This is a free virtual conference on teen services and collections that School Library Journal is offering next week. I’ve never attended a virtual conference, but this looks really interesting, and a great way to see what some of the trends are. See you (virtually) there!
(Sorry this is really late, I did start it right after the conference, but unfortunately paid work has to come before unpaid blogging and I haven’t had time until now.)
I ended my review of last year’s OLA Super Conference by saying I hoped I would be attending this year as an employed librarian, and I did! May this trend continue! And my trend of having a great time at the Super Conference!
This was the first year I didn’t volunteer, since I was going for my library. But kudos to all of the volunteers and the committee staff who put on such a great event!
I started Wednesday morning at Raquel Solon’s session on Challenging, Refusing, & Venting, Oh My! How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace. While it was really intended for working with adult patrons and co-workers, I think some of her advice can be modified for the children I work with. Her 5 Steps for Setting Effective Limits in particular are something that I think I was doing without articulating it the same way. This one was definitely a good choice, and potentially very useful for me. Plus I ran into a friend from library school that I haven’t seen since last year’s conference, so that was nice. We grabbed lunch with another friend from school and one of the first friend’s coworkers, and we caught up on everything from the last year.
After lunch was the talk by the cartoonist Seth in the theatre, which oddly enough I’ve never been in before despite attending around 4 events a year at the MTCC. It was a quiet, calm talk, and interesting.
In the afternoon I went to Rachel Seigal’s presentation on Spine-Tingling, Bone Chilling, Hair Raising Horror for Kids. I have several kids in my library who like scary stories, but I don’t have a lot to offer them other than Goosebumps, and not a lot of those. She had some good title suggestions that I can look for. Though I have had a little success suggesting The Picture of Dorian Grey from our Great Illustrated Classics series–hey, not all classics are boring.
For the last session of the day, I went to Where Marvel Meets Mididle Earth: Fanfiction in the Library, presented by Nancy-Anne Davies and Erin Tutte, mostly because fanfiction! It was a great presentation, but they spent a lot of time talking about fandom and fan culture and what fan fiction is, and I think they could have shortened it a bit more. Fandom is pretty mainstream now, and a lot of people at the panel were fans who sounded like they were already pretty familiar with what fanfiction is, so they probably could have spent more time talking about running their writing clubs. But I always love hearing about fandom and how popular it’s becoming, and meeting new fans. And writing fanfic is a terrific way to practice learning how to write, by just playing in an existing universe’s sandbox and filling in the gaps or correcting The Powers That Be’s mistakes (Richie Ryan from Highlander: the Series ducked. He never died. La, la, la, I can’t hear you, he’s alive and still racing motorcycles and dating girls who get him in trouble and cadging meals off Duncan MacLeod whenever he’s in town. So there.).
Next I joined some friends and we attended a performance of “The Librarians” episode of Welcome to Nightvale, a podcast written like an old-style radio program. I’ve heard of it before, but I’d never listened to an episode. And HOLY HILARIOUS BATMAN that was funny! As Indira Gandhi said, you can’t shake a mangled hand that has been chewed up by a librarian. Although I maintain that librarians do not have exoskeletons, we’re shapeshifters. (Go listen to Welcome to Nightvale to get the joke. Bring alcohol with you. All of the alcohol.)
The end of the night was at the networking event, with food and games. The giant crosswords were fun!
I started Thursday with Using Picture Books in Content Areas, presented by Harriet Zaidman. Sorry for coming in a few minutes late–my train was delayed. I’ve read some terrific picture books working in an elementary school library, but unfortunately not all of them are suited to the storytime I do for kindergarten-grade 3. As much as I love Melanie Watt’s work (and I really love it), she can be hard to read aloud with all of the tangents and asides that she goes into. Though my kindies did love the Chester books. There are some fantastic picture books for older kids that can really drive home a lesson better than pure text like a novel can.
