Sunday, October 30, 2011

RSC Annual Symposium: Where have the books gone? Reading in our Public Schools, with Heather Reisman

I was blown away by Heather Reisman’s presentation, even though I already knew a bit about the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, and I certainly knew about the (mostly sad) state of school libraries in Canada.

Reisman outlined the beginnings of the Foundation, when she visited Church St. School in Toronto in 2003. “What I discovered when I opened the door,” she said, “took my breath away.” There were lots of shelves, but few books; the books they did have had an average age of between 18-30 years old. School budgets, Reisman learned, were so tight that purchasing textbooks, toner for the photocopiers or even Band-Aids for nursing stations was proving a challenge for schools. The principal of the school, Judy, admitted it was “all she could do to maintain her half-time librarian and make a few acquisitions in a school year.” For Reisman, who learned to read at age 3 ½, this was unbelievable. She immediately invited Judy to Indigo and told her to buy everything she needed. Judy came, accompanied by students and teachers; none of the children who came to the store that day had ever been to a bookstore before. With these new acquisitions, Judy described to Reisman how the school “went from being a sad place, to being the absolute hub of the school.” Reisman added, “the overall energy of school changed, and student performance and test scores for Grades 3 and 6 improved.

This was the impetus for Reisman to establish the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. Her work with the Foundation has “opened her eyes to the extent to which we are failing the economically disadvantaged children of this country” and “the extent to which we undervalue teachers and educators.” As Reisman observed, we are systematically widening the gap between haves and have nots; schools in wealthier areas are able to organise fundraisers to provide materials for their school libraries, whereas schools in more impoverished areas cannot do this. “You can't bake sale your way out of this problem!,” declared Reisman. Children at these schools are also doubly deprived, as they are the children more likely to not have books in their homes, either.

Reisman concluded by re-iterating that, if nothing else, “enlightened self interest should make us want to tackle this problem,” since a 1% increase in the average literacy rate of Canadians could generate a 2.5% growth, up to 18.4 billion Canadian dollars in additional money in the Canadian economy. "In my world, we would day this is a very high return on a very small investment," Reisman concluded.

Reisman showed us several excellent videos about the Foundation’s work, with other statistics about early literacy, education, poverty, and student success (38% of Grade 3 students are failing reading; in the 1970s, school library budgets provided for 3 books per child per year, whereas now they provide for less than 1/3 of a book per child per year). One video is online here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

A slow week this week, books-on-the-bus-wise. On Monday, I was happily given a lift, and otherwise the week seems to be a blur. Plus, you know, OC and I had a bad day on Wednesday, when in the morning the 97 was so far back in the line of buses at Mackenzie King that I missed it, so my commute was 9-95-116-98 (thanks for that!) and then in the afternoon, the 9 just plain didn't show at Hurdman, leaving me there freezing my toes off for 30 minutes. All this after I had actually left work early/on time for once and was looking forward to a hour's uninterupted reading at home alone. Grr. And on Friday, I enjoyed a really lovely walk to Main. OK, anyway....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dr Jeffrey Turnbull: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health in a new Health Care Environment

Dr. Turnbull's talk last week at the Desmarais Building was the first in the University of Ottawa's President's Lecture Series. Dr Turnbull spoke to a full house of physicians, scientists, University faculty, students and stragglers like us. No surprise there.

I have been very impressed with Dr. Turnbull's work, especially at the Ottawa Mission, and was eager to hear him speak. Since his topic was the social determinants of health, and given that he serves the same population we sometimes see in the Library, I thought it would be valuable to hear his impressions and recommendations. This post is therefore a bit outside the scope of this blog in some ways, but very much not outside the scope in others: one of my primary interests has always been Library outreach to marginalised populations. You'll see that several of Turnbull's points below have implications for libraries: how can we appropriately (and best) support the health of all people in our communities through our collections, services and programs? With the below in mind, why not ask them?

