Reflections of Spring Conference Scholarship Winner, Laura Sauser

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Looking In, Reaching Out:  Whom Do We Serve?

As recipient of the 2017 Mary Hammond Iber Spring Conference Scholarship, I wish to extend my thanks to the selection committee for giving me this opportunity.  The conference helped me make valuable connections with experienced academic librarians and build on my professional network.  More importantly, it also gave me a chance to reflect on three core values (and challenges) of librarianship – equity, diversity and inclusion.  It also provided me with a variety of creative, actionable outreach strategies that I know will be of benefit in the future.  I am very grateful for having been selected!

The keynote presentation by Lisa Hinchliffe and the small group discussions that followed raised some interesting questions about how Iowa libraries are helping to attract diverse candidates.  I was reminded of similar conversations I had with colleagues in my former position in the philanthropic sector who were also grappling with the same challenge. This session also raised issues of poverty and food insecurity among college students – issues I hadn’t really considered in the context of academic libraries.   Through the small group discussion at my table, I learned how some Iowa institutions are addressing these issues and the roles being played by their academic libraries.

The session, “Not Everything is on the Internet – Reaching Out so They Step In” was an engaging presentation highlighting inexpensive, creative strategies the Loras College Library uses to draw students, faculty, and staff into their library.  It made me want to join in on the fun!    I work in a community college library where we are always looking for new outreach strategies, and I came away with some very good ideas to share with my coworkers.  The “Liaison Toolkit” session offered up a model for organizing progress on liaison work across various units across campus.  While working on my MLIS degree, I got into the habit of adding articles, books, websites, etc. to a growing professional library for future reference.  While I am not currently a faculty liaison, I added my notes from this session to my library as they will likely be of great benefit later in my career.  Like “Not Everything is on the Internet,” the session titled, “Building Bridges:  Creating Displays that Get Results” also gave me some terrific ideas for reaching out to draw people into the library.  I really appreciated the strategies about connecting with other units across campus, strategies that have also given me some great talking points to share with my coworkers.  Finally, the “Unconference” session about the database proposal from Gale was of particular interest.  I recently completed a research project on cooperative collection development models in Iowa (some of you may have responded to my online survey), and I was pleased to see this important project come to fruition. 

In closing, receiving this scholarship was a great privilege of my new professional career.  Again, I thank the scholarship selection committee and the ILA/ACRL membership overall for supporting my participation and for making this such a meaningful event.   I hope to see you all at next year’s conference!

Best regards,

Laura Sauser