The CLA's Speed Networking Event

Lisa Chen is a second term MLIS student. She has served as the SLA's first-term representative and secretary but likes to be involved in other student group events when possible. Her interests are in special and academic libraries. She also enjoys playing pokemon, reading, writing and watching anime in her free time. You can read about her journey and thoughts on librarianship here.
Note: This has been cross-posted on Lisa Chen's blog.
On July 24th, I attended the CLA student group’s Speed Networking event at the Central Library. It was a small affair with big benefits. I was acquainted with various professionals who had great advice for the participants. It was also an opportunity to enhance my social skills and get used to developing connections as a growing professional.
The first person I met was Mary Kosta, an archivist at the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She is a recent graduate from Western’s MLIS program and it was interesting to hear her journey through the field, as she was a mature student. Kosta explained to us the principles of archiving while also giving advice about joining associations, signing up for listservs and partaking in the Young Canada Works program.
Second was Tom Adam, the Project Manager and Special Advisor to the Provost at Western Libraries. Adam is highly involved with copyright and educating faculty and students about respecting and acknowledging authors’ rights. He was passionate about the library as the centre to interpret copyright. For networking, he recommended attending conferences, as word about you spreads amongst professionals.
Sandra McKeown was third. She is a Clinical Librarian at the London Health Sciences Centre. McKeown went the extra mile and provided us with a comprehensive handout (see below) about a librarian’s duties at the hospital. She recommended connecting with Canadian Health Libraries Association and the Medical Library Association‘s listservs while also taking advantage of continuing education courses.
The fourth and final person I spoke to was Linda Ludke, a Selection Librarian at London Public Library. Ludke embodied enthusiasm as she talked about her involvement with collection development. She also published and read book reviews to help make her decisions. She explained in great depth the relationship librarians have with publishers and budgeting for books. Ludke reminded us to not overlook the potential of volunteering, as you can meet future employers and coworkers that way.
The speed networking event was a great opportunity to try new things. I handed out my first  business cards and spoke to professionals I had never met before; this is what it’s like to connect with professionals in the library field at the micro level. I learned that it is easy to start a conversation. All of the professionals were eager to share their knowledge and experiences with students. If the CLA does it again, I would recommend you attend as it is an inexpensive yet golden opportunity to try new things.
For future participants, I recommend that you dress professionally, bring your business cards and prepare some general questions. Also bring a pen and paper to take notes.

What Is A Library?

Sarah Morrison is the treasurer for the UWO CLA during the Summer 2014 term. She enjoys technology, non-fiction, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lego, and Scaredy Squirrel. You can read more about her thoughts on libraries as her blog:

Thanks to my Grandpa for spurring my thoughts on this topic. I was talking with him about all sorts of good stuff, like how database vendors work, the changes in reference services, and Millennials, and this came up.
I was describing how I wrote my papers for this first MLIS term, and I realized that I didn’t use any books from the library for any of them. I used 90% journal articles available online, a few journal articles that I had to photocopy from Weldon, and the odd GRC resource.

4 Ways In Which Comicons Are Similar to Professional (Library) Conferences

Catherine Alderson is the current chair of the Western University CLA Student Chapter. She hails from the west coast, and though she understands rain, she still looks for Thor every time there is a thunderstorm. She has a totally normal love for female superheroes,YA literature, and the art of pie charts. This semester she can be found living in the computer lab, as her apartment is stupidly hot. She doesn't even mind the arctic temperatures of the lab. No really. 