Dr. Turnbull structured his talk around the "Top 6 ways to stay healthy:"
  1. Don't be hungry:
    In a country in which 868 000 Canadians use the food bank every month, many live great distances from a grocery store (on foot), many cannot afford fresh fruits and vegetables (see Ottawa Public Health's "The Price of Eating Well"), and those living in shelters may not have access to a kitchen to make their own meals, proper nutrition is still a tremendously large problem.

  2. Live in a nice community:
    There will be 1000 people sleeping in shelters in our city tonight. Very shortly, the shelters will begin putting out the mattresses in chapels, hallways and washrooms for the night; it's only October and they are already doing this (it's not even winter yet!). For those who do have a home, 3.1 million of them cannot afford their housing, and another 1.3 million are living in subsidised housing. There is a 21 year difference in average life expectancy between the poor and the rich; in cramped shelter quarters, it's easy to see how infections and illnesses can be spread quickly.

  3. Get a good education:
    There is a 25% illiteracy rate in the poorest bracket of Canadians; there is a 31% illiteracy rate on reserves in Canada. For more information, see ABC Canada's Adult Literacy Facts and a 2006 CBC News Indepth report. As CBC says, "Nearly 15 per cent of Canadians can't understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle, a failing that could seriously limit the ability of a parent, for example, to determine the dangers for a child." And as ABC Canada observes, "Literacy proficiency improves chances of employment, builds self-confidence and enables discussions and actions that affect the welfare of individuals and their community."

  4. Get a good job:
    6% of Ottawans don't actually make enough money to live in Ottawa. Many are living on the poverty line, or below it, while supporting their families.

  5. Get good health services:
    21% of homeless people in Ottawa shelters are HIV-positive; 80% have Hep C (for more general numbers, see Ottawa Public Health). There is a higher risks of contracting disease in Ottawa shelters, and in many of our poorer areas; in fact, the incidence of TB is lower in Bangladesh than it is on some Canadian reserves.

  6. But above all else, be wealthy:
    "The commodity of your wealth is your health," Turnbull says; "Money can't buy happiness, but it can certainly buy your health." In fact, the biggest predictor of health is your economic status.
So what are the implications of the above Top 6 list, and the attendant issues in Ottawa, for health care?
  • Isolation = social stratification. There are increased risks when people are crammmed in confined spaces together, resulting in diferential exposure of certain groups... We act surpsied when there is higher incidences of illness among certain populations, but isolating those populations together has increased the risks for them.
  • The idea of health care as a public service: This is one way of "levelling the playing field," but is it sustainable? The current health care system was not designed for the 21st century: it was designed on an acute care model, except now we see increased needs for chronic care, and increased numbers of chronic care patients. Observes Turnbull, "we use the chronic care sector as the default for meeting acute care needs."
  • Accessibility: ever waited for lab results? It takes awhile, and that's in an urban area, never mind in a rural area or on a reserve. Compared to other first world countries, "we are a bottom-of-the-pack perormer," despite high spending on health. In fact, health spending gobbles up funding that could perhaps better be routed to preventative measures, such as improving social or educational services, which would in turn improve health ("I just put myself out of a job"). As Turnbull phrased it, "healthcare is the monster eating everybody's lunch!"
  • The CMA wants to mobilise Canadians to "press for transformative chaneg to Canada's healthcare system," including 5 pillars of change: "building a culture of patient-centred care, providing incentives for enhancing access and improving quality of care, enhancing patient access across the continuum of care, helping providers help patients, and building accountability at all levels."
  • Our Canadian emphasis on equity of access to and delivery of health care expresses our values, ensures human rights are protected, and saves money (for more information about the economic consequences of health inequality, see "The economic burden of health inequalities in the United States").
  • We should thus shift this debate away from a conversation about providing charity towards a conversation about protecting the rights of citizens (who are entitled to protection, as enshrined in law and with respect for their human rights).
  • The outcomes of treatment in this manner include improved compliance, appropriate use of medical services (hospital, EMS), and a 64% reduction in risk behaviours, including substance abuse.
Dr. Turnbull spoke about the Ottawa Inner City Health program (of which he is co-founder and Medical Director). You can read a full history of the group here, but as Turnbull explained, it was born out of concern that, while many homeless people were using health services on disproportionate levels, their health needs were still not being met. The co-founders began to ask, what about other related services that the homeless clients might need, such as judicial and social services, etc?

