Tuesday, March 7, 2017

36th Annual Conference on the First Year Experience

I was fortunate to have been able to attend and present at the 36th Annual Conference on the First Year Experience. While I won't go into too much detail, I will say the sessions I attended were excellent and provided inspiration I plan to mull over and incorporate into my practice. Here are some brief highlights presented in a visual manner:

Welcome – Jennifer R. Keup, Director, National Resource Center

Opening Session and Keynote Address – Dr. Rishi Sriram, Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs; Graduate Program Director for the Department of Educational Administration; Faculty Master, Brooks Residential College — Baylor University; Keynote Address -- Developing Talented College Students. 
Dr. Brittany Cottrill Lloyd, myself, and Ryan Roy facilitated a discussion entitled Lost in Transitions: Expectations and Persistence in the First-Year Experience. 

Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO, St. Louis Integrated Health Network; Closing Address -- Mobilizing Movements: The Uncomfortable Truths
While most of our time was spent in sessions, we did have an evening off to explore Atlanta. Within walking distance from our hotel was the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel, which gave us a view of the skyline, as well as a birds-eye view of  Centennial Olympic Park.

SkyView Atlanta from the ground.

Centennial Olympic Park
I took a lunch hour to visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum, also within walking distance. It was well worth it to have made this a priority in my visit to Atlanta. 
Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum

There was such a wide range of important exhibits, and I was thankful to have been able to see them. Something about this image stood out to me. 


While I could share my pages and pages of notes and more photos from the conference, I'm still working my way through mentally processing them. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to attend and look forward to folding new ideas into my daily work.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fall Recap and Spring Outlook

Based on my radio silence, it's likely quite clear that this past fall has been beyond busy. Thankfully this past semester held so many rewarding experiences. With time restrictions in mind, perhaps it's best to make this a bulleted list. This past fall brought:

  • A new position for me. I now serve as Coordinator for Information Literacy Instruction and User Experience Librarian. What does that mouthful of a title mean? Basically I still teach a lot of instruction, but now I oversee scheduling and sequencing of IL content. This means keeping track of scaffolded instruction throughout specific majors, working with faculty to brainstorm IL in their courses, and making sure it all fits nicely on the calendar (and that a librarian is available and prepared to teach their course).
  • A new library system. We've migrated over to Alma/Primo, which allows for a more seamless search process for our students and faculty. It also means that we need to redo all of our tutorial videos to show the new processes for how to access materials. We are still working out glitches, but the new system went live just as the semester began. Our IL instruction has had to adapt a bit on the fly. 
  • Welcoming a new colleague to fill out the GV Library team in the role of Outreach & Instruction Librarian. We're working to acclimate her into GV life, IL at GV, our students, our colleagues, and the Des Moines community.  
  • I taught a 4-credit, reading/writing intensive, honors, first-year seminar. If that description doesn't give you an idea about just how much work the course was, I don't know what will. The most rewarding part of the experience was how the students came together and built their own safe community where they could express themselves and learn together. It was my first time teaching a course that was fully "my own" (though the curriculum is pretty well pre-determined), and it was  definitely a learning experience. I have a greater respect for faculty who are struggling with required disciplinary content, administrative pressures to incorporate additional elements (i.e. high-impact practices to increase retention), advising, and grading. While there are definitely modifications to be made, I am confident that my students now have a strong understanding of what they need to do to be successful in future coursework. 
  • In October I was elected to serve as member-at-large on the Iowa Library Association Executive Board. This is a great honor and I am excited to work with the rest of the board to support our membership and the communities we serve around the state! Additionally, I'm continuing on as member-at-large on the ILA/ACRL EB. 
  • Also in October, I spoke with the ILA membership at the annual conference to inform them of the new Ad Hoc Committee for Diversity & Inclusion. The purpose of my brief talk during the business meeting was to 1) inform them of the committee's current standing, 2) share more about the goals/charge of the committee, and 3) solicit interest in serving on the committee. And talk about interest! We had over 20 members express interest in filling the available 6 slots! Working with the others who were rolling off the committee, we selected a great crew of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to serve. I will say, narrowing down the pool of candidates was extremely difficult. We were excited at the level of interest and hope to still keep all interested parties in the loop as the committee tackles our charge and works to further develop. The quick version of what we're working on: a statement on diversity and inclusion for our state association, fall conference sessions/speakers related to diversity and inclusion, an assessment of needs within Iowa, and continuing to strive toward full standing committee status. 
  • In December we welcomed the pups back to campus for another successful pre-semester exams de-stressing for our students (and staff). 
  • We recently completed and submitted our Library assessment/program review report. It was intended to be a comprehensive examination of all we do, and includes as much supporting data as possible (this included 22 appendices and 61 pages for the document itself). It was nice to get this submitted and off our plates (until suggested revisions and additional follow up questions are posed by the assessment committee). 
  • And much, much more that I'm sure is currently escaping me. 
Looking forward into spring 2017: 
  • I, along with 2 other colleagues, will be co-presenting at the 36th Annual Conference on the First Year Experience in Atlanta. This looks to be an engaging and inspiring conference and I am excited to learn more about how we can best support our students who are in transition, who may be under-prepared or at-risk. 
  • Continuing to serve on both ILA and ILA/ACRL Executive Boards, the spring ILA/ACRL Conference Planning Committee, and all of the other work that goes along with being an involved member of the organizations. 
  • Bringing back the Staff & Faculty Celebration of Vocation (new rebranding TBD) and passing that responsibility on to my new colleague.
  • Not having to do all the grading related to teaching a 4-credit, reading/writing intensive course :) 
  • Serving on a sub-committee preparing upcoming university HLC accreditation documents/narratives, with a focus on instruction.
  • Bringing back the Pet-a-Pup program for more stress relief. 
  • Revamping our video tutorials to better reflect our current library system offerings, as well as feature the new bells and whistles available to our users. 
  • Examining and expanding our social media outreach to the GV and Des Moines community. 
  • And much, much more that may not even be on my radar right now! :) 
In the meantime, enjoy a handful of photos from the fall Pet-a-Pup event: 

And here are links to the full albums from each day of the event: