BC Library Conference 2012

 Edited May 23 to add Tamarack’s summary; sorry!  -Heather

The big news from the conference happened during the BCLA AGM: LTAIG’s resolution to become a Section passed unanimously!  We are now LTAS (Library Technicians’ and Assistants’ Section). The AGM attendees gave a big round of applause, and several speakers congratulated us.

As LTAS Chair Tamarack Hockin mentioned on the LTAS website and email list,

The creation of LTAS has been two years in the making, and has counted on the hard work and support of many members. Most notably I would like to recognize the work of Stephen Karr and Sandra Cole for carrying the signatures and the petition over the past two years, the LTAIG executive that preceded me, including Sarah Felkar as co-chair with Stephen Karr, who drafted the constitution and by-laws for LTAS. The resolution could not have succeeded without all the members of the current LTAIG Board who worked so tirelessly to collect first signatures and then proxy votes, and who communicated the aims and purpose of LTAS out to broader membership.

LTAIG had a table outside the vendor’s hall on Friday to raise awareness of our group and our resolution. Thanks to Anita Thompson for organizing the table, plus all the volunteers who staffed it.

About twelve members and interested folks from all over the province met in the hotel pub Friday evening for a social with lively conversation and proxy form sorting.

Several members kindly agreed to share their impression of the conference and sessions below. If you attended the conference, please share your thoughts in a comment. Also keep an eye on the BCLA Browser for their upcoming issue of conference reports.

Heather Duff
Blog Coordinator

Tamarack Hockin

The world of information & libraries ballooned up around me at conference. Sessions and keynotes discussed the privatization of libraries, the future of library workers, Bill C11, Libraries and Archives Canada, Access Copyright, and ebook licensing. I repeatedly found myself speechless and underinformed in the presence of inspiring colleagues. It was wonderful.

Conference did for me what it is supposed to do: It rekindled my interest in current professional issues outside of my daily routine.

Here are my top picks for follow up:

For tools and tricks, I have the following now tucked up my sleeve:

  • VPL’s Skilled Immigrant Infocentre — which it turns out is not just for immigrants, and not just for VPL. Broadus Mattison, the coordinating librarian for the centre, introduced this amazing resource.
  • Business Librarians’ Recommended Sources — this compilation of free web resources is going to help me immensely, and with business reference I need all the help I can get.
  • Readers’ Cafe at VPL — I love the layout and the possibilities for this burgeoning readers’ advisory resource!

But enough about me – let’s talk about us.

We (library technicians and assistants within BCLA) won a huge victory at conference! We are now a section with a voice and a vote on the BCLA Board. We are one step closer to fuller participation in the association and increased professional recognition. It was an overwhelmingly positive conference for us, and the coming year is full of promise.

We have received congratulations from colleagues as far abroad at Ontario, and I was the happy recipient of more than one congratulatory hug from overjoyed conference delegates. We, technicians and assistants, are being warmly welcomed into our new role within BCLA.

Look out for more news and updates to come as the LTAS board gets our sea legs as a new section in BCLA.

Congratulations, everyone! We did it.

Ashley Van Dijk

First Nations Storytelling at Vancouver Public Library
(Anne Olsen & Stephanie Kripps VPL; Amanda Nahanne)

British Columbia has a rich First Nations history with 198 communities in the province. Their history and culture is under a vibrant revitalization, as seen in many locations around the province. The Vancouver Public Library held a pilot project from 2009 until 2011, modeled after their Writer in Residence program, called the First Nations Storyteller in Residence.

Anne Olsen, Stephanie Kripps and Amanda Nahanne (whose traditional name is Shamantsut) spoke Friday morning about the development of the program. They discussed the importance of knowing your personal history, which defines you rather than where you work and your education. In many First Nation cultures, they told us, what makes up your introduction is your family history and where you come from. This is also a person’s “copyright” to learn and share their family’s and community’s stories. Anne and Stephanie shared their experiences with us.  During their search for storytellers, Elders in the communities asked what qualifications VPL were looking for to ensure they found a storyteller who held the right to share stories. They were also asked if the library was looking for a legitimate storyteller, or the Hollywood version of an “Indian”. As you can imagine, the communities were concerned with the portrayal of their stories.  They would support one type of program but not the other.