As Turnbull concluded, Canadians can "do better," can serve homeless and marginalised groups better. The model that he envisions is to make the services a homeless person receives "equal to what an individual family would get in their home." It is our collective responsibility to advocate for health equality by advocating for "informed social policy decisions, effective health delivery systems for prevention and care, anti-poverty measures, direct health care services, and positive social change through healthy public policy."

I was fortunate to have a chance to speak with Dr. Turnbull after his talk, and let's just say we have a possible partnership up our sleeves......

A great event.

Miranda Hill fan club

(file under - I think I'm going to start one)

Hamilton writer and Journey Prize finalist, Hill is guest editing The Afterword all this week. Two recent pieces of interest:
  • "Reading here," about her creation of Project Bookmark Canada: "One day, I realized that my walks were covering the same ground as the books I had been reading. I felt that I was stepping into the stories, and my experiences with the books and with the places were suddenly and forever altered."
  • "Since you asked…," about breaking down the subtexts in the question she commonly gets about what it's like to be married to Lawrence Hill (yeah, that Lawrence Hill). An excerpt: "How do you put up with all those moods and pouting? If a plumber storms around and is generally miserable to his wife and children, we call him a jerk. We don’t say, “You’ll have to excuse him. It’s all because of his plumber’s soul.” And plumbers don’t get to say, “There’s only room in this family for one plumber, and I’m it!” Thus, writers who do this are also just jerks. Happily, I’m not married to one of them. I hope Larry isn’t either."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peter Behrens @ the Ottawa Public Library

I wish authors visited my library every day to do readings on my lunch hour.....

I was at my Bookmobile office this morning, but had to scurry back to Main Library for a meeting this afternoon. When I realised that if I left a bit early, I could get to Main in time for Peter Behrens' reading, I was thrilled. My office at Main is just on the other side of the back wall of the auditorium, by the way; knock in Morse code next time you're visiting.

With my crazy week last week (I am working on a couple of posts about it, including hearing Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull talk about the social determinants of health, RA in a day, as well as the International Festival of Authors!), I was happy to catch not one but two Writer's Fest events here in Ottawa on the last day of the Festival (right by the skin of my teeth, eh?). As this post auto-publishes, I will be on my way down the street for the Ottawa Book Awards Non-Fiction Roundtable with Tim Cook, Charlotte Gray, Roy MacGregor, Lawrence Martin and Eric Enno Tamm.

But Behrens... First, what can I say, he is completely captivating. Two lovely colleagues from Westmount Library had been trying to convince me to attend his talks there, and I couldn't quite grasp what the fuss was about, but he's a great, great speaker... and I say that as someone who has heard about a million introverted librarians and authors speak (badly) before! He's self-depracating (buy this book, and if my kid doesn't get into a Canadian university and we have to pay for an American one, the money will send him to university for one minute!), warm, thoughtful (to the point of being, frankly, intense) and has a wonderful deep voice.

Behrens explained that his desire to delve into family history was sparked when he thought about his relationship with his grandfather, and his relationship with his grandfather (upon whose life The O'Briens is based). As Behrens phrased it, that's only "two handclasps" away from history. He spoke about the tradition among earlier generations to keep their feelings and emotions private (they weren't "the Oprah generation"). As they understod it, your truest feelings were the ones you keep inside. Observed Behrens, "now, we hink we have found this new way of being warmly human," and that this privacy is unhealthy, when it is "more complicated than that."

