OLA 2014

Wednesday, January 29

Inter-ministerial / Library Symposium; sponsored by AMPLO
I participated in a first-ever inter-ministerial round-table discussion, exploring ways public libraries can work with the various provincial ministries to advance their - and our - objectives. Ten ministries were represented. Three short library videos were shown followed by the various provincial reps. - mostly ADMs - speaking about their ministry's priorities and service objectives. After each presentation there was group discussion and reporting on how libraries can help the ministry advance/achieve its objectives. It was very positive with many ministerial reps. acknowledging they had no idea that libraries do so much to enrich lives, help Ontarians. More importantly many said they did not know that libraries can help the provincial government. Our board member Jane Hilton, also participated in the discussion. Jane is present-elect of the OLA, and will serve as president next year (2015). Ian

Wednesday evening I attended the AGM of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries. This was followed by a board meeting, at which I was appointed 2014 FOPL Board Chair; hence I will be working closely with Stephen Abram, ED FOPL, in advancing public libraries. Activities planned for this year: to meet with like organizations, political leaders and ministerial representatives to expand our reach into government and other partners. There are great opportunities to promote the value of libraries this, a provincial and municipal election year, securing support for libraries from our politicians and would -be politicians. Numerous other FOPL initiatives will be unveiled in coming months. Ian

Thursday, January 30

Session 300. Towards Community-Led Libraries
John Pateman, CEO, Thunder Bay P.L. talked to a full-house (ICTC Ballroom) about a service shift which is underway at his library, moving from inward-looking programs, to active community outreach in which library staff get out from behind their service desks, into the community building relationships and service partnerships. TBPL is removing service desks and will have staff on the floor, actively greeting each customer as they enter buildings asking if they can help. Other staff will be on the floor, equipped with iPads, helping customers at the point of need. Librarians will mostly work in the community. This service shift followed a service review and an organizational restructuring. No longer do staff work in one department - they are X-trained, being qualified to work anywhere. The community-led service model seems to be an eye-opener for many; yet, I thought "This is what we have done at the WPL for a long time." Granted we continue to build our collaborative relationships, but there is no doubt as a library team we are very forward-thinking. Ian

I found this to be an interesting session and John Pateman was an engaging speaker. Some of the information highlights from his session included the statistic that in Canada 46% of the population are library users but 21% are active users, 25% are passive users, and 54% are non-users. He spoke about the importance of making the non users our starting point at the library and to focus on those that need us the most but use us the least. The non-users tend to have no history of library use and were not taken to the library as children, he underlined the importance of starting library patrons from birth and getting them into the library and part of a habit and lifestyle.
Thunder Bay Public Library made a large change in their library with their new strategic plan that focuses on 5 areas: lifelong learning, change and innovation, supporting local economy, community well being and personal growth, and diversity and social inclusion. The staffing structure and job titles were dramatically changed to correspond to the strategic directions with everyone having a common focus and purpose.
Sandra Walters Marrin

There were many points that John Pateman made in his session on community-led libraries which gave us the opportunity to reflect on our work within libraries and why we do what we do. As the CEO of the Thunder Bay Public Library, John Pateman discussed how his library is implementing changes to drive them towards a more relationship-based, community-led library system. He talked about the concept of "proportionate universalism"— those who need libraries more should get more of the services; resources should be distributed accordingly, while still remaining diverse. He also pointed to upholding community needs above the profession's standards when required— why do we do what we do when it doesn't make sense for our community? Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of qualitative measures for library impacts and outcomes.
But perhaps the most interesting part of his talk was on how libraries can become more community-led in practice. He talked about the need to start with the organizational culture, to consciously develop a service and staffing structure that promotes and facilitates lifelong learning and emphasizes community well-being. He discussed the importance of "play time" whereby staff are given an increase in autonomy as a means to learn, and increase their mastery and self-direction skills. He also encouraged giving staff the opportunity to blur the lines between departments and allow them to work system-wide.
Erin Anderson

