Speed Mentoring Workshop at Langara College

On April 22, Langara College hosted its first speed mentoring workshop involving Library and Information Technology students and graduates.  The event  was organized and sponsored by the Langara Library and Information Technology department.

Eleven mentors were invited by department chair Diane Thompson to share their post-graduate experiences with about 30 Langara students.  Jennifer Reid from Langara Co-op Education was also on hand to answer questions about resumes and interviews.

Diane Thompson opened the event, and introduced the MC for the event, Ashley Van Dijk . Several tables were set up with about four chairs around each table.   Five minutes were alotted for each session.  Two or three students would be at one table at a time and ask questions of the mentors stationed there.  When the bell rang to indicate the end of the session, each student would move on to another table of their choosing.

The mentors represented various public, academic, and special libraries, and performed different tasks  at their work.  Some were more generalist in their duties, while others predominantly performed one task, such as cataloguing or reference work.  Students asked questions of the mentors pertaining to their work, their job search leading up to employment, and how their Langara education prepared them to enter the field

Students have provided very positive feedback to the Lib Tech department, and indicated that they appreciated the positive attitude and helpful advice of the mentors.  They would be happy to participate in a future speed-mentoring event.  It was great to see students at various levels participate, from newly-accepted to almost-graduated.  It was the first formal mentoring experience for several of the mentors.  They enjoyed it and recommend others participate in future.

Though LTAS provided some of the mentors and the MC, as well as advice regarding room setup, a huge thank you is due to Diane Thompson and Serenia Tam of the Langara Library and Information Technology department for doing most of the organizing for this event.  Hopefully, there will be many more such events in the future at Langara College.

With contributions from Heather Duff

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Annual Speed Mentoring event at UFV


Photo Credit: Ashley Van Dijk

On the afternoon of January 31, 2015 nine alumni from the University of the Fraser Valley’s Library and Information Technology diploma program returned to the familiar hallways and classrooms to share their experiences with some of the program’s current students. This is an annual extra-curricular event, held in partnership with the UFV Alumni Association.

The afternoon started with a welcome from co-coordinators, Anita Thompson and Ashley Van Dijk (class of 2009), followed by introductions from each alum done in a lightning-round style. Once introductions were done the main event of the afternoon began. Alumni spaced themselves out around the room, and students moved around every six minutes. Their time with each alum was spent discussing how library technician education fit with the job, asking what the hiring process is like, and how the various library types differ. Over the course of an hour students had the opportunity to speak with each alumni present, gaining valuable information about various library sectors as there was representation from public, academic, health, and school libraries. After the speed-mentoring ended a representative from the UFV Alumni Association, Dan McArthur spoke to us about the role the Alumni Association has and some of the events they have planned. Dan was very pleased to join us, and presented all of our alumni with Association pins.

Not only is this a great opportunity for students to speak with people working in the field, but it’s also a time for alumni to reconnect. As this is an annual event, each year new alumni participate providing a place for them to network and meet graduates from different years. It’s probably safe to say that the alumni get just as much out of the event as the current students, by being able to share their experiences and connect with their fellow library technicians.

Of course an event like this wouldn’t be a success without the time generously donated by the UFV alumni and the LiBIT student association (LITSA), and support from the UFV Alumni Association. A huge “thank you” is extended to all those involved.  Special thanks to Natalie Ng for the invitation and Noreen Dragani for arranging the room.

We are looking forward to next year’s event, and continuing the conversations that have been started.

Photo Credit: Ashley Van Dijk

Photo Credit: Ashley Van Dijk

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Micheal Vonn: A discussion about Intellectual Freedom, Civil Liberties, and Libraries

On November 24th, Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, came to Vancouver Community College to talk to several library workers at a BCLA sponsored event about the issue of the right to view sexually explicit material in a public library juxtaposed to the perceived need to restrict its availability.

Micheal talked about BCCLA’s approach to these kinds of issues, which she says is less about advocacy than about trying to get interested groups on the same side of the issue, and figure out how we bring together the various public goods.

She mentions section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a key one to balancing competing rights and freedoms.  It says the rights and freedoms in the Charter are guaranteed “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”  Micheal describes a test, known as the Oakes test, used to determine the limits of various rights when competing against other rights.

Recently, BCCLA was consulted on the question of the right to view sexual explicit materials at one of the public computer terminals at Vancouver Public Library.  Micheal started off by drawing a comparison to a medical privacy issue.  In this example, the RCMP want to look at a patient’s record.  The medical professional wants to protect the right of the patient.  The fairest solution is to use a neutral solution, in this case a warrant from a judge.

Returning to the VPL case, the important objective is to have an ethic of wanting to ensure availability for all.  You don’t want to restrict access for the person viewing the images.  On the other hand, the access of others is restricted if they avoid the computer area because of the visibility of the images.