Behrens spoke about the first time he saw the Black Rock in Montreal (I remember the first time I saw it, too: like Behrens, I was in a car, driven by my father, who explained what it was; Behrens observed his grandfather make a gesture to protect himself from the "juju" of the Rock). Behrens described how the "Irish established the template for how immigrants are received" in 20th century North America. The most interesting part of his talk, I felt, was his discussion of how history is treated in art (he talked about either books or films). "What bugs me about historical movies and books," he said, is how sometimes it seems as though "time happened with a different light around it." Artists portray the past in a fuzzy, rose-coloured light, as though it was "unclear," a sort of foreign country. Speaking about people in the past, he said, "I believe they were like us." He hopes historical novels, instead of placing the past at a distance, "take you by the hand and pull you into the world."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

RSC Annual Symposium: Early Innovations and Initiatives in Literacy for Citizenship

A week ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Royal Society of Canada's Annual Symposium: Literacy and Citizenship in the 21st Century, at Library and Archives Canada.

I will post more notes about other sessions later, but one of the first sessions was one of the most fascinating. James H. Morrison, a Professor of History at Saint Mary's University, and Board member and College Historian for Frontier College, presented about "Early Innovations and Initiatives in Literacy for Citizenship." We have a partnership at the Ottawa Public Library with Frontier College: they deliver homework help sessions and reading circles at numerous branches.

Here is my summary of Professor Morrison's fascinating talk.

Professor Morrison opened by sketching several vignettes of his early involvement with Frontier College. During the 1960s, when there were protests on his university campus and students were developing their “social conscience,” Morrison began working on a rail chain gang on the Prairies. He decided to hold evening classes for his fellow workers, tacking up a sign on a rail car that classes would be from 7-9 pm in the evenings. Over the summer, he helped his coworkers work on citizenship applications, or letters to sweethearts.

Morrison described Frontier College’s humble beginnings, from an "idea conceived in protest." Founder Alfred Fitzpatrick’s concern for the transient working class, who were “neither sheltered by unions nor cared for by management,” led him to want to help these unrepresented people. Morrison drew a vibrant picture of the “transatlantic migration of human machines” in early 20th century Canada (between 1881 and 1891, 1 million people came to Canada): the “new world welcomed new immigrants via steam trains,” as politicians (Morrison specifically mentioned Clifford Sifton) promoted immigration as an attractive prospect. Many were destined for work camps or farms: in 1900, the majority of the Canadian population was rural, and the labour class lived outside urban settings. Fitzpatrick took this fact, and the concept of adult literacy, to “rail workers, shanty men, and miners,” beginning in 1899, “bringing education to the men, not the men to the education.” His early efforts “in the wooden wilds of Ontario, were an experiment, intended to demonstrate what Fitzpatrick believed the state should be doing. Fitzpatrick believed that “as long as one man wanted to learn, and another man was prepared to teach him, education would take place.”

Morrison shared many wonderful archival photos of Frontier College’s early work, including farm workers’ classes in the 1950s and today (see one pic above, and others of their lobby display here). The College now works in urban “frontiers”: while they continue their rural work, they also have classes in prisons, low-income areas and have classes for Aboriginal and other marginalised populations. This is in keeping with their history of ensuring that all are welcome: classes have seen waves of Eastern European immigrants in the early 20th century, Aboriginal workers mid-century, and Jamaican and Mexican farm workers in modern times.

Morrison attributed Frontier College’s continued success to four important concepts that the College has learned along the way:
  1. Innovation: Frontier College adopted the concept of the “labour teacher,” had some of the earliest travelling libraries, and were one of the few organisations sending teachers to the unemployment camps in the 1930s. In modern Canada, they were one of the first to hold camps for Aboriginal populations.
  2. Continuity: In its 11 decades, the College has only had 7 presidents. The College has maintained a constant ideal, also: that “literacy is the means by which citizens can enjoy equal rights and equal career opportunities.”
  3. Commitment: Frontier College has maintained a commitment to assist those who have fallen between the cracks of society or “slipped through the twine of the social safety net.”
  4. Youth: The passion, energy and dedication of youth have been crucial to the College. Committed young people with a civic conscience can influence change for the better in the world in which they live.
One of the interesting audience questions after Morrison’s session inquired about Frontier College’s relationship or link to union organisation. Morrison replied that Frontier College was developing long before unions had any influence or power, and also, really, migrant workers (who were the clients of Frontier College) were entirely unrepresented. Frontier College’s opinion was always that their students “can read Lincoln or they can read Lenin... Politics is not the point. We can't tell them what to read!”