After that I attended Good Question! Let’s Find Out!: Inquiry Partnerships, presented by Kristina Burbidge and Debbie Vert. I thought it was interesting, though somewhat less applicable to me as a librarian and not a teacher-librarian–ideally, I would love to treat each question from a student as an inquiry/teaching moment, but when I have six 8-year-olds asking me for things at the same time and 10 minutes left in the period to help them and get the class of 25 checked out and lined up, sometimes I have to resort to “It’s over there on the third shelf from the top” as opposed to “let’s look on the computer together and find out where the books on dolphins belong”. What I wouldn’t give for a smartboard so I could do a demonstration for everyone in the class at once on how to search through the catalogue and where the databases are…
I went to the Children’s Storytime Workshop: Tips and Tricks, presented by Emily Farrell and Toni Murray, and I loved it. They were so enthusiastic, and they had some great advice that matched up with my own experiences doing storytime. Always go for the funny! And do the voices whenever possible, even if you aren’t very good at them. And this is where I first encountered B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures, which I ended up buying at the OLA Store later and read to all of my classes. It was a huge hit, and I should have bought 3 copies because I had a huge waiting list of kids who wanted to borrow it. From January to the end of the year, it didn’t stay in the library because there was always someone who wanted it.
Thursday afternoon I spent wandering the Expo floor collecting new books (see list below). I do love seeing what’s coming out soon, and meeting friends wandering around too. I went to the Western FIMS reception in the evening–not to many people from my cohort went, but it was still nice to meet fellow Western alumni.
Friday morning was the Forest of Reading breakfast, and it was lovely to meet some of the voices from our conference calls! And always snag a table close to the tea, especially at 8 in the morning. Immediately following the breakfast was the Forest showcase, where all of the 2014 winners spoke about their books and their experiences with being a part of the Forest of Reading.
I spent more time on the Expo floor, and then in the afternoon I went to Inquiring Minds and Blue Spruce, presented by Ruth Gretsinger. She had some great tips about how to use picture books and inquiry questions to teach younger kids about how to do research and to think about the books they are reading, for example by using “I wonder” statements instead of direct questions.
And of course, I got books. Lovely, lovely books that came home with me, some to stay and some just resting on their way to my library. If only they didn’t weigh so much when I’m trying to carry two heavy bags plus my purse home on the train while bundled up for winter. I came home with:
- The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs that I REALLY REALLY WANTED and I’m so happy I got a copy, and signed! I’m happy to report that it was as good as I was hoping it would be. It’s a great intro to the world of fandom and specifically how to guide yourself as a lady geek around the world of cons, cosplay, fanfic, and the wilds of the internet. It’s an ARC to be published by Quirk Books, so it’s missing a few page references, but the art is really cute.
- Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi. This is an uncorrected proof I picked up that will be published by Tundra Books, about a boy whose father is accused of being a Communist in 1950s New York, and he has to figure out if there really is a Communist in his family and what that means for them.
- Dance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, published by Pajama Press, about a pair of star-crossed Anatolian teenagers in 1914, who are separated by war and horrified by what happens to their Christian Armenian friends. I got this one signed, and as always it was lovely to see Marsha.
- An ARC of The Journal by Lois Donovan, that will be published by Ronsdale Press, about an Asian teenager in Vancouver whose mother receives a mysterious letter and uproots the family to Edmonton. Then she reads a family journal of old newspaper clippings that sends her back in time to 1929, here she encounters racial prejudice and meets the Famous Five who fought to have women recognized as legal persons.
- Best Friends Through Eternity by Sylvia McNicoll. This is a signed proof that will be published by Tundra Books about an adopted Chinese girl who has an accident and a near-death experience. The blurb on the back is mysterious in an It’s a Wonderful Life sort of way.
- An ARC of Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall, that will be published by Puffin, about a girl who gets evacuated to Mars during a war with aliens, and has adventures. It looks like the start of a new series.
- An ARC of Random Acts Valerie Sherrard that will be published by Puffin, about a group of friends who decide to start committing random acts of kindness, except they all go wrong.