The program was designed to showcase an alternative form of literacy, the oral traditional of storytelling, and its importance within First Nations communities. Amanda was the inaugural storyteller in 2009, followed by Jackie Timothy in 2010 and Henry Charles in 2011. I think it exemplifies how two communities can work together to bring together more people and share/teach each other new ideas.

The First Nations Storyteller in Residence Program won the 2011/2012 award for Programs & Service at this year’s BCLA AGM on May 12, 2012.

Vaunda Dumont

I really enjoyed the interactivity of each session that I attended. For the most part the attendees were not simply presented with the information; we became engaged in the sessions. It would be difficult to choose a favourite session as I liked them all, this one stood out because of the new tools I was introduced to.

License to Know What Lurks in the Minds of Students
(Kristina Oldenburg – Mount Royal University, Jay Peters – Coquitlam PL, and Danielle Winn – UBC)

We used a variety of audience response methods including Clickers and others mentioned below, to demonstrate a number of tools that may be used by instructors or session facilitators to engage students interactively, and to gauge interest and understanding of the material being presented. Surprisingly, paper response methods such as using colour-coded sheets of paper to answer multiple choice questions (or similar paper method) ranked somewhere between hand-raising and the use of Clickers for effective audience response methods. In other words, do not rule out using paper response if you do not own a set of Clickers and do not want to use some of the other methods below.

Poll Everywhere – is an audience feedback option where students use their cell phones to text their responses to questions. This works well for today’s tech savvy students and library patrons. Not so fast for those of us not so “text” savvy. Amongst the other tools to explore were: SMS Poll and Text the Mob

We were introduced to a couple of tools that are used for real time anonymous collaboration including:

  • Titanpad – the sample situation that was presented involved a library session about how to avoid plagiarism. Students could summarize a particular passage of text and then submit their summaries anonymously and could receive constructive feedback from the instructor.
  • AnswerGarden – this a basic tool used for online brainstorming or online polling.

I enjoyed this session as it was an informative and interactive session put on by enthusiastic and engaging librarians.

Heather Duff

Of my 6 years as a BCLA member, I think this year’s conference was the most useful to corporate libraries and library technicians. As always the attendees were friendly and the organizers did a great job.

Moving From “No” to “No, but Let’s Talk”: Business Reference as a Consultation Process
(Aleha McCauley – UBC, Mark Bodnar – SFU)

Never say just “No” to a patron request for a specific item that you don’t have. Instead say “We don’t have that exact thing but tell me more and let’s find the info you need.” Business information becomes rarer and more expensive as it becomes more complete, so if the patron or library can’t afford the complete one-stop report then you can often find the information elsewhere. Share these limitations with the patron.

The session included a group exercise breaking the patron’s request for a particular item down into pieces of information needed. Clarify their request including end goal, the type and format of information needed, and what will be sufficient if the perfect item isn’t available. Ask about flexibility on scope; can you narrow or broaden the topic? Can they estimate based on data for another time period?

When you can’t access the exact report a patron wants, consider who else might research or estimate the information they need: governments, industry associations, academics, company reports, news reports, private research firms. For example, news reports on studies can lead to primary sources of data. The preview or table of contents from an expensive report could lead to other sources.

Finally, as always, beware of bias and incompleteness. Ask why they would publish that information. What are they selling or lobbying for?

Business Research: Buried Treasures and Secret Strategies
(Aleha McCauley – UBC, Mark Bodnar – SFU, Leanna Jantzi – OC, Lindsay Ure – UBC, Vivian Feng – Langara, Colleen Bell – UFV, Ben Harrison – CoR, Barbara Sobol – UBC-O, Linda Matsuba – BCIT)

This session was a good companion to McCauley and Bodnar’s reference session (above). Both stressed that in business research you rarely find exactly what the patron requests, so try to get as close as possible (cue the Rolling Stones – “Can’t always get what you waaaant…”).