A wonderful session full of interesting historical context for adult literacy programs in Canada.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"A ride-along with Ottawa's Bookmobile"

I had a great time last week hanging out with Katherine Dunn, a student in Carleton's School of Journalism and Communication. She's a big fan of Murakami and Hornby, and we both had issues with One Day, so we got along well!

Check out her interview with France and I for CKCU's Week's End radio show here.

I really, really, hate my recorded voice. I sound, um, 12.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guest post: Honouring F. R. Scott in Montreal

My mum kindly reported back from the Evensong held last week in the Writers' Chapel at the Church of St. James the Apostle, Montreal, to honour Montreal's own F. R. Scott:

"Truly wonderful, inspirational service last night: beautiful music, beautiful setting (the church was gleaming), most interesting talks by Desmond Morton and Roderick Macdonald, current F. R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law. Macdonald read some of F. R. Scott’s poems and talked about Scott’s legal decisions, his work in the NDP party (a membership he had to give up in order to become Dean of Law at McGill), and Scott's views on the War Measures Act.

The speakers were introduced by Mark Abley, part-time editor at McGill-Queen's University Press, who told a great story about a colleague at McGill-Queens, who undertook a PhD. in History because, at age 11, she was so inspired by a public lecture that Desmond Morton gave at Missisauga Public Library, to which her mother took her."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

News round-up: Hitchens and 8-yr old girl charmed by each other, alterna-Booker, zombies and Brutalist buildings

News too interesting NOT to read:
  • "Mason Crumpacker and the Hitchens reading list" via Why Evolution is True
    "Though [Hitchens] was asked a variety of questions from the audience, none appeared to elicit more interest than the one asked by eight-year-old Mason Crumpacker, who wanted to know what books she should read. In response, Hitchens [...] asked to see them once the presentation was over so that he could give her a list."
    Just read this for Mason's thank you letter to Hitchens alone - priceless.
  • Ooooh, snap: "War of words: major authors launch rival to 'low-brow' Booker" via the Independent
    "A group of prizewinning authors and literary aficionados have launched a new book prize which they claim will capture the original spirit of the Booker and become its most formidable rival. Among supporters of The Literature Prize are former Booker winners Pat Barker and John Banville [....] The award's advisory board said it would reward the best in quality fiction – a role fulfiled by the Booker prize until it shifted its criteria, it claimed. The prize[...] will include American writers – unlike the Booker which extends its reach across Commonwealth countries but shuns US authors."
  • A well-rounded article about weeding: "Hard Choices: Do Libraries Really Destroy Books?" via NPR
    Includes this great quote from another related article: "Nobody likes it, but for a librarian it's like your best friend just got bitten by a zombie and you're the only one with a gun."
    See also my article about this topic.... More recent info (including Q and A from real librarians!) here.
  • There's hope for Main Library yet: "Architectural fashions change, but even brutalist buildings should be saved" via the Guardian

Friday, October 14, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A proper post, for reals