- The Fight for Pow3r by Eric Walters, the sequel to The Rule of 3, and published by Razorbill. I was happy to get this one, and signed, because I’ve already had a kid request that I buy it. I read the first book in the trilogy, and it was scary how plausible it was, and I may have to, uh, preread this one before I give it to the kids. For…reasons. Mainly so I get a chance to read it. (Later note: good thing I did, because this one was pretty popular and I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to read it once it was out in the library. Waiting on book 3 now!)
- Dirk Daring, Secret Agent by Helaine Becker, published by Orca Books, signed, about a boy whose evil stepbrother steals his secret spy journal and uses it to blackmail Dirk into doing his biding and spying on the kids at school. This type of illustrated diary is pretty popular with my kids right now, and I can always use a new readalike for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Popularity Papers, since the kids have read them all already.
- An ARC of Andreo’s Rage by Pam Withers, that will be published by Tundra Books, about a pair of friends racing in Bolivia and searching for their parents.
- Stealing Time by Anne Dublin, a Jonah Wiley Adventure published by Dundurn. I got this one signed too. It’s a time travel story about two brothers who have to learn to work together to get back home.
- The Magician of Auschwitz written by Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland, and published by Second Story Press. This is a picture book and a fictionalized true story about a boy in Auschwitz and a magician who performed magic tricks to keep the guards amused and save his own life. I got this one signed by Kathy Kacer, who is well-known for her stories about the Holocaust. This is a dark, sad story, about the things that people had to do to survive in a terrible place, but also with a happy-ish ending because some people did survive and built themselves lives and families.
- Real Justice: Jailed for Life for Being Black: The Story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter by Bill Swan and published by Lorimer. This one I got for going to the Lorimer booth and bringing a copy of their email about the giveaway–it’s worth it to opt in for emails from publishers! At least if you want to know about upcoming titles. I’ve read the one from this series about David Milgaard by Cynthia J. Faryon, and it was a good, fast, easy-read version of his story, so I wouldn’t mind reading another in the series.
- Our Heroes: How Kids Are Making a Difference written and illustrated by Janet Wilson. This book is signed, and published by Second Story Press. I got her book Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World last year for myself, and I managed to snag the last copy of the one she was signing this year. Saying please nicely does work! This is a nonfiction picture book about child activists from around the world, and their chosen causes and what they are doing to make the world a better place.
- Rachel’s Hope by Shelly Sanders, signed and published by Second Story Press. This is the last book in a trilogy, about a Jewish girl and her family who flee Russia and end up in San Francisco right before the earthquake of 1906.
- The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak, published by Dial Books for Young Readers. This book I purchased through the OLA Store. It was recommended in a couple of the panels I attended, and it’s very funny. I can’t wait to read it during storytime at the library. I know the kids will get a big kick out of it. (Later note: they loved it! I should have bought 2 copies!)
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier, published by Scholastic, which I purchased because the kids keep asking for it. She’s one of the most-requested authors in my library. (Later note: this was so popular it unfortunately got wrecked quickly after I bought it when pages kept falling out, and I had o order a copy from Permabound. Here’s hoping that one lasts a little longer!)
- Q Tasks, Second Edition, by Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan, published by Pembroke Publishers, about encouraging students to ask questions and be curious. I bought this one is for the teachers more than the kids, and it was highly recommended by a teacher-librarian friend.
- The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich, an advance proof that will be published by Tor Books. This is described on the back as “a fantastical nineteenth century alternate historical steampunk romp”, and that caught my fancy. I picked this one up for myself, for my laughable “free time”.
- The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency No. 1: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford and illustrated by Kelly Murphy. This is an ARC that will be published by Alfred A. Knopf. This is a middle-grade historical mystery about Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley meeting as girls and forming a detective agency. I like the look of this one, and mysteries aren’t too popular with my kids, so I may keep this one too.
- Valiant by Sarah McGuire, an uncorrected proof to be published by Egmont. This is a retelling of the Brave Little Tailor with a girl in the main role. I love feminist retellings of fairy tales, and the back blurb compares it to Gail Carson Levine, whose work I love, so I’m excited to read this one.
