I can’t believe another spring semester is already winding down. Are you busy in your libraries teaching last-minute classes or helping stressed-out students with their final research projects? Of course, students would never wait until the last minute to start their research, but…
I couple of weeks ago I attended my first ACRL conference in Portland, Oregon. Not only is the dream of the 90’s still alive and kicking in Portland, but it’s also one of the most interesting cities I’ve visited. I heard through the grapevine the conference saw record attendance this year (hello…Portland), which may explain why it seemed a bit large and scattered. Large means a variety of sessions and unique programs (Battledecks, yoga, book clubs, etc.), but can quickly lead to information overload. Some of the hotter topics included digital humanities initiatives, the newly-accepted Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Ed, and how libraries are solving the “textbook problem”, whether through purchasing textbooks themselves or supporting open educational resources (OERs).
OERs are becoming a hot initiative in higher education, and for good reason. Part of the textbook problem involves high cost and low return. Students are expected to shell out hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars per semester on titles that will likely be obsolete (depending on the discipline) within four or five years. As someone who was still a graduate student not so long ago, I can say I often had to wait for my financial aid to kick in before I could afford the astronomical textbook prices. And I wasn’t a student in one of the STEM fields! I’ve seen this topic discussed with fervor at the last Charleston Conference, ER&L, and now ACRL, even though the concept has been around for quite some time. I believe it’s yet another way librarians can leverage our expertise and creativity to add value to our campus communities. And who doesn’t want to save our students money?
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.