The Liaison Role

I attended the “Working Together, Working Better” session on liaison relationships in art, architecture and visual resources.  In it the speakers addressed the many ways in which librarians can develop close and fruitful relationships with their academic departments.

Deborah Boudewyns gave us a good overview of the issues surrounding the liaison role of the librarian, particularly pointing out the lack of training in this area in library science programs.  Leanne Hindmarch described the “college librarian model” for liaison work at California Polytechnic State University and the way that they attempt to turn the library liaison role on its head by advocating for one’s subject department in the library rather than advocating for the library in one’s subject department.  Annette Haines shared her experiences as a field librarian who has an office in her liaison department.  Finally, Elaine Paul shared with us the many different ways that visual resource curators can reach out to and connect with the campus.

I came out of the session with a lot of good ideas about how I can develop liaison relationships with departments on campus.  One idea that particularly resonated with me was liaisoning as a team.  See if it’s possible to collaborate with other academic and institutional units such as information technology, career, and writing centers in presenting your services as a group.  This might help faculty see the many angles at which campus services can help to improve the teaching and learning experience.  Plus many voices are usually more powerful than one.  Are there ways in which your library has collaborated with other campus units to develop liaison relationships?

I also found interesting that a couple of different speakers brought up the issue of identity.  Liaison librarians have to achieve a balance between their relationships to departments and their relationship with the library.  A successful liaison librarians will be considered part of the team in their academic department, but it is important to balance this with their connections to the library.  It seems the best liaison librarian is able to try to keep the interests of both the department and the library at heart, and communication is key here.  As subject librarians, have any of you ever felt the challenges of this balance?

ARLIS/NA and Mentoring

Last night I attended the IU Bloomington Reunion held in honor of BJ Irvine.  It was wonderful to see the generations of librarians that BJ has influenced throughout her career.  I think that the theme that imerged throughout the many accolades was how much of a mentor she is to so many people, both in librarianship and life.  Indeed, as one of the last of the students to pass through the program under her care, I can vouch for the many ways in which she has mentored me in the last four years, and I will ever be thankful for her.

Thinking about mentorship has made me consider the role it play in ARLIS/NA more generally.  On a formal level, we have the mentoring program at the conference every year.  But I find that the relationships developed at conferenced and meetings are just as influential and are great opportunities for “mentoring moments.”  You never know when a conversation will influence someone.  Just yesterday, I was stopped briefly in the hall by an older librarian who recognized my face from previous conferences.  In just a brief conversation in which I told him about the new position I would be starting in the summer, he had words of insight that will stick with me, and I consider this to have been a “mentoring moment.”  ARLIS/NA is such a tight-knit supportive environment, and there are amazing opportunities for casual opportunities to develop into something deeper.

Have you had any “mentory moments” at the conference so far?

Diversity Session

Yesterday I attended the Panel on Diversity in the Library.  Kudos to fellow blogger Laura Haxer for moderating this excellent session!  In it Dorothy Tao shared helpful insights on increasing the sensitivity with which we interact international, multicultural and nontraditional students and made good suggestions on how to reach out to them through educational programs.  Pnina Shachaf shared her research on the potential for discrimination in digital reference, in which we learned that the evidence shows that there both is and is not discrimination in email reference, based on markers of ethnicity in the name of the student asking the question.  Finally Meredith Kahn shared a project in which the library collaborated in outreach with the organization for minority architects on her campus.

I think the point that stuck with me most came up in audience feedback, particularly in response to Pnina Shachaf’s paper.  When she polled the audience with the question “do you think there is discrimination in digital reference” the majority felt that there was.  In a profession that prides itself on its absolute equality in information provision, it was interesting that we were still pragmatic about the potential for discrimination in the services we provide, whether on a conscious or unconscious level.  I think that the conversation made us all think more deeply about how we might unconsciously treat patrons differently depending on their appearance, name or the language or tone they use in making their requests to us.

What do you think about the potential for discrimination in library services?

It is so exciting to finally be in Indianapolis. After weeks of lead-up, we are finally able to connect in person with colleagues, learn valuable new tools and methods in the discipline and engage in conversations about the directions in which the field is headed. It is with all of these goals in mind that I am going to attempt to write some brief reaction posts to events and sessions that I attend throughout the course of the conference. These are not meant to be exhaustive, as I am limited in the number of things I can attend, and they are not intended to be comprehensive summaries of what I hear. Rather, I just would like to share some of my reactions to what I hear and pose some of the questions that are raised in sessions, in the hope to continue electronically the dialogs that begin here at the conference.

I will begin with the opening plenary session “Convergence and Managing Progressive Change,” in which Jim Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University took us on a whirlwind tour of new ideas and directions in library and information visions, and four respondents from different branches of art librarianship shared their reactions to his ideas (Carol Terry, Jane Carlin, Rebecca Moss, Ken Soehner).

