I attended the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2013 for the first time this weekend in Toronto, and I had a terrific time. It was very well run, and the only problem I found was too many interesting panels happening at the same time! Everyone I met was very friendly and happy to be there and to talk to you.
I really only meant to go to Dr. Ken Haycock’s presentation on The Art of Networking. I found it useful- there were a lot of tips about things that I do when I’m acting as a representative of the convention I volunteer with, that made me realize that I can use a lot of those same skills to represent myself. Then I attended the opening plenary speaker Michael Uslan’s talk about Batman and creating the first university class about comic books. The nerd in my loved it, and I bought his autobiography The Boy Who Loved Batman. I finished the night at the conference Welcome Party, which featured a performance by Bret Higgins and The Bluenotes. Had a good conversation about comics and superheroes with a fellow librarian. Then I went home, and thank goodness for the train and not having to drive so late (or worse, so early the next morning!).
Thursday morning was my volunteer shift at the conference. Students and recent graduates can volunteer with the conference for 5 hours and get a pass for the entire conference, which is a terrific deal. I handed out badge holders and conference programs, directed people to their panels in the convention centre and the adjoining hotel, set out information about Toronto and tidied the information displays, answered questions from conference attendees, and managed the line-ups for the author signings at the OLA Store. Then I had lunch at Jack Astor’s with some old friends from library school, and it was great seeing them and catching up.
In the afternoon I went to Jo-Anne Gibson’s talk on You Can’t Read That!, about convincing teens to read banned books. Then I went to the Western Alumni reception and saw some more friends, and even some teachers! Also some strange guy that I’m fairly sure crashed the party, because he definitely wasn’t one of us.
Friday I went to Rachel van Riel’s talk on Books To Go–Facilitating the Impulse Borrower. She had some great advice about how to convince patrons to pick up something extra while they’re at the library, especially since she said that most people spend less than 5 minutes in the library. I think my favourite thing was a “Book of the Day” display with one book. If a patron takes the book, then you ask them to choose a book to replace it with. It would really encourage community involvement and show what people are reading. Then I spent about 4 hours on the trade show floor, which still wasn’t really enough time. There were all kinds of vendors, from publishers, for library furniture, technology, digital services, library schools, all kinds of things. I ended up with about 13 advance reader copies from various publishers, including a copy of The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress, which I’m really enjoying so far (review to follow) (EDIT: review can be found now via the pingback link below or by searching my blog for Today I Read…The Friday Society). In the afternoon I went to Observations on Year One: OCULA New Librarian Residents, where three librarians–Paula Cardozo, Monica Rettig, and Eva Stepanian–talked about how they got their current jobs and gave some advice for students and new grads. After that was If I Knew Then What I Know Now, where several librarians gave their top three tips to new librarians. Then I dashed out to find food because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre could really stand to have some more food options closer to them–you can only reach a Second Cup without going outside, and they have very limited food selections. Of course, it turned out that the Friday night party Circ d’OLA had lots of food–corn dogs and sliders, waffles with toppings, cotton candy, popcorn, and candy apples. Of course, the drinks were $5.25 for a pop or $10 for a drink, which was a lot, but I’m sure that the convention centre set that price. There was entertainment, jugglers and acrobats, and librarians dancing (hint–not well). Music was pretty loud for what was supposed to be a networking event, but it was a lot of fun.
Saturday morning I spent in the career centre, even though there were several talks that I would have liked to have attended (I haven’t listed everything I wanted to do, just what I actually did. Otherwise this post would be twice as long!). I talked to several employers and had my resume critiqued. She made several recommendations on things to highlight in my resume, and things that should be explained more, including explaining exactly what this blog is for (I guess that means I have to figure out what it is for). Then a very nice woman attending the conference gave me her ticket to the Saturday lunch, since she wasn’t able to attend thanks to her travel plans. Steven Page, formerly of the Barenaked Ladies, was the speaker. He talked about visiting the Scarborough library when he was a kid (and maybe keeping a few borrowed items). He also talked about the inspiration for and the process of writing several of the Barenaked Ladies’ songs. He sang Manchild, Celebrity, and Brian Wilson.
There was a contest- photocopies of a one million dollar bill were on all the tables, and on the back they said “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy ______________”. The winning entry was “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy a bookmobile, but not a real bookmobile, because that’s cruel.” Steven Page was then presented with the winning entry on the $1,000,000 bill so he could use it to pay his overdue fines from the Scarborough library.
There were also a few speeches from the OLA president and the president elect, thanking the conference staff and volunteers and everyone who attended.
All in all I really enjoyed the conference. I found it very well run and organized, with only minor issues (for example, for one panel the room it was held in was printed wrong in the book). I wish the trade show had been open longer on Friday, since it closed at 3 pm, but I think everyone wanted to go home early, and the convention centre staff had to get everything cleared up and switched over to the next event that was using it on Saturday. I would like to go back next year, but hopefully then I’ll be doing it as an employed librarian!