IACRL Unconference Report from ILA 2021

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

March 19, 2022

By Krista Bowers Sharpe, Western Illinois University

For the 2021 IACRL Unconference, held as part of ILA Virtual 2021, President Emily Gilbert, Past-President Sue Franzen, and President-Elect Dan Matthews did what academic librarians do best–they rose to a challenge in a time of uncertainty. The IACRL Unconference was held, but of necessity was transitioned over to a virtual event. In addition to full group discussions using Zoom, small group breakouts took place that engaged in interactive work using Google Jamboards.

Screenshot of Unconference jamboard for a topic

Screenshot of Unconference jamboard for a topic

Unconference conveners solicited discussion topics ahead of time, received a small number, and created Jamboards for those topics ahead of time. Discussion topics were also solicited at the start of the Unconference–more ideas were generated this way– and those Jamboards were then created on the fly. Many thanks are due to ILA’s Tam Jenkins for her technical assistance during the event! Participants were able to join as many or as few small group discussions as they chose. Some participants did not join any. Jamboard users created sticky notes to document the ideas generated during the discussion and to pass them on to those who entered the Jamboard later in the event (see image). Conveners used a Google form for collecting the emails of interested participants in order to share the Jamboard links at the end of the Unconference.

Topics discussed during the Unconference breakouts:

  • Providing Opportunities to Build More Diverse Faculty and Staff
  • How to Talk with Coworkers Who Act Racist but Don't Think They Are Being Racist
  • How Staff Wages Do Not Keep Up with New Minimum Wage Laws in Illinois
  • Collaboration Strategies for Academic Libraries to Address EDI Issues
  • Making Academic Libraries More Fun
  • Making Our Library Spaces More Inclusive

Other suggested topics:

  • How to Hire and Train Staff in a Labor Shortage
  • Pay Equity for Civil Service Staff in a Time of Pay Inflation
  • Strategies for Diversifying Librarianship
  • Information Literacy and Culturally Relevant Knowledge

While the conveners found the virtual Unconference to be a challenge from the technological perspective, everyone agrees that it was a learning experience. However, they are looking forward to once again hosting a live Unconference at ILA 2022 this coming fall.

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