The Spring meeting of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) was held at the Georgia Tech Conference Center April 25-26. After six years on the ASERL Board of Directors, I rotated off the Board after serving terms as member-at-large, secretary/treasurer, and president. Evidently I am the only member ever to hold all three elected positions! In honor of my service, at the business meeting I was surprised by receiving ASERL’s “Outstanding Leadership Award” — only the second time it has been awarded.

It now occupies a prominent spot in my office.

Prior to the start of the meeting, we had the opportunity to tour the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Even though I have been to Atlanta many times, this was my first visit to the Carter Library. Besides impressive exhibits about his time as president, the grounds surrounding the library were very parklike and inviting.

Some of the issues discussed at the meeting included:

  • ASERL Membership — There have been a number of changes over the past few years with many new deans and directors and one new member, the University of Arkansas. Do we like our current size or should we consider further expansion? If we expand, do we need to reconsider our current membership criteria? What are the benefits and challenges of expansion? A Task Force has been created to consider these issues.
  • Strategic Planning – Our current strategic plan ends this year and we are are considering the shape and content of our next plan. Under current plan we expanded our programming with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and are committed to continuing that work. We also did a major makeover of the ASERL website.
  • Federal Data Management Mandates – The Vice Presidents for Research from Georgia Tech, Emory, and Georgia State met with us to talk about partnering with their libraries to create awareness of these mandates on their campuses as well as develop solutions for data storage and access.
  • Salary data — We had a small group discussion about salary data and especially about data sources for library staff salaries. Several institutions have either done salary studies recently or are considering salary studies. Most find it is difficult to get accurate market data from their institution’s human resources area.
  • State legislation impacting higher education — Many institutions, especially public universities, are seeing legislation proposed that have the potential to limit curriculum, DEI programs, and tenure. We are monitoring these actions closely to see how we should respond as institutions and as an organization.
  • Executive coaching — the former Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at VCU, Gypsy Denzine, met with us to talk about the value of coaching for both us and our leadership teams.

For me this was the first “normal” ASERL meeting since our fall 2019 meeting. We had tours, dinners, and receptions with all speakers presenting in person. No Zoom! I know I am a better dean thanks to my involvement with this outstanding group of deans and directors!