Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Friday: Lunch hour reading with Angie Abdou at Main Library

If you're not at #CLAOTT2012 (look it up!) this Friday, as I will be, or if you need a lunchtime break (ahem - visit the Exhibit Hall! - but anyway), I would encourage you to check out this great event at the Main Library with 2011 Canada Reads finalist Angie Abdou.

Friday, June 1, 12:00 –1:00 pm
Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch, 120 Metcalfe Street
From the poster: "It’s the last ski weekend of the season and a mishmash of snow-enthusiasts is on its way to a remote backwoods cabin. In an odd pilgrimage through the mountains, the townsfolk of Coalton—from the ski bum to the urbanite—embark on an adventure that walks the line between comedy and tragedy. In an avalanche of action, Abdou explores the ways in which people treat their fellow citizens and the landscape they love."

Angie Abdou's first novel, The Bone Cage, a finalist in the 2011 Canada Reads debates, #1 on CBC's Book Club’s Top 10 Sports Books, and a pick for Canadian Literature magazine’s “All-Time Top Ten List of Best Canadian Sports Literature.” Abdou has also published a short story collection called Anything Boys Can Do; The Canterbury Trail, a "Canadian mountain adventure," is her second novel.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hot sessions @ CLA

Today is two weeks exactly before the conference starts, at the Ottawa Convention Centre. Aside from running around like a crazy person with a 2-way radio doing Local Arrangements, here are the events/sessions I am hoping to make it to (ambitious, I know, considering.....):
  • Wednesday night opening reception (duh)
  • Thursday 9 am: Opening Ceremonies & Keynote Speaker Daniel J. Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada and Chair, Heads of Federal Agencies. Oh yes. That should be interesting..... Caron is also doing a "Hot Topic" at 1 pm, but I think I'd rather be at the below instead. I would imagine both sessions will be colourful if there is some audience involvement. These are some crazy times.
  • Thursday 1 pm: Community Impact: Transforming Lives through Libraries ("how public libraries create programs, advocate to stakeholders, and determine measurable outcomes") with some peeps from Gale.
  • Thursday 4 pm: The Great Debate (always entertaining). This year, it's Michael Ridley and Stephen Abram debating "Be it resolved that the core values of modern librarianship are antiquated and obsolete."
  • Thursday evening, I am triple-booked (thanks for that!): NELI alumni reception, Book Awards, and the pub crawl. We'll see if I last until the crawl....
  • Friday 10:30 am: Tag... We’re It! The World of Interlibrary Loan. I feel like I should be there so I can learn more for my students next year ....
  • Friday 1:30 pm: Getting your Library From Good to Great with my old friend Lita Barrie, now the Chief Librarian of the Grimsby Public Library ("Explore how to help your library thrive in these times of change and uncertainty. Gain practical strategies on making the most of the resources you have to take your library from good to great.")
  • Friday 3 pm: No More Excuses! with Nancy Dowd from NoveList. I have no excuses for not being there because I am convening. I love Nancy's blog, so I am really psyched about this session ("This presentation will show you how ingenuity, a bit of technology and the belief that libraries matter to communities can conquer all the barriers stopping you from getting the word out about what your library is doing.")
  • Friday evening: either chillin' with Lora and my peeps or grazing at the all-delegates social. Or both. Or neither.
  • Saturday 8:30 am: CLA BATTLE DECKS! I want to cheer on Megan Fitzgibbons, OPL's own Beth Goslett, Robyn Stockand, Melanie Sellar, and OPL Board member Christine Langlois, all friends of mine! I know the best peeps.
  • Saturday 1 pm: The Big Society and UK Libraries: Lessons for Canadian Libraries with CILIP president Phil Bradley. Again, convening, so gotta be there. Very excited about this one, too, since it's the ancestral homeland and all.
  • Saturday 3 pm: Closing ceremonies with secret crush Evan Solomon.
And here are some other sessions I think are also totally note-worthy, although I might not make it to them. I've excluded hot topics and big issues like copyright, as those ones are pretty easy to find on the CLA website and get a lot of attention:
  • Friday 1:30 pm: Canadian Challenges Survey 2011: Update on Library Resources and Policies Challenged in Publicly-Funded Libraries - always disturbing...
  • Friday 3 pm: Rebuilding the Slave Lake Library: Surviving Tragedy and Lessons Learned.
  • Saturday 1 pm: Evolution and Transformations. "In Autumn 2011, 19 library directors, senior staff, architects and other library leaders embarked on a four-country 22 library tour in Northern Europe and Scandinavia."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fun fact for the day

I'm trying to be a good girl these days, and really support the independents we have left, so I was placing a special order with Collected Works, and I learned something interesting. I think it's kind of cool that I have been in the book biz one way or the other since 1998, but I didn't really think about this until now.