Seriously, kids. I've been run off my feet even more than usual these past few weeks. This week's adventures have involved training new staff on various things (including readers' advisory at OPL: the blog, the catalogue, and print tools like read-alike bookmarks, shelftalkers, and reading maps), finding a craft suitable for Sukkot (that's a long story!), a journalism student on the Bookmobile (yay!), various personnel issues and scheduling issues (resulting in me doing a Bookmobile run today to kill 3 birds with one stone: filling staff shortage and maintaining 75% service for the day, taking care of the journo, and going out with the only driver I haven't been out with yet), and (on Friday) The Royal Society of Canada's (RSC) Annual Symposium: Literacy and Citizenship in the 21st Century. In between that, I only have about a million emails to reply to, a presentation to finalise for next week, a speech to write (this and presi for RA in a day next week), and volunteers who have (or can get asap) police records checks to corral for our branch library homework clubs (Srsly. Want to volunteer? Branches that have an immediate need include Greenboro, Ruth E. Dickinson, and St Laurent; futures include Blackburn Hamlet and North Gloucester. Email me at libraryvolunteers [at]

Last week involved the Mayor's Seniors Summit, working a day at Rideau Branch (it was super cool to see some of my "old" regulars happy to see me! Plus I got to sit in on a wicked author event that is part of our Fall Author Series), more training of new employees, and the always-amazing Dewey Divas.

Meanwhile, I've been reading (some for CLA BOYCA, some for fun):
  • The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje (maybe it's 'cause I have a crush on him, but I read EVERY Ondaatje with his voice in my head. It's delicious)
  • That Boy Red by Rachna Gilmore (Gilmore's best yet, by far. Red is equal parts Anne Shirley - comparison can't be helped, Ramona, Owen Skye, and Clementine)
  • Dragon Seer's Gift by Janet McNaughton (I am really intrigued by where this series for older children is going.... Well-done!)
  • Broken Trail by Jean Rae Baxter
  • Where Children Sleep by James Mollison (heartbreaking and touching photo essay book about children's bedrooms, and sleeping quarters, around the world. Compare and contrast a pile of garbage with a room full of toys, etc. Read with Kleenex. Great for Grade 3+ in a classroom setting)
  • Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (made me want to re-read some James Baldwin)
  • The Beggar's Garden by Michael Christie (I know, 2011 is apparently the Year of the Short Story for me. I demand to be patted on the back)
  • Reinventing the Rose by Kenneth J. Harvey (just plain ... weird)
Must now get off computer. Spend enough time on computer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bookmobile news round-up

The theme of this particular bookmobile news round-up could well be Bookmobiles+ (or Bookmobiles 2.0, if you prefer): A mobile library offering programs, one at a souk, one promoting peace, one with hugs, one seeking a world record, a Supermobile, and a little red bookmobile that could, so to speak.
  • "North Yorkshire unveils “Supermobile” library timetable" via the Harrogate News
    "From October 24, North Yorkshire County Council’s supermobile will call at twenty two locations on a rolling fortnightly timetable. Unlike the conventional mobile libraries, which were withdrawn last month, the supermobile offers a superior service, carrying around 3,000 items of stock – including books, DVDs, videos, and audio books – and offering internet access via satellite."
    Editorial note: Psh! We visit 22 locations on a weekly basis! We should be a "Supermobile!"
  • "Mobile library for peace, Dharavi, Mumbai India." part of the Davis Projects for Peace
    David Projects for Peace is "an initiative for all students at the Davis United World College Scholars Program partner schools to design grassroots projects for the summer of 2012 - anywhere in the world - which promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties." This project was developed by Aravind Unni, from the University of California, Berkeley, and aimed "to wipe out the marginalization that the slum communities in Mumbai experience, by providing them access to information on informal education and healthier living through the simple act of storytelling."
  • "Portland Public Library may add 'portable library' service," via the Forecaster (MA)
    "The library [will] probably purchase a van and equip it with wireless technology and computers, enabling the mobile unit to provide digital library services and a wide variety of educational services to people who are unable to travel to the main branch. "It's not just showing up as a bookmobile. It's also delivering programs.""
  • "Library on wheels" by Amal Al-Sibai, via the Saudi Gazette
    "We don’t see travelers in the Kingdom’s airports reading while waiting for their flights, nor do we find children here picking reading as a fun pastime to ease their burden of boredom. This aloof attitude towards books is sure to change in the near future. With such initiatives by government officials such as the mobile library, more and more people will start gaining interest in reading. King Abdul Aziz Public Library packed 3,000 books in a large bus and sent it to Al-Taif during the Souk Okaz activities."
  • "Foster: We must cultivate a love of reading in our island's children" via the Guam Pacific Daily News
    "Yesterday, Guam took part in the Jumpstart Read for the Record worldwide literacy event, in which readers from around the world read the same book on the same day to students. First lady Christine M.S. Calvo was one of the participants, reading "Llama Llama Red Pajama" to students at Chief Brodie Elementary School."
  • "Smiles and hugs welcome bookmobile's monthly visit" via the Seattle Sketcher
    "Seattle has a brand-new bookmobile -- a red, white and blue van that went into service this week. The vehicle replaces one of four that deliver books to child-care centers, nursing homes and homebound residents who can't get to the library [....] "We know everybody by name," said Little, who was welcomed with a warm hug by Tess McBride, 88. That was the moment when it became clear to me that this is a different service of what anyone could get going to their branch library -- do you get hugged at yours? I don't."
  • "Little Red Bookmobile expanding list of services" via ENC Today (Eastern North Carolina)
    "The Little Red Bookmobile that has gone into neighborhoods for five years delighting children and their parents with its treasure of books is expanding its services to offer after-school tutoring and to highlight science and nature."

