Sunday, May 31, 2009

Increase your readers’ advisory knowledge with book blogs!

Here is a link to my CLA Conference presentation, delivered today @ the conference!

Pub crawl: where to get those t-shirts and the wicked pin the monkey was wearing

Whee! Today is going to be busy, with my session coming up in T -90 minutes!

I will blog later re. yesterday's fun and excitement at the conference, but I wanted to link for now to my post on the CLA Montreal Chapter blog about the pub crawl last night.

Also, the t-shirts and Montreal-themed pins we got as prizes came from here, and the "iborrow" and other library-related pins are made by the lovely Lita Barrie and co.

Must go review my notes.....!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

CLA Annual Conference Day 1: hockey, the unbroken chain of readers, and hospitality

Or maybe today is supposed to be day 1? Anyway, this blog post is about yesterday, Friday, when I arrived here in my hometown, dashed directly into the Palais for the Anne Galler Award (yay, Ann!) and listened to Roch Carrier's excellent (and entertaining) speech. Carrier referred to his time as National Librarian as " a great ride" - I hope I can say that at the end of my career. It just struck me as a great phrase. He touched on the decision to abolish a fee-based Amicus, and shared some funny anecdotes. One that stuck in my mind was about going to talk to a group of primary school children; when told Carrier worked at the National Library of Canada, the students were asked about how many books they thought were in the library (26? 50?). Carrier also tried to engage some surly older boys in the back of the room, and one asked him why he didn't play hockey anymore. A young girl in the front popped up with, "Stupid! You don't think he's too old?" Ah, kids. Gotta love 'em.

Carrier also spoke about the importance of libraries and librarians as culture itself; he spoke of the unbroken chain of readers in families: grandparents, parents and children reading the same books.

My afternoon was spent directing traffic via the Hospitality Desk. We recommended restaurants! We handed out maps! We suggested dépanneur wine! It was fun, because lots of familiar faces came by and made the time fly by, and suddenly it was 6 pm and time for the conference opening reception.

Alas, the tuna and other delicious bites did not inspire me (and I received an inspiring text message from rezlings Steph and Tuuli, who awaited me at a nearby bar) so I hightailed it out of there pretty fast. I had a lovely evening with the girls, capped off by tea with the girls and the spousal unit!

Now, today. Hospitality duties, hopefully sneak in to a few sessions, book awards banquet (I'm really looking forward to meeting Anne Laurel Carter), then it's crawl time, baby.

So, dear readers, are you part of an unbroken chain of readers in your families? God knows I am. Hmmm, now what would be our shared texts? Tell me yours! What books/songs/lullabies/dirty limericks have been passed down in your families? Read aloud to successive generations? What will you share with your children? Share below!

Monday, May 25, 2009


I guess that title is a bit of a double entendre these days, since I'm having trouble with breathing, literally and metaphorically! In general, on a literal note, the chest is feeling better. I can still feel some stiffness, and I am trying to take Advil fairly regularly (who am I kidding? Once or twice a day... I can hardly remember to pack a lunch and pick up my coat in the staff room on the way out... How the heck can I remember to take Advil every 4 hours?) but overall, I am on the mend. The spousal unit has forbidden me from running for the next 3 weeks at least, though. Rats. And I was very green with envy watching the marathoners yesterday.

I did have a chance to recouperate this weekend - I had the pleasure of seeing Veronica Tennant on Saturday (I was the library rep. handing out Angelina Ballerina stickers and complimenting 4-year olds on their frilly dresses). Yesterday, I enjoyed a leisurely brunch and a quiet afternoon.

Last night, the spousal unit and I revived a summer tradition of after-dinner walks. When I was small, my parents and I used to often walk around Verdun (towards the waterfront, especially) in the evenings, and it's a nice tradition to continue. In Ottawa, of course, we are so lucky to have the canal and the rivers. Our route last night took us behind Parliament, the Supreme Court, and Library and Archives Canada, then across the Portage Bridge into Quebec, and then back across the lovely (but then, I'n baised) Alexandra Bridge (covered in many places right now with spray-painted notes written by the construction crews: sandblast here!). We watched seagulls plotting a probable plan for world domination on a small island in the river, broke up a fight between two red-winged blackbirds (actually quite upsetting! I think there were no injuries, however, so that's good), and observed people fishing, walking their dogs, and one couple enjoying strawberries and champagne! We didn't need those extra props to have a lovely romantic walk.

