Kahl Wins Marta Lange/SAGE-CQ Press Award

Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries Forum (IACRL)

June 5, 2016

(Note: This post is an article from the Spring, 2016, issues of the IACRL Newsletter.)

Chad Kahl, Interim Associate Dean for Public Services and Information Technology at Illinois State University’s Milner Library, is the recipient of the 2016 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) Marta Lange/SAGE-CQ Press Award. The award recognizes an academic or law librarian who has made a substantial contribution to bibliography and information service in those subject areas. Kahl was recognized for his service with LPSS and for raising awareness at ISU of issues related to social sciences and law librarianship. To read the full news release, go here. Below, Kahl reflects on winning the award and the challenges facing libraries in the years ahead.

Congratulations on winning the 2016 Marta Lange/SAGE-CQ Press Award! What was your reaction to learning the news?
I was very honored, because I’ve seen the commitment and devotion that librarians of the LPSS demonstrate in their work helping patrons and each other. At the beginning of my career, my job duties centered around library instruction, and I was active with ACRL’s Instruction Section. When I made the change to social science librarianship, I began looking for new professional development opportunities. LPSS members could not have been more welcoming, and the smaller size of the Section allowed an interested person such as myself to hit the ground running.

Have you known, or had a chance to work with, any of the previous winners?
I have had the pleasure of working on LPSS committees with approximately a half-dozen previous winners. I also attended the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UIUC at the same time as 2010 awardee Bruce Pencek, and 2013 awardee Kathi Carlisle Fountain.

How is legal and political science librarianship different from other areas of the profession?
I am not sure if these are all that much different from other areas of the profession, but two issues have struck me about my work as subject librarian in law and political science. First, a subject librarian, especially in an academic setting rather than a law school library, may be the only person at the institution with those skills. Since we all benefit so much from what we learn daily from our work colleagues, one misses that opportunity. That’s why professional library organizations, such as LPSS, are so important to the work that we do. The second is related to collection development and information literacy. Both law and political science benefit from research done by non-academics, such as reporters or court personnel, who may lack formal scholarly credentials but have extremely valuable information to share. This can be challenging if patrons are tightly wed to scholarship models in which research is done by academic scholars only.

What current projects are you pursuing?
I’m currently chairing a working group that is investigating a makerspace to be located in the library. I’m excited because we’re at the point where we will be talking to potential stakeholders across campus and community, as well as visiting sites throughout Illinois. The working group made a conscious decision to go through the IRB approval process, so we can share our findings professionally.

What do you see as the most significant technology-related issue facing libraries over the next decade?
The pace of technological change accelerates as support for higher education continues eroding. In the coming decade, we will be seeing new learning expectations from a new generation, while reduced funding will make it difficult to make needed changes to library spaces. Libraries will also provide continuing education necessary to aid library staff as services change, and libraries will simultaneously support, supply, and teach with technologies that cycle from cutting-edge to obsolete far more quickly than ever.

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