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Interview, Ann Dutton Ewbank

This is the second of three interviews with current liaisons, conducted by the Training and Development Committee as a quick read for liaisons who would like to understand a bit more about their role.

American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Ann Dutton Ewbank (Member 2009 - 2012)
Education Subject Librarian
Arizona State University -- West Campus
Email:  ann.ewbank@asu.edu

1. How did you become an ACRL Liaison? How long have you been a liaison?

Ms. Ann Dutton Ewbank applied for the liaison position with two letters of recommendation, a letter of interest and her vita.  She has been a liaison since 2009. An earlier AERA Liaison, Kate Corby, Ann’s mentor as an education librarian, encouraged her to apply since Ann already had a long-time involvement with American Educational Research Association (AERA).

2. Did you already have a relationship with this group and so had established connections or did you start from the beginning in terms of getting to know members and issues that the group is working on?

Since 2004, Ann has been heavily involved with two SIG’s in AERA, preceding her involvement with ACRL. Even so, she still felt like she was starting in a new role as ACRL Liaison because AERA is such a large and professionally diverse organization (over 25K members ranging from psychometricians to research faculty, etc).  Ms. Ewbank found that she had to look at the organization more broadly and forge new relationships, which meant extending beyond established, long-standing personal interests in her SIGs. In order to do that she strategically planned what meetings to attend at the AERA conference and with whom she could effectively communicate her role as an ACRL Liaison.  Before last year’s conference, she learned about AERA’s governance structure and decided to attend leadership meetings to alert leaders about her role and interest in collaborating. Ann realized that forming these connections take time.

3.  What kinds of activities do you do as a liaison? For example, do you attend the annual conference? Do you present a session at this conference? Do you contribute to this organization's newsletter or website?

At last year’s conference, Ann met with various editors of journals, making it a point to meet with five journal editors a day in order to talk to them about open access issues. She handed each of them a non-library oriented brochure by SPARC about open access (see:  http://www.arl.org/sparc/bm~doc/openaccess.pdf ) with her name, affiliation and email written across the top.  She found it to be an eye-opening experience because approximately one-third of the editors cared about open access issues, one-third did not and 1/3 were openly hostile to the message. Ann presented a paper in 2010 and co-presented 2 papers in 2011 in addition to the other activities listed.

For the 2011annual AERA conference in New Orleans in April:

  • Preparation: Ann will be intentional about the message she wants to communicate and what opportunities that she wants to seek out. In order to do that she will spend a couple of hours keyword searching program for words like library, scholarly communication, information literacy.  She strategically plots where she will go and who she will talk to. 
  • Networking: Ann sent a note to EBSS librarians to see if anyone will be attending AERA and she will follow-up with them about their experience. In addition, she invited EBSS librarians to a session on the development on the AERA paper repository. Ann also asked for EBSS community feedback on what they would like her to focus on as the Liaison between ACRL and AERA. This year Ann planned on attending the AERA open leadership meeting at the beginning of the conference so that share her mission of ACRL Liaison collaboration with AERA leaders.
  • Educating: Ms. Dutton Ewbank will talk to editors of journals that she did not get to talk to at the last conference and share the message of Open Access.

To read about the results of this AERA conference see Ann Dutton Ewbank’s April 13th Report to ACRL Liaisons Coordinating Committee from AERA in ALA Connect.  Abbreviated versions of her report can be found in the EBSS Newsletter or in the ACRL Insider.

4.  What kind of advice would you give to a new liaison who just starting this kind of professional relationship?

Prepare and be deliberate in your efforts by:

  • Learning about the organization
  • Figuring out who are the key players—leaders in the organization
  • Strategizing  & planning who you might talk to
  • Looking for compatibilities between ACRL’s mission, vision and strategic plan and your liaison organization
  • Knowing that fostering collaborations takes time

Ann also advised to be prepared for the organization to not necessarily receive you with open arms and to understand and embrace your agenda.  They have their own agenda and worldview, “but don’t let that discourage you,” she wisely said.

5.  Can you give us some examples of what you've done with this group? What was worked well? What has not worked so well?

Ann’s biggest accomplishment this year was connecting with the chairs of the Research Use SIG and the Communication of Research SIG, who have agreed to join forces. Both SIGs have interest in scholarly communication and dissemination, and the Communication of Research SIG chair was thinking about letting the SIG die. Ann talked to both chairs and asked, “Why not combine our efforts? The SIGs have common goals.” So now they are looking at coordinating programming, putting on a pre-conference, and possibly combining the SIGs.

As for something that has been difficult-

“Talking to governance has been difficult. At the AERA conference this April, when Ann introduced herself to the president of AERA as the ACRL liaison she wrote that “the president automatically assumed I was an outsider, even though I have been active in the association for over 7 years. I’m going to have to try a different tactic with this.”

6.  What did you like the most about your work as ACRL liaison?

“I love “connecting the dots” for people- I am well poised to serve as a boundary broker between our two associations. I believe this is because I have the Ph.D. and am an educational researcher, as well as a librarian. I can speak AERA’s language. This has been an advantage. I find this work personally and intellectually satisfying!”