Monday, March 21, 2011

Calgary Libraries In Action 2011 – the “Unconventional Panel”

This year’s Calgary Libraries in Action (CLIA) was held on the evening of March 10th at the historic Lougheed House in downtown Calgary.

Nearly 40 members and friends of the Foothills Library Association attended the event, which showcased a panel of local library and information professionals, selected to speak about their unique current and former jobs.

The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour where guest enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails served by The Restaurant in the Mission room and bar. It was a wonderful opportunity for guests to mingle with friends and colleagues from across the city and to meet new several new members and new arrivals to the library community in our city. Guests were able to explore the stunning historic mansion, built in 1891, that was home to Senator James Alexander Lougheed, his wife Lady Isabella Hardisty Lougheed and their family for many years.

The panel discussion was held in the Drawing room and hosted by Katharine Barrette, FLA’s Vice-president. Each of the panelists were asked to speak about their current or former jobs, what makes them unique and how they ended up there. The panelists were each incredibly engaging, funny, honest and interesting in their accounts of what they did and how they felt about their jobs.

Jilliane Yawney began by sharing hilarious and touching accounts of her “5 best” moments as the Cybrarian at Calgary Public Library. A wonderful storyteller, Jilliane observed that sometimes she felt that “Cybrarian” sometimes felt like a bit of a misnomer because a large part of her work includes face-to-face interaction with teens and youths who participate in CPL’s programs and activities. She highlighted the highly creative nature of her work, and the fact that she does spend a lot of time online blogging, tweeting and posting youth and teen artworks, creative writing and videos to the TeenZone.

The next panelist to speak was Jeremy Duffin, Information Management and Privacy Advisor for Mount Royal University. Jeremy, who went to library school to become an archivist, found his way into the information management world with a job at the Vancouver Police Centennial Museum and went on to work in records management positions in the oil and gas industry. His work at Mount Royal has him spending time with colleagues across the institution providing and information and training opportunities with respect to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) legislation and best practices. Jeremy had the audience chuckling with his accounts of how he “makes FOIP fun”!

Pat Sandercock, Acting General Manager of the Health Knowledge Network, a consortium of  health sciences and medical libraries in Alberta, then spoke quite candidly as her “former life” as vendor. Though her knowledge of the locations of each and every washroom and electrical outlet in every airport in Western Canada and the United States was impressively humourous, Pat’s account served as an important reminder of how challenging and grueling the work of vendors can be, particularly during conference season, when they can be away from home and family for weeks at a time. Not always the glamourous and party-filled life we may imagine it to be, the opportunity to learn about what it is like to be a vendor, from a librarian that many folks in the audience know quite well, reminds us that the people who sell us information products make sacrifices, work under a great deal of pressure, and are certainly deserving of our respect.

After the initial panel discussion, coffee, tea and desserts were served, and guests had the chance to chat with each other and informally with the panelists. The group reconvened for some audience questions before the evening wrapped up.

Foothills Library Association thanks the Lougheed House, The Restaurant, Jilliane Yawney, Jeremy Duffin, and Pat Sandercock for making such an informative and enjoyable evening possible.

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