Neal tended to emphasize the revolutionary rather than the progressive nature of change in libraries, and it seemed that the reacting librarians were thinking through the extent to which they viewed the changes in their libraries as revolutionary. Certainly, everyone was in agreement that the “service” nature of the profession is one that has never changed and will always be at the heart of what we do. To what extent do you think that art libraries are in a revolutionary period of their development?

One area in of his talk to which I particularly resonated was the changing roles Neal suggested for libraries. I appreciated his reminder that we are consumers of products (we so often emphasize the provider role), and that we have an active power in this position, as any consumer in a capital system. We do have the influence to demand better and more reasonable products from our providers, particularly in this age of what he describes as the dysfunctional market of scholarly publishing. How can librarians advocate for our users in our role as consumers of information products?

Throughout the talk, he often invoked business and political language in speaking of the new directions libraries can take. Neal encouraged us to think of ourselves as entrepreneurs, policy advocates and active marketers of our services. This has given me food for thought in terms of how I view my role as a librarian. He did point out that libraries are not always comfortable with applying a business model to our work. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this? What are the positives and negatives of business and political methods and terminology in the library? Can they help us to stretch our concepts of the library in new directions?

Again, this is not so much a forum for my own ideas as an attempt to encourage us all to continue the conversations that we have begun at ARLIS/NA Indianapolis. Please use the comments of this post to give your reactions and post your own questions. I have touched on only a fraction of the really interesting ideas that came up during the plenary session, so use this as a chance to share your own insights!

Also, for your information, here are links to some of the materials referenced by the speakers:

Horizon Report 2009 (PFD and web version)

James Neal, Raised By Wolves: The New Generation of Feral Professionals In the Academic Library (ACRL National Conference, April 7-10, 2005, Minneapolis, MN)

The Future of Higher Education: How Technology will Shape Learning. A Report from the Economist Intelligence Unit Sponsored by the New Media Consortium.

Another citation from Jane Carlin

Wawrzaszek, Susan V. and Wedaman, David G.  The Academic Library in a 2.0 World.  Educause Center for Applied Research Bulletin, vol. 2008, issue 10, September 16, 2008

The week of the conference is finally here!!

The name tags are printed and award envelopes stuffed,
Caterers are cooking and the pillows fluffed.
Zip up that suitcase and head for the door,
ARLIS/NA awaits, Indy is yours to explore!

Okay — first you have to pack that suitcase! What to bring?
Though the weather today in Indianapolis is rainy, the sun will be shining by Wednesday! Last week’s snow showers are a distant binforddaffodils
memory and spring is definitely here! Flowers are guaranteed!

The weather for later this week and weekend will be springlike (that’s midwest speak for “anything goes”). Bring layers, as it’ll be cool in the mornings and evenings, but the lunch break or late afternoons will be perfect for getting outside for a bit of a walk and fresh air. The forecasters are predicting “abundant sunshine” and temperatures in the 60s for later in the week, but there may be a passing shower over the weekend, so bring a small umbrella or rain jacket. indypool And don’t forget your swimsuit, so you can try out the hotel’s indoor pool and whirlpool.

For this last publicity post before the conference, we’ll add some information to help you get your bearings in the hotel and some links for your travels:


The airport is only 14 miles from the hotel, so it won’t take you long to get there. Once you’ve checked in, stop by the conference Registration/Hospitality Desk — it’ll be on the 2nd floor (Mezzanine Level) opposite the ballroom that will house our Exhibit’s Hall. An escalator near the Starbucks in the hotel lobby will take you to the Mezzanine Level.

The hours for the Registration/Hospitality Desk are:
Thursday: 11 am-5 pm
Friday: 7 am-5 pm
Saturday: 7 am-5 pm
Sunday: 8 am-5:30 pm
Monday: 8 am-5 pm

There will be a bulletin board placed near the Registration / Hospitality Desk so that you can leave messages (the old-fashioned way!) to connect with friends and colleagues or to facilitate group gatherings.

Nearby, at the foyer to the Exhibits Hall, you will find the Internet Cafe, generously sponsored by AskART!!

The hours for the Internet Cafe are:
Saturday: 8 am-4 pm
Sunday: 8 am-4 pm
Monday: 8 am-noon

Indianapolis International Airport

Ground Transportation at the Airport
http://www.indianapolisairport.com/ parking_transportation/

Indianapolis Marriott Downtown

For those of use who don’t think power-walking through the exhibits hall sufficient opportunity to stretch our legs, there are many ways to get out and exercise while in Indianapolis.

Marriot Exercise Facilities

The conference hotel provides exercise facilities that include cardiovascular equipment, free weights, an indoor pool, and a whirlpool for relaxing afterward. There are also fitness classes and services available for a fee.  Call 317-822-3500 to get information on specific classes and prices.


Back by popular demand, BJ Irvine will leading a yoga class for early risers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings from 7 to 7:45 in the Denver Room. The class is open to people at all levels of yoga experience, so join us to get the blood flowing before a full day of conference activities.

