ACRL Immersion 2017: A Librarian Summer Camp

Some of my best summer memories are when I went to some sort of camp. I’ll never forget Badger Girls State, summers at Whitewater learning volleyball, and wandering the UW Madison campus during College for Kids. This past week I get to add another camp to my list: ACRL Immersion.

This isn’t your typical summer camp. It’s technically a library teaching workshop, but we fondly called it librarian summer camp. The program helps us reflect on our teaching process, dig into some theory and our own assumptions, and ultimately, put it all together to take back to our home institutions. I was hyped.

We "camped" out at Champlain College, a beautiful campus in Burlington. My favorite view was from the library, where you could see Lake Champlain stretching out in front of you. When we visited the lake, we didn't see Champ, the sea monster, but instead a lovely yacht named Holiday.


When we weren't learning, we were eating in the cafeteria (flashback college memories), wandering downtown Burlington, or sleeping in our dorm rooms. I got to stay in a beautiful Victorian house converted into rooms.


Just like a summer camp, when we arrived on Sunday, we nervously introduced ourselves. Timid at first, but over the week found our small groups of peers. The workshop was divided into group lectures and activities, cohort (small groups) time, and then reflection time (which often turned into catching up with our new friends). When Friday rolled around, we were giving out hugs, laughing over inside jokes, reminding ourselves you can have a party without an invite, connecting on LinkedIn, and trying to figure out the next conference we would see each other at.

Immersion was a week of figuring things out. Of pinpointing my thought process, explaining my philosophy of teaching and librarianship, figuring out where I skip over the intention (and how to add it back in), and trying to assess my goals for the next few years of my career. I know it was a privilege to attend Immersion (and have support from my institution to attend) and to have the time to set aside for this experience. During my next few blog posts, I hope to talk more about what I took away from this experience and how it will apply to my day-to-day life as the Student Engagement Librarian.

The tweet above was probably one of my favorite quotes during the week. While Michelle (one of our faculty members) was discussing assessment, I think this quote is appropriate for where I am in my career. On my track to tenure, there will be things I'll need to that will be new and challenging. It seems appropriate that Immersion comes at this time, at the beginning, to prepare me for what's to come and help create a strong support system outside Penn State.

We did a lot of tweeting, can't you tell? We also got a lot of great advice, during the week, and then at the very end of the workshop by all our faculty members. The quote above really struck a chord. While we ended the week full of optimism, of hope, we also had a lot on our plates. Lots of things to take home and lots of things to keep working through. We were reflected out, and had what we called "Thursday brains." Reality sets back in once we walk off that campus and turn off our out of office email message. But as another faculty member reminds us, the process continues. We move forward and we try to use what we learned at Immersion in our day-to-day. It won't be perfect, but that's okay. So onward we go.