Today, we're miraculously over-staffed here at work, so I am enjoying an "office" day (as in, off the public reference desk day!) to finish working on my CLA Conference presentation.

Readers' advisory blog just discovered: dovegreyreader scribbles

Currently reading: I live here, The Calling, Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison, and Murder on the Eiffel Tower.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rideau Branch re-opens!

My home branch (and workplace, when not on term replacement at St-Laurent) re-opened yesterday after a 5-month closure and renovation.

We had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 am, with local politicians, media and library staff and board of directors present. Our oldest patron, 106 yrs old (she was at the branch opening in 1934), cut the ribbon with a 4-year old from a local nursery school (a moment I found oddly moving - I teared up!) and everyone enjoyed refreshments and checked out the new layout, furniture and art.

Notice how the circulation desk is no longer a barrier when you walk in the door; instead, the contrasting carpet creates a welcoming path inviting you inwards.

A reporter from Radio-Canada asked me what the best part of the day was, and I was somewhat surprised to find myself saying that it was seeing and hearing patrons' reactions. I'm not naturally really outgoing, so I don't make friends with lots of patrons (although we're generally all on good terms) and I think while Rideau was closed, I had genuinely missed the community: the daily visitors, the regulars, the families, the seniors from the residence next door. It was truly rewarding (especially after so much hard work deciding on elements of the re-design) to see them enter and exclaim over individual changes with excitement and wonder.

I'm at Rideau Branch again today, filling in, and that feeling of wonder is still in the air. What a wonderful thing! It's the best outcome that I think any of us working on the reno could have possibly hoped for.

Here are some more before and after shots!

The OPACs and Internet computers

Old photo: reading corner (moved to annex); new photo: circ desk

The annex, with new magazine shelving, reading chairs with tablets, and That Snake Art Piece. The quote above the snake is from the Latin Vulgate, "Your prophets have seen for you false & deceptive visions."

This is my favourite piece of art (all art is new since reno, and from City art vault).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Litmags, where are you going?

So, much is out there these days (here and in other places) about cuts to Canada's literary magazines. What's happening with the Walrus is especially deplorable. Here are some great (mostly Canadian) mags, zines and litmags I adore:

Slum dogs named Simon and Danny (you can't make this stuff up!)

Great interview with Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A (known to the masses as that movie, Slumdog Millionaire).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Congratulations, Ann!

I am utterly thrilled to link to this news item reporting that Ann Moffat, the director of the Westmount Public Library, in Montreal, will receive the Anne Galler Award at the ABQLA Annual Conference at the end of the month.

Anne (Galler) worked tirelessly for libraries, and librarianship, and her "vision and strong voice will echo for years to come." Her family continues to be very supportive of ABQLA, SLA and the library community.

Ann (Moffat) - wow, this is confusing - has been, on a personal note, one of my mentors in the library profession. Her poise, diligence, committment to excellence and encouragement were an inspiration to me, and a model for me, during my eight years at Westmount Library. I am very lucky to now consider her not only a colleague but also a friend, and I still rely on her excellent judgement, sound advice, and delicious café au lait.

Congratulations, Ann! Just to embarrass you further, I'm linking through to a picture of you, or maybe even two (egads!)

P.S. Do click through to the new WPL website, since I know Lora has worked very hard on it, and it's stunning. My favourite part is the teens page - hit refresh, and you'll see why.

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled program...

to inform you that this blogger is pneumothorax-free (there may have been a partially-collapsed lung on the first x-ray, which is taking 10 days for some reason to make its way home.... but the second was clear). No pulmonary embolisms. I might have costocondritis, or some other inflammation in the chest cavity, but the jury is still out. That's me, idiopathic all the way.

Friday funny

I am *so* starting my own collection.