Back in January, I got to experience my first library conference at the OLA Super Conference in Toronto. Having had such a great experience there, when the announcement came that the CLA/SLA conferences would be in Victoria and Vancouver respectively, I jumped at the chance to make the trip back to my home coast (when the west coast is involved, I will always volunteer as tribute). Brief and busy, the trip wasn’t much of a vacation, and I headed to the CLA conference right off the plane. The following week was used to recover from my conference experience, as well as to finally get acclimatized to the new time zone and the next thing I knew I was at the second conference. Then it was off to the airport to catch the red eye because it’s still the middle of the semester, and I have class at 9:00am. I met a ton of interesting, fantastic people in a variety of sessions, and everyone was incredibly kind, welcoming and generous with their time. I left feeling very encouraged, inspired and excited for the big “What’s Next?” when I graduate with my MLIS in August.
My past experience with gatherings of like minds, have been at what I affectionately term “nerd conventions”. In particular, Emerald City Comicon and Vancouver FanExpo. Surprisingly, there are several things that the two kinds of gatherings have in common.

Dress for success!

At various comicons, attendees let their geek flags fly. Whether through a particularly clever shirt, everyday cosplay, or straight up costuming.


At library conferences, people tend to dress anywhere from casual to business. You never know who you’re going to meet, so you want to make a great impression whether you’re representing yourself or your library.

Sleep? What Sleep?

Up early. Go to bed late. There is so much to see and do, sleep tends to get forgotten about.
A good rule of thumb, in an attempt to stay healthy through the conference, is the “5-2-1 rule”. Every day, make sure you get 5 hours of sleep, eat 2 solid meals, and have 1 shower. That shower one should go without saying, but for nerd conventions it kind of needs to be mentioned. Lots of people in a stuffy convention centre is a recipe for unpleasantness unless everyone follows some basic hygiene.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This

Source: Know Your Meme

It’s going to be a long day, pack accordingly!
  • Comfortable shoes – You will walk more than you think you will.
  • Snacks – sometimes you miss lunch. Avoid that blood sugar crash!
  • Water bottle – some conference centres have water everywhere (I LOVE YOU SO MUCH VICTORIA CONFERENCE CENTRE FOR THIS), others not quite so much. Stay hydrated! You’ll be talking to lots of people, and convention centres are always weirdly drying with their recycled air.
  • A full charge on your phone. The cord so you can charge it again after the battery dies from all your live tweeting. A portable charger in case of a lack of outlet.
  • Backpack or swag bag. You will acquire stuff. Sometimes from vendors, sometimes by magic.
Water Cozy
Victoria Conference Centre Water Cozy

Meeting of the Minds

Ultimately for all that nerd conventions and library conferences appear different on the surface, they are both about gathering a bunch of people together who are all passionate about the same things. A great place to make new friends and connections, while learning and sharing about the things that inspire you.

In Defence of Volunteer Work

Tiffany Champagne is a final term MLIS student, and previously received her B.A. in History from Brescia University College. She enjoys drawing, writing, and reading (of course), and when not hard at work, often thinks about resume building and standing out. You can read more of her thoughts on librarianship at her blog here.

If any of you were like me, you often were told in high school, and perhaps beyond, that volunteer experience “looks good on a resume!” I’m not about to argue that. Nor am I going to argue that volunteering isn’t a good thing in general. But volunteering in libraries is a whole other ballpark.

Highlights from WILU 2014 (Workshop for Instruction in Library Use)

Sarah Morrison is the treasurer for the UWO CLA during the Summer 2014 term. She enjoys technology, non-fiction, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lego, and Scaredy Squirrel. You can read more about her experiences at WILU on her blog at:

The first event of day one was the keynote, hosted by Craig Gibson, from Ohio State University, and Trudi Jacobson, from theUniversity at Albany – SUNY. They were presenting about the Framework for 
Information Literacy for Higher Education, an initiative through the Association of College & Research Libraries. They talked about re-framing information literacy literacy based on threshold concepts.

Our first workshop was called Inspiring Professional Development on a Shoestring: Facilitating Learning Opportunities for Information Literacy Instructors. It was hosted by Lisa Shamchuk from MacEwan University in Edmonton. She spoke about the professional development activities she’s provided, including an IL Community, Library PD Days, and an amazing sounding IL Palooza. The highlight for me was talking about the teaching styles workshop she runs, where they all take a Teaching Perspectives inventory. I love stuff like this, and I took mine! I’m a nurturer, if you’re wondering.