Micheal says that the best hope is for a spatial fix, where users can view the images in a secluded area.  At the same time there are issues the VPL faces that may complicate their ability to respond with a spatial fix.  These could include budgetary constraints as well as limits of available space or the ability to organize the space in certain ways.  Ultimately, we want the constraints upon access to be as minimal as possible. Such a restriction is the least desirable outcome.  With a Section 1 analysis, what you want is the least restrictive thing that is reasonable.  All factors, such and space, money, and the right policies are considered.

A discussion followed with members of the audience. One audience member pointed out that there are many different user groups that could have various interests with respect to library policies.  Micheal responded that we are currently dealing with the issue that exists.

Another member asked why the default position is to restrict use for the user viewing images.  Micheal said that not all user groups will be viewed equally where the balance of rights is concerned.  One of the user groups, those that will view the images, will tend to be very young.  On the other hand some folks who come to the libraries just for the computers because they don’t have one at home, and use the computers for job search, email, and so forth, will tend to be very disadvantaged.

Yet another audience member made a suggestion, not about policy, but about tact in dealing with such an issue when it’s happening.  She suggested going up to the user viewing the images, and ask them to look at the image as well as the surrounding physical and social environment, and think about everyone who can see the image that user is viewing.  She said that this approach usually works.

One member of the audience suggested staff training to enhance the ability to deal with individual cases as they arise.

Another attendee proposed distinguishing between images designed for pornographic entertainment, and images that serve an educational purpose, such as those that might be found on an HIV/AIDS education website.  Micheal responded by saying that we don’t want to get to the point where we are interrogating the private thoughts of users, which is what we’d be doing if we were considering the source of the images.

Yet another point that was raised in the audience was the notion that those who want to view sexually explicit images might actually want to be discreet, and are being constrained by the library not making such spaces available.

The ability to view sexually graphic images in a public library is certainly an issue that will not disappear anytime soon.  However, the talk and lively discussion which took place at this event provided a helpful framework through which to view the issue, as well as possible perspectives through which the issue can be filtered.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Library Tech Conferences-Proposing and Attending.

While I have never presented at a Library Technicians’ Conference I have attended a few and tonight I did a bit of research.

According the Alberta Association of Library Technicians (AALT) conference proposal form one must include the following:

Contact information : your name,  job title, company or organization name, city in which you work, email address, and telephone number ; any additional presenters and your previous presentation experience.

Session information: session title and description, capacity if audience number is to be limited, target audience, equipment needs and presentation time wish ie. when in the conference do you wish present.

Session titles and content are as diverse as the people presenting them.

Here are a few from the 2014 AALT conference :

Evolving library services for indigenous, immigrant and special populations

Manisha Khetarpall
Come and explore the historical
development of library services for diverse
populations. The challenges and success
stories will be illustrated with evidence of
resource generation.

Enchanted Express: Using the Grab-and-Go Concept to Market your Preschool Collections

Susan Bennett & Nicole Van Den Berg
Does your library have a picture book
collection that contains hidden gems? Ours
did, so we developed an express-like
service for parents of preschoolers called
the Enchanted Express! Come aboard and
leave with ideas for a low cost and highly
adaptable grab-and-go service that is
suitable for public libraries of any size.

Legal Research Boot Camp

Erin Storey
Get ready for a fast and furious
introduction to the world of legal
information resources! This session will
take you through the steps in the legal
research process, and introduce you to a
selected collection of primary and
secondary legal materials. A mix of digital
and print resources will be introduced, both
open access and paid. Best practices, tips
and tricks will also be discussed plus
helpful referrals to community resources
and organizations. A great session for
reference staff and those working in public

What!? Fines?

Heather Willner
Ever have a patron exclaim, “There is no
possible way that I have fines owing!”, or
“It is without a doubt, that I have returned
ALL of my library materials.” How do we
prepare for these volatile situations that
result in satisfied customers, while not
leaving staff like a heap of wet noodles on
the floor? In this session, I will share my
discoveries of dealing with our public.

Ontario Association of Library Technicians 2014 conference included sessions titled:

The Virtual Historian-a session on the history information network.

Austentation- a session on marketing a month long program around Pride and Prejudice

Reading through each other’s eyes-a session on planning, promoting, and running a summer reading program.

Crafts for the non crafter

It’s virtually the real thing- a session on interactive videoconferencing.

Please do not hesitate to comment on session you have run or attended in or are planning to present at coming at a coming conference.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What do we read for pleasure?

I received an interesting copy of a survey conducted in an ESL class at Douglas College about whether and what people of different cultures choose to read for pleasure. I know that whenever I am on a bus or waiting somewhere I am always curious about what others are reading.

Here are the survey results:

– Chinese historical adventure/romance/king fu (different dynasties) **very popular! Students told me, ‘America has a short history, so Americans like to read stories about the future, but China has a long history, so Chinese people like to read about the past’
– finance
– reading for pleasure is rare….you don’t see a lot of people reading in public
– very few people use libraries

– reading for pleasure is rare, nobody reads, everyone uses electronic devices/Internet/social media

– very highly educated people read newspapers, detective novels and for a specific purpose (school, work)
– you don’t see people reading in public…..women don’t have much time to read, as they are busy taking care of family/house….high percentage of illiterate people

– fairy tales, novels, fiction….similar to here, lots of people read for enjoyment…these students were familiar with English literature, classic and contemporary

– reading for pleasure is highly uncommon
– only professional people read for pleasure
– the student who reported this never learned to read in Spanish, yet she really promotes reading with her children!