Books are still shipped from the UK to Canada by boat. It takes several weeks, and they are packed in waterproof pallets. So, as the salesperson told me, once a shipment of books for a book launch event was sunk on the way over (eek!) but actually did arrive (very late), perfectly intact, due to the great packing.

Heck, I want to take a boat across the Atlantic!

P.S. I was ordering this.

P.P.S. I wanted a quirky image for this, so I went with something I remember my English grandfather, Alexander Edward, teaching me to make, circa 1986, during a church service in Cambridge.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Go on, judge a book by its cover

The covers of what I've been reading over the past few months.

One of my favourite features in
Quill & Quire is the Cover to cover piece, in which a designer discusses the challenges and evolution of a particular book cover design. Q&Q also does a nice covers of the year feature, too. And of course, Penguins, arguably the most recognisable covers ever, have been turned into everything from skateboards to band-aids.

So imagine my excitement to discover this morning a news item about a new blog, Talking Covers, for authors, designers, and artists to discuss book covers. Delish.

However, the City blocked me from seeing Talking Covers from work (nice, IT, nice!) so I had to wait until now to enjoy it properly.

I'm totally always a sucker for retro covers, such as this or this. I also like simple ones like this, this or the plan grey dust-jacketed Fabers, or opulent ones like the cover of White Teeth. What's your favourite book cover?

Friday, May 11, 2012

News from my library in April

Spring has sprung, my pretties. If I ever have a yard, I want a few magnolia trees, 'k?

Here's what's been keeping us busy these days at work:
  • Community connections: We attended the Dovercourt Recreation Centre’s Annual Social Services West lunch. We made connections with people working with over a dozen local organisations. I can't say enough about the amazing work that John does at Dovercourt. I also visited three community contacts to promote our survey for older adults and discuss partnership opportunities for programs for adults and seniors, and organised an info kiosk at the Carlingwood Mall to promote library services. We also participated in the 7th Annual Youth Business Conference.
  • Special guests: Author James Bartleman and our new Ottawa Public Library CEO, Danielle McDonald, both visited the branch, and we also had a placement student from Algonquin College learning and working with us for three weeks.
  • Special events: Our teens, and our teen librarian, helped emcee the Teen Tech Awards. Check out some pix here.
  • We celebrated a member of our team with a Bravo card (Bravo cards are distributed throughout the city as part of the Employee Recognition Program, for managers and supervisors to recognise achievement).
  • Our Children's book clubs: one watched The Librarian from the Black Lagoon and ate banana bread and berries, while the other munched goldfish crackers while discussing Edgar Allan's Official Crime Investigation Notebook. Our teen book club discussed the Louder than Words non-fiction series.
  • Meetings: We had our second branch staff meeting, held on two consecutive days (same meeting; different staff present), the Children's Info team had a meeting, and my direct team at Adult Info had its first meeting.
  • We were bloggers, and blogged about.

Monday, May 7, 2012

ABQLA 2012: Notes on "Opening up: Innovation and Access"

A very, very old ABQLA logo from the archives

Keynote: The Future of the Digital Library with Sarah Houghton

It was pretty cool to meet Sarah in person. She was with us to talk about what the library of the future look like, post-tech revolution and post-budget cuts. Her talk opened with her asking what libraries are today, and what we want them to be. She asked us if money, bureaucracy and political will were no objects, what three things would we do differently in libraries? She pointed out that some of these things we are thinking about right now (in response to that question) are achievable, and some are perhaps even goals we might share with colleagues in the room, if we were to ask them!

