Friday, December 21, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • Dante's war by Sandra Sabatini
  • The alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Something by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Man's search for meaning by Viktor Frankl, Harold S. Kushner and William J. Winslade
  • A book about Rosa Parks with a high school library stamp 
  • The house I loved by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • My life as an experiment by A.J. Jacobs
  • Inside of a dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz 
  • The cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy 
  • Something by Luanne Rice
  • Me: a grab bag of a million different random things, including the Citizen and Globe, Quill and Quire, Chatelaine and lots of other things. It's not that I'm not reading books, they are just not in my bag right now.

Monday, November 26, 2012

RA in a day 2012: Keynote speaker: Patrick Brown, Community Manager at

Keynote speaker: Patrick Brown, Community Manager at

Patrick was an engaging speaker who outlined using Goodreads for readers advisory, either as an individual (inputting your books and using their “Recommends” feature for your own tastes) or as a library (creating an account for your library: Patrick cited Salt Lake County Library as an example of creative use of group space on Goodreads. There are many other libraries on Goodreads as groups, not to mention, ahem, librarians!).

Speaking about the importance of readers, and librarians who are readers, in the online environment, Patrick reminded us that “people want to connect with people, not brands.” In other words, your library may have far fewer friends than you expect on Facebook, in part because the online environment, and the experience of reading and sharing reading experiences, is about personal connection.

Patrick’s talk really brought us full-circle to Sandra Martin’s talk this morning, highlighting the importance of readers in the online environment, and the ways in which readers are reaching out online to one another to create community. I didn't take a lot of notes for this session - by the end of the day, I wanted to sit back and enjoy listening!

Some other interesting things happened at RA in a day. Most importantly, congratulations to my good friend Shonna Froebel, who is the 2012 recipient of the OPLA's Award for Leadership in Adult Readers' Advisory. Here she is with OPLA RA committee chair Sharron Smith.

We also had several great poster sessions around the room, including Oshawa Public Library and CNIB - Book Club Guides, Mississauga Public Library - Readers to Writers at MPL, the OLA Forest of Reading®, and a poster made by me about the OPLA RA Committee Core Competencies (read them! use them!). There were also wonderful vendor displays from LibraryBound, Random House Canada, Penguin Canada, HarperCollins Canada, and the OLA Store

Friday, November 23, 2012

RA in a day 2012: The role of fiction and reading in community-building


The Role of Fiction and Reading in Community-Building with Dr. Raymond A. Mar, Associate professor of psychology at York University.

This was a follow-up to Dr. Mar’s 2010 presentation at RA in a day (see notes). In 2010 he talked about narrative fiction as a “simulation” exercise: when reading a novel, for example, you imagine what it would be like to be in the book. With neural imaging, the areas of the brain that deal with social processing light up when subjects are reading. We develop socially when we read, absorbing complex social information in a format that is easier to understand, and there is a correlational relationship between reading and decoding social information.

In his talk this year, he expanded on his research and examined the role of reading fiction in community development (tying into our theme for the day). He outlined recent research his team has done which as found that the genres people read matter; in fact, their study showed that the two genres that best predicted social abilities were (somewhat surprisingly to many) romance and suspense/thriller. Dr. Mar proposed that the former can be perhaps explained by the fact that all romance is about social abilities, social context and relationships.

He also explored the idea of “embodied cognition,” and its relation to reading: even abstract thought (i.e. when reading about an experience) is rooted in perception/action in the brain. Just thinking about a character’s activities, for instance, will activate the areas related to these actions in the motor cortex. In other words, Dr. Mar said, “experiences were akin to reality.”

Reading also predicts more egalitarianism and reduced gender stereotyping; a reader is “forced” to take the character’s point of view in order to understand and inhabit the story, and he or she thus develops empathy. As always, Dr. Mar was a really fascinating speaker.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

RA in a day 2012: Luncheon Speaker Deborah Harkness

Luncheon Speaker: Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness, author of the bestselling novels, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, was a great speaker: passionate, funny, interesting – you can tell she teaches! She enthralled us with background information about her novels, including the fact that Ashmole 782 is a real manuscript, and it is really missing. She told us “it’s the only alchemical manuscript I ever called up and wasn’t able to get.” Matthew Roydon is also a real historical figure, and she herself is most similar to Emily, not Diana (as many people often assume). She talked about how her students, who she sees at a time of great change in their lives, influenced her portrayal of Diana: “I teach a lot of talented young people who are desperately afraid of their own power.”

Deborah also told us about how the idea for the novels was born: she was on vacation with her parents, recovering from academic responsibilities that left her out of touch with pop culture. When she spotted a copy of Breaking Dawn in the airport bookshop, her parents had to explain the series to her. Her first thought was “what do vampires do for a living?” She mused that they would want a career with some longevity, but not in proximity to, say, blood. So, a geneticist might be an idea… Similarly, a witch would make a good historian, for example. She also outlined the structure of the series: while the first book was set in the present day, the second was more historical fiction, and the third will have more science-fiction aspects to it (she hinted about genetics).

Finally, Deborah talked about using her newfound fame and fortune for good: she observed that the ability to “have an opinion” was cool. “No one cares about what a history professor thinks about libraries,” she explained, referring to media coverage of library closures in the US and UK,” but now that I’m a novelist, well, yes, thank you for asking, I have a lot of opinions about that!” She made a room full of librarians happy when she told us of her early literary influences (including The Witch of Blackbird Pond, one of my childhood favourites), and the quality time she spent in libraries as a child. “I’m here talking to you,” she told us, “because you were here for me when I was little.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

RA in a day 2012: Getting Your Community Reading: Sharing Your Successes

This post is about the second session of the day, Getting Your Community Reading: Sharing Your Successes. 

As a member of the RA Committee, the host organisation of RA in a day, I chaired one of the table discussions during this session. From the committee’s perspective, we developed this session as a response to feedback from previous years: attendees wanted more opportunities to talk to one another. My fellow committee member designed this session so that delegates changed places and sat at a table named for an Evergreen-shortlisted title, everyone brainstormed and shared great programs at their libraries, and then each table presented their favourite adult reading program with the room.

