National Library of Medicine Fellow Reflects On Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Conference

Recently, Holly Thompson, one of our National Library of Medicine Fellows, attended a conference in Portland, Oregon. Holly graciously provided us with a first-hand account of her experience, highlighting several strategy sessions she attended.  

ACRL 2015 – Creating Sustainable Community, March 24-28thPortland Oregon

I attended the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2015 meeting in Portland, Oregon this March. It was my first ACRL meeting and I was excited to learn about what my colleagues at college and research libraries were up to. What were their priorities, challenges, and trends? The theme of the meeting was “Creating Sustainable Community” and many of the discussion topics focused on this theme. A recurring topic throughout the poster sessions, paper sessions, and panels was the challenge of recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce. Beyond that, the challenge of creating an environment of inclusion and acceptance within the workplace. Another popular recurring topic was how to create and market a space for innovation and collaboration within the library to attract students from across the university system.

I attended several panels on communication and leadership. One that was particularly interesting was crisis communication and developing communication plans. A panel from the University of Utah Marriott Library shared their experience with bed bugs in the library (eek!). They walked the audience through the methods of developing strategies for internal and external communications for such an unprecedented event. Because of their diligence they have created a more proactive campus-wide communication about such crises.

ACRL booked several fabulous keynote speakers: G. Willow Wilson, Jad Abumrad, and Lawrence Lessig. The speakers were diverse and they all spoke about important topics such as active listening, pushing beyond your comfort zone, and the importance of being actively engaged with the policies that affect our academic achievement and freedom.

The meeting organizers planned some less serious events as well and the highlight, for me at least, was Battle Decks. Also known as “PowerPoint Karaoke”, volunteer presenters are given a topic and they must make up a presentation on the spot that corresponds with previously unseen PowerPoint Slides.

The slides range from pop culture references, to internet memes, to bizarre images and the volunteer presenters must make it work with their topics. It was a lot of fun!

While I was there I had an opportunity to try some of the famous Portland food trucks, walk through historic Pioneer Square, and visit Powell’s City of Books.

I’m looking forward to the next ACRL meeting in 2017 to be held here in lovely Baltimore! 


Written by Holly Thompson




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