Sarah called for us to re-affirm our core library values and be less reactive. Her talk focused on these core values, including:
  • Providing complete and balanced collections and information
  • Ensuring we provide education, entertainment, and self-improvement
  • Research assistance
  • Freedom of information access
  • Information privacy and security
She also spoke at great length about society's "fragmented" modern life, and the implications of new technologies on libraries.
  • Beginning with basics: we need to better communicate the non-book materials we already have! People know that the library has books, and yet what do we advertise often? Books! We don't need to advertise our books! What people don't know about is everything else we have.
  • The modern "device continuum:" it is really difficult to ensure library catalogues will work on and with every device ever created! Things look better/worse or work/don't work on certain devices; however, given the shift in the rate at which people use mobile as their primary access point for data (astronomical), we have to keep up.
  • Touch screens are ubiquitous. Kids don't remember life before touch screens. One great idea Sarah shared was using touch screens (iPads) as end-of-shelf range displays: they can flash the call # range, and then flash an ad for an upcoming program. I thought that was cool.
  • Pretty soon, your data will always be with you (before I even had time to master the Cloud, I guess it's gone?): paint that becomes a touch screen wall will soon be available and will display your data when you walk in the room with your device in your pocket.
  • How will internet TV affect AV collections? There are no online alternatives for libraries (eg. Netflix for libraries). What role does the library have to provide TV in the future?
  • Download vs streaming: we are moving away from "I want to own this movie/album" to "I will accept having access to everything for $10/mo." People won't use all of it but they like to know it's there. So, think about how this would work for libraries: the ultimate in patron-driven acquisition.
  • 3D printing and augmented reality: these have implications for local communities (history, genealogy, or small business) - what your community has that no one else does. When it comes to augmented reality, your library can match the physical reality with the local info from your archives. You can hold your camera phone up and see what used to be where building x used to be. More on this later from Fiacre below.
  • There are implications for our profession when it comes to 'net neutrality: privileging certain data over other data (eg. cheques changing hands, companies deciding to prioritise YouTube traffic over Netflix, photo downloads over video). We need to be aware of legislation regarding these issues.
  • Social media: Many in our communities remain unaware that, as with Facebook, "if you are getting something for free, you are the product."
  • The challenge of digital proliferation is an opportunity for us: it gives us a lot of chances to reach people where they are.
  • Digital collections: user awareness, formats, DRM, owning and leasing models, device support.
  • Information services: we are still the only place where you can ask anything (I don't know how much I really feel this is a core professional value anymore, to be honest. Yes, you can ask anything, and we still need librarians for the in-depth research questions, but I don't think you need librarians staffing public library Reference or Information desks...)
  • Programming: the digital divide and the long tail. In a time of reduced budgets, Sarah suggests libraries focus on the "middle section: the sorta haves" (they have technology, but not tech knowledge).
  • Library websites = ugly gargantuan tower of awfulness. Don't focus on brand names on your website, eg. "Click here for EBSCO...." Focus on function, not brand or category.
  • "Go mobile or go home."
  • Sarah spoke about a great project for free ebooks: The Open Library Data project, from Internet Archive.
  • "Spend some time sitting in your public computer area. I'll give you $20 if your butt doesn't hurt." Oh crap, she's got me there!
  • Sarah told a great story about how weird it was as she was walking out of a concert, and everyone was in line hovering over photos they had just taken five seconds ago. It was odd, but also demonstrated the pride in creativity (look what I made!) and sense of community sharing that is pretty inspiring about our tech society. That is something we can facilitate in libraries: encouraging creation and sharing.
  • Ask the people you serve what would make their lives easier.
  • We are the library. We democratise information and expertise, and there is no more noble goal.
Information Decoration : Mobile Augmented Reality and Libraries with Fiacre O'Duinn

Yeah, this was a bit out of my comfort zone. Fiacre, you're out of my comfort zone! You hear that?

Seriously interesting stuff, though. Here are some snippets:
  • Augmented reality = Combines real + virtual worlds, interactive, 3D
  • Want to see where technology is going? Look at artists (no such thing as failure) and military (more $ than they know what to do with)
  • Donteat.at - "Get a text message when you check into a NYC restaurant that is at risk of being closed for health code violations." Eg. your phone will vibrate and you will know to get out of there!
  • Ground Crew: you walk by a community gardens, and your phone vibrates to ask you to water it. What could libraries be doing with this technology (which is already out there)?
  • GeoLoqi: a way to securely share location data. Beyond that, you can actually send yourself a note for when you visit a particular location in the future.
  • StreetMuseum: Museum of London iPhone app that shows you images of the place where you are standing throughout history.
  • DIY version: Historypin and the rise of the "information flaneur," walking through information in order to experience it.
  • The idea of "information decoration:" the manner in which information is made available is according to what people want. Focus on the information, not the technology. In fact, "good technology isn't experienced as technology at all, because it is meaningfully integrated."
Saying Yes: Building smart libraries by killing fear and getting the job done with Jenica P. Rogers

* some links and images from her talk (similar to a few of her other recent talks) are on her blog here.

