Empower AASL Virtual Conference


AASL Column, March 2022

Lucy Campbell and Barbara Opar, column editors
Column by Jesse Vestermark, VP/President Elect of the Association of Architecture School Librarians, Architecture & Environmental Design Librarian, California Polytechnic State University


AASL will be meeting alongside ACSA in Los Angeles so we wanted to share details of our sessions. ACSA members are welcome to join us as time permits. All of our conference sessions will be hosted virtually this year.

The Association of Architecture School Librarians Conference Planning Task Force has worked diligently over this roller-coaster of a year to facilitate some wonderful and diverse virtual content for our conference this week: Empower.

This year’s ACSA-prompted theme of Empower, with its inherent emphasis on pro-activity, could not be a better fit for our times.  While it’s perennially true that librarians empower through breaking down barriers to information, there are many more ways, both subtle and grand, to empower others on our way to a more sensitive and compassionate society.

As President-Elect, I have ideas for the coming year, and my hope for the conference is that our talks, tours, presentations, discussions and social activities will crystallize one or two tangible actions AASL and I can do to put opportunity, if not also money, towards empowerment.  My personal belief is that our empowerment goals should go beyond diversifying local collections (as important as that is), to the ways we present ourselves to our global student bodies, to the tools we use to promote and discover our collections, and especially to building towards representation within our specialized profession so that it mirrors the racial make-up of the national and international communities we serve.

With all that in mind, here’s what to expect from Wednesday to Friday this week!

Day 1

On Wednesday, after a welcome and a few introductions, we’ll hear from Gail Kennard, the leader of LA’s longest-running black architectural firm.  Then we move on to presentations on intersecting modalities, a virtual tour of the largest LGBTQ+ archive in the world, and a virtual tour of the works of LA’s most famous black architect, Paul R. Williams.  Finally, we’ll finish the day with a mix of icebreakers, discussion and getting to know each other better at our Membership Round Robin.

Day 2

Thursday kicks off with a “zoom coffee” reflecting on silver linings of the last two years before launching into our next set of presentations surrounding the amplification of marginalized voices.  Then, it’s on to our annual series of vendor showcases from our generous sponsors.  After that, we’ve organized a discussion panel in hopes to assess the present and posit the future of our work in support of AASL’s commitment to anti-racism.  And then we finish Day 2 off with a light-hearted game of team Jeopardy, hosted by our “Ministers of Fun” Nicole and David (a sequel to last year’s hit).

Day 3

Friday starts a little earlier with a different type of “em-power-ment”–that of the influence and aesthetics of electrical power across LA’s cityscape.  Then, our last cluster of presentations centers on collections and collaboration before AASL President Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez takes the stage to lead the Annual Membership Meeting.  In our final virtual tour of the conference, Southern California Institute of Architecture Librarian Kevin McMahon shares about his institution, which turns 50 this year.  Finally, we close things out with another loose “happy hour” session to wind down casually–but in style.

Please share my thanks to our Conference Planning Task Force, in which each member played a unique role in making this the conference you see in our program.  Now it’s up to all of us to tap into the power of our small collective and imbue our three days together with discussion and reflection on issues of empowerment.  Looking forward to seeing you all!

Jesse Vestermark, Chair, Conference Planning Task Force

Task Force Members:

Stephanie Beene

Lucy Campbell

Cathryn Copper

David Eifler

Janine Henri

Kevin McMahon

Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez

Nicole Santiago

James Sobczak

Stacy Williams