Friday, October 29, 2010

One Book One Calgary

Kristen Holm, Calgary Public Library

During the month of November the Calgary Public Library is launching One Book One Calgary. The inaugural book chosen for this event is Aritha van Herk’s “Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta”. Through this initiative the Calgary Public Library hopes to encourage the citizens of Calgary to explore their past, examine their present and imagine their future.

According to the Library’s website the One Book One Calgary initiative “represents the most ambitious program initiative ever undertaken at the Calgary Public Library.” Working collaboratively with civic partners, leadership organizations, artist, entertainers and scholars from across the city, the Calgary Public Library will be delivering innovative and thought provoking programming throughout the 17 community branch libraries. For more information on One Book One Calgary check out One Book One Calgary Website.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Library Tourism - Melk Abbey, Austria

- Katharine Barrette

Whenever a friend or acquaintance of mine mentions a trip they’ve recently returned from, the first question I ask is: “what was the best thing you ate” or “what was the food like?”. However, when that friend or acquaintance is a “library person”, someone who works in a library or simply adores libraries, the first question becomes “which libraries did you see?” I know that when I travel, I typically seek out libraries, particularly famous or historic libraries, and make visits to them as much a part of my travel itinerary as restaurants I must try or markets I must visit.  I suspect I am not alone in this, not only because other “library people” have confessed  to similar travel priorities but because of the many blog postings, lists and webpages that give folks like us the low-down on the “world’s most beautiful libraries” or the “top ten libraries you must see”. 

This summer, I was lucky enough to spend some time traveling, and to visit two incredible library spaces. Both were the grand, ornate kind that I would put in the “epic library” category – libraries with the sort of visual and atmospheric impact that photographer-of-stunning-libraries Candida Höfer is able to capture so well. 

The first, the library of the Stift Melk, or Abbey of Melk, was located in the lush Austrian countryside in the town of Melk. Historically, Melk was a spiritual and cultural center in the countryside of Austria as home of the Badenbergs, and later a fortified Benedictine monastery after it was transferred to the brothers in 1089 by Leopold II. The abbey served as the center of the medieval community. In the early 18th century, the grand Baroque buildings that can be toured today were built, ongoing restoration work since the late 1970’s ensures that visitors are able to view many of the most famous and beautiful rooms in the abbey, including the library.

It is said (in multilingual signage, and from the mouths of tour guides) that the library’s place in the abbey, is second only in importance to the abbey church. Not some dusty, underground book repository, the main hall of this library was a beautiful sunlit ode to the four faculties of knowledge: Theology, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence as depicted by four wooden statues that flank the doors at each end of the room. Rising high above the second floor mezzanine, the ceiling fresco, a symbolic depiction of Faith surrounded by angels representing the four Cardinal Virtues: Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance was painted by Paul Troger in 1731/32. A smaller, adjoining room contains another Troger ceiling fresco, an allegorical portrayal of Scientia or Science. The main hall is dominated by two enormous globes, one terrestrial, one astronomical. 

Melk’s library holds approximately 100 000 volumes, including 1888 manuscripts, 750 incunabula (works printed before 1500) and 80000 16th, 17th and 18th century works. Among them are approximately 1200 hand-lettered books created by the brothers from the 9th to the 15th centuries, some of which took an entire lifetime or the lifetimes of several monks to create. Of the twelve rooms that make up the library, only the main hall and one smaller adjoining room are open to the public; an incredible spiral staircase with a Roccoco gate leads up to rooms not open to the public and down to the abbey church below.

The rooms were quiet and relatively empty on the morning that I was there, giving me lots of time to try to photograph as much of the library as I could without either touching anything or worrying the young woman working there, who seemed to think it odd that I didn’t move quickly through the library and on to the church in time for midday prayers. I tried to imagine what this library as museum-like space must have felt like at a time when it was used by the abbey’s inhabitants for reading, study and the preservation of important writings and documents. 

There’s something awe-inspiring yet familiar about library spaces, be they tiny neighbourhood public library branches, historic, national libraries or monastery libraries like this one. The Melk Abbey library with its tall beautiful shelves, gilded woodwork, and row upon row of rare and ancient tomes arranged in neat sections beginning with the Bible, followed by Theology, Jurisprudence, Geography and Astronomy, History and Baroque lexica make this library a beautiful and inspiring treasure, a place for quiet contemplation and marvel. For me, as a modern-day visitor, the grandeur and the “library-ness” of this historic library lies not only in its collections and appearance, which are magnificent, but in the importance and reverence it was accorded as a repository of knowledge and information, at the center of its community.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Celebrating Canadian Library Month

Kristen Holm, Calgary Public Library

Every year Libraries across the country celebrate Canadian Library Month in October. According to CLA, the theme of Your Library: Your World: Opening Doors to the Future "emphasizes the ability of libraries to introduce new ideas, new stories, and new ways into the world around us through both traditional and emerging technologies.”

