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ARL Membership Convenes in Atlanta for Spring 2018 Meeting

Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member representatives, ARL Leadership Fellows, staff, and guests gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday–Thursday, April 24–26, 2018, for the 172nd Association Meeting. All available presentation slides and other materials are linked from the speakers’ names or session titles in the following summary of the meeting.

Tuesday was devoted to committee and advisory group meetings; the ARL Business Meeting; a members-only brainstorming session on strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in research libraries; and a screening of the videos competing in the third annual Arlies, ARL’s film festival. At the Tuesday evening reception, ARL president Mary Ann Mavrinac (Rochester) toasted the ARL member representatives who plan to retire or step down before the Fall 2018 Association Meeting: Cliff Haka (Michigan State), Tom Hickerson (Calgary), Bob Hudson (Boston), Rick Luce (Oklahoma), Bonnie MacEwan (Auburn), Carol Mandel (New York), Carton Rogers (Pennsylvania), Ed Van Gemert (Wisconsin–Madison), Leslie Weir (Ottawa), and Julia Zimmerman (Florida State).

On Wednesday morning, Mary Ann Mavrinac opened the Association Meeting with a moment of silence for the member representatives who have passed away since the Fall 2017 Association Meeting: Harold W. Billings (Texas at Austin), Joan Giesecke (Nebraska–Lincoln), Warren Kuhn (Iowa State), and Bernie Margolis (New York State). Mavrinac thanked the meeting hosts—Yolanda Cooper (Emory), Toby Graham (Georgia), Bonnie MacEwan (Auburn), and Catherine Murray-Rust (Georgia Tech)—who sponsored the receptions and helped with local logistics.

New ARL member representatives were introduced by their colleagues: Kristin Antelman (UC Santa Barbara), Gwen Bird (Simon Fraser), Anne Langley (Connecticut), Erik Mitchell (UC San Diego), and John Ulmschneider (Virginia Commonwealth). Interim director Nancy Noe (Auburn) was also introduced. Interim director Rhonda Phillips (Purdue) was unable to attend. Mary Ann Mavrinac introduced the ARL Board of Directors, the 2018–2019 ARL Leadership Fellows, and guests from partner organizations.

Introduced by Simon Neame (Massachusetts Amherst), Ollivier Dyens (McGill) presented a keynote on the need to create norms and values around emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence. Dyens warned that if we don’t create those norms and values, others—companies, government—will do it for us. He said, “We need to educate humans to educate machines, to help machines navigate the uncertain, the uncanny, the ambiguous.”

Following his keynote, Dyens participated in a panel session about artificial intelligence and machine learning with Karim Boughida (Rhode Island) and Maria Gini (Minnesota), moderated by Neame. Panelists engaged meeting attendees in a discussion of how Dyens’s view might play out.

After lunch, an unconference session offered concurrent discussions of the following topics identified by meeting participants:

  • Is Developing an “Innovation Culture” in Research Libraries a Feasible or Worthwhile Project? What Does It Look Like?
  • GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums): Opportunities through Converging Problems/Issues
  • Academy-Owned OA (Red OA)
  • Student Protests on Campus: What Is the Libraries Role?
  • Privacy in Principle & Practice: Safe Harbor or…?
  • How Can We Take Collective Action at Scale?
  • How to Support a Staff Member Targeted for Harassment/Trolling on Social Media and Beyond
  • Leading toward Social Justice
  • University Presses & Library Directors

Wednesday afternoon concluded with a session on library and information science (LIS) education, moderated by Kornelia Tancheva (Pittsburgh). First, Russell Michalak (Goldey-Beacom) and Monica Rysavy (Goldey-Beacom) discussed the results of their and Trevor Dawes’s (Delaware) recent survey of library directors’ perceptions of the value of the MLIS. Jeff MacKie-Mason (UC Berkeley), one of the founders of the University of Michigan School of Information, talked about what skills librarians need today and where those skills are being taught. Two new professionals, Megan Potterbusch (George Washington) and Emily McGinn (Georgia) shared their personal experiences about skills.

Thursday morning began with a session on “Museum Futures” moderated by Joe Lucia (Temple). The panelists—Jill Deupi (Miami), Guy Berthiaume (Libraries and Archives Canada), Loretta Parham (Robert W. Woodruff Library), and Mónica Ramírez-Montagut (Tulane)—each described specific experiences collaborating among galleries, libraries, archives, and museums and considered how those collaborations have enhanced the organizations’ impact.

In the next session, “Success amid Demographic Shifts,” moderated by Beth McNeil (Iowa State), Tim Renick (Georgia State) shared the remarkable story of how Georgia State University (GSU) has rethought the student experience and used data and technology to provide personalized support for previously underserved students. Over the past decade, GSU has doubled the numbers of students of color and low-income students the university enrolls, while raising graduation rates by 22 percentage points and closing all achievement gaps that correspond to race, ethnicity, and income level. Renick described the innovations behind that success, which range from chatbots and predictive analytics to meta-majors and completion grants.

The meeting closed with the presentation of the Arlies awards for the top videos in nine categories and the winner of “best in show,” emceed by Ken Burhanna (Kent State). Some meeting participants took tours of the libraries at Emory and Georgia Tech on Thursday afternoon.