BLC Forum 2023: A Recap of 'Empowering Libraries'

On June 14, 2023, the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) hosted its annual membership meeting, "Empowering Libraries," at Bentley University. With every BLC member institution represented in person, this year’s Forum proved to be a vibrant and inspiring gathering for library colleagues at BLC’s member institutions. The day’s events featured a range of activities and discussions aimed at empowering our coalition of libraries to share knowledge, infrastructure, and resources at scale.

The morning session commenced with updates about BLC’s recent activities from BLC President Mary Piorun and Executive Director Charlie Barlow. 

Strategic Action Plan

A significant highlight of the morning was the unveiling of BLC's new strategic action plan, ‘Empowering Libraries,’ which sets the stage for future consortial initiatives.

In addition to announcing a new mission statement and guiding principles, Empowering Libraries charts an ambitious path to advance five strategic priorities through a series of strategic initiatives over the next two years. Download a copy of the Strategic Plan here. 

Nancy Kirkpatrick’s Keynote

Nancy S. Kirkpatrick, Executive Director and CEO of OhioNet, delivered a thoughtful and actionable keynote address titled "Discovering Your (Secret?) Superpower," sharing several resources to help attendees discover and activate their superpowers. Explore them all here

Member-Led Programming

The afternoon sessions provided opportunities for library colleagues across BLC’s member institutions to engage, share ideas, and collaborate. Member-led presentations, panels, lightning talks, and workshops offered practical guidance, facilitated meaningful discussions, and showcased the innovative work happening within the BLC community. A recap of the sessions follows, with slide decks where available:


Several presentations offered valuable perspectives and innovative approaches to address contemporary challenges and promote positive change in the library landscape within and beyond the BLC community.

Insights and Analysis: A Study of Data Informing Diversity Statement Rubrics
Elizabeth Dill, University of Hartford; Dr. Aisha Johnson, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Dr. Jason Alston, University of Missouri 

Free Like Puppies: Migrating to and running an open-source Library Service Platform
Aaron Neslin, University of Massachusetts - Amherst 

Culture Shift: Facilitating Institutional Culture Change to Boost the Adoption, Use, and Sharing of OERs and the Long-Term Sustainability of “Open” Programs
Stephanie Walker, University of Massachusetts - Boston


Two human resources-focused workshops offered practical guidance and facilitated meaningful discussions related to staffing, employment practices, and diversity initiatives for library staff at BLC’s member institutions:

Hiring Practices at BLC Libraries
BLC Human Resources Community of Practice Members

Implementing Anti-Racist Student Employment Practices: A Workshop for Library Staff
Erica Schattle, Kristina Aikens, and Sarah Emmons, Tufts University 

Lightning Talks

Lightning talks added a dynamic element to the event, allowing members to share progressive and inspirational concepts in concise, engaging 15-minute presentations. 

Whole E-book Sharing
Marc Hoffeditz, Tufts University, and Molly Dupere, Northeastern University 

The Future of Controlled Digital Lending
Chris Freeland, Internet Archive

When Resource Sharing Isn’t Free: Building Vendor-Neutral Infrastructure to Manage Extra-Consortial Interlibrary Loan Costs
Mark Paris, Brandeis University 

Exploring the Impacts of Climate Change By and On Businesses - and Sharing It Worldwide Through Wikipedia
Viral Amin, Bentley University, and Dr. Tamara Ledley, Bentley University

Student Worker Supervisors Group
Kendra Golden, Tufts University

Reimagining the Library: A Service Design Course for Students to Co-Create a Better Tisch  
Kristina Bush, Tufts University

UConn Library Action Committee for Inclusion’s Reading Club
Terry Palacios and Phara Bayonne, University of Connecticut

Implementing a Shared System: Update on the BLC’s Alma Network Zone Project
Nathan Mealey, Wesleyan University, and Fred Folmer, Connecticut College

Extreme Makeover: Website Edition
Kate Polley, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

Messy Times: Inclusive Project Planning
BLC Strategic Planning Steering Committee Members

One Crazy Summer: Planning, Implementing, and Communicating Multiple Projects [at Once]
Donna Bacchiocchi, Lisa Curtin, Anne Jorgensen, Katie Leahy, and Matt Van Sleet, Bentley University

BLC Leads Fireside Chats and Panels

Fireside chats and panels provided platforms for thought-provoking conversations and knowledge-sharing between the current BLC Leads Fellows and program alums. Sessions included:

BLC Leads Fireside Chat
Stephanie Walker, University of Massachusetts - Boston; Mary Piorun, University of Massachusetts - Chan Medical School; and Hope Houston, Bentley University 

You Can’t Spell Failure Without “U”
BLC Leads Community of Practice Panel: Kari Mofford, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, and Marci Cohen, Boston University

BLC Community Events

The BLC Community Fair and a Bentley Library tour offered attendees opportunities to network and learn more about the full range of BLC’s membership Communities. 
Fourteen BLC Communities held in-person and hybrid meetings during the BLC Forum:

  • Access Services COI
  • Business COI
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) COI
  • Health Sciences COI (Hybrid)
  • Heads of Resource Management (HRM) Committee
  • LGBTQIA+ Caucus
  • Resource Sharing COI and Heads of Resource Sharing (HRS) Committee (Hybrid)
  • Science & Engineering COI
  • Scholarly Communications COI
  • Technology COI
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) COI (Hybrid)
  • Continuing Resources and Metadata Management (CRMM) COI (Hybrid)
  • Web Archiving COI (Hybrid)

BLC Leads Mixer

The day concluded with the BLC Leads Cohort & Alumni Mixer, wherein current and former BLC Leads cohorts gathered to chat, mingle, and network.
The BLC Forum 2023, with its diverse range of presentations, workshops, lightning talks, fireside chats, and community meetings, brought together library colleagues from across the northeast, fostering a collaborative environment to drive innovation and inspiration throughout the BLC community

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Boston Library Consortium