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My librarian wedding

17 Mar

Thank you card image 2

As my friends and colleagues know, last summer I married a fellow librarian Graham Lavender. Graham and I met in 2008 when I began my studies at McGill’s School of Information Studies. I was part of a group of nervous first-year students and Graham was a confident second-year student available at the orientation to talk to my group, answering our questions and calming our fears about the course load and certain professors.  We quickly connected and worked on many interesting projects together including co-organizing Web 2.You 2009. It was thanks to Graham’s encouragement that I got involved in library associations and was able to add so many fun and rewarding extra-curricular activities to my plate of experiences in library school.

Fast forward a few years to our engagement and I knew that I wanted to somehow include our librarian profession in the wedding. I scoured the internet for any wedding decorations or themes related to libraries. I had a hard time deciding how prominently I wanted our librarian careers to become a theme for the wedding. It was important, despite nods to our chosen profession, that the wedding remain elegant (I recognized the potential of a library-themed wedding to be extremely cheesy).

Save the Date

I found a few fun ideas like our Save the Date card that I made using old due date slips. Our guests loved these Save the Dates. They were simple to make (I am not a crafty person) and we got lots of compliments about how “cute” they were. They were a bit time consuming because I had to stamp each card one at a time and Graham helped out big time by writing our wedding website URL on the bottom of each card. In the end we were very happy with the results.

Book Number

A few months beDSC_6806fore our wedding we attended another librarian’s wedding and I shamelessly stole her idea of using books as centerpieces with the table numbers. Again this project was very easy to execute; we found hardcover books that were white/blue/gray and then I bought pretty paper at Michael’s and cut out the numbers for each table. On some wedding blogs, I saw couples using books that had special significance for them. We did not put that much thought into the titles; we were happy to use any books we found on our shelves (and the bookshelves of family members) that would be sturdy enough to remain standing up and that would “look pretty”.


In order to inform our guests of the seating plan, I printed (with a typewriter font) the name of each guest on a library due date cards. The cards were colour coordinated so that the servers could quickly see who had ordered which meal (white for veggie, blue for chicken, and pink for salmon).  Each due date card was then put in a pocket that had the table number on it. The table numbers had been cut out of fancy paper (similar to the table numbers). This was fairly time consuming but totally worth it. The caterers organized the cards on a table in the lobby in alphabetical order. It was very easy for our guests before entering the reception hall to find their card and see at what table they would be seated. I was so focused on all of our guests that the head-table was a bit of an after-thought, so I ended up putting the letter H on the due date card pocket for “head table”.

The most cre_JH16964ative element to our librarian themed wedding was our cake. We were so lucky to have such a creative baker who listened to my vague idea (it would be fun if the cake had something to do with books) and designed a cake that was exactly what I wanted. Luckily, Jennifer, the cake-lady from Cakeaholic in Toronto, understood the vision of combining books with sunflowers and made the most beautiful and delicious cake. It was a huge hit!

We had a fantastic day and if you are interested in seeing more pictures from the wedding, you can visit our photographer James Heaslip’s wedding blog. James was a great photographer and if you look closely in some of the photos you might even spot a few other librarians!


LWB Innovation from the Margins

18 May

I had an awesome time at the Librarians Without Borders event “Innovation from the Margins” last Friday. To find out more about the event and the speakers, check out the blog post that I wrote for the LWB website.


LWB’s Unconference : Innovation from the Margins

18 Apr

A lot of the interest in my Biblioblond blog has been generated by my accounts of my participation in the McGill University’s Librarians Without Borders trip to Asturias Academy in Guatemala in May of 2010. This experience remains to be one of the most challenging and yet incredibly fulfilling few weeks of my life and I’m always happy when people take an interest in our trip and the work involved in creating a library at Asturias Academy.

I haven’t done much with Librarians Without Borders in the past few years since my trip and so I’m very excited to be helping out with LWB’s first “unconference” in Toronto on Friday May 11th. I’m always happy to hear an  interesting line-up of speakers and this event promises to be extremely stimulating for librarians who like to think and discuss big ideas surrounding global librarianship. Proceeds from the registration from this event will go towards future LWB projects.

I invite everyone in the Toronto area to come and participate in an interesting evening of “discussion, open debate, and exploration” all in support of a worthy cause!

To register online or for more information, visit the LWB website.

Self-education on how to market libraries

27 May

Not marketing your activities is like standing in a dark corner and winking at a girl. You know what you are doing but nobody else does. (Anon.)

And so begins the introduction to A Short-cut to Marketing the Library written by Swedish library consultant Zuzana Helinsky. I recently got this book from the McGill Library’s collection in a desperate attempt to teach myself important concepts that I feel were not adequately covered in library school. When I begin my new position as a Public Library Director in June, I anticipate that the responsibility of developing a marketing strategy for the library will fall into my lap and I want to be as prepared as possible.

As the title suggests, Helinsky’s book offers an extremely brief (only 90 pages) introduction to applying marketing concepts specifically to libraries and is written in an easy to understand language for all us non-business students. Unfortunately this book spends too many of its 90 pages preaching to the choir on the importance of marketing. If I did not already think that marketing library collections and services should be a priority than I would not have borrowed the book in the first place. There was really no need to include so many redundant clichés and analogies to demonstrate that libraries should focus more on marketing (although I must admit that I do find the opening analogy quoted above particularly amusing and applicable).