The presenters gave quick reviews of a huge number of business information resources, which are listed here.

Presenters also mentioned several searching tricks. Firstly, narrowing Google to search only within a domain. For example, starting the search string with site:.gc.ca limits the search to Canadian government sites. Another trick was proximity searching with Canadian Newsstand & Business Source databases (available at most BC public & post-secondary libraries).  This method is narrower than AND searching. For example, to find statistics reported in news stories search Canadian Newsstand for topic w/# (study or studies or poll or survey). Use w# for Business Source.

Jeffrey Libby

Shape Shifting: Library Education, Work and Expectations for the Future
(Christina Neigel – UFV)

I always find Christina to be an engaging and inspiring speaker but this session was truly a revelation for me! I was most impressed by her statement that library technician programs in Canada aren’t empowering and supporting their own staff to instill in them the exact same core values that they’re trying to encourage in their own students and graduates. Ms. Neigel sees this as an ideological constraint, a tired argument that is holding back the development of key library staff and the field as a whole.

I admire her bravery to broach some tough questions that simply aren’t being asked, such as whether prospective students (and by extension, future graduates and library staff) should be evaluated for more than just their technical proficiency but also their suitability for the industry. The audience identified some essential core competencies and attributes for all library workers as curiosity/inquisitiveness, interpersonal skills, adaptability, a strong service ethic as well as tenacity and leadership. By and large, few of these traits are addressed in detail by the CLA’s (minimum) Guidelines for the Education of Library Technicians.

With her proposal for accreditation of library tech programs in Canada, Christina respectfully challenges library trustees, staff, program administrators and future graduates to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ and work together for necessary changes to ensure the vitality of the field and its many stakeholders. I agree that there needs to be a culture of lifelong learning and self-empowerment and I strongly support accreditation. If I have to distill this wide-ranging and eye-opening session into a single inspiring soundbite, it would be Christina’s urging us all to have “a healthy disrespect for the impossible.”

When Worlds Collide: Integrating RDA Records into your AACR2 Catalogue
(Linda Woodcock – KPU)

I thought this was a great opportunity to hear directly from a Library and Archives Canada trainer what are the latest developments in the upcoming move to RDA and Linda Woodcock did not disappoint. Of particular interest to me are the parallels between this transition and the gradual switch from AACR to AACR2 more than 30 years ago. These include the multi-year delays between publishing the new rules and formally adopting them, the limited initial acceptance by the library community and the severe economic constraints facing libraries. Knowing that the library field has dealt with similar challenges before and risen to meet them accordingly is very reassuring.

I was impressed by Linda’s comparison of relator codes to the credits on an individual’s IMDB page; this really underscores the potential value and robustness that the FRBR model is built upon. Finally, I am pleased to hear that major players like Library of Congress, the Name Authority Cooperative (NACO) and BCLA’s own Cataloguing and Technical Services Interest Group, BCCATS, are developing training plans for staff and the wider library community. I look forward to getting involved in those opportunities to keep my skills current.

eBooks in Public Libraries: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?
(Ken Roberts – Hamilton PL and Christina de Castell – VPL)

Very informative and forward-thinking. Prior to this session I had never heard of the Canadian Urban Libraries’ Council (CULC) or their efforts to directly engage with Canadian book publishers, but I was fascinated by the work that they’ve done and their ambitious future plans. I am intrigued to hear more about their pilot project to significantly expand access to back-catalogue ebook titles for public library patrons and the opportunity to support local, Canadian booksellers and publishers with purchase options built directly into the library OPAC. More information is available at http://www.culc.ca/ebooks and I urge everyone to read more about it.

Future by Design: Building Creativity and Innovation in a Library Culture
(Gordon Yusko – UBC, Jane Watkins – NVCL, and Christina Neigel – UFV)

I enjoyed each speaker’s explanation of Google’s 9 principles of innovation and how they can adapted to the library. In particular, I enjoyed the comparison of ‘fail camps’ as a way to learn from mistakes instead of simply focusing on best practices, an often self-congratulatory exercise that often limits creativity and fosters a cookie-cutter approach to problem-solving. Remember that mistakes are not failures; if we frequently repeat our mistakes and don’t learn from them, then they become failures.