Canal Walk

Indy Canal The Canal Walk is a convenient and pleasant place for a medium length walk or jog. Running alongside the historic Central Canal are very well maintained sidewalks and bridges.  It is a popular spot for exercising in downtown Indy because it quickly gets you away from traffic and busy thoroughfares. The quickest way to get to the canal is to exit out the back of the Marriott onto Washington St., turn left, turn right onto West St. and you will see a staircase down to the canal about a block and a half north of there.  Head northeast (around the curve) to go down the longer end of the canal. It is just under 2 miles to travel the length of the canal and back, starting at West St, and you can shorten this by crossing any of the bridges along the way. See the blue trail here.

White River State Park

Indianapolis is involved in a long term project to expand the trails around the city, working with the Greenways Foundation. The Canal Walk is one part of these pathways and another that is accessible from the convention center is the trail that runs through White River State Park and IUPUI. I would recommend the 2.5 mile loop that flanks the river. Simply follow Washington Street West into the park, where you can take the pedestrian bridge across the river. The trail continues behind the Indianapolis Zoo alongside the river. See the green trail here.


Happy exercising!

As you pull it all together for the conference – making sure to pack your umbrella and that special book light . . . Inevitably you will forget something or simply cannot pack everything you will need. Here is a list of conveniences near the hotel in case you need to make some last minute photocopies, find a worthy gift for your dependable pet sitter, or purchase that umbrella that you were sure you had packed!

Coffee & Sandwich Shops

Downtown Marriott

Au Bon Pain
20 N. Meridian St.  (free wireless access)
(317) 624-9123

Einstein Bros. Bagels
49 W. Maryland St.
(317) 917-9888

The Educated Sandwich
150 W. Market St., Ste. 130
(317) 263-3354

Tea Cozy – reservations required
50 N. Illinois St.
(317) 632-1280

Ah Barista Café
201 S. Capital Ave., Ste. 110

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop
50 S. Meridian St.

Cafe Patachou on the Park
225 W. Washington St.

40 West Coffee Café (in Omni Hotel)
40 Jackson Pl
(317) 396-3629

Nordstrom Espresso Bar
130 South Meridian Street
(317) 636-2121

Cornerstone Coffee and Espresso Bar
1 N Pennsylvania St
(317) 632-4290


The nearest pharmacy is located at 175 N. Illinois St. (.5 mi).

Grocery Stores

Marsh Marketplace
The nearest grocery store is Marsh Marketplace at Lockerbie (320 N. New Jersey St.; 317.262.4888). It is open 7am-2am daily. Marsh Marketplace is 1.12 miles from the conference hotel.  If you prefer to ride a bus, take the Red Line Downtown-IUPUI Circulator to the New York St./Delaware St. stop and walk one-and-a-half blocks east along New York St.

Indianapolis City Market
222 E. Market St.  (free wireless access)
The City Market has a farmer’s market that is open each Wednesday from 10am-1:30pm, a demonstration kitchen, and various prepared food vendors (check website for hours).  If you prefer to travel by bus, ride the Red-Line Downtown-IUPUI Circulator to the Pennsylvania St./Ohio St. stop. Walk one block east on Ohio St. and turn right on Delaware St. to the City Market Building.

The Good Stuff
For health food and natural products visit The Good Stuff (222 E. Market St.; 317.630.9155). The Good Stuff is one of the City Market vendors. Open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm; Saturdays 10am-3:30pm.


Architectural Center Bookstore, 50 S. Meridian St., Ste. 100
Downtown Comics [http://www.downtowncomics.com/] 11 E. Market St.
Out Word Bound [http://www.outwordbound.com/home.htm] 625 N. East St.

Circle Center Mall

Circle Center Mall is located two blocks east of the hotel (49 West Maryland St.).  Mall hours are Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun noon-6pm. There are over 100 businesses including retail and dining.  The food court is located on the north end of the third floor.

Massachusetts Avenue

Visit Massachusetts Avenue where you will find a number of locally-owned shops, restaurants, bars, and theaters.  Try Silver in the City (434 Massachusetts Ave.; http://shopsilverinthecity.com ) for jewelry and modern design gifts; Stout’s Shoes (317.632.7818) for its old-fashioned atmosphere; Shop for books and enjoy a cup of coffee at Out Word Bound (625 N. East St., http://www.outwordbound.com ); or visit Luna Music (431 Massachusetts Ave.; http://www.lunamusic.net ) for the latest CDs.

Photocopy Services

120 Monument Circle, Ste. 107

Alternate Parking Options (other than the hotel)

Circle Center Mall’s World of Wonders Garage is the only mall garage with 24-hour access. Fees can be found at the following URL http://www.simon.com/MALL/customer_service.aspx?ID=163. There are two entrances to the World of Wonders Garage one on Illinois St. the other on Maryland St. about one-and-a-half blocks east of the conference hotel.

A general parking map of Downtown Indianapolis is available here:
Please note that not all parking garages have 24-hour access. Many close overnight.


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