Re-Tooling Academic Libraries for the Digital Age:
Missions, Collections, Staffing

California Academic & Research Libraries
Third Annual Conference

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:
  1. Collaborate with other professional organizations and associations of higher education in order to promote mutual interests.
  2. Maintain at the national level a prominent role in planning and decision making for influencing information policy.
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 team.

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 campuses.

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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