At my table, we heard about:
  • Mississauga Library System’s outreach efforts and Bingo game with literary genres (read them all to fill your Bingo card and win prizes!). 
  • TPL’s Film Club, arts and history lectures, book clubs (including in Cantonese!), bulletin board with patron suggestions (we’re trying this at Carlingwood this month! Come in to the Adult Info desk and leave us a suggestion for a display we are building) and the Thought Exchange series
  • Kitchener’s One Book, One Community program, and their participation in Word on the Street.
  • Milton Public Library’s memoir-writing workshop for seniors, Lifescapes (see photos from their book launch). 
  • Haliburton County Public Library’s “Chair yoga” for seniors, and their Shakespeare Club
  • Vaughn Public Library’s Teen Summer Reading Challenge
  • Someone (I forget who) had a GREAT idea about soliciting book recommendations from high-profile community members (eg. the manager of local business, councillor, school principal, etc). 
I asked the table about their “favourite” failures, and one library (I forget which) shared a story of a Book Club Boot Camp outreach program ("we’ll come to you, and help you design your book club") that didn’t have many takers in the community. We then talked about how marketing / program promotion happens at each library:
  • Some wished they had a Marketing department, but several others at the table concluded having one was often a mixed blessing. 
  • At Kitchener, the Marketing department takes care of travel costs and arrangements, etc. for speakers, as well as promotion. 
  • We talked about paying for advertising in community newspapers (some do, some can’t). 
  • Word of mouth is always the best way to promote a program: invite people who have their own network! Also, people trust their friends but may not trust/know us. 
  • One library faxes programs to the management of apartment buildings and gardening centres in the area.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

RA in a day 2012: Online Book Clubs

The 7th annual "RA in a day" workshop for adult readers' advisory wrapped up recently. This year, we had a theme, which was "Reading Builds Community," and the day was once again hosted in the lovely Bram & Bluma Appel Salon of Toronto Reference Library.

As vice-chair of the hosting group, OPLA's Readers' Advisory Committee, I was fortunate to not only attend, but get to participate in planning and delivering the day's events. Over the coming week or so, I will share some notes from the sessions.

Today, we'll start with our first session, Online book clubs, with Sandra Martin from The Globe and Mail, and Margaret Elwood, the Book Buzz Librarian at Toronto Public Library.

Sandra Martin (standing) and Margaret Elwood.

Margaret spoke first about Book Buzz, TPL's virtual book club. She outlined some of the preliminary research done in an initial survey, showing that book club members are generally 98% female and 88% retired (therefore likely over the age of 65). Book Buzz was an attempt to attract active, engaged adults under fifty (via anonymous participation, no formal meetings), and avoid the book club stereotype. Current Book Buzz members (of which there are 1281) are 84% female and 64% are under the age of 50! There is still high interest in reading fiction, but also non-fiction, mystery, and biography. There is a moderate interest in sci-fi/fantasy, graphic books. The original Book Buzz researchers also looked into other active, successful online book groups, and found that successful ones had an active facilitator/moderator, so they made this a core focus of the site. Book Buzz currently uses Web Crossing software as a platform, but Web Crossing will soon be discontinued, and they will be moving to a social network type of site within the year.

Margaret spoke quite movingly about how the online book club forum broke down barriers: they had teens participating, and one deaf person. Book Buzz, she said, “places no constraints on accessibility.” She also discussed participation inequality at length – the idea that 1% of your participants will post regularly, but many others will find significant value in reading other people’s posts.

Sandra spoke about the Globe’s recent foray into online book clubs, calling 2012 “the year of living experientially” after she was asked to be the online book club facilitator. Sandra, a long-time book lover and member of the Quadrangle Society’s book club at Massey College, was approached by the Globe about an online book club. This was framed within attempts to “entice people to read the Globe online,” a “corporate imperative.” The online book club now uses to host the site. Interestingly, Sandra said that Globe staff thought people would want to read non-fiction rather than fiction (she credits this to journalistic bias!), but of course many book clubs are the opposite. So far, the book club has featured Half-blood blues by Esi Edugyan, Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat (in part because of the Canada Reads controversy), summer picks, and The casual vacancy by J. K. Rowling. Books are chosen by popular vote via a poll on the website. Sandra’s favourite aspect of an online book club is “feeling like I am in a really good conversation and knowing I don’t have to drive anyone home.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

Soon enough...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

October from the rear view mirror

October was all about Courtland apples, visits to old haunting grounds, sugar pie, seventh wedding anniversaries, and family bonding. Delish! I finished my bonding with Rushdie over Joseph Anton (amazing journey into his craft, and into his insane life during the fatwa - my only concern is his portrayal of every woman in his life....). I was blown away by Miranda Hill's Sleeping Funny, gripped by the plot twists in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, slightly bored by The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon, sad that Toby's Room by Pat Barker was definitely no Regeneration trilogy, and oddly sympathetic (especially for someone who has been cheated on) with the rat narrator of This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. I also bid farewell to a good friend, who OPL is losing to RPL, and planned world domination via Book Bank.

In other news, here's some work stuff I've been excited about:

  • I'm pretty thrilled that (and tired from) tying with the Children's department (almost!) this month. We had 310 adults at a wide variety of adult programs for this month; children's programs attracted 330 children!
  • We've been trying a Chinese storytime this fall, led by one of my colleagues, Feng (we went to library school together - shout-out McGill MLIS class of 2004!). So far, it's getting on its feet with a few participants: a few other branches have packed Chinese storytimes, so I am confident ours will grow.
  • We had a great, loud, crowded TAG meeting with "a dynamic and powerful discussion on diversity and LGBTQ" given by one of our community partners. Patron going by the Adult Info desk: “I’ve never seen so many Teens at Carlingwood Branch– how did we do it?"
  • Those adult programs: We held three “Coffee with the Community” events this month. The most successful, by far, was Coffee with Councillor Mark Taylor, for which we had 11 attendees. Our Reflections on Aging reading circle wrapped up, but will be offered in January again. Feedback: “the facilitators were excellent as well as the reading material they chose.” Also, “I really enjoyed the time and information regarding books I can borrow in the future.  I hope CA will have more reading circles.” This is one of the programs I am most proud of, thanks in large part to the wonderful coordinators, Wendy and Trudy. We also had Kim Thuy as part of OPL's Author Visits, who a patron described as an "exciting articulate speaker. I loved how she just spoke from the heart - no notes.”
  • Our new part-time librarian started! We are all really excited to have her as a part of the team.
  • We received over 60 grey bins one day near the end of this month! The team pitched in and worked together to process this high volume; some extra hours helped, too. I wonder how many people realise how much material is shipped inter-branch every day?... As I always say in outreach, over a month, we ship the same weight as a female beluga whale and her baby (I have visuals, of course!)
  • We visited local schools and community groups, as always. I personally visited two groups.
  • We blogged! The branch library pages on the website are getting an update soon, so branch blogging will soon be an option.