- On a Scale from Idiot to Complete Jerk: A Highly Scientific Study of Annoying Behavior, Science Project by J.J. Murphy with Alison Hughes, published by Orca Books. I picked this up for the title, and I thought it was so funny I bought two copies, one for me and one for the library. In fact, I even convinced a friend to buy the last copy! This book is set up as an actual report using the scientific method, complete with a history, definitions, case studies, hypothesis, experiment, observations, conclusions, and even charts.
- Fun-brarian: Games, Activities & Ideas to Liven Up Your Library! by Kathleen Fox and published by Upstart Books. I bought this for my personal collection, since I’m trying to build my own professional reference library. This is filled with great games and activities to get kids familiar with the rules of the library and things like DDC and how to find books, book care, library terminology, and more. I wish I’d had it before I started at my current library. Oh well, maybe for the next job–they’re really more things that you would do at the start of the school year than in the middle. Still I think it will be really useful for me in the future.
Oh, and I won one of the passport prizes! Thank you to Library Services Centre for providing my awesome prize! I got a Blu-Ray of Octopussy, a hardcover of The Superior Spider-Man vol. 2, a nice French copy of Le Monde de Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes (unfortunately I don’t speak French), and my favourite of the lot, Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of Monsters by Justin Richards. The volunteers in the room were all laughing at my big silly grin when I saw that one in the bag. And thank you Beckie for telling me that I’d won a prize and to go get it!
All in all, I had a great time again at the Super Conference, and I’m very grateful that my principal allowed me to attend all three days. I learned a lot, and came home with books and notes and flyers and all sorts of fascinating new best practices whirling around in my head. I hope I can go again next year!
Since I had such a great time at the OLA Super Conference 2013 last year, I really wanted to attend the 2014 conference this year. It’s a great opportunity to see old classmates and people I’ve worked with, learn about new trends in librarianship, see what the publishers are releasing, and of course network since I’m still job hunting. (Is there anything more soul-destroying than job hunting? Because it terrifies me that there might be.) The theme this year was A Universe of Possibilities, based around science fiction and science and technology, with the final speaker at Saturday’s closing luncheon being Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station who captured Canada’s attention last year with his tweets and pictures from space and his generous interaction with students around the world. I actually proposed the theme An Out of This World Library Experience at last year’s conference to the 2013 OLA president, so I suppose they liked it?
Tuesday was my assigned volunteer shift, which I spent stuffing the bags given to the attendees. Fairly peaceful, other than the cold from hell that I’ve been suffering from for the past two weeks. 😦 (Don’t worry, I promise I sanitized my hands before touching the bags.) The pile of bags and programs and flyers from sponsors seemed never ending, but it needed to be done.
I skipped the pre-conference workshops since they were an additional fee, though they did look interesting. My conference began Wednesday night with the networking lecture, It’s a Small World After All: An Introduction to Library Culture, where Amanda French (Mississauga Public Library), Tanis Fink (Seneca College), Lita Barrie (Hamilton Public Library), Mindy Thura (University of Toronto), Jennifer Robinson (Huron University College), and John Dupuis (York University) gave short talks on subjects like working in a library environment, what to do and not to do in library school, getting involved with professional associations, workplace conflict, and vendor relations. I enjoyed this one, though I think some of it may have been more relevant if I had heard it while I was still attending library school. Networking is a bit of a weakness for me, so I felt it was important to go to the networking lecture and the opening party later this night.
The opening plenary speaker was Nina Simon from the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, with a lecture titled How to Talk to Strangers. She was lively, fascinating, and inspirational. Some of the exhibits that her museum has done in the last couple of years are so simple, but engage the imagination and community interest so well. The idea of transforming a museum from an elitist curator of dusty displays that few people care about and fewer touch or interact with into a community center that invites people to create and share is absolutely where public libraries need to go, and have been trying to move in that direction for the last several years. I really liked the Pocket Museum idea, and the Advice Booth, and the Memory Jars, and the Glow Festival, and their work on Evergreen Cemetery. Though seeing all her pictures, I had a vision of someone going to Staples and buying a flatbed of Post-Its, since so many of the projects involve them. Still, it’s simple, cheap, and lets people participate, so I’m still calling it brilliant.