Stephen Abram, Executive Director, FOPL
Building on the series of advocacy webinars held over the past fall, and in preparation for pending municipal and provincial elections, the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries and OLA are partnering on a major engagement campaign. This campaign will focus on the value, impact, and positioning of public libraries in Ontario’s society, culture, and economy. Abrams shared tips to discuss, in a non-partisan way, public libraries' transformative role in their community with candidates and electorates, always keeping in mind our VIP, Value Among those tips and talking points:

  • Libraries are the distribution system for the knowledge economy
  • Become familiar with the Martin Prosperity Institute's recent report about TPL's economic impact. Numbers are Toronto specific, but ideas are transferable
  • He suggests consciously using verbs, as opposed to nouns when discussing our value, ie. doing vs. having, informing vs. information, what people do with the stuff, rather than the stuff.
  • described libraries as social glue, holding community together
  • talk about libraries in terms of what the person we are talking to cares about, eg. community connections for seniors, support for small business, early literacy supports. In order to do this, we have to take time to who we are speaking with, in order to find this out. This applies on an individual or community basis. One cool suggestion for doing this on a community basis is to rent a video photo booth, and gather library stories a la speaker's corner.

One other tangential point he made that I thought was interesting, and applies to us, is that libraries increasingly engage with our users and deliver servcies through our virtual branch. Yet how many of us actually have a dedicated manager for this virtual branch, and in how many cases is it hobbled together, with multiple people contributing, but without one central person to lead and manage this important presence.

Session 400- Disruption As Opportunity by Bobbi Newman
Bobbi Newman has a blog called Librarian by Day
Her session focused on the idea of disruption being an opportunity and that walls are tumbling down and formats are changing. It used to be difficult to locate information, you had to be an expert and now anyone can be an information expert. It is important for us to identify our customers and go back to the drawing board when we are thinking of ways to best reach and serve them. We need to look at what our first point/line of contact is with our customers- first impressions are very important as is the way that we communicate with customers. Find out what works best for them and do that, whether it is through social media etc. The message matters, speak in the language of the user and get rid of the acronyms for good. Be nimble and flexible when taking risks, pick small challenges that you can tackle but know when to just let go when it is clear that it just is not going to work and move on to something else that has a chance of working. Empower your staff and trust their ideas. Get you and your staff comfortable with change by taking small risks. Change is hard but we have to change to stay relevant, we should become leaders of change, any amount of change takes bravery and courage so thank staff as they do it and show them that it is appreciated and noticed. Customers in all sectors are more likely to communicate negative feedback rather than positive so we need advocates that will go to bat for us and speak up about the positive too.
Sandra Walters Marrin

Session 414- Fast Track to Management: How Four New Librarians Learned to Manage

I was glad that I attended this session because it provided an opportunity to hear about different management styles and best practices. The session was set up in a panel format where each of the librarians represented a different colour in the True Colors personality identification test. They presented various real-life scenarios that they have faced as managers and supervisors and how they responded, guided by their colour in the personality test. They also discussed how they could have handled the situation differently as a means to improve. All of the panelists emphasized the importance of knowing yourself and how people perceive you, in order to ameliorate your people skills, a cornerstone to successful management. They also highlighted 5 keys to good management: Be prepared; Perseverance (motivate yourself and others); Patience (actively work at dismantling road blocks and allow others to learn at their own pace); Courage— think of alternative solutions, be creative and don't be afraid to fail (learn from failure); and sense of humour. I found this session to be light-hearted yet quite informative.
Erin Anderson

Libraries are notorious navel gazers. Fung and McCormack, used this session to encourage us to look with fresh eyes, outside of our institutions and experience to explore how non-library organizations excel and innovate in the areas of marketing, customer service, and technology. Among the organizations cited as examples were Zappos, Westjet, Starbucks, Molson. They discussed the importance of building relationships, starting conversations, building trust and loyalty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFT-rV6dYLw&feature=youtu.be Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner City of Toronto. (All-conference Plenary)
A relaxed, skilled and engaging speaker, Jennifer Keesmaat, talked about transforming neighbourhoods in Toronto, whether they be Liberty Village, Eglinton & Marhkam Road, or St. James Town. It is about neighbourhood building - communities where people (ideally) live work and play. Ian

