Sunday, November 20, 2011

Library Assessment at the University of York

This summer I attended the “9th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services”. If library assessment is your thing I can highly recommend this conference.

One of the most informative presentations I attended was by Graham Stone from the University of Huddersfield. He was presenting some data from a recent study correlating library use with academic achievement. The fact that students at this university need to swipe their cards not only to use electronic resources and check out books but also to enter the library meant some great opportunities for data correlation. Their results of this study indicate that physical visits to the library are NOT correlated with academic achievement BUT e-resource use and book borrowing ARE. This was true across all disciplines. It seems that students need to do more than just hang out in the library for their grades to go up; they actually need to use the stuff that is on the shelves or in the databases too! Check out the rest of the presentations.

I also very much enjoyed my tour of the newly renovated York University Library. I never pass up the opportunity to check out snazzy new library furniture like this. They had bright red couches, modular tables and, something I particularly enjoyed, some very neat individual booths. With all this cool new furniture that is available for Libraries it made me wonder if a new article which reports that patrons prefer traditional library spaces were true. Could it really be that students prefer the heavy wooden tables and chairs in darkened spaces to the mini-booth, the bean bag chair and ample natural light? Or are they simply referring to an image they have in their heads of how they think libraries “should” be?

Here are some photos for you other library furniture junkies.

-Francine May

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The New FLA Website

Welcome to the new FLA Website!

Not only do we have a new page design, but we've also changed hosts. Please bear with us as we work to tidy up the new design and update links across our sites over the next couple of days.

We hope that these changes will make the FLA website easier for you to navigate and easier for us to maintain over the long term, allowing us to continue presenting you with information on everything that is happening in Calgary's library community.

While some URLs within the site have changed you can still find our publications at their usually places.

You can also still find the FLA homepage at

Other changes coming soon:

  1. Updated designs for Events Line and Jobline
  2. Integration of old FLAG issues with the FLA Gazette page
Thank you for your patience during this transition. If you notice any issues with the new, please email

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Librarians Run for the Cure

On October 2, 38 staff from libraries across Calgary joined tens of thousands of other Canadians to participate in the 20th annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. Run for the Cure is the largest single day fundraising event to support breast cancer research, education and health initiatives in Canada. This year, Canadians raised more than 30 million dollars to help create a world free of breast cancer.

Part of a national “Librarians Run for the Cure” team, Calgary’s faction was the largest group this year. The collectively fundraised $7150.01 and was led by Renee Reaume, a University of Calgary librarian. Renee’s bountiful energy and encouragement made her an ideal team Captain.

Runners and walkers were graced with a sunny and cool Calgary morning on race day. The 5km track was alive with activity, with volunteers yelling out words of encouragement and handing out water bottles and neighborhood locals on their lawns playing music or cheering at the participants. Overall it was a super fun and rewarding morning.

Following up on the success of the 2011 event, Calgary’s “Librarians Run for the Cure” will are already planning for next fall to try and beat the record for number of participants and fundraising across Canada.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Highlights From the Alberta Association of Library Technician’s Conference

I had the pleasure this year of serving as the Alberta Association of Library Technicians (AALT) Conference Co-Chair for 2011, along with Erin Storey. The conference ran last week from May 26th – 29th in Edmonton and I would like to share some highlights for those who missed out.

The theme for this year’s conference was Get Connected. Erin and I tried to craft a conference experience that reflected our theme by not just connecting people – which conferences should do by default – but also by connecting our delegates to new experiences, technologies and insights.

We were lucky to have two fantastic keynotes kick off each day of the conference. On Friday we heard from representatives of GELA’s Women's Prison Library & Reintegration Project. Kim Bewick, Tanya Driechel, Liz Fulton and Moyra Lang each shared some their experiences and insights from supporting reading with female inmates. They were also able to share with us the inmate’s own perspectives on reading and the impact of the Project on their lives, via video clips. It was really moving to see how important reading was to the incarcerated women, especially in the sense of community and connection they seemed to derive through programs like book club and recorded story times they could share with their children.

The Saturday keynote was from author Darcie Friesen Hossack (@mennogurl). Darcie was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize in the First Books Category and first runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for Menonnites Don’t Dance, so we were really honoured she was able to join us. Darcie spoke warmly and with a light humour of her path to completing her first book and how her Mennonite background has influenced her writing. She also read selections from her work and based on the long line at the signing table after her keynote, I was not the only one impressed by what I heard.