Lastly, Carlingwood Branch celebrated its 46th birthday! It opened in mid-August 1966, with an official opening ceremony on October 13th. At 13, 500 square feet, the new branch had a staff of six (now 30) and a collection of 5000 books (now approximately 120, 000 items). The branch was designed by architects Craig and Kohler, at a cost of $411, 106. Check it out:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A prize of their own

(I know. That title was a cheap shot).

I read with interest the recent announcement of the Rosalind Prize, a new Canadian literary prize for fiction by women (seen via Pickle Me This). As Kerry points out, the statistics about women writers in other literary prizes in Canada are pretty bad.

What do you think about this? Do we still need a room of our own?

Or, are literary prizes in general worthwhile schemes, or do you believe that "writing is not a competitive or comparative endeavour," to quote Richard Greener?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Midnight's Children

Tomorrow, I will be at the sold-out evening premiere of Midnight's Children, listening to director Deepa Mehta talk about the film.

I'm kind of crazy excited. This might be because the novel formed one of the book-ends to my Honours thesis, or it could be because the timing is perfect and I just finished reading Joseph Anton. Either way, I am looking forward to introducing The Husband to the story, and I hope it's a great movie.

In the meantime, watch this trailer:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Help my former branch celebrate 50 years!

The Children's department, St Laurent Branch, Ottawa Public Library
Photo credit: the library's own official camera wizard, Rhéal Doucette

For a year, in 2009-2010, I worked as the supervising children's librarian at the St Laurent Branch of OPL. This coming Saturday, October 20th, the branch will dedicate the children's department to the city's first bilingual chief librarian Claude Aubry. Aubry served as chief librarian for 26 years, which also makes him the longest-serving individual in that role; he also got the Bookmobile on the road, so, you know, I have a soft spot for him. He has an amazing list of achievements under his belt during his time at OPL; check them out at the end of this document.

Aubrey was also Ottawa's own renaissance man: he was a children's author (IBBY Canada has an award named after him) and an accountant. The St Laurent Branch was first opened during his tenure, in fact, giving Saturday's event a nice simpatico.

I can't be there to celebrate with them, but you should go if you can!

As it says in the lobby of the Don Gamble Community Centre, outside the library entrance:

"A library is not a luxury; but one of the necessaries of life."
- H. W. Beecher

"Un livre est une fenêtre par laquelle on s'évade."
-Julien Green

Thursday, October 18, 2012

News round-up

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Other Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • Dream Catcher: A Memoir by Margaret A. Salinger
  • Forget You by Jennifer Echols
  • something by Deb Caletti
  • Me:  The latest issue of Quill & QuireA Matter of Life and Death or Something by Ben Stephenson

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

News round-up

Ah, fall. I am especially happy to see it this year, as a relief from hot summer jogging that was more forced march than fun!

In an attempt to keep things interesting and keep myself challenged, I'm in the midst of launching several new programs at Carlingwood Branch, including a "Reflections on aging" reading circle with the amazing Wendy, a Golden Oak™ Book Club, a Film Club and the branch's first English conversation group. These, in addition to teaching, plus overseeing the RFID tagging of our entire collection, has kept me running around a fair bit recently, as well as a trip to Quebec City for the last rez girl wedding (a beautiful weekend during which I also squeezed in two walks with my favourite strolling rez girl, a chocolatine and giant onion rings, and a library visit, of course!). On my recent travels, I also encountered two readers of this blog! I will try not to get too much of a swelled head, as The Husband would say.

Oh, and I've been:
In closing, I would say a September filled with a new-to-me Barbara Pym, and the latest Zadie Smith, Ian MacEwen. Martin Amis and (next up) Salman Rushdie books is a good September indeed.

Up next: a literary Sophie's choice: I am in Toronto for RA in a Day (you should go), so can I fit in any IFOA, or the Ottawa premiere of Midnight's Children, or a reading by my friend Chris Cleave at Westmount? Argh! Sensory overload. I have to go lie down on the living room floor now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Best reads of summer 2012

One of my favourite summer reading spots

  • Gold by Chris Cleave - What more can I say? You can open this book scoffing at the importance of sport, and Chris will nevertheless grab your heart in a vice grip and proceed to toy with it like a cat with a bird for 336 pages. Here, just watch a video already. And go see him - he will be at Westmount Public Library on October 27th as part of their Fall Author Series.
  • Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - Of course Mantel knocks it out of the park with this second volume in her planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. This is an intense look at the inner workings of Henry VIII's court. It spends little time on the overwrought soap operas we are all familiar with, and more time ruminating on the timeless crimes of corrupting power, political backstabbing. In Mantel's handling, Cromwell might well be the most shrewd (note I did not say likeable or even sympathetic) character in Tudor England. Your heart will break for many minor characters, and it will break all over again for the ultimately flawed, and deeply troubled Anne Boleyn.
  • Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer - Affectations that could be incredibly annoying in a lesser author's novel (linear equations used to explain appropriate emotional responses to an autistic husband, stereotypical walk-on parts for suburban neighbours, random baldness) fit perfectly in this gem of a first novel. Props to Book Riot, which is where I think I first read a review. No props to the NYT, which described it as "chick lit with a metaphysical spin." Ew. This is a love story with a science (or you could say magic realist) spin, in which Sunny (bald: see above) snaps under the pressure of a white picket fence life with an autistic husband, Maxon, and toddler, only hours before Maxon (an engineer who makes robots) leaves on a space mission. When Maxon's spaceship is hit by a meteorite (jeopardising not only the mission but the lives of those on board) and Sunny decides to stop wearing her wig, life for the unique couple seems about to veer sharply off-course. Reflecting on their shared history (Maxon more or less grew up at Sunny's house, taking refuge from an abusive home) and their possible future (as Sunny's single mom, a force of nature herself, lies dying in hospital guarding one last secret of her own), both Sunny and Maxon realise a few things about themselves, and each other. This is a very unique story, very uniquely told.
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - This was one of Sharron's "Best Bets" last year, and I have been meaning to get to it for awhile. Ejected from her group home when she turns 18, Victoria Jones isn't exactly prone to opening up or trusting others after a checkered past in foster families. Instead, she uses the Victorian language of flowers as a way to communicate with others, spending long hours growing flowers and herbs with meanings known (mostly these days) only to her. Victoria's past, and the person who taught her about the language of flowers, is gradually revealed in flashbacks while the adult Victoria lives on the streets and starts a job at a florist. Her past and present collide when she gives a bouquet with a particular meaning, and receives one back with a significant, and relevant, response. Check out the dictionary of flowers from the novel here. Yarrow, by the way, is a cure for the broken heart.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Read recently