After Nina Simon’s talk was the welcome party. I spoke to a few people, but I’m not really a party with strangers kind of girl, and the terrible cough really didn’t help (I hate being sick). Still, it was a good start to the conference.
Thursday I had to be at the MTCC ridiculously early for the Forest of Reading breakfast (of course, too early to me is defined as before noon, but this was really very early considering I had an hour’s commute). I learned about the Forest of Reading at last year’s conference and then I participated in the Festival of Trees last May, and it’s really a great program, so when the call went out for volunteers last fall I signed up (possibly for too much). I’m on the Silver Birch Express steering committee for the 2013/14 awards, and on two different selection committees for the 2014/15 awards (not telling which ones of those, since we’re sworn to secrecy). The breakfast was for the winning authors and illustrators of the 2012/13 program, the nominated authors and illustrators from the 2013/14 program, and the selection and steering committee members for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 programs. The food was a pretty standard buffet (hooray for bacon! and tea, caffeine is good), but it was nice to put some faces to the names I’ve been emailing about the Forest.
I’m in the middle, and Rebecca Upjohn, author of the SIlver Birch Express nominated book The Secret of the Village Fool, is on the right. (I didn’t get the name of the lady on the left, but it was her camera and she was nice enough to forward the picture along to Rebecca.) EDIT: Per Marsha Skrypuch, the lovely lady on the left is Jennifer Lanthier, author of The Stamp Collector, also nominated for the Silver Birch Express.
After the breakfast I attended the Forest of Reading Winners Showcase, where last year’s winners gave short talks about their books, what inspired them to write, and the process of being nominated and winning. For the record, the 2012/13 winners were:
Blue Spruce Kate and Pippin by Martin Springett
Silver Birch Fiction Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Silver Birch Express Margaret and the Moth Tree by Brit & Kari Trogen
Silver Birch NonFiction No Shelter Here: Making the World a Kinder Place for Dogs by Rob Laidlaw
Red Maple Fiction The Vindico by Wesley King
Red Maple NonFiction Real Justice: Fourteen and Sentenced to Death by Bill Swan
White Pine Fiction Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
They were all fantastic speakers, but I think I really want to track down a copy of The Vindico now, because it sounded right up my alley…
After that I attended The Experience of Reading, presented by some of my former professors from Western: Paulette Rothbauer, Lucia Cedeira Serantes, Lynne McKechnie, and Pam McKenzie. They shared some of their recent research and plans for future research. They all research reader’s advisory and different ways that people experience reading for pleasure and finding things to read. Paulette talked about the Reading Worlds of Older Adults, how seniors tend to be treated like a common age group just like teenagers, and not a terribly respected or well-researched age group. Lucia talked about Comics Reading and Readers, the stereotypes of who reads comics, why librarians recommend comics, and how people actually read comics. Lynne’s talk was on Spiderman is Not for Babies: The Boys and Reading Problem from the Perspectives of the Boys Themselves, about how there is a perception that boys don’t read because either they don’t like to or they aren’t encouraged to, but that they do read, just not things that are usually counted as ‘reading’ for pleasure. Boys as a group may not read fiction, but they read nonfiction, game manuals that contain narrative, and like information and popular culture books. Pam’s talk was about Re-reading Everyday Documents, about how grocery lists and calendars and to-do lists are a form of reading that isn’t often researched or considered since it is so common. She was right- when I think about what I’ve read I think about books and magazines and newspapers and fanfiction, I don’t think about the planner that I carry in my purse everyday or the to-do list sitting on the desk beside my computer, or the (very long) to-review list sitting beside that. But I wrote them all, and I review them constantly, to remind myself what I’ve done in the past and what I still need to accomplish in the future.
