Many SAA members may know the Association of Research Libraries from its co-sponsorship of the new Mosaic Scholarship program. However there is much more going on within ARL. There are 125 member libraries in the association and their focus is to strengthen research libraries so that they can support the literary, educational and scientific needs of their institutions. It was very interesting to meet the leaders of these institutions as well as the participants in this year’s ARL Leadership Fellows Program, which looks to develop future leaders for research libraries.
One thing that I noticed right off the bat was the number of archivists who are currently ARL Leadership fellows. I had a wonderful time chatting with Meredith Evans and Janet Bishop about the program and their experiences. I was also pleasantly surprised to see SAA Council’s own Tim Pyatt take his place amongst the ARL Fellows. After talking with them and some of the other Fellows, I am absolutely certain research libraries will be in safe hands in the future.
What truly shocked me what the number of archivists in attendance. At one point I was in the room with three past SAA presidents and several archivists who are now directors of ARL member libraries. One person in attendance mentioned that many things that archivists have dealt with in the past libraries are dealing with now. It’s a great feeling to know that archivists have knowledge and skills that can help research libraries deal with the changing information environment.
One place where archivists took center stage was the working group focusing on Transforming Special Collections in a Digital Age. Led by former SAA President Tom Hickerson, a large audience listened to Nancy Maron of Ithaka S+R present case studies on Sustainable Digital Special Collections and Lisa Carter of the Ohio State University, who is serving as a visiting program officer at ARL,
who is on leave from the Ohio State University and working with ARL, discussed how to align, integrate and mainstream special collections into the research library. The discussion during this session was absolutely fascinating and wide-ranging. There were discussions on the impact of the common core state standards, developing collections management strategies that support the curriculum and providing materials that help inspire new research and not just the products that come from research. After this program it was agreed that the leaders of SAA and ARL thought it would be extremely productive to have a meeting that includes RBMS so that we can discuss potential collaborations and find ways to insure that when talking about special collections we are speaking the same language.
I’ve only touched on a tiny bit of what took place during the meeting. But I left with a head full of ideas and a heart filled with pride for my colleagues who are showing what archivists are and what they can bring to research libraries.