  • The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla - Follows a Jewish family who manages to escape WW2 Vienna to Shanghai. Fascinating subject matter; sadly, stilted writing, unless Kalla (himself a physician) is describing surgery.
  • Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates - Chilling, weird, engrossing tale of a female academic's gradual unraveling into mental illness, prompted by flashbacks to her troubled childhood.
  • Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel - Absolutely brilliant. Mantel has a rare gift for langauge, as in this line from the end of the book (see how it promises more fun for volume 3?) "The word 'however' is like an imp coiled beneath your chair."
  • The Library Book by Alan Bennett et al. - Delicious short essays and humourous stories about libraries. Includes contributions by Seth Godin, Caitlin Moran, Kate Mosse, Lionel Shriver, Stephen Fry, and Zadie Smith (Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad - Thought-provoking examination of middle age, marriage, and accidental foster parenthood. I'm pleased she has been longlisted for the Giller - well-deserved.
  • The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore - Chilling short ghost story from a masterful writer.
  • The Flight Of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey - Supposed to be inspired by Jane Eyre, this watered-down version of the story is engrossing but ultimately forgettable.
  • Stray Love by Kyo Maclear - Watch the trailer here. Saigon pops up again (see: above), as does Guyana (see: the Husband) in this novel about a mixed-race boy, Marcel, trying to uncover his story.
  • Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin - Every year, I try a few mysteries just to check. I think I mysteried out in the early 90s (when I read every Nancy Drew, and then every Agatha Christie, and then every Ellis Peters) and now I have just lost my appetite. Sorry, mysteries! I recognise that this is a good story but I just wasn't into it.
  • The Town That Drowned by Riel Nason - sorry, but did this really win the regional Commonwealth Book Prize for Canada and Europe? It seems like a decent teen novel to me, but nothing more. This is a solidly interesting story about a factual event in NB history: the submersion of a small town underwater, as seen through the eyes of a young girl and her autistic brother. This book is ITCHING to be paired with Pascal Blanchet’s White Rapids.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I laughed and cried at the same time on p. 280. Which is to say, it was good. Very good. Surprisingly original and fresh for the subject matter (young girl with terminal cancer falls in love).
  • In the Kingdom of Men by Kim Barnes - Interesting setting; haunting narrator. An historical novel set in the 60s following a young (read: pregnant in high school) couple who try to get rich on Mideast oil by moving to Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. Barnes deftly weaves together the implications of the status of women in both small-town, fire-and-brimstone Oaklahoma and the Bedouin tribes of Saudi Arabia.
  • The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright - A woman speculates on her history of adultery while preparing to pick up her boyfriend's daughter during a snowstorm. Introspective, thoughtful, compelling.
  • The Red House by Mark Haddon - An extended family gets to know each other all over again while on holiday in the English countryside. One sprained ankle, a few stolen kisses, and several knock-up fights later, everyone emerges more or less unscathed, and perhaps in some cases even closer. Haddon focuses on his unique blend of dry humour and serious insight.
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - I could not put this down. As usual, this is my "I'm behind the curve!" pick of the litter. I did hear tons of great press about this when it came out, but I somehow never picked it up until now. Having watched Chichester's Choice only the night before, it was almost impossible not to draw parallels between these two stories of victims of childhood abuse, parents utterly unprepared to be parents, individuals of great intelligence and promise whose lives somehow veered off the course we would consider to be normal, or appropriate. Walls tells the story of her childhood and youth spent in numerous small towns across America (as her father dodges taxes, unions and various other government agencies he has antagonised) before her parents finally settle in Appalachia, where Walls and her siblings are still taunted for being the poorest of the poor, the family with a garbage dump in their yard. While all four siblings make lives for themselves, in New York City and California, their parents continue to live on the streets.
  • The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace - A story about Victorian-era "hysteria" and the advent of photography. Could be easily paired with Helen Humphrey's Afterimage for fruitful discussion!

Stay tuned for my top picks of Summer 2012!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Busy July at Carlingwood Branch