I spent my lunch hour on the floor of the trade show (on both days, actually). I ended up with a bag full of literature from various publishers, wholesalers, technology companies, Dewey Divas and Dudes lists, library furniture makers, and other companies that I need to go through in more depth one day. I also ended up with a pile of books to add to my to-read mountain:
- The Secret of the Village Fool by Rebecca Upjohn and illustrated by Renne Benoit, who are nominated for the Silver Birch Express this year and for whom I am the liaison. Rebecca was doing a signing, so I got my new copy of it signed. This one was published by the Second Story Press and I got it at their booth. It’s a children’s book about a man who protected some Jewish families in Poland during the Nazi invasion.
- Our Rights: How Kids are Changing the World written and illustrated by Janet Wilson, also published by Second Story Press, and also signed. It’s about child activists around the world and the problems facing children.
- Two Women by Christene A. Browne, also Second Story Press and signed (they had a lot of signings while I was free). This is a fiction novel about a mother who tells her daughters stories about the new neighbours who share a soul.
- Until Today by Pam Fluttert, Second Story Press and signed. This is a YA novel about a girl suffering sexual abuse from a family friend, and then the diary where she’s written everything down goes missing.
- September 17 by Amanda West Lewis, Red Deer Press and signed. This is a novel based on true events, about a ship of British child refugees being attacked by a German U-boat during World War 2.
- Real Mermaids Don’t Sell Seashells by Helene Boudreau, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and signed. This is the fourth books in the series, about a water-phobic mermaid, her friends and boyfriend, and a mysterious death aboard a cruise ship.
- Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book, written by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger and with comics by Claudia Davila, published by Tundra Books and signed by the two authors. This one is an advanced reader copy, due to be released in May 2014. It’s about two kids who enter a bathroom and end up in a comic book world. The comics are a steampunk adventure, and it looks really good.
- Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide, Second Edition by Laura J. Murray and Samuel E. Trosow. This is published by Between the Lines and signed by Professor Trosow, who is a member of the Law Faculty at Western, but lectures the MLIS students regularly on copyright issues since he is an acknowledged expert. I did attend one of his lectures while I was at Western, and it was fascinating, so I was glad I could get a copy of this book.
- Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica, published by Tom Doherty Associates and signed. This is a fantasy novel about a woman discovering the magic that lurks beneath the house she just inherited, and the dangers it represents to herself and her best friend.
- Dinosaur School: Big and Small by Joyce Jeffries, published by Gareth Stevens Publishing. This is a picture book where dinosaurs teach you about opposites. It was a door prize from CrossCan, who were a sponsor of the conference and had flyers in the conference bags.
- Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know by Shari Graydon and illustrated by Michelle Lamoreaux, published by Annick Press. This was a prize from a trivia game where you had to answer elementary-school level questions, from categories like science, animals, gardening, cooking, etc. I can’t remember what company runs this game, though I remember they did the same thing last year- was it the Saunders Book Company? Anyway, this is a children’s book about the history, techniques, and legality of advertising.
- The ACB with Honora Lee, written by Kate de Goldi and with drawings by Gregory O’Brien, and published by Tundra Books. This is also an advanced reader’s copy, to be released April 2014. This is a children’s book about a girl named Perry who is making an alphabet of everyone and everything in Santa Lucia.
- The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen, by Susin Nielsen and published by Tundra Books. This book is nominated for this year’s Red Maple award, and I won it at the Battle of the Books (see Saturday for details). It’s about a boy’s struggle to rebuild his life after his brother shoots the boy bullying him and himself.
- Burning from the Inside by Christine Walde, published by Dancing Cat Books, and signed. Christine was actually one of my classmates at Western, and she came from B.C. for the Super Conference. It was nice to see her again, and she brought copies of her latest books, so I asked her for one to review. It’s about a young graffiti artist forced to infiltrate a graffiti crew and report on them to the police.
I do not have a book problem, I have a lack of reading time problem…
In the afternoon I attended a talk on Graphic Novels: Today & Tomorrow by Douglas Davey (Halton Hills Public Library) and Cecilia Vespa (Burlington Public Library). This one was a lot of fun–they talked about digital comics and how the internet has changed traditional comics, platforms for libraries to offer digital comics, and recommended a lot of titles, both print and webcomics. I’m going to have to check some of these out.
