I liked the format of Amanda’s blog post on ACRL 2019 so much that I’m going to use it here! I’ve made it to four of the last five ACRL conference (I skipped Portland to attend the First-Year Experience Conference) and every year I bring back a list of ideas to try at ZSR! Sometimes it’s programming, sometimes it’s teaching, and sometimes it’s something completely unexpected. Two years ago the idea for our Thesis Boot Camp came from an ACRL presentation, and this is now a mainstay of our programming each semester!

(And just FYI, Cleveland has a very cool, mostly underground, conference center!)

Cleveland Conference Center

What I Learned

  • The first session I attended focused on Escape Rooms in the Library and Adventure Games online as Outreach Events! This is now a Summer project of mine, so expect to hear more about this in the Fall as we test drive an Escape Room at ZSR!
  • Another great session focused on teaching anxious students, reviewing data on the increasing rates of anxiety in our students and how we can respond as instruction librarians.
  • I also attended both of Amanda’s presentations (in packed to capacity rooms!) and at the first session, I was fascinated to learn the results of the survey that explored reasons for turnover among academic librarians and then using this data to inform retention strategies! The audience really appreciated this data, and the program inspired many great questions!
  • Summer had a big crowd for her roundtable on Async Learning, with participants standing around the edges when the chairs ran out!
  • Another packed session full of wonderful content focused on improving diversity residencies through learned experiences. Hearing first-hand from libraries who have designed and implemented diversity residencies, and from the students who participated in them gave me great ideas for our own program here at ZSR!
  • We need to bring Michele Norris’s “The Race Card Project” to ZSR!


Wow, just wow! ACRL went above and beyond this year with their keynote speakers. Michele Norris from NPR’s “All Things Considered” and founder of “The Race Card Project” and Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of “The Sympathizer” were both incredible! Michele Norris had the audience practically in tears as she shared the six words people submitted to describe their thoughts, experiences or observations about race. And the very next day, Viet Thanh Nguyen spoke on how representation matters, but that really what we need is decolonization. His candor, insights, and humor in the face of adversity, were wonderful!

Michele Norris at ACRL 2019


The city (what little we saw) was lovely! And the people were so very friendly! And now I can say I’ve seen the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Sunset

And finally, it was awesome to spend time with friends (from both ZSR and other libraries), sharing stories, catching up, and hearing about so many great projects at awesome Libraries!

ZSR and Friends at ACRL 2019