How I am participating in the Summer Reading Club

I kind of secrely love working during the summer sometimes, because everyone who comes in is more chill and less stressed. I think, in the long term, if it was feasible, I'd rather be on vacation during the school year. Anyway, here is what we were up to this month at work:
  • 877 children have joined SRC at Carlingwood, (up from 710 last year—wow!), and they have read 8,000 books so far!
  • 811 children and 324 adults participated in children's programs.
  • The children's team did outreach at three different locations, including two City parks! I visited the Olde Forge Day Program at the Ron Kobus Lakeside Centre, and L'Arche Ottawa. Our teen librarian met with a worker from the Carlington Community Health Centre.
  • One of our book recommendations was featured on a local blog.
  • Out teen librarian posted a few blog posts.
  • We hosted a really amazing program called Techno Buddies, a pilot project of our wonderful teen librarian. Read about it here! The feedback was amazing: one patron wrote on her feedback form that she had not spoken to a male teen in over 40 years ... and that she might have a crush! Another mentioned he now has a reason to visit the Carlingwood branch - he had not entered the building in 30 years. The older adults wanted to learn everything from how to play Solitaire and Scrabble on an iPad to how to watch movies and TV shows on Netflix, from Facebook to Twitter, from digital photos to digital photo frames, from texting to USB keys.
  • One of our teen volunteers also scanned some historical photographs of and articles about Carlingwood Branch. Check a few out here.
  • We had our second poetry workshop, coordinated by our amazing local poet. Twelve poets came to Carlingwood to discuss and workshop their poems with Stephen Brockwell. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive: “Excellent leader, generous, sensitive and perceptive. Great discussion of poems by other writers and inspiring insights on contributor's works” and “Cool space. Many thanks to Stephen and the Library.”
  • We did our third Digital Media session for the public.
  • We compiled the results of the branch Survey for Adults 55+, with the help of a volunteer library technician student. We received 132 surveys by the deadline! Survey respondents are most interested in programs about travel, music, health, gardening, a non-fiction book club, Coffee hour, and financial topics and consumer information. Those who are interested in computer instruction classes are most interested in learning about downloading library ebooks, using the catalogue and databases, and social networking. Afternoons (49%) and mornings (36%) are the best times for programs; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.
Personally, I'm pretty wrapped up in Fall program planning, weeding projects (damn eight-digit barcodes ... Don't ask....) and furniture:
  • The branch will have an English Conversation Group for adults starting in September, and we will be piloting a Forest of Reading® Golden Oak™ Award book club specifically for adult literacy students in partnership with People, Words & Change.
  • We are getting a new "New books" display unit.
  • For fun, I put up some more shelf-talkers, including some for French adult fiction and children's.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin
  • Something by Reginald Hill
  • The Sultan's Wife by Jane Johnson
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  • Me: the latest issue of the Literary Review of Canada, Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.
Seen reading on STM:
  • something with long title by Debbie MacComber
  • Burned by PC Cast & K Cast
  • Nighttime is my Time by Mary Higgins Clark
  • Obasan by Joy Kogawa
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldrege
  • Science of the Mind magazine
  • Vol de Nuit by Antoine de St. Exupéry
  • Para Entender el Amor by L. Estrada
  • Revenge of the Dwarves by M. Heitz
  • Immortal Ante la Muerte by Nora Roberts
  • Joust by Mercedes Lackey
  • something in the Harry Potter series (being read by a male teen!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An interview with rock star librarian, Smitty Miller

As dedicated readers know, I spent some time last year in charge of the Ottawa Public Library's two bookmobiles. Our buses are 14 tonnes and 12 metres long (but believe me, size isn't everything. That is, until you get a fuel bill).

There are many interesting projects out there experimenting with new ways to provide mobile library service. One of my fellow NELI alums, Smitty Miller, has developed what may well be the best new mobile service idea: LiLi. LiLi stands for Library Live & On Tour!, and Smitty is LiLi's Tour Manager, and a Community Development Librarian with Fraser Valley Regional Library.

Here are some press clippings about LiLi:
I sat down, in the virtual sense, with Smitty recently to ask her a bit more about LiLi's journey. Here are her thoughts.

What has been your most successful event or community visit with LiLi so far?
The most successful stops have been the community visits. Although I know we are exposed to more people at the big events, the times when I know that LiLi is making an impact on people’s lives seem to hold the essence of what I hoped we would accomplish. Having said that, it gets a little gritty sometimes. I’ve been to a number of food banks, soup kitchens, transition houses, prison release halfway houses, etc. It can be sobering.

I was at a homeless shelter the other day. A woman came up and asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was with the library. She said, “Oh Oh! I’m in trouble with the library.” I said “Well, let’s see what we can do about that.” I looked at her account. She owed some money (under $50). I heard the whole story: her landlord was arrested and the police kicked her out of the house when they took the landlord away. She could only take necessities like a toothbrush. People came and threw everything else in the house into a big dumpster…including her library books. This was 2 years ago. She hasn’t been to the library since because she was scared that she’d get in trouble. In the meantime, she’s lived at various locations and with no fixed address. She goes to the shelter to get a hot meal.

All I could think was: do we really want to be another weight on this woman’s world? I waived the fines. She went back to the library that day.

What has been your biggest challenge since LiLi hit the road?
Personally, it’s been the physical demands of the job. I have to lift an event tent onto the roof of the car. I stand outside most days in the heat…or the cold. It’s much more physically draining than I’d expected.

On the service front, the biggest challenge has been enduring the events/stops that are not effective. I’m in my first year and we’re still defining WHERE and WHEN LiLi will be most effective. Since Library Live and On Tour is an adult literacy initiative, I have to be careful about how I present the car. The Xbox has been a problem at a couple of events because it becomes a ‘kid-magnet’. Not that I mind the kids playing, but it’s my mandate to have conversations with the parents.

Would you do anything differently, if you were starting this project again now?
I’ll have to say that I did a lot right! And that’s because I had time. If things had gone at the speed I would have preferred (I’m a tad impatient), I’m sure I would have had many more problems. My lesson in this is that it is necessary to ‘take the time’. I kept an internal blog for the library’s employees and my conversations with my colleagues helped slowly bring LiLi to form.

Having said that, a lot of the challenges I’ve faced have been due to simple ignorance. If I did it again, I would know differently.

For instance…who knew you had to worry about gross vehicle tonnage? There was a weight issue toward the end of the car development….would the event tent make the car too heavy to drive safely? Could I really take 3 passengers as well as all the equipment? The end of that story is that we decided to remove the back seat (2 more people would have made poor LiLi groan).

How did you introduce LiLi to the rest of the team at Fraser Valley Regional Library? How do you stay in touch with them about your work? What has been the response from the team?
As I mentioned earlier, I kept an internal blog going during the development of LiLi. If they were interested, they could read that anytime…and comment if they wanted to. It was certainly a challenge to communicate what I was envisioning. It was so clear in my mind (and, thank goodness, in my supervisor’s mind). But I was constantly searching for the right ways to succinctly explain the marriage of flashy PR with community development.

Now that LiLi is on the road, and my colleagues can see her in action, there is an almost audible “AHA—OH…Now I get it.”

There was very little resistance at the start, but there WAS hesitation about what my colleagues’ roles would be in the Library Live scene. Understandably, folks worried about there being more ‘on their plates’.

