Welcome to our Summer issue Chapter members and extended readership.
Summer has finally arrived, and although it’s been unseasonably cool and rainy, I hope that you are managing to enjoy it anyway – by taking a little vacation time, reducing your working hours, commuting more pleasurably on Toronto and GTA roads that carry far less traffic, or in any other creative way that you might devise. As usual, we will ease up on Toronto Chapter programming and business meetings for July and August, and get together again in the latter half of August for the traditional Summer Social. There we can share news of our summer ‘doings’, and inaugurate the second part of our Chapter year. Greg Barber is finalizing the arrangements, and the date and location will be posted soon.
I am going to review the events we have enjoyed since the last issue of The Courier using a librarian’s favorite approach, reverse chronological order! In this case, I am not making any judgment or pronouncement about newer (more recent) being better, because all of the events and activities discussed are equally meritorious!
We ended the first part of the year with a Best of the Web event on June 24 at the iSchool. Skillfully moderated by Connie Crosby, the session featured three presenters who toured us through their ‘best picks’ among the web sites that are useful to them for work research. Robert Fabbro, from the Ontario College of Art and Design, Valerie Hatten from the Ontario Science Centre, and Daniel Lee from Navigator Ltd held us at rapt attention and gave us a few laughs too. Frank van Kalmthout from the Archives of Ontario was unable to give his presentation (he fell ill and could barely speak), but the sites he had selected to present are included in the combined handout for attendees. Our thanks go to Sandra Craig for organizing the event and choosing the well-suited venue, and to Kathy Coorsh for handling the registration for the 35 plus attendees.
Recent Events – Best Of The Web
Chapter volunteers for the current year as well as the two previous ones were invited to be feted at a Volunteer Appreciation Event on June 2. Claire Lysnes, Sandra Craig and Shelley McBride handled the arrangements for this gathering at the Lusso Restaurant & Bar. Approximately twenty members turned out to enjoy white and red Sangria, delicious finger foods, and the Lake Ontario vista that the restaurant’s Harbourfront patio provided. Some of us were even bold enough to venture outside (it was chilly, and you know who you are!) Mostly, we enjoyed being together with fellow volunteers, and, in some instances, gaining an opportunity for face-to-face conversation with voices from the telephone and writers of e-mailed communications.
Recent Events – Volunteer Appreciation Event
The New Information Professionals (NIP) Chapter subgroup met for a social in the evening of May 27, at the Bedford Academy. Laura Warner, NIP Chair, organized this gathering. The attendees included some newcomers to Toronto, and we were all glad to take refuge from the rain in order to welcome them and chat with one another.
Recent Events – New Information Professionals Social
Again this year, Toronto Chapter arranged to host a couple of Click U Live webinars in May, despite the fact that members can now register individually and follow the presentations at their own computers without any necessity for mid-day travel. A dozen people turned out for the first one on May 7. A second one was to have been broadcast on May 20, but the presenter became unavailable, and it was postponed until later in the year. We are still pondering the future of the Chapter’s hosted Click U Live sessions.
Recent Events – Click U Webinars
At last, I come to the point in my letter where I get to report on the official visit by SLA President Gloria Zamora to our Chapter on May 13-14. By all accounts, this was a resounding success. Gloria met with the Chapter’s Executive Board members during a couple of meal breaks, and used the opportunity to learn how we allocate executive responsibilities and what operational issues we are experiencing. She asked for feedback about the interaction between our unit and the Association, and our members raised the issues of access to membership information, and usability of the Association web site. In turn, Gloria described how she sees the workplace for information professionals evolving, and expressed her firm belief in SLA’s ability to support the profession and lead it through another hundred years of change. She also provided a most interesting account of her recent visit to the Arabian Gulf Chapter. She was the first SLA President to visit there, and she was received most graciously. Hearing about it gave us valuable insight in to the Association’s focus on strengthening its international aspect.
Recent Events – Official SLA Presidential Visit
Juanita Richardson, a Chapter past President and Fellow of SLA, arranged closely choreographed meetings for Gloria with the Directors of libraries or information operations in three Toronto “special libraries”: Vicki Whitmell at the Ontario Legislative Library, Casian Moscovici at National Public Relations, and Beatrice Kerr at Deloitte & Touche, Business Information Services. The three settings are vastly different in size and scope, and it must have been interesting for Gloria to contrast their strengths and to query how SLA can continue to be of value to them and their staff members. Juanita’s company, CEDROM-Sni, sponsored these visits.
Claire Lysnes organized a meeting with the Deans of Ontario’s two Faculties of Information. Attendees at this meeting included: Claire herself, Helen Katz (as the Faculty Advisory to the SLA Toronto Student Group), Dean Seamus Ross from the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto (U of T), and Dean Thomas Carmichael from Faculty of Information and Media Studies at University of Western Ontario (UWO), London, Ontario. A general and wide-reaching discussion took place about the two institutions’ visions for educating information professionals in preparation for careers in ‘special library’ or alternative settings. Dean Carmichael expressed great interest in re-establishing an SLA student group at UWO.
