Re-Tooling Academic Libraries for the Digital
Missions, Collections, Staffing
California Academic & Research Libraries
Third Annual Conference
SUMMARY OF TALK
1st Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Patricia Senn Breivik, President, ACRL &
Dean of University Libraries, Wayne State University
"Redefining the Mission of Higher Education and the Role of the Library"
Patricia Breivik, President of ACRL, delivered a provocative message
that provided the audience with information about current ACRL initiatives,
as well as past activities that Dr. Breivik has involved with involving
information literacy. She emphasized how two of ACRL goals in the new ACRL
Strategic Plan directly relate to the CARL Conference theme:
Her presidential theme, "Every Librarian a Leader," was also highlighted
by reference to the past Pittsburgh ACRL Preconference and the upcoming
New York City annual ALA conference, where ACRL will have several modules
on the theme of librarian leadership. The first program module will be Saturday,
July 6, 1996 with a keynote address, group interaction and case studies
to start participants on the leadership self-assessment instrument. The
second program module will follow on Sunday, July 7th with a three-hour
session, most of which will be small group activities on the leadership
- Collaborate with other professional organizations and associations
of higher education in order to promote mutual interests.
- Maintain at the national level a prominent role in planning and decision
making for influencing information policy.
She discussed some of the problems in higher education of which she believes
academic librarians have a role in being a part of the discussion and solution.
Leaders both within and outside higher education have critized some higher
education institutions for program duplication, emphasis on faculty research
over teaching and learning, and over- specialization of academic programs
with little relationship or accountability to the state's economic needs.
She reiterated that many employers aren't looking for highly technical backgrounds
and training; instead they want problem-solvers; individuals who can work
in teams; individuals who care about their clients/customers; and employees
who are flexible and adaptable to change. These types of skills and thought-
processes are partially developed by the type of information literacy instruction
and assignments that academic librarians provide.
A constant theme were the words, "We have to invite ourselves to the
table." Dr. Breivik provided several examples of situations where librarian
leadership and expertise are needed in higher education areas. She shared
a story about one of the National Forum for Information Literacy board members
telling her that he knew that librarians could be helpful, but "the
problem with librarian is they don't volunteer." The audience was urged
to be active and present at the various academic tables and arenas on their
Referring to Ralph Wolff, Associate Executive Director of WASC, and his
writings on the transformational role of academic libraries and librarians,
she reminded us that the key question is deciding and knowing what business
we are in: Are we in the business of librarianship or higher education?
If we're truly in the business of higher education, then ourinvolvement
and priorities will be much clearer.
Dr. Breivik also cautioned us not to get on the bandwagon of overselling
the Information Highway and Internet resources. She urged us to get involved
with helping campus, local and state bodies to ask the hard questions about
content and how the end-user can access and be trained to take full advantage
of Internet resources. The example of Maryland librarians was used to illustrate
this point. They invited themselves to a day-long conference with state
policy-makers and educators to discuss the role of information on the Information
Highway: policy issues about duplication of resources; quality and relevance
of the information for Maryland's citizens; and issues related to training
citizens about effective use.
Dr. Breivik concluded by describing several unique opportunities that she
sees for California academic librarians. We have a growing ACRL chapter
with lots of talent and expertise. The quality of this CARL conference was
offered as one example. She also cited Ralph Wolff as a local resource of
importance for his forward-thinking ideas and writings about the role of
academic libraries and librarians. And finally, she mentioned the CSU system-wide
initiative to have information literacy and resource-based learning a requirement
for all students.
Summary by Bonnie Gratch, St. Mary's College
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