Keeping in mind that FVRL has 24 libraries located in 15 different municipalities, this is the way it works:

2 Parts

Part 1: Events
  • the library supervisor/manager identifies community events he/she would like for LiLi to attend (this would happen 1X year…in a meeting with me)
  • the library supervisor/manager fills out a ‘booking form’ and sends it to me. (I maintain a calendar on our Intranet so that any staff member can look and see where/when LiLi is booked at any time).
  • if there are registration fees involved, the local library assumes those.
  • I follow up with the event contact people as required.
Part 2: Community Stops
  • the library supervisor/manager identifies ‘underserved’ targets for their community (i.e. Homeless? Seniors? Immigrant?)—again, set at our 1 meeting per year.
  • the library supervisor/manager sends an introductory email (I provided them with a template for this) to any community partners/agencies they hope to connect with LiLi.
  • when I receive the CC of the introductory email, I send an more detailed explanation of what LiLi does and ask the community partners/agencies to invite me to their locations.
It looks like a lot, but really, it’s just a matter of informing me of events and making introductions. I do the rest. The supervisors are getting into the rhythm of how it works now and the process has been effective to date.

Oh, one other important thing. I get a lot of ‘out of the blue’ requests (often from folks that see me at an event and want to invite me to another one). I never book an event or a community stop without running it by the local library supervisor first. It’s critical to know that I aim to serve as an extension of the local library, not as an independent entity. They know their communities better than I do…and it works best if I do THEIR bidding.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about the Library that you and LiLi have encountered?
The biggest? That the library isn’t for everyone. This comes from both sides of the fence. Marginalized or socially excluded people don’t feel they belong at the library because the library is an important place for smart people who read. (Keep in mind that they get kicked out of libraries a lot, too). On the other hand, middle class folks can BUY their books and often think that libraries are only where homeless people hang out.

If I had to shout one truth from a mountaintop, it would be that the public library exists for everyone in the community: the smelly, the wealthy, the fat, the brown, the ones with carts, and the ones with homes. This does not mean that the public library is an appropriate place for every kind of behaviour (that’s why we kick people out, right?). But the services the library offers are as important for those who walk into the library as for those who don’t. That’s what LiLi is trying to do: be inclusive.

What do you think is the most important step that a librarian tied to a physical branch can take towards engaging marginalised communities?
Engage with the people who DO come into the library. I have seen staff members bristle when an obviously down-on-his-luck guy comes into a library. They anticipate trouble. They expect bad behaviour. I’m not so idealistic that I believe this is a cure-all, but you wouldn’t believe the difference if you look the guy in the eye, welcome him to the library, and tell him he is welcome to ask for assistance if he needs it. Yes, we must sometimes address little issues (please put your shoes and socks back on, sir), but when you have a ‘relationship’ with a person, they are likely to behave better. We all discriminate in one way or another, but we must try to identify those discriminatory tendencies. Being aware of them is the first step. From there, we can have those inner conversations with ourselves that lead us to treating every person we encounter with respect and the same level of service.

In addition, be part of the conversation with local social services. Introduce yourself to community agencies who serve marginalized people. Then (and this is where it gets challenging) LISTEN. Don’t tell them what you will do for them. Listen to what they need. In my view, this is the biggest problem libraries have with community partnerships. We have traditionally ridden in on our white horses and given the ‘natives’ what we think they need. What makes a library a useful part of ‘community development’ rather than just ‘community outreach’ is that we must open a conversation and then…wait.

We say: “Here is what the library can offer. Can you think of a way that we can help you serve your clients?” Then we have the conversation. We remain flexible. We work together to define services. We work together to deliver them. We work together to evaluate their effectiveness.

It’s all about the conversations…and the relationships that grow as a result.

How do you see LiLi and outreach services changing and growing in the future?
I think we must shake ourselves out of some of our traditional thinking. The library is not just about books. Books are a small part of what we do. (I told someone the other day that thinking of the library as ‘all about books’ was like saying that the supermarket only sells soup.) We must find an effective way to communicate this.

The library must continue to take its services outside of the library’s walls. There are lots of folks out there who have a right to our expertise…

If we don’t want to continue being seen as rigid, elitist institutions—we must stop acting in rigid, elitist ways. How do we do that? You tell me…

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book covers, take 2

Spinning off my recent-ish blog post about book cover design, here's another link on the same topic: the amazing teen librarian at my branch recently talked with her teen advisory group about unfortunate book covers (et aussi en français). Enjoy! (< or maybe that's not the right word, exactly)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • A book in Arabic
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • The Official Driver's Handbook
  • An anatomy textbook
  • The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Moonsong by L J Smith
  • Computer Power User magazine
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  • Bared To You by Sylvia Day
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier
  • 1000 Years Of Annoying The French by Stephen Clarke
  • Me: The New Republic by Lionel Shriver, McGill News, Natural Order by Brian Francis (OLA Evergreen shortlist), Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad, and the last print copy of Feliciter.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Read recently: One-minute reviews

  • The Land Of Decoration by Grace McCleen: A very odd and touching novel about a young girl raised by a single father in a religious sect. When Judith begins to believe that God is speaking to her, and that events occurring in her miniature dioramas (the Land of Decoration) are mirrored in real life, things go a bit haywire for her and her father, especially when Judith is bullied at school and her father, whose factory is on strike, is being persecuted as a scab.
  • Gold by Chris Cleave: Oh my God, Chris, why do you do this to me every time? Although there was less weeping over this novel than over his previous two, I still managed to read this one in 24 hours. No joke. Caroline and I raced. The protagonists in this story are almost exactly my age (interesting? Weird? Sometimes I hate reading about people my age. They often annoy me ... in real life, too). They are also Olympic bike racers. Despite not being at all interested in competitive sport, I could not put this down. There are some absolute gems of phrasing and emotion in here. Read it.
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: Book 1 in a series (His Fair Assassin), this is a really fun teen title with a great heroine. Set in 14th century France, it sparked me to learn more about Anne of Brittany (ah, thank you Wikipedia). I can only take a few of these hardcore genre books a year, but this one was outstanding writing so it went down easy.
  • New Republic by Lionel Shriver: Is it just me, or is her tone starting to sound fake? Maybe grandiose is a better word. Anyway, not my favourite. Getting into Rushdie's pretentious territory.
  • South Riding by Winifred Holtby: a true 20th-century gem, this one was recommended by the inestimable David of Nicholas Hoare's Greene Ave. location. I am a total sucker for an interesting back story, so when I read more about Holtby, I was captivated. This was her sixth and final novel, published by Vera Brittain after Holtby's death at 37 from Bright's disease. South Riding is about the titular fictional district in Yorkshire, and the political and social machinations of local aldermen and community leaders. Interesting for me to read in one sense for the sense of local politics of yesteryear, and the dealings behind the scene (interesting subplot about a local slum). There is a "Preferatory letter" in the book addressed to Holtby's mother, Alice, the first woman alderman of the (real) East Riding. Alice tried to block publication of the book because (so saith the Guardian) "she feared that her daughter's depiction of local government, allied to the vein of satire and "puckish mischief" familiar from her earlier books, might expose her own job to criticism and ridicule." It's heartbreaking that Alice wasn't able to see her daughter's book as the loving tribute that it was. For those of you looking for plot here, the central thread of the novel follows the arrival of the new headmistress of a local school, and her altercations with a local landowner, Robert Carne (the new Elizabeth and Darcy? Bleh!)
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Book 1 in a series (All Souls Trilogy): This was all fun and games until I remembered that I don't like my vampire stories to be patriarchal. Meh. In fact, "vampire stories" and "patriarchy" may be Venn diagrams that more or less sit on top of one another.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Renovations at Hazeldean Branch

