In September of 2007, the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) was a new organization. Having just separated from Clarion University because of the impending retirement of Professor Bernard Vavrek, and the university’s subsequent decision to discontinue the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship, ARSL’s 12-member board was meeting that fall for the first time. According to Patty Hector, 2008-2009 ARSL board president, “We were fairly overwhelmed by the massive amount of activity that needed to be addressed and decisions that needed to be made in a very short period of time.”
About this same time, WebJunction approached ARSL with the offer to use follow-on funding from the Gates Foundation’s Rural Sustainability Project. The idea was to support ARSL’s website on WebJunction.org, and make WebJunction tools available to the ARSL board at no charge. The board accepted the offer of support as they helped the association get off the ground. Since then, ARSL has been using the webjunction.org/arsl page as their primary home page, along with ARSL BCR pages that allow memberships and conference registrations to happen as a link to that page.
I’ve worked closely with the team who managed our Rural Library Sustainability project since its inception, and served on ARSL’s board as an ex-officio member since February. In my time with ARSL’s board I’ve had a unique opportunity to observe an exciting time in the history of their organization’s development. Every member of the ARSL board has made great strides in developing an organization that’s truly poised and responsive to the rural and small library members they serve. It has been a great pleasure to get to know the ARSL board members and to be a small part of this work.
Two years later, ARSL is no longer a new organization. They have many things well-established now and are looking to step out into new directions. One of their areas of focus over the coming year is to look for ways to define their unique identity, and to be more responsive to their members. One way they plan to do this is to launch an all new, independent website. The vision for this site is that it be a dynamic space that captures ARSL’s personality and mission in a way that is appealing and relevant their members. Elements of this website, including the new ARSL logo, were unveiled at their annual conference this weekend.
Please visit their new website at http://www.arsl.info.
We are very excited about this development for ARSL and look forward to seeing the new site evolve. We also look forward to finding new ways to partner with ARSL in the coming year, as we each strive towards a common mission of working together to meet the needs in small and rural libraries. Co-sponsoring webinar programs is one idea, but there are so many other possibilities.
WebJunction will continue our focus on public access computing support for rural and small libraries. We’ll publish our Rural Update with news and announcements of special interest to those working in small and rural libraries. We’ll also keep you posted when we have rural-focused programs, webinars, or new content posted to the site. WebJunction will remain a great resource for people to find and connect with one another to support whatever you’re working on in your library. If you have ideas for topics, programs, or other things you might need, as always, please let us know.