could see my own work and the work of my library.  Throughout the conference, I made a list of ideas I wanted to explore and projects big and small that I wanted to start.  I was so excited about one project that I began working on it while waiting for my plane in the Seattle airport.

I began this reflection on my receiving an ACRL National Conference Librarian scholarship with a description of my meetings, teaching, phone calls, and emails not because I think my scenario is atypical of academic librarianship. Rather, I mention my schedule because it seems to be so very typical of the kinds of juggling that academic librarians do throughout the year.  The more I talk with other librarians, the more I realize that this kind of schedule is not conducive to the kind of reflective, creative thinking and the revivifying, inspiring conversations that are so important to our profession.   And, the more I talk with other librarians, the more I understand how vital conferences like ACRL are for us individually and professionally.  Conferences like ACRL are those moments of calm that help us see the big picture within the classes, meetings, emails, and phone calls we juggle throughout the year. 

The gratitude I initially felt upon receiving this scholarship has deepened over the subsequent months.  As I continue to process all that I learned, the presentations I saw and the conversations I had, I know that I will look back to those few days in Seattle as truly formative.  I am deeply grateful to the Friends of ACRL for their kind and generous support of new librarians.  In the years to come, I know I will support this group so others may benefit from the formative experience of attending an ACRL National Conference. “

Cindy Logan
Veterinary Medical Library
Kansas State University
Manhattan Kansas

“Thanks to the Friends of ACRL for their generous support of the ACRL Scholarship Program.  I was awarded one of the scholarships to attend the ACRL 14th Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington.  I found the conference rewarding as I was able to interact and explore the wide range of programs and activities other college librarians are leading and participating in with respect to their individual institutions.  The ACRL Conference was my first national library conference since receiving my MLS in 2006.  I was able to explore ACRL and its respective sections as I determine the association that is the best fit for me with the responsibilities of my job.   The scholarship allowed me the financial support to attend the conference at a very nominal cost. It was rewarding to know the Funding Committee saw the potential in me as a professional librarian to invest in my continued growth.”

SaraJane Tompkins
Assistant Professor
Reference Librarian/Pre K-12 Collection
Olson Library
Northern Michigan University
Marquette, Michigan

“Aside from really enjoying being with like-minded but diverse colleges for three days in Seattle, I did make connections that support my special interests.  I was reviewing the schedule, one more time, and saw the session, "From Babine to Yakima: Academic Libraries and Endangered Language Preservation.”  This definitely caught my interest.  I am the Liaison to Native American Studies at NMU and was working on a course guide for a library instruction session for a faculty teaching in Native American Studies. I felt as if I was not sure which direction to move in to continue collaboration with the faculty.  I had more questions than ideas.  Working with the language instructor seemed like a possibility.  Gabriella Renowski's presentation was informative.  More importantly it was a process that gave me ideas on how to support the Anishinaabe language classes taught at NMU.  When I contacted Gabriella a few weeks later she was positive, supportive and helpful. I feel like I have a colleague in my journey to preserve endangered languages and the beginning of a support system.

Since ACRL in Seattle I have met with the language Instructor and the ideas started flying.  I am feeling more informed and know where to go to continue learning about the best way to support Anishinaabe instruction at NMU, thanks to being able to attend ACRL.  Thank you so much.

I would be without colleagues interested in the same things I want to pursue.”

Min Tong
Reference/Instruction Librarian
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

“I was deeply honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the ACRL 14th National Conference Scholarships in March 2009. Ever since my LIS study years, I have always been looking forward to attending ACRL national conference, which I deem the most significant conference for academic librarians. Due to financial reasons, unfortunately and regrettably, this dream had not been able to be realized.  Therefore, I was very excited when I was awarded the scholarship. Attending ACRL helped me hear about new ideas, gain new skills and remain current.  I also had the opportunity to network with other librarians, with whom I may collaborate with in my future research endeavors.”

Jill D. Whitfill
Assistant Professor
Undergraduate and Medical Sciences Librarian
Bethel College
McKenzie, Tennessee

“What would have happened if I had not received the scholarship to attend the ACRL Conference in Seattle? The generous contributions of the Friends of the ACRL allowed two people to benefit from one scholarship. I would likely have been able to attend the conference, though with some significant modifications. Due to our per diem limitations and the economy, I wouldn’t have been able to stay at a conference hotel and would have had to spend valuable conference time commuting from my hotel to the conference sites.  This would also have limited my ability to network with my peers, and learn from them individually which, for me, is one of the best parts of the conference! It is also quite possible that I wouldn’t have been able to attend the entire conference as limiting my stay to a day or two would have helped decrease the costs. Expenses over and above what the college would pay would have had to come from either my pocket or the library’s miscellaneous account. Fortunately, these things didn’t happen thanks to the Friends of the ACRL.

The biggest thing that would have happened without the scholarship is that Chastity Fortenberry, our Technical Services Assistant, would not have been able to attend. While our institution supports faculty development, no provision is made for staff development, especially in today’s economy.  Because my registration fee was covered by the scholarship and the $250 cash award helped defray my hotel expenses, the library was able to cover the registration fee and meals for Chastity to attend the conference with me out of our miscellaneous account. Chastity really enjoyed the conference and benefited greatly from several of the technical sessions and the roundtable discussions.

We both wish to express our gratitude to the ACRL and the Friends of the ACRL.”

Ning Zou
Instruction Coordinator
Dominican University
River Forest, IL

“First, thank you again for honoring me the ACRL National Conference scholarship. Thank you for the Friends of the ACRL and the ACRL Scholarships Committee. If I hadn’t received the scholarship, I would have been very discouraged professionally from attending such a quality and informative conference. I have been committed to academic librarianship since I was in library school. ACRL is the only national conference that solely focuses on academic librarianship. It gathers academic librarians nationally and internationally who have the passion to work with students, faculty, administrators, and staff at a higher education institution. If I hadn’t received this scholarship, I would not have learned cutting-edge technologies that benefit library and library users at the Cyber Zed shed; I would not have been inspired by all the great keynote speakers about diversity, community, and green environment; I would not have taken away the best pedagogical methods applied to library instruction; I would not have gained knowledge of creative library programs about promoting scholarly communication and institutional repository; I would not have networked with my previous colleagues from three other institutions and discussed collaborative projects. All in all, I was overwhelmed with excitement. It was you, the friends of the ACRL, who made my journey of an academic librarian more fascinating and encouraging!”