Monday, October 10, 2011

News round-up

  • I wish I could go to this
    "Bishop Barry Clarke, St. James the Apostle Anglican Church and the Writer’s Chapel Trust invite you to a service of Evensong honouring the life of Frank R. Scott and dedicating the chapel at St. James the Apostle as The Writers’ Chapel, Montreal: a place to honour and remember the talents of Canadian writers. The Writers' Chapel Trust was created 2 years ago to commemorate Montreal writers. This year Bishop Barry will dedicate The Writers' Chapel and a plaque for F.R. Scott will be installed."
  • "Breathing the rarefied air at Centennial College's new library"
    "The architectural re-branding of Centennial [....] The dour series of pre-cast concrete buildings put up in the 1970s are still standing, but now they’re offset by light-filled buildings with lounges equipped with computer bars and hipster seating in shades of cool, cucumber green. At the heart of the new $34-million library by Diamond + Schmitt Architects is a living wall of mesmerizing greenery that’s four storeys high."
  • Oxfordshire County Council resorts to blackmail: "I hope you're happy, Philip Pullman. We saved your libraries, but the elderly and disabled will suffer instead."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Seen reading on OC Transpo

William McElcheran's "Untitled" (read more)
Happy commuters?

  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger
  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsen
  • Acts (as in, the book from the New Testament, read on iPhone)
  • An Apple A Day by beloved Montreal icon, Dr. Joe Schwarcz
  • Me: Broken Trail by Jean Rae Baxter (it's a work thing)
Sorry, kids, for the boring week on this blog; I have been utterly swamped. It's 5:08 and I am not even close to leaving work either, so I am beginning to feel a bit panicky (Main does close at 6, so they security guard might come looking for me....!)

More from me next week, promise xxx

The psychology of reading

Our 6th annual RA in a day workshop is coming up soon, and we are building on an extremely popular session from last year's workshop with one of this year's sessions.

One of our speakers last year was York University's Dr. Raymond Mar (read my summary of his talk here), whose topic was “Empirical research on reading, and its implications for advising readers.” This year, we will hear from Dr. Keith Oatley, novelist and professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, about the psychology of reading fiction: how and why novels and short stories engage readers, and what the effects of reading are.

If the psychology of reading interests you, here are some other resources:

Reading Fiction Impacts Aggressive Behaviour
Researchers report that reading literature depicting aggression can impact how those readers respond to provocation.

Reading fiction 'improves empathy', study finds
US researchers measure impact of reading JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer

"Why fiction is good for you"
Keith Oatley proposes that stories create "a mental model in which readers can try out ideas about themselves and others."

"The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience."

Monday, October 3, 2011

News round-up