On my day off last week, in some pretty impressive heat, I gave up plans to head to the beach so I could check out the renovations at our Hazeldean Branch.

Check them out here!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

May and June at Carlingwood Branch

I know I've neglected you, but it's been an emotional roller-coaster of a few weeks, with wild and crazy things happening at work and home. Not to mention, you know, Canada Day plans!

Anyway, here's what has been going on at work, in a nutshell.
  • We welcomed Caroline Adderson for an author visit on May 7.
  • Our Books and Fun book club read Catwings by Ursula LeGuin, the Page Turners read Magic or Not by Edward Eager and the Homeschoolers’ Bookclub read Moon over Manifest by Clare VanderPool. In our teen book club, 4 teens came to discuss Numbers by Rachel Ward, and chose Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood for next month.
  • We had three successful teen events in June: the Teen Café program (with Chillers donated by Second Cup in the Carlingwood Mall), a Wii program, and a "Get a job" workshop.
  • A teen volunteer designed a banner wishing teens good luck on their exams. The banner was displayed overhanging the 3rd floor mezzanine. Our teen librarian also handed out 48 granola bars to teens studying (in one day!) We have seen lots of teens in the teen zone studying recently.
  • Our wonderful Children's librarian visited several local schools to promote Summer Reading Club, and I visited the Gold Club at Dovercourt, two local seniors' residences, and set up an info kiosk at the Carlington Community Health Centre, to promote Carlingwood adult and senior programs. I also brought a colleague to visit the Council on Aging in Ottawa, where we delivered a PowerPoint presentation to 8 employees about library programs and services.
  • We had two Digital Media workshops (two more coming up!). We helped people download library e-books with Kobo, Sony and Libre eReaders, as well as with iPads and iPhones.
  • We launched our “Coffee with the Community” programs with Coffee with a city councillor, Mark Taylor, and Coffee with a police officer, Lori Fahey. As you probably know, these are programs close to my heart. In both cases, we partnered with Second Cup in the Carlingwood Mall to provide refreshments for free. We hope to run more of these programs in the Fall 2012 season. Feedback included: “Great idea! Very convenient, too. Heard about it from my neighbours,” “This is the type of councillor we voted for. A person who goes out to meet the residents, one-on-one,” and “I wish many parents can come out and listen to the police officer, because we have to work together to keep our community safe and healthy. Please keep it up and we would love to hear from officers more often.”
  • We screened an NFB film, “The Hole Story,” about mining in Canada.
  • We gave two groups from a LINC class of newcomers a tour of the library, and a brief presentation about services and collections.
  • Our team, as well as the Bookmobile (my old friends) celebrated Canada Day 2 days early with the Michelle Heights Community House.
  • I attended the June quarterly OPLA RA Committee meeting in Toronto. We are planning the RA in a Day conference in October, and special guests will include someone from Good Reads, a panel about online book clubs including and the Globe and Mail, and lunchtime author Deborah Harkness. You heard it here first!
  • We had our first “Librarians’ meeting” at the branch, to discuss shared concerns. There are only three librarians at Carlingwood, and it's good to share ideas and support each other's work.
  • We have a great new gardening volunteer, who has solicited donations from the community, which are being incorporated into our space. Most notably, we received a lovely rose bush and two trees, including a cherry tree and a bamboo tree. Here they are, getting ready to make their way in the world:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LANCR AGM presentation

It was a lot of fun presenting last night at the LANCR AGM. For those of you interested in clicking through the presentation, here it is!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heard at CLA 2012

Here are some snippets from other sessions I attended at the recent CLA Conference.

From Tina Thomas's session, "Making a Lasting Impression: Building our Brand in our Branches" (Tina is the Director, Marketing and Fund Development, Edmonton Public Library)
  • Clutter is an ergonomic issue for the mind
  • Do your dislays make it look like professionals work there?
  • Can anyone run a program or do circ? Then why can everyone and anyone make a sign?
  • Do you have a signage problem?
From the Great Debate:
  • Why did Occupy make their own libraries? Maybe bc ours close at 5
  • Slacktivism! Petitions are what the powerless people do....
  • Access is not equal to, in one province, a fee. In one national library, an appointment.
  • Put your meat on the table. If you are a professional, show your face.
From the Book Awards's acceptance speech by Matthew Forsythe
  • "Illustrators and freelance artists have to spend one or two days a week at libraries to nourish what we do!"
During Battle Decks, from the lovely Robyn Stockand:
  • "Librarians are innovators in some of the best and all of the worst ways."

From Christina Neigel, Instructor, University of the Fraser Valley, during her session, "Inclusiveness and Hypocrisy: How Do Libraries Really Measure Up?"
  • What about instituting a minor in library studies? Think: if people knew more about our profession, wouldn't that benefit us?
  • "We need to be more outspoken about what it takes to work in this field: you have to want to engage in conflict."
  • "Libraries do not do a good job of supporting lifelong learning within their own walls"
From Evan Solomon at the closing keynote:
  • "The only way around the political philosophy is to be a political strategist."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Big Society and UK Libraries: Lessons for Canadian Libraries with CILIP president Phil Bradley

I had the great pleasure of introducing CILIP President and avid blogger Phil Bradley for his session at the recent CLA Conference in Ottawa. His talk focused on the current political situation in the UK, as it affects public library service, but I also learned a few random fun facts (such as
Edinburgh is the first library to develop an app!