I’d like to express a special thank you to Gloria Zamora for including a visit to our Toronto Chapter in her fast-paced year as SLA President. I would also like to personally thank those people who assumed responsibility for organizing segments of the visit: Stephen Abram for the AGO tour and dinner, Juanita Richardson for the visits to the libraries, Daniel Lee for the lunch with Toronto Chapter’s Executive Board, Claire Lysnes for the meeting with the University Deans, and Martha Foote for the Gala Centennial Dinner.
When we planned to have a Gala Centennial Dinner as the focal point of our Chapter’s participation in the SLA Centennial Celebration (100 years of operation, 1909-2009), we knew that it would provide the icing on the cake if we could time it to coincide with an official Presidential visit. Everything worked out (like a charm), and we were able to ‘sell’ our Gala to prospective attendees as the key celebration event that would feature the SLA President – up close and personal. Sixty-four people gathered to start their evenings off with a pleasant hour and a half for socializing and enjoying hors d’oeuvres and complimentary drinks. They were provided with a display of ‘vintage’ photographs from the Chapter archives to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over. The photo display showed Chapter Past Presidents, as well as candid shots of members at a similar celebration event held twenty years ago. We thank Frank van Kalmthout (Chapter member) and Emily Beliveau (iSchool student) for their creativity in selecting and arranging the photos. An Awards binder was also on display, showcasing members who had received Chapter- or Association-level award recognition in the past.
Recent Events – Gala Centennial Dinner
As befitting an affair held in the Hart House Music Room, we were entertained during the evening with some wonderful music, courtesy of local jazz guitarist Lee Wallace, and (his friend) Jon on the double bass. We took advantage of the opportunity to add to the Chapter’s archival collection of photographs by cajoling the attendees to assemble in various groupings and to smile for the camera! Thanks go to Laura Warner for taking official photographs of this occasion.
Martha used the early months of this year to track down the whereabouts of past Chapter Presidents, and we contacted them, describing our Gala event plans and indicating how very much we wanted them to be a part of this important celebration. We were most delighted when 23 of the 34 Presidents we contacted signed up to attend, and a further five (5) sent their regrets and also conveyed their best wishes for the success of our event. These respondents had served as Chapter Presidents across five decades, starting with the 1960s. We have clear proof that “a picture is worth a thousand words” in the new photos that show the pleasure derived by the former Chapter leaders in making contact with the current membership, in reuniting with one another, and in interacting with our esteemed guest-of-honour.
Although the past Presidents stood up for a round of applause during my Gala speech, I want to name them individually here for the written record: Daniel Lee, Pam Casey, Martha Foote, Laura Knapp, Kolette Taber, Heather Wilson, Susie Floresco, Ulla de Stricker, Beatrice Kerr, Mary Hum, Juanita Richardson, Bonnie Burwell, Vivienne Monty, Cynthea Penman, Susan Merry, Stephen Abram, Karen Melville, Cynthia Smith, Dorothy Sedgwick, Stefanie Pavlin, Maureen Roe, Jane Dysart, and Jean Orpwood. Regrets were received from: Gayle Gossen, Jane Cooney, Ritvar Bregzis, Janette White, and Barbara Byers.
At seven in the evening, we sat down to enjoy a sumptuous three-course dinner, served with a choice of red or white wine. As the current Chapter President, I welcomed our featured guest and speaker (Gloria), our sponsors (Juanita Richardson and Louis-René Dessureault from CEDROM-Sni), Dean Ross and Dean Carmichael, our past Chapter Presidents and the attendees. I spoke briefly about my own efforts this year to collate the Chapter’s 69-year history (1940-2009) into a ‘timeline’ by reading through our published newsletters, and I alluded to the richness of the information contained in them. I pointed out the significance of gathering at Hart House, a tradition that began in 1927 (before the inception of SLA Toronto Chapter), when a joint meeting of SLA and ALA in Toronto featured a Ball and Reception in that very venue.
I thanked those who had helped with the event, and the full list of the contributors includes: Martha Foote, Heather Foulkes, Frank van Kalmthout, Emily Beliveau, Sandra Craig, Jennifer Burns, Heather Brunstad, Bruce Harpham, Laura Warner, Claire Lysnes, Daniel Lee, Britta Jessen Charbonneau, Tylene Reaume, Heather Ritchie, Jan Moffatt, and Brenda Wong. I also acknowledge Juanita and Louis-René’s help with the room set-up and the speech-making – they arrived early, and ‘held my hand’ when required!
I turned the floor over to Louis-René who introduced Gloria as the featured speaker, highlighting aspects of her impressive biography, sometimes in a humorous mode (although her accomplishments are no laughing matter). Gloria spoke eloquently about her passion for the continued role of SLA in educating and advocating for information professionals in the coming 100 years. She focused much attention on the importance of the Alignment Project findings, and the next steps to be taken in order to derive full potential from this work. We will fulfill Gloria’s every hope for us when we heed her word, and ‘Align in ’09.’