Then in the evening I attended the Western University Alumni Reception at the Lone Star Texas Grill. The space was extremely crowded and it was hard for the wait staff to bring out the food and drinks, but I got fed eventually so it was all good (I mentioned I didn’t have lunch, right?). I found some classmates and we eventually managed to snag a free booth so we could sit and catch up.
Friday was another fairly early morning, since I had volunteered to be a convenor and my session was at 9:05 am. Convenors introduce speakers to the audience, count how many people attend, keep track of time so the speakers don’t have to, and before the conference communicate any special a/v requests the speakers have. The session I picked to convene was The Tween Scene: A Year of Programming for Ages 10-14, conducted by Tiffany Balducci and Brianne Wilkins-Bester from Oshawa Public LIbrary. I wanted to attend this one anyways, since I’ve been a member of the programming committee for Polaris/ Reversed Polarity/ Polar Chill for the last three years and for Reversed Polarity I ran all of the children’s programming, so it was a particular interest of mine. Tiffany and Brianne talked about the tween demographic and what Oshawa Public Library has been doing for the last few years, and they described twelve themed programs that they’ve run, with activities, crafts, games, and book connections. They had some amazing ideas that looked like a lot of fun, and based on their numbers the programs have been very popular at their library. They mentioned in their bios that they’ve written a book together called The VOYA Tween Scene: A Year of Programs for 10-14 Year Olds that’s due out later this year, and I think I’m going to keep an eye out for that one.
After that I had to run to my mock interview. The OLA sets up a career centre for mock interviews, resume critiquing, speed networking, job postings, and to meet employers–the services always in high demand, and you have to sign up months in advance. I was sent a fake job posting in advance of the conference, to which I had to create a cover letter and resume, and then you go through the interview and the interviewers give you feedback. I’ll admit, it wasn’t my best effort- I felt absolutely dreadful due to this bloody cold, and the fake job posting wasn’t something that I would be qualified for in real life, so some of the questions were very difficult for me to answer. Still, I think any experience is valuable, and I did get some good tips on how to improve my answers.
Then I went back to the trade show. It’s so big, that you really need to go through it a couple of times to see everything. One thing that I had wanted to get to was Evan Munday drawing goth portraits at the Canadian Manda Group booth. I’ve mentioned that I met him at the Festival of Trees last year when he was nominated for the Silver Birch award for The Dead Kid Detective Agency, which I purchased at the Word on the Street Festival and recently reviewed. However, I missed Evan at the Word on the Street Festival and I wanted to get him to sign my copy, so I hurried after my mock interview and fortunately he was still drawing. So I got my autograph. And a goth portrait, because they were really pretty cool.
In the afternoon I went to Booktalking 3.0: Engaging & Inspiring Readers Online, which was a talk about book blogging given by Valerie Medzalabanleth and Melissa Tomecz from Cote Saint-Luc Public Library. I got some amazing ideas from them for this blog, and they use WordPress too so it was nice to hear their opinions and experiences of using it and how readers behave online. Expect some new things in the future…
After that I went to Embedded in the Community MPL Style, where Jennifer Dias-Stevenson, Ange Friesen, Agnieszka Gorgon, and Cheryl Marcus from Markham Public Library talked about the role of the community librarian and how they’ve been reaching out to different groups and forming partnerships to offer new services to the Markham community. They just created the roles in 2012, so they talked about the process of deciding what community librarians would do and how they divided responsibilities, and what they’ve learned. It was interesting, but I think everyone’s energy was flagging at this point.
Afterwards, I attended the volunteer networking party, where the volunteers gathered together to talk and play some getting-to-know-you games. Then it was time for the Party at the End of the Universe, which was a blast! The food was great (and very welcome, since I had skipped lunch again for the trade show). There was a Wii set up in the corner, a DeLorean that you could get your picture taken with, and an oxygen bar that was pretty cool.