As you likely know from reading this blog, the current horrifying state of UK libraries is a topic very close to my heart. Much of what is happening over the pond should serve as a warning to Canadians, especially Canadians who love their public libraries. Phil's passion for them was evident in his speech, and his final words were quite moving. Here are some of Phil's quotes and facts.
  • At the moment, 600 libraries in the UK are under threat, of which 262 have been threatened or closed since April 1st 2012 alone. This is out of a total of 4612 libraries in the UK. This is round 1 of the government cuts. Check out the map.
  • "We are very closely associated with one of the artefacts with which we work (the book) and that is causing us problems as that artefact becomes less important over time. Thus the librarian becomes less important as the library becomes less important." We need to distance ourselves from the artefacts. "No one sees a brain surgeon and says, "Oh, of course, scalpels! They say, "Oh, you make people feel better."
  • The UK has a variety of associations serving library workers. CILIP alone has over 16, 000 members, and views itself as a charity and not a trade union. "There are therefore limitations on what we can do and say."
    Sidebar: this issue of the role of a professional association in a time of government cuts ran through a few sessions at the conference, and unofficially spoke to the situation at the opening keynote speech.
  • There are 150 public authorities in England responsible for public library service.
  • All professions are under attack in the current British government's "Big Society:" Police officers are to be replaced by community police (with limited powers, resources, or training). Doctors will have more control over budgets and deciding where to send people (therefore spending more time administrating than doctoring). There will be a higher tax on the teaching profession: more and more are leaving the profession because they find themselves in difficult financial positions and will get more $ elsewhere.
  • There are 44 local campaigns to save libraries. Check out the main page for these campaigns here.
  • Phil's advice to those seeking to advocate or work within the political machine: "You have to be crystal clear about what comprehensive and efficient means or what any of your terms mean. Or what "open" means." For instance, in Essex, the government statement was that "we're not closing anything." The local library's opening hours, however, were cut drastically.
  • "Previous success makes you less likely to change in the future. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've already got."
  • "The idea that libraries are a good thing is worth nothing."
  • One of the recent developments in high-level advocacy includes a Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group. The Libraries APPG "provides MPs and Lords with information and opportunities for debate about the role that libraries play in society and their future," and has a Conservative MP as its Chair.
  • "Signing petitions shows how powerless you are"
  • "The more strident we become, the less we are able to advocate on the highest levels and discuss libraries instead of library closures."
  • We have to ask ourselves the difficult questions. Here are some of the difficult questions on the table right now for CILIP and UK libraries: Campaigning or advocacy work? What should be our relationship with Friends groups and their campaigns? What is the role of volunteers and what is a volunteer? (Is volunteering really job substitution?) Hospitals or libraries? (Or is this a false analogy?) Do we retrench and do the same things we've always done, or do we do it better, or do we look at new options for libraries? Are fewer bigger libraries better than more small community libraries? What is the role of eBooks and social media for UK public libraries?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Library design eye candy

For the past few weeks, I have had a big coffee table style book on my desk at work called Library Architecture + Design. There are some fantastic designs in there, so I thought I would share my favourites (you’re better off checking out the websites, since the copy in the book is really poorly edited) And with points for sheer crazy:
One of only 2 Canadian choices was Bloor/Gladstone Branch, TPL, but I much prefer the reno at St Clair-Dufferin.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines by Diane Harley, Sophia Krzys Acord, Sarah Earl-Novell, Shannon Lawrence, C. Judson King
  • Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang
  • The Spontaneous Healing of Belief: Shattering the Paradigm of False Limits by Gregg Braden
  • Something by Sue Grafton
  • In Search of My Self : Signposts along the Way by Basil Arbour
  • A book in Chinese
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E L James (you knew it was inevitable!)
  • Just After Sunset by Stephen King
  • Lucid Intervals by Stuart Woods
  • Me: latest issue of LRC!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Husband's reading list #2

In the ongoing saga of perilously-constructed towers, an update....

The last one on the bottom is a Life magazine pub about Bob Dylan.

Hey, Lorie, no library books! For shame, eh? But he has 2 from Ottawa U, if that makes it ok. They are just in the library pile so they don't get lost.

Less colourful than last time, isn't it? Colour choices in nonfiction: debate.

I'll be back soon with longer posts with actual full sentences. I'm just totally swamped and at least two weeks behind (after CLA, being sick, and a great - but tiring - trip to Toronto and Kitchener last weekend).

Monday, June 11, 2012

The CLA Conference in pictures

So many experiences to distill into a bog post! I am working on some notes from a few sessions I was able to attend despite Local Arrangements Committee duties and THE PLAGUE, which descended on me on the day we were stuffing the bags and doing conference prep. Basically, I spent the first half of the conference with a fiery throat and no voice, and the second half hawking up crap and still unable to talk. Good times.

Anyway, I did manage to have a lot of fun, too:

We stuffed bags.

A LOT of bags:

I am so lucky to have the best team in the history of the world, and two of them, Laura and Helena, created this colour-coded master schedule for the volunteers at the conference. Genius.

Opening keynote:

Delegate feedback to opening keynote:

Laura and I getting silly with the room decorations in Local Arrangements Committee office

Screenshot from Tina Thomas from Edmonton Public Library's great presentation entitled Making a Lasting Impression: Building our Brand in our Branches (this slide = "Do you have a signage problem?")

Here is the first thing I learned at the Great Debate: masks kind of totally scare me.

In other news, the debate was awesome. The topic was “Be it resolved that the core values of modern librarianship areantiquated and obsolete,” and Stephen Abram, Robin Thiessen Hepher, Mike Ridley and Andrea Siemens nailed it with an examination of whether we actually live our values. Some choice quotes:
  • "Why did Occupy make their own libraries? Maybe bc ours close at 5."
  • "Slacktivism! Petitions are what the powerless people do."
  • "Access is equal to, in one province, a fee. In one national library, an appointment."

I hung out with my NELI ladiez.

I was star-struck by Kit Pearson. As Megan phrased it so well, it is such an honour and a privilege to grow up reading someone's books, and then be able to give them an award!

Ryerson's Chief Librarian Madeleine Lefebvre kicked it at Battle Decks. Here, she is explaining how a certain gait will make you more flexible, and allow you to, um, innovate.

This was my favourite Battle Decks slide, noting the intersecting area as "Shitty movies."

A more serious post is forthcoming, but I will leave you here with Vin.