Juanita thanked Gloria for her remarks, and together we presented her with a small gift of appreciation. CEDROM provided bottles of Champagne as door prizes, and I drew the names of their winners, Margot Mason of Sun Life Financial and JoAnne Gulliver of PWC Management Services.
These SLA Student Awards for 2009, first announced at the Gala Centennial Dinner, were awarded to the following students for their academic accomplishments:
Congratulations – Awards And Honours 2009
- Matthew Blacquiere, for high standing and aptitude shown in the overall course of study prescribed by Seneca College’s Library and Information Technician (LIT) program
- Christine Beamish, for the highest standing in the LIS program of study at the University of Western Ontario
- Eve Leung, the Kathleen Reeves Memorial Award for the highest standing in the University of Toronto, Faculty of Information course, Management of Corporate Libraries and Special Information Centres
Stella Palikarova, who is an SLA student member from the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, was recently awarded a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) graduate scholarship. Stella was selected among national applicants on the basis of academic standing and grade point average. The Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program (CGS) will provide her with $17,500 towards a research study that she will conduct in 2009-2010 on the topic: Ways in which cybernetic enhancements (i.e., the brain computer interface) enhance the lives of people with disabilities in their ability to communicate and to be more fully integrated in society.
Student Member Receives Scholarship Grant
Stella is active in the SLA Toronto Student Group and is also ‘a regular’ in attending our Toronto Chapter events. Our hearty congratulations go out to her for this major accomplishment.
More than 40 Toronto members traveled to DC to take in the annual conference in this historic year and overall, the attendance at the conference was the highest it had been in six (6) years. I had never been in DC before, and I was most impressed by its beauty and the wealth of its attractions.
SLA 2009 Annual Conference & Info-Expo (In Washington, Dc)
Everything about the conference was special: the warmth and meaning conveyed by General Colin Powell’s remarks to us at the Opening Session, the impressive array of award recipients who were honoured by the Association, the charm of the venues that were selected for Receptions, the availability of (cut-out versions of) President Obama and Vice-President Biden to be photographed with us at the entrance to the INFO-EXPO, and the upbeat nature of the remarks by SLA’s President, Treasurer and CEO at the closing session. I was ‘blown away’ by the beauty and grandeur of the Library of Congress’s Great Hall and Reading Room. The Western Canada Chapter did a wonderful job in finding the Morrison-Clark Historic Inn and Restaurant for the Canadian Reception, and in organizing it with the sponsorship of CEDROM-Sni.
I was particularly gratified to speak with leaders from other units whom I had last seen in Savannah in January, and to hear them express their admiration for how active our Chapter has been this year. At the Chapter Cabinet meeting, we were recognized by the Association leaders who monitor unit activity – for our unique Career Development series (a Top Event Idea, noted in the Chapter Idea Bank), and for our Networking Nights (akin to other Chapters’ ‘pub crawls.’)
I am not quite sure that I can do justice to the Alignment Project in the space that is left here, but watch for SLA’s roll-out of the Alignment Project Portal, where you can stay in touch with future developments as they happen. For now, you can find information at http://www.sla.org/content/SLA/alignment/index.cfm. Suffice it to say that the Association is most pleased with the findings of the project, and hopeful that it will provide the correct blueprint and new direction for the continued success of SLA in supporting information professionals. The Alignment Project work was conducted by Fleishman-Hillard, Andy Hines of Social Technologies, and Outsell Inc.
The Alignment Project Update
In a moment we had anticipated or at least contemplated, the announcement came at the DC Conference that the findings all point to the advisability of selecting a new name for SLA (Special Libraries Association) because the phrase ‘special libraries’ has so little resonance in the outside world with CEO-level people, or even within our own professional communities. SLA will definitely be looking for our help in finding the right ‘new’ name once they have defined the process to be followed.
Enjoy the summer hiatus, but do tune in to the SLA web site from time to time (or pay attention to your delivery by RSS feed or digest), because next up in an action-packed year are the following events (some scheduled, some still being planned):
In Closing …
- Summer Social (date in August will be forthcoming)
- Career Development series events (September 8, October 6, and November 10 at the Faculty Club)
- AGM (date in November is forthcoming)
- Joint Holiday Social with CASLIS Toronto and FIAA (Faculty of Information Alumni Association) (December 2 at the Arts & Letters Club)
And to whet your appetite further, we are also working on:
- A library tour
- A KM (Knowledge Management) event
- A third seasonal (Fall) Networking Night
Please watch your e-mail too, where you will soon receive the Toronto Chapter’s Membership Survey. It will provide you with an opportunity to express your opinion about how we are doing, and ultimately to help improve our Chapter when you rank our activities, and contribute your thoughts and ideas. We do welcome your guidance, and we are certainly aware that it is hard to get it ‘just right’, given the constant changes in the membership, the environments in which members work, and the revolving cast of volunteer members who put on ‘the show’ for you each year. And remember that it is always acceptable to speak up individually to the Chapter President or members of its Executive Board – just be prepared to be part of the solution to any problems that you raise!
Joy Shanfield, MLIS
President, SLA Toronto Chapter