Some quotes and paraphrases:
  • "I love the work we do; I just don't love how we do it. We worry too much about offending everyone."
  • "There has never been a time when libraries are not changing. We can't use 'things change' as an excuse to do nothing. This is it. This is our world."
  • STOP the "collections arms race!" In fact, collection size is rapidly losing importance as a measure of a library's worth. "Traditional metrics fail to capture our value to our mission."
Where we stand:
  • "Viable alternatives to the library now exist and boast fastest growth and easiest access."
  • Demand for our traditional services is declining (now, here is where I would link back to reference questions from Sarah's talk.... I would love to see the two of them discuss this...)
  • New patron demands stretch our budgets and our organisational culture.
  • The future of our information economy is with Kickstarter and crowdsourcing. How will our patrons get access to that information?
  • Stakeholder expectations are not keeping up with reality.
  • "We're not acting; we're reacting. We are great crisis managers," but this can be a weakness, too. "We must move past this."
  • "Technology or tools will not save us. They are only as good as the understanding and effort you put into them."
  • It's time for librarians to examine their own fears and start paying attention. Examine the framework (stop focusing on the task work) and focus on advancing our values.
  • Say yes. "What's the worst that could happen? And could I handle it if it happened? Not would I want to, but could I?"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Seen reading on OC Transpo

  • Lots of dudes reading a variety of material: Your Successful Preschooler: Ten Skills Children Need to Become Confident and Socially Engaged by Ann E. Densmore and Margaret L. Bauman, something by V. C. Andrews, and Méditer au quotidien : Une pratique simple du bouddhisme by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (the last of these three seen on Via Rail)
  • speaking of trips, New York to Dallas by J. D. Robb
  • Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • Numerical Methods: Using MATLAB by George Lindfield and John Penny
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
  • something by Henning Mankell
  • Me: the May issue of Quill & Quire and Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (

Friday, May 4, 2012

Je me souviens de l'ABQLA 2012

I have returned, with a medal for participating in Battle Decks at ABQLA 2012, but not with a winning medal. A tremendous participation medal it is, though, made from a dear friend's daughter's soccer meal, re-designed by the visionary puppet-master Lora, and executed by the ever-talented Westmount team.

You *can* go home again, but the past is a foreign country, to mix quotes. This week, I ate mashed potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese with my family, ate croissants and talked libraries and art with Ann, ate chicken with chapeaux and talked religion with my mum and Patricia, got my hair cut, transversed the mountain at least four times in a car and once on foot, ate polenta fries (and drank endless gimlets) and talked libraries and shake weights with Care, Shawn, Lora, Fiacre, and Meghan, and ate conference chicken with my Westmount family.

I ate a lot - did you pick up on that? And I ran only once, with The Husband, my hair whipped into a weird mess by the cold Lakeshore Drive wind.

The last ABQLA conference I attended was the 75th, at which I gave a swanky speech at the swanky dinner, speaking after Jack Rabinovitch and before Nicholas Hoare at the Ritz. This time, I was picked up and twirled around by Faith, hugged by former colleagues I miss desperately, pampered by my mum and my Westmount peeps, and reminded of all I love and all I do not love about my hometown and my first professional milieu. I saw so many old friends (from libraries all over the greater Montreal area, and from local vendor partners) and old enemies, and made some new friends (and a new enemy - that's right, F$ck-Acre: ABQLA 2013 knife fight ... IT'S ON). I felt free, and stifled; I was the conquering returning heroine, and the overprepared type-A personality Battle Decks competitor. Good thing your famil(ies) always love you, even when you eat all their food, drink four gimlii, desert them during a conference dinner for another table, embarrass yourself at Battle Decks, and then scurry back to Ottawa!

Montréal, je t'embrasse.