Everybody is worth more than the worst thing they've done in their lives

At right is my terrible photo of Sister Helen Prejean speaking at Celebridée on Wednesday night. Yes, my poor beleaguered lungs and I slouched down to the Mirror Tent (I prefer Spiegeltent, and better photos are here and here!) to hear her speak. The film version of her book, Dead man walking, moved me immensely as a teenager when I first read it. I was drawn to Sister Helen's compassion (and confusion!), to Matthew Poncelet's acknowledgement of his own guilt, and to the haunting music (I have a serious thing for Eddie Vedder, and grew to appreciate the genuis of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Rezlings can testify - I think they all hated that CD by the end of our time living together...). The movie was also a landmark in the sense that it depicted a killing by lethal injection in almost clinical detail, and, watching it again last weekend with my husband, I noticed that the final 20 minutes of the film correspond roughly to the final 20 minutes of Poncelet's life. The first time I saw it, I was struck primarly by the fear and anger in that room, and by Poncelet's shaking.

Seeing Sister Helen in person was really interesting: for one thing, she is much more warm that Susan Sarandon seems in the film (no that I don't love Susan Sarandon, but Sister Helen is very jokey - she kept teasing Lawrence Greenspon! - , and has a warm Southern accent). She shed some additional light on the story captured in the film (you know this if you've read the book): Poncelet is a composite character made up of some pieces of the various people on death row for whom she has acted as spiritual advisor. Sister Helen also stated that Lloyd Leblanc is the real hero of the story - in the film, that would be Earl Delacroix, the father of the boy killed by Poncelet, who we see in the final frames of the film praying with Sister Helen. Since the execution scene was so emblazoned on my teenage memory (I first saw it in MRE in high school - I think my friend Alice - who became a doctor this spring, whoo-hoo! - brought it in to illustrate a point in a presentation about capital punishment) I was interested to hear that after that first execution she witnessed, she promtly went outside and threw up. I think I would have, too.

Sister Helen made some allusions to Canadian politics, citing our committment to social justice and less punitive penal system. She did, however, allude to the Omar Khadr story, reminding us that this is how winds change in countries and urging us to "stand on guard," as our anthem says, against slippages of this kind.

She said the heart of who we are as a society is contained in the issue of capital punishment: the issue involves related issues of poverty, racism, and violence. She quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that the most moral document you'll ever look at is a budget. The implication being that the United States could be spending money on .... instead of on the immense expenses of one prisoner on death row.

Sister Helen emhasises that the issue of justice is integral to Christianity (although some, including the prison chaplain in the film, and her real-life archbishop, could stand to be reminded). Everyone asked her, as depicted in the film, why she was doing this: acting as spiritual advisor to these men who so clearly had done something utterly reprehensible (well, in some cases, not even that - many were falsely convicted, but that's another point entirely). She countered that with the beautiful statement that isn't "everybody worth more than the worst thing they've done in their lives? Wouldn't you want to be thought more of than the worst thing you've done?"


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tons of tulips, marvellous Mums, and a boat cruise down the canal, too!

Tulip Fest is in full swing here, and my fabulous Mum was visiting this past weekend for TF and Mother's Day. We managed to cram a lot into a few days:

  • A great Baroque concert at St Brigid's, featuring Il Convito Musicale! Photos at right are the magnificent interior of St Brigid's, a deconsecrated former Irish Catholic Church.

  • Dinner at the delish Fraser Café... Mmmmm fresh, local ingredients and melt-in-your-mouth gnocci.

  • A cruise on the canal, courtesy of the always-somewhat-bawdy Paul's Boat Lines. Some shots below:

    Somerset Bridge

    Tulips at Dow's Lake

    Mum and I

We had a lovely time! More pics on Flickr.

Indecision and abivalence

I worry that this blog post could spiral into complainy-land, so consider yourselves warned. I will follow this (*promise*) with a happy post about my kickass Sunday and Monday mini-holiday with my fabulous mum (that should balance the universe out, right?)

Disclaimer #2: this post was written while under the influence of codeine. Fasten your seatbelts, kids!

Well, here's some of the book news I've been shocked/appalled by today, for starters:
  • The ongoing saga of dragging poet Derek Walcott through the mud concerns me. First of all, I don't even know if I believe this story - it seems ... a bit off. Secondly, I desperately don't want to believe it, because I like Walcott. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at Blue Met about 4 years ago, and he dressed down Donna Bailey Nurse - it rocked. Nurse was going on about wanting to read about the black experience when she was growing up, not Anne of Green Gables, in other words, and Walcott squashed her self-righteousness by emphasising the human experience. I am hesitant to even write about this because, evidently, I am standing on thin ice as part of a Caucasian, English-speaking majority, but I think he had a valid point about the importance of reading about other communities and other cultures, both to explore them and to empathise with a collective human experience. So, Walcott, good luck with this shitstorm, and I hope the accusations are false. Amidst my fury, Bookninja's take made me snort with derisive laughter.

