Since I began my new position in a school library last fall, I have been excited to find any professional opportunities related to school librarianship. Last fall, I saw that the CLA made a call for volunteers interested in various advisory committees:
- Copyright Advisory Committee
- Information Policy Advisory Committee
- Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee
- Library Services for People with Print‐Disabilities Advisory Committee
- School Libraries Advisory Committee
Despite many Canadian librarians being rather jaded with the CLA of late, no one can deny that one of the CLA’s most important functions as a national association is its role in advocacy. People recognize the need for a strong national voice on issues essential to the values of librarianship such as intellectual freedom and copyright. If Canadian librarians cannot present a united front to policy makers to provide information and influence them on these important issues then who will? And if it is not the CLA influencing policy makers, then there is no guarantee that those who are share our librarianship values. As I’ve mentioned I think that it is essential that librarians get involved on a larger scale in issues that they are passionate about. Anyone who is passionate about the issues covered by the advisory committees should definitely look into joining these committees for the next term.
I was impressed that such a CLA advisory committee would exist for school libraries. I submitted an application to the CLA to volunteer my time on this committee and I was pleased when my application was accepted and I was named a member of the CLA School Libraries Advisory Committee for 2012-2013. After a bit of a slow start, we had our first teleconference last week. It’s extremely interesting to be put on a committee with people from across the country with different backgrounds and levels of experience. I have to admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed; certain names of people and acronyms of associations were mentioned as if we all already knew about them but were unfamiliar to me. I was sitting at my laptop simultaneously listening to the conversation and looking up groups/websites as they were mentioned. Although I am extremely passionate about school libraries and the policies that need to be put into place and the advocacy that needs to be done, I realized that my passion can only carry me so far. I really need to read up on a lot on the actions already being carried out by various organizations (provincially, nationally and internationally) and the evidence-based research that has been conducted in this field.
As a committee we are still discussing what our specific course of action will be. The instruction we’ve received from the CLA is basically our terms of reference :
Terms of Reference for CLA School Libraries Advisory Committee
- To inform and support CLA responses to media coverage of school library issues.
- To educate the Canadian public about the role of school libraries and their professional staffing.
- To contribute to the continuous development of standards for school libraries and professional roles.
You can visit the CLA Committees webpage to find out more about the various CLA committees and opportunities to get involved. If you are interested in offering your help to these committees, the contact information of the committee members is listed on the sites.
Voting has officially begun for the new Canadian Library Association Executive Council! There has been a lot of discussion in the past year regarding the future of the CLA and now is the time to let your voice be heard by casting a vote for the new Executive Council
This spring, when I attended the CLA conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the mood was one of optimism and change. However, my friends and I couldn’t help but notice the generational divide among the attendees and contemplate its effect on the overall organizational structure of the CLA. We observed that most of the attendees were either baby-boomers or relatively young librarians (from their mid-twenties to early thirties). We couldn’t help but wonder “Where are all the librarians in-between?” The leadership positions at the CLA were almost all occupied by veteran librarians (the baby-boomer bunch) and although it makes sense that us optimistic young librarians can make valuable contributions to the CLA, it’s possible that those librarians in-between have become jaded over time because of the quasi “old-boys’ club” atmosphere that seemed prevalent at times at the conference. My friends and I discussed our concern that over time we might also lose interest in our national association if we felt disconnected to those representing us on the Executive Council. Although Dr. Ken Haycock became president of the CLA when he was only 29, that was over thirty years ago in 1978 and I certainly cannot see the CLA voting for anyone in their twenties in the current climate.
It is no secret that with experience comes wisdom but in the workplace librarians are being called upon earlier and earlier in their careers to take on leadership positions. So then why not take on leadership positions within the Canadian Library Association? Under the current conditions of libraries being threatened left and right, being involved in our national association allows librarians to stand strong together, regardless of age, and advocate for libraries. It is both up to the veteran librarians to facilitate the transfer of leadership within the CLA and for the younger and in-between librarians to speak up.
There are lots of opportunities to become involved in the CLA; it’s simply a matter of getting your act together and applying when the occasion presents itself. In the past week, the CLA has sent out calls for proposals and posters for the next conference and a call for volunteers for committees. If you are feeling motivated, I encourage you to check out these opportunities. Even if it might be too late for you to become CLA president at 29 like Dr. Ken Haycock, everyone has to start somewhere and these are great ways to become involved and gain experience within the CLA. If you are still somewhat skeptical about getting involved in a professional association the very least you can do is go and vote! The candidates for all of the positions look like they would bring a creative and fresh perspective to the various Executive positions. So read their descriptions and get involved in the CLA by voting for a Executive Council that represents you!
In the past few years, Canadian librarians have been made aware of the financial troubles of the Canadian Library Association. Membership has been on the decline and the very future of the association’s existence has been questioned. When I was a MLIS student at McGill’s School of Information Studies, student memberships were inexpensive and I was consequently the member of three different library associations including the CLA. However, when one becomes a professional the membership fees jump in price and they can be rather expensive especially when I am paying them out of my own pocket (as opposed to the fees being covered by my library institution which is the case for many lucky librarians). I have consequently had to be more selective of what associations I join. I kept my membership with CLA because I believe strongly in the benefits of a national library association. However, since I was dishing out my own money to become a member of CLA and to attend the conferences it was very important that the annual conference last week in Halifax be “worth it”.
As for my experience at CLA 2011, I can only vouch for the specific sessions that I attended and the awesome people that I hung out with. My conference experience might have greatly differed from someone else’s but I personally feel that the past week was totally worth it!
Since I started as a library director, there have been so many things that I have found challenging. Everyone has moments when they say to themselves “they never taught me that in library school” and I feel that this is probably even more the case for managers and directors.
Luckily for me, there seemed to be an abundance of sessions that spoke directly to the information needs of managers and directors. One of the most useful sessions that I attended was Performance Metrics: Helping Boards Understand Library Statistics presented by John Shepherd, a university accounting instructor, and Allan Wilson, the Chief Librarian of the Prince George Public Library and the 2011 recipient of the CLA/Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship. I loved this session because the information it offered was so practical. John Shepherd got into the nitty gritty of how to better design statistical charts and Allan Wilson provided great ideas on establishing meaningful metrics that will communicate more effectively the value of the public library to the community, the library board, and the municipality. This session actually succeeded in transforming my perception of statistics and performance metrics and made statistics seem almost fun.
This conference was also fantastic in terms of catching up with friends and meeting new people. At first I was intimidated by what appeared to be an older demographic of librarians who all seemed to know each other. Then I realized that this “old boys club” (there seemed to be a surprising number of baby boomer men at this conference) was the result of decades of the same people attending conferences together. In many cases, the older librarians had probably even attended library school together “back in the day”. This thought inspired me to think that my friends and I will one day also rule the CLA conferences. There are so many dynamic young librarians who have only just begun their professional careers in the past few years. We are still testing the waters of what it means to be professional librarians and attending the CLA conference definitely helped to establish a foundation for our new professional identities. We all seemed to value the importance of coming together to share stories and advice on being librarians. We had a lot of fun together and it reinforced my opinion that librarianship is full of interesting and dynamic people.
CLA 2011 in Halifax was totally worth it and I am looking forward to continuing to be active in the CLA throughout my career.
Are you a member of a library association? Do you think that it is worth it?