The celebration of Canadian Library Month helps promote the crucial role that libraries play in Canadian society. From providing access to information and acting as advocates of intellectual freedom, to fostering literacy, leisure and lifelong learning, our libraries continually strive to enrich and enhance the lives of Canadians.

The Calgary Public Library is hosting a series of events in celebration of Canadian Library Month. These events include a small business trade show, a world languages fair and a weekend devoted to world travel. For more information on these events or others happening at Calgary Public Library during the month of October check out the Library's Headline News Page.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Travel the World Through Your Public Library

Pat Lancaster
Reference Assistant, Calgary Public Library

Anchors Aweigh!! Cruising 101 will be part of a weekend of travel programs at Calgary Public Library in October. To celebrate Canadian Library Month, the Humanities Department is presenting a series of fascinating programs covering destinations from Ethiopia to the Rockies, travelling by foot, by boats big and small, or by plane. We will be using the weekend to showcase our extensive Travel collection and resources.
The Travel Weekend is a fairly new initiative at CPL. We premiered a day of Budget Travel programs last fall, recruiting some of our partner organizations to present. For example, Travel Cuts presented two programs, “Europe on a Budget” and “South Pacific on a Budget”. We also showed a film “A Map for Saturday” about hostelling, followed by a presentation by Hostelling International.

We took advantage of the event to offer a program which highlighted the many resources available through the library for those who are travelling near and far. “Travel Tips for Budget Travellers” has been created by two of our staff members and was presented as part of our Travel Day as well as at other branches of the library.

To build on the success of last year, we have arranged a 2-day event this year. On Saturday, October 23, we will be featuring programs on international travel, beginning with presentations by two of our very own librarians. Rosemary Griebel will be sharing her transformative journey along the Camino de Santiago. Gerry Burger-Martindale will be doing a talk and slide show on her recent trip to Ecuador and the exotic Galapagos. We will also be hosting a program on travelling to Ethiopia, and repeating Travel Cuts’ “Europe on a Budget” program and “Travel Tips for Budget Travellers”.

On Sunday, we will be concentrating on destinations closer to home. We are particularly pleased to have Ben Gadd, noted guide and naturalist, sharing a light-hearted, multi-media presentation on enjoying the natural wonders of the Rockies. We will also host a program on Native Encounters, presented by Creative Adventures, another partner organization. The day will start with a classic travel film, “Headless Valley: Down the Nahanni. Calgarians Mel and Ethel Ross made a funny and charming film about their 1950s voyage down this challenging river.

Watch our Travel Talks blog over the next month as we will be featuring entries by Gerry on her Galapagos trip as a lead-in to her presentation in October. Travel Talk features entries by CPL staff members on destinations near and far.

We would love to have you join us at our Travel Weekend for some or all of these events. To find out more or to register, our programming for Canadian Library Month or call Humanities at 403-260-2785. These events are great fun for both the world and armchair traveler!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Shhhhh! A Library-Themed Movie Night and Tour of Noise-Reducing Renovations

Join the Foothills Library Association for a free evening of popcorn, movie-watching and fun! There will be a tour of the recent renovations to the Mount Royal University Library, followed by a screening of the Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy classic, Desk Set.

Popcorn and sodas will be provided.
  • Where: Mount Royal University Library Viewing Room
  • When: Thursday, October 28 @ 6:30pm
  • Tickets: Free!
  • RSVP:FLA Events page
Parking Information:
  • Most convenient public lot is Lot 8
  • Use the East Gate Entrance and the Library will be on the right (see map).
  • Parking is $4.00 after 4:00 PM

Friday, October 1, 2010

FLA Kicks Off Another Year with the Bubbly Brunch

Becky Willson
Mount Royal University Library
FLA Executive Member, Events Line

Cheers! - photo by Francine May
The Foothills Library Association kicked off another year with its annual opening event – the Bubbly Brunch. The event was hosted at the Memorial Park branch of the Calgary Public Library on Sunday, September 26th. Thirty-five library technicians and librarians attended the event at this lovely Carnegie library.

There was very little formal program. The new FLA president, Jerremie Clyde, gave a welcome speech and mentioned some of the upcoming events the FLA will be hosting this fall and winter. The two main activities were the food and the conversation. There was a delicious traditional breakfast spread of eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, fruit and, of course, bubbly. But the event was really to allow people who work in libraries to network and socialize. People from a wide variety of libraries came including public, regional, academic and special libraries. And judging by the level of conversation before, during and after brunch, the event was a success.

As people were finishing up conversations with old schoolmates, former colleagues and new friends, the brunch ended with a tour of Memorial Park Library. It was a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning. Thanks to everyone who came out to the event.