The following post is adapted from opening remarks given last week at AMICAL 2016, our consortium’s annual meeting and conference.
This year’s AMICAL Conference is the first time that we’ve tied the theme of the event directly to the Mellon Foundation grant that is supporting many of AMICAL’s programs. We built this year’s conference program under the theme “Libraries and digital initiatives”, aligning it with one of the strategic priority areas we established in our current Mellon grant: the collaborative work of librarians, technologists and faculty on curriculum-integrated digital initiatives.
Donald Waters, Senior Program Officer for Scholarly Communications at the Mellon Foundation writes in a recent blog post that the Foundation is trying to help “make the digital environment a natural place to do scholarship.”
For AMICAL, this event is a milestone in the three-year journey of our current grant, one step on our way toward making AMICAL a natural place for librarians, technologists and faculty to collaborate on digital pedagogy, on digital collections, and on digital scholarship.
I credit Alex Armstrong with encouraging us to think of the event more strategically than we have in the past and to shape it in a way that more actively supports our larger organizational goals. Alex has been working with AMICAL as our Web Developer & Digital Strategist since last year, and in addition to building the new website where we host this blog and other public info about AMICAL, he’s created a system of member profiles as well as an innovative discussion forum that are parts of a new online network for AMICAL members. But he’s also contributed in important ways to our planning for new committees that relate to digital initiatives.
And as you can see from the program, AMICAL’s standing committees, which help to guide our consortial programs in areas like professional development and digital pedagogy, were given a featured role in the event. Each committee had two chances to meet, and then, during our closing session, they led their “5+5” talks. Committees were given 5 minutes to share with us their plans for the coming year, and to invite, question, and inspire us around what they’re doing. And then the audience was given 5 minutes to react and question them.
Aside from committee work, there were presentations, workshops and discussions touching sometimes on digital collections, scholarship and pedagogy, but also spreading out in other directions of AMICAL’s work. The word cloud above was made from the titles and abstracts of our program sessions. With apologies to speaker Eric Lease Morgan and his abstract, and to our Birds-of-a-Feather discussions, this version of the word cloud excludes the words stone, soup, beef, and birds, all of which occurred with high frequency.
Between Eric, Laurie Allen and Jim Groom, our keynote speakers provided an interesting mix of library-anchored digital scholarship, human-anchored approaches to educational technology, and the very human aspects of good collaboration necessary for any of this role-bridging work to really happen on our campuses. We brought humanity to the digital humanities last week!