2020 Winner, Barbara Bonous-Smit Scholarship for a Veteran Librarian – Gary Marks (William Paterson University of New Jersey)

Like many other professional conferences and professional development activities this year the 2020 ACRL/NY Symposium went virtual. From an attendee’s perspective the Symposium planning committee organized the Symposium to mirror an in-person event in a virtual medium. The presentations ran on time, had little to no technical challenges, provided opportunities for questions and discussions, and made accessibility and navigation easy for attendees with the use of a single Zoom meeting room.

The theme for the 2020 Symposium, Civic Engagement: Democracy and the Library was an excellent selection given the current political environment and the importance of information literacy skills in a world full of fake news and misleading information trends. Historically, Libraries have always stood for the free flow of information and serve as a centerpiece in the accessibility and flow of accurate information in a democratic society.  Now more than ever libraries are needed to aid the public in navigating the information world and being knowledgeable civic participants.

The Symposium provided a wide array of presentations and discussions for participants to enjoy. As a Librarian who has been actively pursuing Civic Engagement opportunities the presentations were excellent. I especially took a lot away from the Citizenship Project presentation from the NYPL & NY Historical Society. Working at an institution near a city with a large immigrant population I immediately began investigating whether this type of project could be replicated by our Library and partners in the community.

Overall, I felt the Symposium was one of the best virtual conference experiences I have had in 2020. The format flowed nicely, the topic was timely, and the presentations hit the mark.