Guess I’m a Space Librarian. Or a possibly a Martian, not that that’s a surprise.
I went straight to the career centre this morning, since I’d been on the wait list for job coaching even though I emailed them the first day it was possible (I mentioned that it’s a very popular service). Someone hadn’t shown up for their appointment, so I snagged it and got Elizabeth Strange, a Strategic Life Coach from Soulful Living, to look over my cover letter and resume, since I had an extra copy from the mock interview the day before handy. Again, she had some interesting ideas for me to change things. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had people go over my cover letter and resume in the last few years, and everyone has different opinions. Some I’ve found work for me, and some don’t really, but often it gives me good ideas for how I can change things for the next one, so it’s always valuable. There were also a few booths set up from different employers, so I talked to them all. My classmate Pam Saliba was there with Markham Public Library, so it was nice having a chat with her and listening to what they’re up to at Markham. I also spoke with Amanda French (from the Wednesday night lecture) and Diana Krawczyk from Mississauga Public Library, since I did a quick volunteer project for MPL last summer reorganizing their list of periodicals and it turned out that Amanda was the one using the spreadsheet I’d made.
After that I attended Battle fo the Books: It Begins with Co-Operation & Ends with Competition, presented by Vicki Miller from the Peel District School Board. I was curious because Oakville Public Library used to run a program called Battle of the Books, where one day teams from all of the local elementary schools would go to the Central branch and compete in a children’s book trivia tournament. I was on the team every year, and I loved it. Vicki’s version is based on the Silver Birch books, and only between students at her school, but it looked like a lot of fun. She talked about how she organizes and runs the Battle, and then asked for volunteers to play a round of Book Jeopardy. I had to play! Some of the questions were pretty tricky (though I managed to get some laughs with my answers, when she asked what a person who sleeps with books is called and I said a book lover), and she had a set of Red Maple books to give to the participants. Though I’d like to know who had the most points (I doubt it was me). She had a set of buzzers from Scholastic that might be really useful for the next Geek-Off…
And finally it was time for the closing gala luncheon, featuring Colonel Chris Hadfield as the guest speaker. He was amazing, his enthusiasm for space and education and sharing knowledge…You could tell how strongly he felt about sharing the wonders of the universe with people, and how hard he worked to get to the places he’s been. He brought some of his photographs, to show us just how beautiful the world is, and talked about what his life has been like since returning to Earth after commanding the International Space Station. He even told us the real story about getting kicked out of a showing of the movie Gravity (he wasn’t, but he saw the premiere and the director asked him what he thought–gulp!). He did a signing after his talk. I had purchased a ticket to the luncheon and a copy of his book for a Christmas/birthday present for my father, but I really regret not buying a copy of his book for myself to get him to sign. Oh well–I’ll have to borrow Dad’s copy to read. I did shake his hand, though. I may be a Star Trek fan, but he’s been there…(Sorry about the crappy quality–the camera on my Blackberry kinda sucks).
And then, it was over.
So, final thoughts (yes, finally, I’m almost done). I really enjoyed attending the Super Conference again this year. I learned a lot, some of which I still need to process. I met some really interesting people, and saw some old friends and professors. I got a new pile of books to read and review. I got some great tips to improve my blog. I got some advice on cover letters, resumes and interviewing, and some job ads to apply to. I got a little high on cough drops (three bags in five days, argh). Similarly to last year, the conference was very well-run and well-organized, and I didn’t spot any problems (not easy for a large event–trust me on that, I conrun). My only complaints would be the same as last year’s–that I can’t be in multiple places at once, because there were too many things going on that I wanted to do. I didn’t manage to see any of the poster presentations, and there were twenty other sessions that I would have liked to have attended–I really had to pick and choose the ones that I was most interested in, and I’m pretty happy with what I chose to attend. I ended last year’s review by saying that I wanted to come back this year, and hopefully as an employed librarian. I managed the first, but not the second. Maybe the third time will be the charm? See you next year OLA Super Conference!
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!