– romance…..everyone reads romance…men, women, all the time :-) (there is a man and a woman from Iran in this class, and they both heartily agreed on this point!)
– personal development
– biographies
– historical novels and non-fiction
– the libraries are always crowded

Saudi Arabia:
– children don’t read (?)
– men rarely read…..however, women treasure books like they would jewelry
– self-help
– novels
– literature
– they prefer to buy new books, then they donate them to the library

I would like to thank Mary Daniel for the thought provoking material.  I know that I read a variety of different books and listen to still others from biographies to science fiction to travel writing to romance and mysteries. Has my reading been influenced the variety of different places I have lived?

What do you read? Or do you read for pleasure?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment


LTAS Positions for the coming year:

LTAS Chair : Ashley Van Dijk

Fraser Valley co-chairs: Quinn Perry and Anita Thompson

Prince George chair: Vaunda Dumont

Vancouver co-chairs: Ashley Van Dijik and Alison Klein

Recording Secretary: Sandra Cole

Blog Coordinator: Megan Neilans

Social Media Coordinator: Dawn Small

Website & Continuing Education: John Park

Careers Coordinator: Heather Duff

Langara Student Liaison: Dane Praed

UFV Student Liaison: Angela Fleming

Members at Large: Tamarack Hockin, Stephen Karr, Norm Berry, and others.

Keynote Speakers:

Diane Thompson spoke about the recognition we are now getting for our credentials and the changes that have been occurring in both the library tech programs and in the work world as there is more work for cataloguers and reference specialists. There was some discussion about different types of work that people were performing out in the field. Where will the library techs of the future find work? What will they be doing?

Christina Nigel performed a rant/discussion of continuing education which prompted feedback and commentary about what  we want out of our education system. Do we want more formalized education and conference courses. What about making sure that educational options are available and accessible for everyone in content and audience?

I include this link to Christina’s blog post as she has continued on with what she shared the night of the AGM.


Kenneth Gariepy took on the topic of intellectual freedom and discussed whether it was a right or a priviledge or both. Do we know  the answer to this question? Will the status of intellectual freedom change in the coming years and what is our responsibility as library personnel in supporting/defending this priviledge/right?

I am sorry for the lateness of this AGM summary and I hope anyone who has anything to add to what I have written will comment.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

​Why I am totally excited to attend Code4Lib BC

I attended my first Code4Lib last winter, in 2013. Through invitation or eavesdropping, I found out about this two day unconference and paid my $20 to attend. It was a wonderful and challenging couple of days, during which time I listened to a lot of very smart cataloguers talk about linked open data and finally learned how to use github to share taco recipes. Folks were welcoming, and even though I really didn’t understand a lot of the more technical stuff it was inspiring and well worth my time.

Despite being neither a prolific coder (my skills top out at html/css) nor a professional technologist of any sort, I’m interested in the endless places where technology and libraries overlap. Making better, more useable tools and services necessitates understanding what happens behind the technology we interface with. Helping users navigate library technologies means that we need a better understanding of it ourselves.

This is to say, I’m interested but I’m not the savviest, and there is nothing in my job title that makes me more suited than most to a 2-day library technology conference. But was it relevant? Absolutely.

I recently read a blog post by Andromeda Yelton where this statement stopped me in my tracks: “We do not have the technical skills to verify whether our products are in line with the values we espouse” (in reference to Adobe Digital Editions). We are expected to understand such a range of services— from critically evaluating products for both usability and by ethical standards, to teaching digital literacy skills on the front lines, and building better repositories and products for our own libraries and institutions. How is a wider understanding anything but valuable? Two days of interactive learning and sharing is bound to be the highlight of November.

This fall’s Code4Lib will feature amazing topics that range from practical hands-on to ethical discourse. And in unconference spirit, you are invited to join whichever discussions or workshops you like. In fact, please pitch a session! The shape of the days remains open.

So what about being a newbie? If you’re feeling like you’re intrigued but not convinced it’s for you: please know it is for you. The main Code4Lib wiki has a great section on How to Hack Code4Lib that includes tips like:

  • Share your passion
  • Be ready to learn new stuff
  • Don’t be intimidated by what looks like the “in crowd” (there is no in crowd), and
  • Expect 80% of the value of the conference to come from things other than the presentations

Tickets are selling out faster than you might expect. Pay your $20 and register for this amazing event. Bring your laptop and an open mind and I hope to see you there.

And as much as I want to see you November 27 & 28 at SFU Harbour Centre for the second annual Code4Lib BC, if you can’t make it out (or if you’re extra excited and just want more!) check out the 2015 Code4Lib Conference happening Feb 2015 in Portland, Oregon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment