I had a pretty busy week. Last Sunday, I found out I am going to NELI, which is really exciting .... and really scary! I am very pleased, and honoured to be chosen. I think it will be a great opportunity. So one thing I did this week was make some other arrangements for my absence in early December (re-arrange my course outline for ILLs, arrange hotels, etc.)
Our big thing this week was author visits: we had two at Rideau, on the same day, even! Children's author Sylvie Massicotte visited Rideau Branch to talk to a class on Tuesday afternoon; Claire Rothman visited on Tuesday evening. My colleague mostly handled Sylvie's actual visit, because my brain was full of other stuff that day for Claire's visit; I had also done a lot of the prep, including chasing down a class to attend the visit. You'd think this wouldn't be so hard! ... and yet. Here's the deal.
The opportunity for this visit comes as part of our branch's participation in the Livromagie club from Communication Jeunesse; in other words, the author visit is for the children participating in this club. I had some issues finding groups and/or classes to join this club, and basically, finally, after lots of work, we got a grade 1-2 class willing to participate in the club, and they came to see Sylvie on Tuesday afternoon. What was especially interesting about the event was that it took the kids about 15 minutes to completely understand that Sylvie, the woman in front of them, was actually the author of the books they had been reading in class. This was definitely the first time any of them had met a published writer, and I think they were a bit in awe. What a rewarding experience ... in the end.
What was I talking about? Sorry.
Oh, right, Tuesday. Author visit #1 - check. Author visit #2 - Claire - check. We had 15 people at Rideau for her reading, which was both awesome (I would have been happy with anything over, say, 5; author visits at libraries are generally not well attended, which I frankly have a few theories about, but that rant will have to wait for another day....) and kind of depressing (considering the amount of marketing I did!) I was cheered that one person had found out about the event because of a flyer I put up at Loblaws, one heard through one of our book clubs, and two attended from another local book club (not held at Rideau) of McGill alumni, who I had invited specially.
On Wednesday, Claire spoke to a group of senior school girls from Elmwood in Rockcliffe Park, and I accompanied her there as well. Honestly, I was able to better concentrate on her talk the second time around, since I sort of felt like I had Author Reading Brain for the first two days of this week (like Mommy Brain!).
It was great to get to spend some time with Claire. I must confess that we weren't particularly close when I was a student in her class at Marianopolis; she was closer to my best friend at the time, Kaya. Both Kaya and I were writers, but it was Kaya who shared much of her work with Claire. That time in my life was when most of my energy was devoted to exploring my new-found independence, bonding with my rez girls, feeling anxiety about money (and working three jobs) and navigating my first relationship. I was probably not the most respectful or studious girl in Claire's class. Claire and I floated in and out of each other's lives since then, seeing one another at Kaya's concerts or in Westmount circles. I'm so glad that we are still in touch, and I'm so glad that now, 13 years later, I have been given the opportunity to get to know her better. Turns out we're both dancers, and runners, and we both love long walks; we have similar warm memories of a particular nun at the College who I lived with; we're both ardent feminists, and so on. Honestly, it was lovely to see her.
A couple of quick things I learned from her talk, besides the obvious about Dr. Maude Abbot:
- The history of the Holmes Heart
- What she was reading when she developed the idea for The Heart Specialist: excellent Canadian historical fiction, including Helen Humphrey's Afterimage (about amazing Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, who I totally had a girl crush on anyway) and Michael Crummey's The River Thieves (which I sort of knew was about the Beothuk, but had sort of also forgotten; must pick it up)
- She loved Dorothy in Middlemarch!
- My favourite quote of the talk: Claire, speaking about her main character's expertise with the physical heart, and ineptitude with her own emotional heart, says "We can be the smartest people but we are just falling all over ourselves in love."
In case you are wondering, we have some of the usual suspects: our bilingual Family Storytime, our two Frontier College partner programs (the Reading circle and the Homework club), our three book clubs (Morning, Evening, and Mille-Feuilles), our writing workshop group, and March break programs, of course!
Our new and exciting initiatives include two more sessions of "Coffee with a police officer," two partner programs with the Ottawa Art Gallery: "Talk about Art with the Ottawa Art Gallery," and "Meet the Firestones with the Ottawa Art Gallery," and 6 free legal aid clinics (in partnership with three local legal aid organisations), focusing on Tenants’ rights / Droits des locataires, Workers’ rights, Income maintenance for the elderly, Successions & testaments and Human rights.
(Just for fun, remember that not only do I organise all this, but I get to make the posters for each event, too! Which I really enjoy, actually, it's just a lot of work).
I did one other incredibly rewarding thing this week (in addition to welcoming Claire, that is, not in addition to program submission and poster design - both of which are more equal parts rewarding and tedious): I went on outreach to the Stepping Stones program at the Ottawa Mission. I met with a group of about eight men who are in this program (along with their teacher, who has been incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic about meeting with me about partnerships). I introduced myself, talked about Rideau Branch, explained library membership and services (computer use, databases for homework help, language learning and hobbies), and brought some free paperbacks to give away. The men were interested, respectful, and they laughed at my jokes, which is always good. At one point, I logged into my library account to show them how to check their accounts and renew books, and they loved that I had overdues! I was very impressed by the group.
Instead of grading assignments on Friday, I decided to give myself a break and hung out with friends, which was kind of unusual (at least for the me that exists since I moved to Ottawa) but a lot of fun. Meanwhile, back at Rideau, my colleague received a group visit from a local refugee centre for a tour of the library.
On the weekend I prepared next week's lecture (on copyright! Horrors!) Oh, and I worked Saturday, when it was so cold inside the library (weatherstripping issues - don't ask) that my nose was frozen and I kept my legwarmers on all day, and, in other news, I explored the fine line between "Is this patron sleeping on the heating vent in the parking lot?" and "Is this patron passed out?" Sigh. I believe only emergency response teams can answer that one for me. But hey, I helped a guy with MLA format. Wheeee.
Then I slept for 12 hours.