Forum Spotlight - Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

August 19, 2021

The Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries is a group of 160 academic librarians across the state. IACRL has the distinction of being both an ILA forum and a state chapter of ACRL. As such, IACRL leadership is able to work with both ILA and ACRL to provide opportunities for continuing education, professional development, and community to its members. 
Recent and upcoming items of note include:


  • Spark events

Since April 2020, IACRL has held three Spark events showcasing lightning talks from Illinois librarians. The first event was originally meant to be held in person, but it quickly shifted to a virtual format when the pandemic hit. As the first event was planned before the pandemic, the presentations included a variety of topics. However, the last two have focused on COVID-19, with topics ranging from shifting services online, implementing curbside pickup, and building empathy into teaching practices.

  • COVID-19 Town Halls

IACRL held two town hall events around COVID-19 and academic libraries: one in July 2020 in anticipation of fall semester and possible returns to in-person classes, and one in March 2021 looking back at what was learned one year since lockdown. Both events featured panels of academic librarians discussing how their institutions were handling the challenges brought on by the pandemic. They also allowed for open discussion among library staff to vent their frustrations and get ideas from colleagues.

  • DEI Committee

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion standing committee was officially created at the beginning of this year, and it has been a popular committee for membership. The committee’s goals include providing training in DEI issues, advocating for DEI needs related to academic libraries, promoting strategies to recruit and retain diverse workers, and fostering an exchange of DEI best practices and ideas among Illinois academic libraries.

  • IACRL Unconference at ILA 2021 

IACRL has long offered an unconference for academic library workers at the ILA conference, but this was missed in 2020 due to concerns about holding it in Zoom. However, though ILA is still virtual in 2021, we feel more confident that we can make it work in a virtual environment, so the unconference is back! Join us at the conference on Wednesday, October 13 at 9:00 AM for an informal discussion with your Illinois academic library colleagues. If you plan to attend, submit your topic ideas here.
If you work in an Illinois academic library, we encourage you to join us at IACRL! We are always looking for new members with whom to learn and grow. If you have any questions, please reach out to Emily Gilbert at

This spotlight was written by IACRL Forum President Emily Gilbert. Emily works as the Health Sciences Librarian at Rasmussen University.

iREAD Summer Reading Programs

Since 1981, iREAD provides high quality, low-cost resources and products that enable local library staff to motivate children, young adults, and adults to read.

Visit the iREAD website »