Friday, June 8, 2012

CLA Conference Highlights

Hello everyone, it’s Robin here. I’m guest blogging this week, as I’m just back from the 67th annual Canadian Library Association conference in Ottawa, and there’s a lot to report on. The conference this year was full of political “frisson” as one Twitterer put it. Some 60 delegates arrived early in Ottawa to spend a day on Parliament Hill, talking with MPs and sharing their thoughts and concerns about cuts to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the CAP program. As a result of these meetings, a question about CAP and rural access to high-bandwidth Internet was posed during question period the following day.

As you may have heard, government cuts to LAC will likely impact on interlibrary loan in Canada. Our National Librarian, Dr. Daniel Caron, opened the conference with a speech that carefully sidestepped much of the controversy. The speech was also the official “launch” of LAC’s foray into the social media sector, with YouTube and Twitter channels now available. Based on rumblings on Twitter and amongst delegates, Dr. Caron’s message was not very well received by delegates.

On Thursday afternoon, I was privileged to participate in The Great Debate. My debating partner Stephen Abram and I were on the pro side of the resolution: “Be it resolved that the core values of librarianship are antiquated and obsolete.” We talked about access, privacy, democracy, and the public good. The debate was a fun and thought-provoking exchange for debaters and spectators alike.
There were many interesting sessions at the conference. A highlight was “Getting your library from good to great,” wherein the CEO of a smaller Ontario public library talked about using the principles of Jim Collins’ Good to Great to take her library to the next level. If you’re interested in Good to Great, find it here:

On Saturday I presented on our very own Médiathèque Emma Morrier, discussing the challenges of running a French-language library in a minority environment. It was a great chance to meet colleagues from across Canada interested in French library services.

At the CLA this year, it was impossible to deny that big things are happening in libraries. Everywhere delegates were talking about copyright, ebooks, library funding, and so on. It’s clear that we are in a disruptive time in Canadian libraries. While sometimes uncomfortable, I believe that disruptive forces can present new opportunities for growth and self-evaluation, if we are up to the task! I am excited to work with Chinook Arch member libraries to confront the challenges that await us with new and innovative services!

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