The Fetishization of the Library

Tiffany Champagne is a third-and-final-term MLIS student, and previously received her B.A. in History from Brescia University College. When not working on homework, she’s noticed that a lot of people like to send book things her way, and while it’s undoubtedly neat, it also paints an interesting picture of how libraries are viewed today.

The “fetishization” of books is something that Stephen Abram talked about a long while ago, during the CLA-SLA conference (and which Ryan has discussed more in depth here). You can see examples of this in the dismissal of e-books being less ‘real’ than published ones, or how non-librarians seem to think librarians get to read all day. That’s why topics such as the infamous BiblioTech in Bexar County, Texas provoke such discussion, because it’s a library with no books! No books! Can you imagine it?

But while all of those certainly are important, I’d like to focus on something else I’ve noticed lately that ties into that: the fetishization of the library. Specifically, what appears to be nostalgia for such items as the card catalogue and the due date cards.

Indeed. (From

The Library Showdown Smackdown: Abram versus Buschman

This has been reposted with permission from Ryan Regier's blog awayofhappening.

Ryan Regier is a second term MLIS student at UWO, and is probably the best one. His MLIS interests include, how graphic novel collections are managed by public libraries, potential 'Big Data' information that e-books can collect from their readers, and libraries' expansion into more roles within the community. In his spare time he enjoys trying to finish everything on Netflix, engaging in self-denial about the Toronto Raptors chances of winning a NBA championship, and cuddling small animals. 

Ok. So in the past few weeks I’ve seen two of the leading voices in librarianship speak, both Stephen Abram and John Buschman. Both are fascinating speakers, charismatic personas and, without doubt, brilliant individuals. However, I couldn’t help but notice some fundamental differences between the things they were saying. I’ve been thinking this through for a while and thought it might help to try and get some of these thoughts down on paper. So be warned, this ideas are extremely half baked and maybe should have stayed in the oven for a while longer. But what are Blogs for? So here we go.

At the very beginning of his lecture Abram’s stated flat out that being a Librarian is no longer about books. You should not be in this program if you want to work with books. When it comes to things like recommending and helping individuals find books: “Chapters does it better.” Gasp! I looked back at the audience when he said that and saw a lot of these faces:

“The Book” still has a place of prominence at Western Library School. We are a program of History and English graduates. Who speak in fond terms of the smell of a book and the feel of an old Book Store. We engage in a kind of snobbishness, fetishization, and nostalgia when it comes to the whole e-books versus physical book debate. “E-books just don’t produce the same experience” “They can’t match the feel of a book” “You can’t cuddle up and read an E-book like you do an actual book” Etcetera.

No pitchforks came out on Saturday though. He successfully won us all back talking about the profound importance of the Librarian’s job and how we were extremely undervalued. Librarians, he argued, can do anything (I’m paraphrasing there, but that was the gist of it).  He talked about his career as working as a librarian, which went from such impressive things like changing a school systems start time, so the kids could be more rested and pay more attention in class, to even more impressive things like changing the Constitution (!) to more inclusive of people with diverse sex and gender identities.

Impressive no? We all thought so. This was the main point of his presentation. That Librarians are no longer tied to the idea of libraries as places to find books. Libraries should be centers of learning. He gave the example of how libraries should have filmmaking resources for local filmmakers and how they should also work closer with the local school system. A lot of his lecture was focused on how ‘Change’ was a good thing.

A couple of his slides

He probably wouldn’t enjoy this analogy (and a lot of you probably won’t either) but what he wanted from Libraries was to be like Google. For Libraries to be involved and taking part in every form of learning that happened without a community. For Libraries to focus on public relations, marketing, and research. Libraries need to know their user’s needs and wants before they do and be there to provide them. 

Yah. I know…. Libraries need to be like Google without the profit driven motive that Google has. That’s what he was saying. They also need to be more local and community driven rather than international. This is perhaps where we get a leg up on Google.