There were over twenty sessions at this year’s conference covering a wide range of topics. All the sessions had great feedback from delegates, but I’ll draw particular attention to a few of them:

~ Our own FLA President Jerremie Clyde talked about building a video game collection.

~ Jennifer Young had great success with her first ever conference presentation.

~ Delegates toured the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, Alberta Law Society Library and Woodcroft Branch of EPL.

~ Jay Bardyla from Happy Harbour Comics ran an open discussion session on selecting comics for school and public library collections.

~ Three fantastic authors were also able to join us as session speakers: Bob Stallworthy, Betty Jane Hegerat and Judith Graves.

~ Deb Cryderman and Sharon Thompson drew the largest single-session attendance of the conference with their session Naughty, Nice or Nixed.

One really special session by Diana Balbar of Strathcona County Library included an opportunity to see inside a book mobile. Diana kindly drove through Edmonton to the conference site and invited attendees to have a look inside after her session. I have very fond memories of the book mobile coming into my community of Ranchlands when I was a child and was surprised – and gratified - to find that some districts still utilize them.

The AALT Conference culminates on Saturday night with a banquet, including an awards ceremony and entertainment. Amongst others, honoured this year were Lynda Shurko for over 25 years of volunteer service with AALT and Deb Cryderman, Head Librarian for Stettler Public Library, for her distinguished career and contributions to libraries in Alberta.

In consideration of our theme, Erin and I wanted the banquet entertain to be something that neither of us had seen at a library conference before. We finally settled on the obvious choice: belly dancing. Four fantastic dancers from Edmonton’s Raq-a-Belly performed and even got the crowd on their feet to learn a few moves.

Tania of Raq-A-Belly Dance, Lynda Shurko, Deb Cryderman, Janis Rapchuk, Erin Storey and Kristian McInnis
If you are interested in joining the 2012 AALT Conference in Canmore as a delegate or speaker you can follow @AALTLibraryTech on Twitter or visit for information and updates as the conference approaches.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Three Librarians in Mexico: A Report from the Field

A girl celebrating her quienceaƱera
This summer I had the pleasure of traveling to Mexico to study Spanish with two of my colleagues. We traveled as participants in Mount Royal University’s Guanajuato Faculty and Staff Exchange. This program takes Mount Royal employees to Guanajuato to study Spanish and brings employees of that university back to Calgary. Along with a lot of time spent studying, exploring bustling streets, relaxing in picturesque plazas, discovering magnificent archeological ruins and seeing the delights of Mexico City we had the opportunity to explore a few of Mexico’s libraries – although it took some determination to do so.

We never actually got to enter the first library on our list as the language-learning library at the school was closed for the summer. We left a set of nose prints on the door as we each gazed in at the shelves of resources off limits to us. It took two weeks to successfully find and enter the main university library, which also serves as the local public library. Without signs to indicate regular library hours or holiday closures it took a diligent series of visits by my colleague at different times of the day to determine that yes, the library was definitely closed for vacation. A few weeks into our visit the summer vacation ended and we were finally able to explore this library. It was a nice space and the librarian was welcoming and took the time to chat with us about it. A good chance to practice using our developing Spanish skills.

Guanajuato cityscape
From two libraries that we stalked with consuming interest to a third that we stumbled on by accident in Mexico City’s inner city. Although the streets just outside the library were very busy on the Saturday morning of our visit we were the only patrons in the library. The library staff were happy to welcome us and told us about the programs offered by the library. We explored the space and noticed that the collection, as with the university library in Guanajuato, did not have many new additions and the tables were covered with books drying after a recent leak. Just outside we admired the ceilings in the archways which were covered in murals painted by one of Diego Rivera’s students while trying not to get in the way of a pair of young men using the space to learn to walk on stilts.

Beyond libraries, my experiences in Mexico gave me some small windows into the interesting history and culture of this society. For example, the impressive archeological remains attest to the amazing achievements of the people living in Mexico 2000 years ago. Even today there are over 60 different indigenous languages that continue to be spoken. The elaborate parties associated with the quienceaƱera celebrations (these are parties that celebrate girls when they turn 15) are an interesting tradition and a pleasure to observe if you stumble across these groups pausing for photos on the steps of churches.  Libraries may not play a big part in Mexican culture but that doesn’t mean that books don’t. In Guanajuato there were bookstores in almost every shopping plaza we visited. One month in Mexico was long enough to let me know that I need to spend a lot more time exploring this fascinating country.

~ Francine May