One point of interest that I learned that I had not previously thought of is Owner marketing. Owner marketing is the idea that you should not only be marketing your library to its users and potential users but that you should also develop a plan to market the library to the “decision makers”. In an academic setting this could be the university authorities like the deans, provosts and principal. In a public library setting this could be the local politicians and/or the library board of directors. Essentially these are the people who allocate the library’s budget and have the final say on approving big projects such as renovations or the creation of a new staff position. In order to ensure that these decision-makers are supportive of the library, they must understand the value of the library within the community/institution and this takes a proper marketing strategy.

The book also mentions certain marketing tools that would benefit librarians in the analysis stage of developing a marketing strategy such as the SWOT, PEST, and Porter’s five forces analysis. We saw these strategies in our Management class but seeing them again in this book has reminded me of the importance of taking the time to brainstorm and use all the information available to develop a clear marketing strategy instead of simply improvising. I tend to be very good at improvising with ideas but I recognize the value of having a game plan in order to effectively promote and validate actions.

Although the author mentions a few interesting marketing ideas that have been used in libraries in Sweden such as a Competitions, using Social Networking to connect virtually with users, and holding a Library Ball, I would be extremely interested in hearing your ideas that could be applied to a small town public library. I have also heard of libraries hosting Speed Dating events and I am extremely intrigued to hear from anyone who has experience with this type of event and who could share its outcomes!

The future of libraries is awesome!

13 Feb

Comments that I have received from readers of my blog say that one of things they appreciate most is the fact that I have positive attitude and that I am optimistic about what lies ahead for me as a future librarian. It is true that some doomsday types talk about the end of libraries, how librarianship is becoming an obsolete profession, and that their pursuit of an MLIS degree was a waste of time. Blah, Blah, Blah… I just don’t buy it. I have met so many fantastic librarians who love their jobs and although there are challenges in librarianship (like in all professions), I think that the general consensus is that librarians and libraries are still doing awesome things for users and that our efforts are appreciated. No one radiates the idea that being a librarian is a worthy profession more than Michael Stephens. I challenge everyone to look at what this man has to say about librarians and not be convinced that as a profession, librarians rock!
Web 2.0: Into a New World of Librarianship by Michael Stephens

Defining Reading

3 Aug

For a final paper for a summer class at McGill’s School of Information Studies (SIS), I was asked to contemplate the question of the demise of reading. I argued that rather than the demise of reading, we should be considering the evolution of reading since forms of reading and writing have been evolving for longer than millennia. Even Socrates lamented an evolution in the popularity of writing that he felt ““[gave] only the semblance of truth; [students] will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality” .

The topic of my paper came about from “Reading at Risk” a report from 2004 on the decline of reading in America and in its 2007 follow-up report “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence”.  In these reports the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) predicts the demise of literary reading as a leisure activity within half a century.  However, much like Socrates, the NEA’s reports rely on an obvious preference for the status quo; a narrow definition of reading that focuses on the reading of fiction in print format for leisure purposes.

I argued that with the incredible transformations that have occurred in the 21st century society due to the invention of the internet, it is unrealistic to expect that the concept of reading remain the same as it was in past centuries.  Thanks to the popularity of Web 2.0, the tendency of passive reading has evolved into a reading-writing relationship. People are now participating in communities of dialogue where formats like blogs and on-line editorials allow readers to interact with authors and with other readers.

Of course upon reading these comments my dad argued that when he read, he did not wish to participate in a dialogue but rather he reads as a form of escapism, to become lost in a good  story with intriguing characters.  I agree that there is a lot of be said for this act of escapism. Why else would I and so many other people be addicted to Sophie Kinsella books? However,  as a future librarian, I cannot assume that this form of reading will remain popular throughout my entire career.  I admit that I prefer a good novel like the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer to any blog posts I’ll read, but I recognize that librarians must be ready for whatever evolution in reading comes their way. Unlike the NEA, I will not sit back and cry that people aren’t “reading” anymore.  I will be ready to meet the needs of my future patrons, but perhaps I will keep a stack of good novels in my back room, just in case!

Yes, Another Library related Blog but this one’s written by a blond!

26 May

The universe of Web 2.0 is powerful and librarians can either remain confused and intimated by all the ho0pla surrounding these technologies or they can experiment with them in order to discover a world of possibilities that may or may not work for them…but then at least they’ll know.

Since I started my masters in the School of Information Studies at McGill University, talk of the influence of Web 2.0 in the library world has been .  I even co-organized a day conference entitled Web 2.You with the likes of Michael Stephens, Stephen Abram, Amy Buckland and my favourite Inspired Library School Student: Graham Lavender.

However, it wasn’t until hearing a discussion at the 2009 WILU conference that everything clicked. Interactive discussion on any topic leads to critical thinking and critical thinking leads to true learning and understanding. I realized that if I want to understand the many topics that interest me that I’m hearing about through readings, presentations, and conferences then I need to have a platform where I can voice my opinions about these issues and have constructive feedback from others.

Please take part in what will hopefully become a forum for librarians of all disciplines and hopefully we will all better understand why interaction makes learning and critical thinking so much more enjoyable and effective!