2017 Symposium Student Scholarship Winner – Tera Renae Kent

By Tera Kent

On December 1st, I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 ACRL/NY Symposium as a student scholarship recipient. As a current MLIS student, preparing for a career as an academic librarian, I was excited to attend my first professional conference.

Attending this symposium gave me the opportunity to hear the different perspectives of current librarians with respect to how the traditional mission of academic librarianship is adapting to support research and teaching in the 21st century. If the symposium theme could be described in one word, that word would be content. David Magier set the tone of the day by proposing a mission statement – “Connecting our patrons to the content they need”. The morning and afternoon panels expanded this discussion. In line with the theme of the conference, the panels discussed how content can be shared through collaborations and partnerships and explored how digital content can be preserved. This included how digital archiving can preserve fluid content and brought us full circle by the days’ end.

It was clear from the conference, that even though library technology is changing, the librarian’s purpose as guide between patron and content is not. From accessing print materials, to negotiating digital licenses and understanding the conditions of citation management software, the discussions demonstrated how the connections between librarian, content, and patron are evolving as the library expands both physically and as a virtual place.

The high point of the conference for me was Christina Bell’s discussion about Diverse BookFinder, the online database that she co-developed. I strongly believe that stories can be powerful tools for inclusion and I found the work being done to advance the discoverability of diverse books very exciting. Thir Shah is quoted as saying “Stories are a communal currency of humanity” and I couldn’t agree more.

Mission statements are designed to reflect a concise summary of our purpose, vision, and values. Sharing, accessing, providing, and preserving content remain part of the core purpose and vision of many librarians. From what I observed at the symposium, bold and imaginative librarians will continue to new find ways to serve the needs of students, faculty, and researchers. To this end, the mission of academic and research libraries will continue to be revised, refined, and adapted to fit these new needs. I am grateful for having had the chance to attend the symposium and to observe this discussion in person. As my career progresses, I’m excited to be even more involved in shaping how the intersection of librarian, content, and patron looks in the future.

Tera Kent will complete her MLIS from Syracuse University this May. Tera has a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a Research Lab Manager at Cornell University in the Biomedical Sciences Department. This semester she will be completing an internship at the Cornell Flower-Sprecher Veterinary Library with a focus on systematic review. Her interests include information literacy instruction, science communication, research data management, and storytelling as a tool for education. She can be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter @TeraRae_K.

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