  • To balance out the poetry universe: "so sweet and so cold" - listen to WCW read aloud. Thanks, Guardian! At the very least, the preamble about what a wife is, and about the so-called the rape of the icebox, is ... um.... illuminating?

  • I'm very pleased with the winners of the Doug Wright awards for Canadian comics, and amused to see Martin Levin (of the Globe) use the spelling comix. Levin is correct in saying that we produce a fine crop of comic genius in Canada, and my crush on Seth continues unabated after reading his interview in last weekend's Globe. My crushes on Adrian Tomine and Michel Rabagliati are bigger, but that's another story.

  • How come I didn't know about The Children's Book Bank until now?

What follows is mostly bad news...
  • Why is BE ending? He/she provides me with most of the Quebec library news I need!

  • Good article arguing against closing libraries in NYC. Reminds me a bit about something that we at OPL articulated about what libraries really are recently after coming under fire for having video games in the collection: "We are not simply warehouses of books. Libraries are ... about people: their ideas, hopes, dreams, and memories.... As long as we continue to define ourselves as providers of service, rather than tying ourselves to a particular format, we are never in danger of becoming a repository." Indeed, in these trying times, especially in the US, people are re-discovering the variety of ways in which the library as community network, and a living hub of activity (as well as ideas!) can support them.

And now for the truly depressing: Today's posts are brought to you by the letters C-O-D-E-I-N-E because I have somehow managed to develop a partially collapsed lung! Not only is this totally idiopathic, but it hurts like the dickens. The meds aren't even helping: they just make my arms and legs feel heavy, but the pain continues as is. I'm currently vascillating about going to the hospital tomorrow - for better drugs or a confirmation of the diagnosis, given that I'm not even sure the clinic doc saw my x-ray yet.

It started at work yesterday (I was back @ Rideau Branch, packing up personal stuff in my desk - to bring to my new desk at my new job at St Laurent Branch - now that Rideau's staff area is not covered in tons of stuff as it was during our recent 5-month reno). I got really short of breath and had a stabbing pain in my left side and shoulder (imagine the worst running cramp you've ever had, x1000, while an evil monkey is stabbing you with a Swiss Army knife in the shoulder!). The more short of breath I was, the more faint I felt. I left at lunch, and my mum and husband drove me to a clinic, where the rushed and almost rude doctor on duty diagnosed based on poking me, gave me my scrip, and sent me for a chest x-ray. Problem is, he didn't say how long this takes to resolve itself... Apparently small bubbles (or blubs) can go away in a week or two. Time that I don't have, of course, since I should be working on: 3 outreach visits to schools (one I just cancelled today since it's tomorrow), regular program prep, my presentation for CLA Conference, organising the pub crawl for CLA Conf., promo for our LANCR AGM (we're getting Beth from BiblioCommons to speak!), etc. Oh, and now my plans to run the half-marathon at Race Weekend are shot. Grr. On the bright side, my life is generally going less badly than that of one of my favourite bloggers, NPW. Teeth traumas scare me. I'll take my inability to breathe, thanks, although I realise that's not very logical. I also think the gods are truly out to get both of us.

I am going to out up one more post about my fun weekend, and then I am going back out onto the balcony with my drugs, my blanky, and my reading material. I'm embarassed to admit to being absorbed in quasi-literary fluff at the mo. My excuse is that I have a lot on my mind... I need a break.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A graphic post

So, I was thoroughly appalled (and disgusted, and incensed, and a bunch of other things) to read about Pat Scale's comments in her SLJ column (via).

As a form of protest, I am going to blog about my favourite comics/graphic novels.

  • Runaways (series), and Pride of Baghdad (both by Brian K. Vaughn):

  • Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs

  • Blankets by Craig Thompson

  • Louis Riel: A comic-strip biography by Chester Brown

I've been sitting on this post for 3 hours, hoping I'd find a spare sec to add summaries, but it's not happening.... Just read the above. Read Ethel and Ernest for nostalgia, for wartime England, for your ageing parents. Read Blankets to recall your first love, or a brush with fundamentalist religion!

