This year’s California Academic & Research Libraries (CARL) Conference theme, The Academic Library in Times of Change, challenged conference attendees to consider innovative strategies, tools, and collaborations to better support their communities in the ever-evolving landscape of academia. Sessions from across California included campus approaches to open educational resources, scholarly communications and diversity (or lack thereof), and applying critical information literacy to combat fake news and misinformation.
Our librarians, mired in LMU’s steadfast tradition of the encouragement of learning and the promotion of justice, modeled the ways in which we can be change agents while promoting civil dialogue and collegiality at our institutions. Elisa Slater Acosta, Aisha Conner-Gaten, Javier Garibay, Rhonda Rosen, and Desirae Zingarelli-Sweet presented “A Change Is Gonna Come: Renewing Information Workers’ Commitment to Social Justice”. This engaging session provided an overview of the library staff day, an examination of social justice and inequality in the profession and our institution specifically. Presenters introduced social justice concepts, like unconscious bias, and facilitated discussions around issues of information access, physical spaces, and power dynamics with attendees.
Nataly Blas presented her poster “New Tool in Town: Identifying the Good, the Bad, and the Predatory OA Journal”, displaying the process by which LMU librarians (Marie Kennedy and Shilpa Rele) created a rubric for evaluating open access journals. The development of the Journal Evaluation Rubric was an institution-wide collaboration, including feedback and input from the Office of Assessment, faculty from the science and engineering departments, and librarians. It provides insight to the complex issues of scholarship publishing and targets the avoidance of predatory journals.
Rachel Wen-Paloutzian and Carol Raby presented their poster “Where the Wild Things Are: Bring K-12 Students to Special Collections for Adventures!”. Aligning with LMU’s mission to promote social justice, this poster showcased a collaborative library program that brings K-12 students from local schools to visit the William H. Hannon LIbrary, including a visit to Special Collections for active learning with rare historical artifacts. The poster highlighted the partnership of two library departments, Archives and Special Collections and Outreach and Communications, joining with the IT Faculty Innovation Center to create the robust program for fifth grade students from the Los Angeles Unified School District. This library program included an immersive hands-on experience with special collections artifacts, digital learning, and children’s literature, ultimately highlighting the ways in which campus departments can foster inclusive learning with external stakeholders.
Lauren Zuchowski Longwell was a featured panelist for the DIAL-hosted session “Libraries Respond: Connecting with our Communities in Times of Crisis”. This session showcased various libraries’ responses to the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, specifically how to institutions can stand in solidarity with community members faced with unrest and disruption. On our own campus, various departments continue to support and partner with our undocumented students with the library carrying that message and archiving a collaborative exhibit in solidarity.
It is conferences like CARL, and through other rigorous scholarly research and communication, that our librarians continue to actively engage with our profession and that of higher education as a whole.