Report from 2017 ARLIS/NA Annual Conference in New Orleans

Submitted by Siân Evans, Instruction Librarian, Maryland Institute College of Art

I’m so grateful to the chapter for granting me the Caroline Backlund Professional Development Award to attend ARLIS NA’s 45th Annual Conference in New Orleans. It was my fifth (!!) ARLIS but the first one I’ve attended as a practicing librarian, as I was previously employed at Artstor, so there was a lot to learn!

The award was particularly helpful for me, this year, as I was co-presenting with my colleague, Jenny Ferretti, in the session “Critical Information Literacy in Art and Design Libraries.” Which brings me to my takeaways! There’s always so much to bring back from national conference attendance, so I’m going to focus on some of my favorite sessions and meetings. I absolutely loved Stephanie Grimm’s presentation entitled, “Breaking the Stereotype: Critical Visual Literacy for Artists and Designers.” It was truly one of the highlights of the conference for me (and Stephanie is a new Mid-Atlantic Chapter member!). I would love to see more active learning examples in presentations on instruction and information literacy at library conferences, because it puts us (the librarians) in the role of learners and really approaches professional development as praxis. Stephanie did just that by having the audience participate in an exquisite corpse activity designed to have illustration students think critically about stereotypes and archetypes. This session was recorded, so if you weren’t able to attend, you can see her presentation here.

Because this is my first year as an Instruction Librarian, I spent a lot of my time attending teaching-heavy panels. I really enjoyed the panel, “When Research Doesn’t Start with a Question: Teaching the Framework within Art and Architecture Librarianship.” Stephanie Grimm, Ellen Petraits, John Dixie, and Courtney Baron all touched upon developing rubrics and learning outcomes around the ACRL Framework. I particularly appreciated Shannon Marie Robinson’s question: “how do we teach one-shots to whole humans?” Therein lies the challenge!

I also really enjoyed the “Visual Literacy for For All!” panel. In particular, Mackenzie Salisbury’s presentation on teaching with Google Images was so helpful that I reached out to her after the conference for her lesson plan. Along similar lines, Shira Loev Eller and Rachel Pollack’s presentation in the “Instruction In Sync: Faculty Librarian Collaborations” was super helpful as I start to map out our Information Literacy Program here at MICA, and think about places the library could be embedded throughout our curriculum.

I was also happy to see how many people attended the Diversity Forum and I really hope to see more of this kind of work at local and national levels within ARLIS/NA and throughout our field. I mean, there’s a lot of work to be done when you’re talking about making a field that is 87% white more equitable and it’s on us to do it! I hope that next year we can build on that conversation to take some more concrete steps towards inclusivity.

So, there you have it! My NOLA takeaways… And, of course, there were all the beignets and to go drinks!

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