ACRL: A Brief Overview

This is actually from an email that I sent around to my co-workers after I returned from ACRL. I thought it would also be good to share here. 

ACRL was from 4/10 – 4/13. The first day of the conference were actually pre-conference sessions, so you had to pay in advance to attend them. There was a day-long session about LibGuides that would have been really beneficial to attend, I am sure. Thankfully, most of the sessions will be available online in a couple of weeks. I spent the day exploring Indianapolis until the keynote speech. Later that evening, I helped out at a first-time attendees conference (I had previously attended ACRL in 2011 when it was in Philadelphia). Geoffrey Canada gave an excellent keynote speech. The part that gave me pause was when he discussed the difference between providing funding for schools in wealthier districts versus those in low-income districts; basically, when it comes to students with privilege, we use our intuition when it comes to their needs, but for disadvantaged students, we need numbers and such to prove that they’re worth the investment.

Thursday was the first full day of the conference. Overall, there were so many good sessions taking place at the same time that it was difficult for me to decide which ones to attend. I went to a workshop about presentation tools. Three of them, I was already familiar with (Voki, WikiSpaces, and Prezi), but I think that GoAnimate ( and Screencastomatic ( are some tools that I’m going to use for my presentations.

Another session I attended was about engaging first year library students. The presenter discussed opportune times to engage students, such as before they arrive (during the campus visit, connecting with parents, engaging with high schools, working with student tour guides) and engaging with students while they’re on campus (librarians serving as an academic adviser or as a personal librarian to a group of students, participating in a common reader program). I found a lot of the ideas presented during this session to be interesting.

Henry Rollins (of Black Flag fame) gave the keynote speech on Thursday! I think it’s pretty amazing that someone, somewhere was able to convince him to give a speech at ACRL. He is really into the idea of preserving information so that others can save it. He served as the de facto archivist for his band and was able to save some paraphernalia for other punk rock acts during the 80s and 90s. For you archivist folks, Henry Rollins was able to view some of the earliest Congressional memos from the late 18th century. J

On Friday, I went to a workshop where attendees had to develop activities for information literacy instruction. The workshop focused on creating student learning outcomes, coming up with activity ideas, and assessment. On Saturday, I went to a session that was similar, but it focused on creating modules to easily customize information literacy sessions.

Another information literacy session I attended discussed the concept of the flipped classroom. The general idea of the flipped classroom is to have the students come prepared to discuss the materials that you would have presented in class so that you can use the class period to provide help with concepts that the students may not have understood. I’m really interested in exploring this idea further.

Some things that I did outside of the conference included visiting the Benjamin Harrison house (worth a trip if you’re in the area). If you like Kurt Vonnegut, there’s a museum dedicated to his works there. The Indiana State Library is in the downtown area and there are several good restaurants, cafes, breweries, and a meadery that’s nearby. I especially recommend Mo’Joe Coffeehouse. Downtown Indianapolis is a walkable area and I was able to get to a lot of places by foot. 

I highly enjoyed my time in Indianapolis and look forward to returning in a couple of weeks for my friend’s wedding.