Just one more thing about Abram and then we will get to Buschman. I promise. Abram was also very positive on the idea of libraries partnering and working with private companies. That libraries are not an island of information but need to network with other non-profit and profit based companies. That partnerships are the way of the future for libraries (more on this later)

Now where would Buschman stand in regards to all of this? I think ultimately he would agree with a lot of the ends that Abram had in mind. The idea of libraries moving past the book and becoming much more involved in the community. However Buschman would do some serious slight head-shaking and mouth-tightening (His facial response when he disagrees has a kind of Christopher Hitchenest look) at the means proposed by Abrams to getting to these ends.

Buschman is of the old left politically (Or new left? Neo-left? Post-left? Sigh. Whatever the label for “not a Marxist but isn’t offended being called one” is these days). And so has this very nostalgic ideas about the libraries place as being part of the public sphere and working closely with lower classes and unions. He thinks neo-liberalism is bringing about the death of the public sphere and replacing values with profit. That companies like Google are a tragedy and destroying public live and making everything corporate and greedy.

[We were talking about Google with Buschman and (to attempt to quote him from memory) he said this interesting quote about google: “the thing about Google is that once you realize just how far and how ingrained they are, you realize it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s like a one-two punch. You realize the problem and then right after you realize there is no solution”]

Buschman believes that things are seriously changing for the worse when it comes to community engagement, class warfare, and public libraries. That all this marketing, PR, and relentless entrepreneurship will continue to expand the digital divide. Libraries and Librarians then have duty to fight against these trends and continue to give the left and the public sphere a voice.

Abram, on the other hand, believes libraries should jump to the front of this trend. That we should be leading the charge of this wide and diverse change.

Now hold up here. If you had to put Abram and Buschman in the same room, you would discover that they have very similar value systems. Both think libraries should be more engaged in the community, both think freedom of information should be the most important value of any library, and both think librarians’ talents and skills are severely underutilized.
Is the difference then solely a political one? That one has embraced capitalism and the other fights against it? But they both want such similar things…. It’s just the methods they would go to get them is different. Abram wants libraries to copy and work with private companies, while Buschman thinks we should look more toward public institutions for guidance and fight off the private sector.
Now Abrams articulated something very interesting in his talk about the private and public divide. He stated how they both have very messed up views of each other (See my blog post about the public/private divide in library school). That, particularly, the private sphere isn’t driven by profit. Yep. He mentioned how when he worked the private sphere, when they talked about producing and selling a new product, they never focused on how much money it would make, but rather how much influence it would have. Profit is just a means to an end for private companies. And you can call the end influence or status, but what it really is is power. 

Power also drives the public sphere, they just have very different ideas on how to get there. Instead of using profit as a means to this end, there is more of a focus on community, democracy, and engagement. But, of course, this private/public means divide is waayyy to simple of a binary. It’s more complex. Sometimes public institutions are driven by profit and sometimes private companies are driven by engagement. The public sphere and private economy are a lot more entangled then we think.

Whoa. So getting a bit to theoretical and off topic there. I just think this public/private divide is exactly what the Buschman/Abrams divide is. Which means they are both more complex and intertwined then we give them credit for.

So that’s a pretty lame conclusion right? Who wins the debate between Buschman and Abrams? “Well…they both kinda win…it’s complex…” Ouch. Sorry. But it’s true. I think maybe putting them against each other is a mistake in the first place.
BUT, the thing is, I really feel like Buschman and Abram would have a “Rumble in the Jungle” if put in the same room. They make up two political trends of librarianship that are very evident in our profession. I feel you could very easily have a whole 9001 class debating between two of their articles and which one is right about librarianship. It would be interesting to do a survey of our program and see who took what side. I feel like it would be evenly split. Really though, I think we are simplifying this dispute when it is really much more complex.
There. I took the Buschman and Abram dispute and used it as a metaphor for Librarianship as a whole. That’s a much better conclusion. I’ll end there.