On the Road Again

ACRL training with an international reach

July 18, 2018

Community Colleges of Spokane (Wash.) librarians Melinda Martin (left) and Heather Morgan at an Assessment in Action RoadShow delivered to community college librarians in Washington state.
Community Colleges of Spokane (Wash.) librarians Melinda Martin (left) and Heather Morgan at an Assessment in Action RoadShow delivered to community college librarians in Washington state. Photo: Vivienne McLendon

Each year, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) offers several in-person professional development opportunities in the US for librarians to gather, connect, and learn together. For those abroad seeking similar training, ACRL’s RoadShow program provides a global reach.

The program offers daylong, immersive workshops in a variety of disciplines that can be brought to institutions around the world upon request. Led by experts in the field, these traveling workshops help academic librarians learn new skills and strengthen existing competencies to tackle the greatest issues facing the profession today.

The program reaches hundreds of international participants from institutions of all sizes, with workshops previously held or currently scheduled in Canada, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And participants and hosts are seeing benefits.

“The workshop was excellent,” said Beth Daniel Lindsay, librarian for access services and instruction and organizer of a scholarly communication RoadShow at New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi in the UAE. “Several people said it was the best professional development they had ever attended in the Emirates.”

Current workshops focus on topics ranging from assessment to information literacy to research data management. New workshops are in development, as ACRL members have identified on-demand local, affordable programming as particularly useful and compelling. The RoadShow model accomplishes that goal.

“Scholarly communication is a global movement, and our work with NYU Abu Dhabi offered an incredible opportunity to share the collective experience of ACRL and connect with an inspiring group of librarians, faculty, and administrators,” said Will Cross, director of the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center at North Carolina State University Libraries and a presenter at the NYU Abu Dhabi workshop. “Topics like open education and scholarly identity resonate in different ways for stakeholders around the world. This discussion gave us the opportunity to reconsider our curriculum for new audiences and diverse experiences, goals, and incentives.”

Up to 100 people participate in each workshop, where they learn not just from the presenters, but through engaging with their local and regional colleagues as well. RoadShow materials are licensed under Creative Commons and distributed electronically to participants so they can adapt them in their own work.

While some facets of academic librarianship may differ around the world based on cultural identity and institutional practices, the core values these workshops are designed to address translate globally. Ultimately, these differences enrich the discussions that take place during the workshops.

“There are certainly differences in the institutional organization and practices at these universities, but it was interesting to see and discuss common academic library issues,” said Karen Brown, professor at Dominican University’s School of Information Studies and presenter at the Assessment in Action RoadShow at Yale–NUS College in Singapore. “It seems that every library has an active and growing instruction program, and librarians recognize the importance of demonstrating the contributions of the library to student learning and success at their institution. We had engaging conversations about different strategies and approaches for assessing the impact of library instruction activities.”

Institutions and organizations interested in hosting a RoadShow in their region can find more information about host responsibilities, curriculum details, a list of presenters, and more on ACRL’s website. Pricing and scheduling information is available by contacting ACRL Program Officer Chase Ollis at collis@ala.org.


The library at the American University of Afghanistan.

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