Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It was a honour to work with you, Luis

My former workplace recently said farewell to its custodian of 40 years, Luis Diaz. The Gazette tribute is well-deserved! In my 8 years at Westmount, I only got to work before Luis once, and the library did indeed feel soul-less until he arrived that morning. I felt bereft!

He sang to me every morning. And he put up with my appallingly limited Spanish.

People like Luis are few and far between. He is the jewel in the "jewel in the park," and I can't imagine the library without him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Atwater Library's Digital Literacy Project

Great article in the Gazette last week about Atwater's Digital Literacy Project. Strangely enough, I am going to say I think they spent too much time in the article rhapsodising about the Mechanic's Institute (not that that isn't a great aspect of the story; my grandfather even remembers visiting there!), and not enough time introducing the partners in the project, including RECLAIM. They do such valuable work in Montreal, and talking about their contributions shows how much they are natural partners for the library.

Oh, and, Mike... Just couldn't resist a "shhh" joke, could you?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Guardian Charity Awards 2009

One of the small but distinct joys of visiting England was picking up the Guardian every day. Heck, I was even pleased to pick up the Evening Standard, not the least of which because they did a piece about the London Library - OK, so it was really just about the library's newest member (scroll down to second item on this page). But I digress....

I might have over 300 feeds in Google Reader, but I will always be a paper-based girl at heart. Hence, the joy of holding the Guardian and reading it cover to cover.

One of the interesting things I read about, in the society section, was the winners of the Guardian Charity Awards. Two out of the five winners are involved in reading-related work, including the InterAct Reading Service, which sends actors into hospitals to read to stoke survivors, and the Shannon Trust, which helps prisoners learn to read and improve their literacy skills. Says Julie Carthy, development manager at the Shannon Trust, about working with prisoners, "All these doors that have been shut for so many years are finally opening. They're thinking, 'Perhaps I will be able to send my daughter a birthday card this year...'"

Friday, December 18, 2009

The importance of "Where is the bathroom?"

Great article on RUSQ archives about patrons' first impressions of the library, and customer service excellence.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Counting (vacation) blessings

(and not stolen passports)

Riding the tube alone and like a local
Standing outside Virgina Woolf's London home and hearing the quiet in Gordon Square
Being a family member at a wedding for the first time
Talking about music with Sim (especially Dylan)
Receiving a private tour of the London Library
Singing "Hey, Jude" en masse at Kielan and Kate's wedding and trying desperately not to cry; thinking about the rare joy of being together as a family (minus my mum)
Watching the wedding's dance floor with Ralph in comfortable silence
Talking medicine and literature with Kate and Kielan
Holding Kalila and Zorya's hands
Touching Eliot's memorial in the Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey ("The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living")
Talking Shakespeare with Ralph
Receiving a replacement sac magique (I "fried" one recently) from the thoughtful Kate
Hearing Sim talk to Kalila and Zorya about their Great-Uncle David (that's my dad... weird, huh?)
Hearing Kielan and Kate pronounce themselves husband and wife
Using the descriptor, "our grandfather," for the first time
Speaking French with a Rwandan wedding guest
Spending a normal, average (and unexpected!) evening with Kielan and Kate
Telling the boys not to stay out drinking too late
Sharing Missuk's Snow Geese with Kalila and Zorya
Marveling at uncanny genetic coincidences: a shared love of dal, a shared dislike of Chinese food, a common commitment to learning and exploring, my grandfather's devilish grin appearing *exactly* on my uncle Ralph's face as he played with his grand-daughters, Kalila and Zorya
Seeing Beatles lyrics written on envelopes and Julian Lennon's birthday card, seeing Austen's writing desk, seeing Plath's notebooks
Seeing Kalila in a Canadian Olympics t-shirt
Making friends with the security guards at Canada House
Teaching Kalila and Zorya to navigate photos of snow and Canada on an iPod Touch
Walking Oxford as a family
Feeling so utterly at home away from home

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alex's Index to London and Oxford

Zorya, me and Kalila outside the Bodleian Library in Oxford

with apologies

  • churches or cathedrals visited: 7
  • colleges at Oxford visited as immediate family of an alumnus: 2
  • libraries visited (exteriors and interiors): 9
  • libraries I attempted to break into: 3
  • size of the largest single room selling books, the Norrington Room: 10,000 sq.ft.
  • books in the Norrington Room: over 160, 000 volumes
  • museums visited: 5
  • bookstores visited: 4
  • sites from Harry Potter films visited unintentionally: 2
  • cousins once removed met for the first time (see photo, above): 2
  • years since I've seen my uncle Ralph: 21
  • years since I've seen my cousin, Sim and my aunt Jackie: 19
  • years since I've seen my cousin, Kielan: 5
  • weddings attended: 1
  • Nirvana songs danced to: 1
  • times we passed through Baker Street tube station (one of the original stations of the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway, opened January 10, 1863): at least 5
  • times we spent 30p. on the toilets at Paddington (grrr): 4
  • canvas bags purchased from various tourist destinations: 3
  • tube delays: 1
  • passports stolen: 2
  • hours spent in Canada House obtaining temporary passports (not by choice): 5
  • length of time before we were issued temporary passports: 36 hours
  • missed flights: 1
  • visits to the Charing Cross Police Station: 1
  • fire alarms experienced: 2
  • Yarrows in one room (maximum): 8
  • photographs taken: 547

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Remembering part 2

from the White Ribbon campaign website.

Quite a few 20th anniversaries this year. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre.

Some of my contemporaries think violence or discrimination against women are "historical" issues; the fact is that the numbers are still scary. According to StatsCan:
  • 45 — The number of female victims of spousal homicide in 2008. Of these, 22 women were killed by their legally married husband, 10 by a common-law partner and 13 by a separated or divorced husband or common-law partner.
  • 36% — The percentage of female victims of spousal violence who report abuse to police. The equivalent number for men is 17%.
  • 25 to 34 — The age group, among women, most likely to be victims of spousal violence.
  • 61,690 — The number of women admitted to one of 569 shelters across Canada between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008.
  • 3 out of 4 — The proportion of all women who sought refuge in a shelter on April 16, 2008 who were escaping abuse (all via).
Some resources for today, if you're in a remembering kind of mood: