ACRL 2011 conference focuses on value of academic and research libraries

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/01/2011

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CHICAGO - Due to the commitment of academic and research librarians, campus libraries are stronger than ever. With an exponentially increasing volume of information available on the Web as well as through traditional scholarly sources, academic libraries and librarians are indispensable to the higher education community as they work to meet the needs of an increasingly tech-savvy constituency and actively engage students by not only providing access to information, but also helping students and faculty use that information to further their own learning

As the demand for library service increases, more than 3,000 librarians and staff, from college and university libraries around the world will meet in Philadelphia, March 30 – April 2, for the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2011 conference to discuss a host of pressing issues affecting higher education, such as the future of academic libraries, top technology trends, open access publishing, distance learning and information literacy.

“Great libraries are key to great institutions,” said ACRL president Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “In today’s complex information environment, ACRL 2011 will provide a forum for discussions on the future and value of academic and research libraries, but will also provide an opportunity for attendees to share ideas on the central role of librarians – as educators, information architects and organizers, archivists and partners in the campus experience.”

University librarians are more than just “keepers of the books,” they are instructional and research partners that offer a valuable service to the future workforce and often have a direct-yet-silent hand in preparing students with important job skills.

According to a 2010 report by Hart Research Associates, some of the most valued skill sets employer stakeholders ask universities to emphasize are critical thinking and analytical thinking skills (81 percent of employers), ability to analyze and solve complex problems (75 percent) and the ability to locate, organize and evaluate information from multiple sources (68 percent) – all skills academic librarians teach on a daily basis.

Studies suggest that students are more likely to stay in school and get better grades the more personal interactions they have. Out of classroom learning experiences – like the ones available at the library – have proven to have an effect on student drop out and graduation rates. Factors such as consistently accessible staff, prompt and effective management of student queries, curricular integration and frequent contact with faculty, first year seminars and common intellectual experiences all provide a place where students can experience learning together.

Themed “A Declaration of Interdependence,” ACRL 2011 will explore the interdependency that exists in academic and library communities and the changing nature and role of academic and research librarians. Keynote speakers include award-winning filmmaker, activist and Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain; activist, academic and speaker Raj Patel; computer scientist, Internet pioneer and author Jaron Lanier and renowned fashion expert Clinton Kelly. More than 200 exhibitors will feature state-of-the-art products and services for academic and research libraries.

During the conference, ACRL will partner with Clean the World in a social responsibilities recycling effort to aid the Cholera outbreak in Haiti. Each day, the Philadelphia Marriott housekeeping department will collect gently used amenities throughout the ACRL 2011 headquarters hotel. These bathroom amenities will be collected and repurposed using environmentally-friendly and hygienically-safe recycling practices. The recycled soap products will then be distributed along with educational materials to help sustain good personal hygiene practices and the spread of diseases.

ACRL 2011 also will offer a Virtual Conference, which will complement the face-to-face conference and feature podcasts, live webcasts and slidecasts - PowerPoint presentations synced with real-time audio from every contributed paper, Cyber Zed Shed presentation, invited paper and panel session presented, allowing people from all over the world to participate in discussions.

ACRL is the largest division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 12,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments. ACRL is on the Web at http://www.acrl.org, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ala.acrl and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

For more information on ACRL 2011, please visit the Web press kit at http://tinyurl.com/acrl2011presskit, or contact Jennifer Petersen, ALA’s PR coordinator at 312-280-5043, jpetersen@ala.org.