Another important take-away piece is that individuals should be allowed the opportunities and flexibility to pursue their dreams and should be encouraged to share strategies, ideas and processes to build connections and intellectually evolve together.

Don’t Be a Barrier: Emotional Intelligence Approach to Customer Service
(Johanne Walesch & Jennifer Wile – SPL)

This was one of my favourite sessions and such a pleasant surprise! In short, the speakers provided a high-level overview of the concept of emotional intelligence and how it can relate to our interactions with patrons and co-workers in any library setting. Johanne and Jennifer discussed how difficult situations can cause us to feel stressed and how our triggers – sudden and strong emotional reactions that are disproportionate to situations – are simply not helpful to customer service.

In their analysis of the four concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, I was struck by the importance placed on simple breathing in order to separate one’s emotions from those of others and to keep one’s emotions from being influenced. The key is to have to self-awareness to know your options in a variety of situations because once you ‘know’ yourself then you can manage your behaviour and reactions. More information can be found at http://dontbeabarrier.wordpress.com/.

Closing Keynote Address
(Michael Geist)

As soon as saw his name on the program back in late January, I knew that I simply *had* to be there for this presentation and it did not disappoint! I am an avid newshound with a particular interest in information privacy and copyright, both in legislation and in practice, so much of what he discussed I already knew from my own readings. However, he was able to tie it all together in an informative whirlwind 12+ year retrospective of what happens “when the Internet meets copyright.” I briefly chatted with him afterwards, geeked out a bit and got my picture taken with him – a definite high point for me!

Final impressions:

I strongly encourage anyone – current student, recent graduate, experienced library tech/assistant – to get involved in our industry associations and attend conferences like this in addition to speaker series, workshops, webinars and the like. To anyone that is on the fence about it, particularly students feeling overwhelmed by their assignments and homework: just learn it well and do the work but don’t stress over getting everything right the first time; how else can we learn if we don’t make mistakes?

No employer will ask for your marks on any one exam or even any course. If you have the credits and the diploma, it’s assumed that you have the knowledge and technical skills. That basically puts you at square one with all the other new graduates out there. The way to stand out is to get involved in your chosen field, meet people, talk with them about the challenges and successes in their jobs and organizations, volunteer, make a name for yourself, align yourself with a cause you believe in and make a difference. The library field is constantly changing and is well-known for its ability to reinvent itself and adapt to change, so why shouldn’t we individuals do the same?

The BCLA Conference is a wonderful opportunity to build new connections, strengthen existing ones, expose one’s self to new ideas and learn more about important trends and issues facing the industry. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to attend and for the opportunities it presents for personal and professional development. Find a way to get involved. You will be glad you did and the greater library community will be all the better for it!

Stephen Karr

I have been to four BC Library Conferences now, and I have to say that overall, BCLC 2012 has been the most enjoyable for me.   I had the opportunity to convene on Friday, and many of the sessions I was convening on Friday were ones that I would likely have chosen were I simply attending.  As it was two years ago, it was a joy to work with the speakers so their sessions ran without a hitch.

The highlight of the conference for me obviously was the vote for LTAIG to become LTAS.  We all felt very positive about our prospects going into the vote.  That said, the fact that the vote was unanimous with 87 proxies is a demonstration of the larger library community’s recognition of our relevance to the field, and the result of hard work of a number of LTAIGers over the last two years.  We should be extremely proud of our accomplishment.

I have to say that I think I encountered more old familiar faces in my time at the conference than maybe at all previous conferences combined.  Former co-workers, former classmates, and other acquaintances, it was great to see all of you.

I managed to do quite a bit of networking as well, and have more intelligent info to help me make my way in the library job market.  This, in combination with some of the “big picture” sessions that I attended around the future of the library field, has motivated me to redouble my efforts to increase my knowledge.


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