Last night I attended this fall’s 2nd “Salon des Bibliothécaires” hosted by the CLA Montreal Chapter. Like October’s salon, it was held at EM Café in Mile End and although less people attended than last month, it was still very fun and informative. Our two experts were Ann Moffat, the newly retired director of Westmount Public Library and Suzanne Payette, the director of la Bibliothèque de Brossard. Both these women have extensive experience creating and managing library budgets and they shared many examples of practical advice on how they have dealt with issues like budget cuts, staff demands, getting extra money for special projects, etc. At first I didn’t think that it would be relevant for me to attend this “salon” because I figured that once I graduate from library school in April, it will be awhile before I am in a position where I need to manage a library’s budget. However, I have heard recently of two graduates from last April who were hired as head cégep librarians. This means they must not only manage the budget but also the staff of library technicians and circulation employees, the collection, and all the other administrative duties. Whew! Talk about a baptism by immersion!
I guess the lesson that I retained from last night’s Salon is to be ready for anything. Both Ann Moffat and Suzanne Payette emphasized the fact that budgets are not as scary as they seem which reassured me that by paying attention and applying a bit of common sense, I should do fine if one day if I do need to manage a budget.
Those who read my previous post know that I attended this fall’s first CLA Montreal Chapter’s “Salon des Bibliothécaire”. This event was both fun and educational and as I learn more about new and interesting possibilities in librarianship, like virtual reference, it reinforced my belief that I’m entering the right career.
There was a large group of librarians from different types of libraries; some had experience doing virtual reference and others were there to learn. We divided up into smaller groups and each group was assigned an “expert” in virtual reference. My expert worked for five years for a company that provided virtual reference internationally. He worked from home and had so many interesting stories to tell us of his experiences. One of his comments was that on virtual reference people tend to have less inhibitions, like teenagers asking questions about sex, or a mistress seeking divorce advice for her boyfriend who refuses to leave his wife. Apparently there is a fine line between being a librarian and being an advice counselor. I learned a lot from these stories on how to address the touchy questions that librarians are bound to encounter whether they are asked through technology or face to face. Obviously these types of questions do not make up the majority of enquiries, but hearing about them adds to the excitement of being a librarian, knowing that each day will be different and to always expect the unexpected.
I am looking forward to the next CLA Montreal Chapter’s “Salon des Bibliothécaires”. Meeting with librarians and hearing about a variety of topics is a fantastic way to keep my motivational level high in my last year of school. These meetings confirm that I’ll soon be surrounded by interesting colleagues and that my work will stimulate me intellectually as it will always keep me on my toes because there will always be new things to learn.
This evening I will be attending the CLA Montreal Chapter’s kick-off of their series “Salon des bibliothécaires”. This title is a play on the traditional “Salons littéraires” that thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the time, the aristocrats, being rich and not having to work, could spend their time developing themselves intellectually, socially, politically, and culturally. The “salons” provided an opportunity for these elitists to discuss and amuse each other with their knowledge of various subjects. The people attending these salons, as one can imagine, were usually very pretentious and so I am reassured that tonight’s discussion on Virtual Reference will be led in part by Amy Buckland, one of the least pretentious people that I know.
I do not necessarily have any expectations for this evening. Although I’m curious as to whether any diversity of thought will present itself in a group of like-minded, highly educated professionals discussing a topic of which they are all passionate. I will probably simply sit back and enjoy the discussion knowing that my practical knowledge of virtual reference is minimal and that this is an excellent opportunity for me to learn from practicing librarians.