I must tackle some of my to-do list now, since I'm off this afternoon to frolic in the tulips (yes, I will post some pics). Pre-frolic activities include writing some discussion questions for a home-based learners' book club (this month's selection is Fake I.D., a gripping YA suspense book about a girl who has been running from something - her mum won't tell her what - her whole life...), developing some posters and bingo cards (don't ask) for future library association-related events, scheduling (the highlight of my day, she said sarcastically), and then there's always the 12:30 information download when my colleague gets here! At least I came in early today (at 8, gah, after getting up at 5:45 for a run!) to fill the displays and get a head start on some stuff.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on terrorism

Well, that's quite the weighty post title... and I may now disappoint you. I have no intention of taking a real stand here, but this recent review in Bookforum (thanks, Michael!) really struck home with me, and reminded me of my favourite moment from Obama's inauguration speech.

The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, by John Merriman, is about the rise of anarchism in France in the 1870s and 80s. In his review of the book, Christopher Cox writes that "terrorism has proved to be a minor theme in the history of the Third Republic. Could the same eventually be said about terrorism in this republic?" Cox highlights Merriman's own admission about the temptation of drawing parallels (it's "irresistible") and ends the review by quoting from Merriman's final chapter, where he notes the French government’s move, after the death of Emile Henry, "from executions to amnesty for most radicals, from the use of repression to “the power to convince.” That alone, rather than the thud of the guillotine’s blade, ended the cycle of violence."

Indeed. We will extend a hand, and all that. It's all a matter of who does what first.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Link for foodies

A link for my foodie friends: 50 of the World's Best Food Blogs, from The Times online.

OK, now I am re-applying my nose to the grindstone!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Montreal by the book (novels set in Montreal)

See article and feel free to join the discussion (sorry - you have to join Ning first) and add your favourites. File under: why I have too much on my mind these days.

Monday, May 4, 2009


So, two weekends ago (I know, another overdue blog post) we went on a mini-vacation weekend to Gananoque and Kingston, Ontario. We stayed at a really lovely inn in Gananoque, and, despite the fact that most of the boat tours along the Thousand Islands weren't running yet (and therefore most of the shops in Gananoque weren't open yet) we had a great time.

Some highlights:
  • The Museum of Health Care in Kingston - located on the Queen's University campus, near the hospital, this lovely small museum collects artefacts and documents relating to the history of health and health care in Canada. Some of their memorable pieces include a lovely mahogany traveling medicine cabinet, belonging to a Scottish-trained doctor and used for his medical practice in Jamaica up until the mid-20th century.

  • We had a lovely dinner beside Market Square in Kingston on Friday night. It was one of the first truly "summer-ish" weekends (going up to 27 degrees celcius!) and it was delicious to sit outside, watch the crowds, sip wine, and eat some fabulous pasta.

  • We went for an interesting 5K run in Gananoque: interesting in part because you can more or less cover the entire perimeter of Gananoque in 5K! We passed some residential neighbourhoods, were taunted by local hoodlums (just like at home!), crossed the Gananoque River twice, then passed a school and the 1000 Islands Playhouse. There was a lovely grand house for sale right across from the playhouse, and I contemplated throwing in the librarian towel, living off my savings (ha! for all of 5 minutes) and buying some not-insanely-expensive real estate large enough for me to turn around in. Then I sobered up when I remembered I'd get bored fast, even with the Playhouse across the street.

  • Of course, since this is me, I dragged the long-suffering spouse to not one, but two, municipal libraries: Gananoque Public Library, and Kingston Frontenac Public Library. We had a lovely chat with John Love at Gananoque PL, and I perused the book recommendations (among other things) at KFPL. Also, just outside GPL, we took a moment to reflect on this lovely bench.

Aside from that, we mostly lollygagged, which is more or less what I needed. Last week was my first week at a different library branch, in a slightly-more-senior position, and I've been swamped with new things, new projects, and new people (all of which is going well so far, but it's been all I can manage to stay on top of the crucial right now! Oh, and make lists.... Lots of lists).