This was an interesting session that was about Toronto but the ideas can be applied to communities everywhere. The importance of walking and being active in our neighbourhoods. Many of our communities right now have been designed so that activity is not included, we have to drive everywhere. More time is spent commuting than with our families and neighbours. Our cities will define our future, we can learn from the mistakes of the past, technology won't save us. Walking and creating a walkable neighbourhood will lead to a higher quality of life, more green spaces and strong services (such as library branches) in our neighbourhoods is that way of a better future.
Sandra Walters Marrin

I found this session to be quite informative, not only as a resident of Toronto, but as a person and professional invested in a community. While her talk was specifically about Toronto, she highlighted some other cities in Canada as well, and I found her ideas broad enough to be applied to any community, big or small. The premise of her talk was that "Our cities will define our future"— we need to take care in how our communities are developed if we want our quality of life to improve. She also focused on the idea that our cities need to be more complex so that residents have options from which they can choose in order to suit their needs and live their best life. I would have liked to see a more deliberate link between city planning and the public library, perhaps even highlighting some new/renovated branches in Toronto to demonstrate the concepts she was discussing.
Erin Anderson

Keesmat's focus on the importance of planning and diversity in city and neighbourhood building, were particularly timely in light of our current Strategic Planning process.

Session 623- Can you hear me now? Using the Unconference model

This session was presented by two librarians from the Ottawa Public Library who helped plan and implement an "unconference" for staff to help communicate and work through significant changes that the OPL was going through, as part of their new strategic plan. An unconference is similar to a traditional conference model in that it has a theme, guest speakers and learning outcomes. It is different in that it is less structured: attendance is optional, it begins when it begins and ends when it ends, and people can participate in any way they feel is appropriate. The activities in the unconference at OPL were hands on, not sedentary, and staff members were able to brainstorm ideas and provide feedback on the changes that had already taken place within the library. The goal of the unconference was to provide a neutral and "safe" place for staff and management to communicate with each other, and to promote input from front-line staff on the higher level decisions being made. The results of the unconference at the OPL: it's a work in progress, cultural change is a long process; and it didn't change or dispel fears as much as they were hoping. They are planning on trying it again (with some modifications) to help encourage more open communication channels within their organization.
I enjoyed this session because the speakers demonstrated one of the activities that they did in their unconference, which included answering a question about the future of the library. Each of the audience members had to write down five different one-word answers, each answer on its own post-it note. All the notes were then posted to one of the walls in the room and grouped together by theme. This allowed everyone to see trends in our ideas, while keeping individual answers anonymous. It provided a great opportunity for us to reflect on our understanding of the library and it clearly showed areas for further discussion.
Erin Anderson

Session 625- 50 Ways to Run a Thriving Library on a Shoestring Budget
Library staff from the Haliburton County and Lennox and Addington County Libraries led this session and showcased 50 very cost saving ideas. I wrote down all 50 of them because I thought they were all pretty good but I will highlight only 5 in this summary.
1. Staff training surveys to prioritize and discover individual strengths/weaknesses and interests
2. Patron surveys to maximize resources, helpful for determining service priorities and getting the best value for money spent
3. Expand collections with partnerships
4. Community driven library services
5. Contribute to local media in lieu of advertising
Sandra Walters Marrin

Public Library Awards Gala. Thursday night.
As Chair FOPL Board I had the privileged of sitting at the head table with Minister Chan, his staff, and other dignitaries, including Jane Hilton, representing the OLA. Host was entertaining CBC personality and author Kevin Sylvester. Minister Chan gave a sincere speech on the value of libraries to our communities. Numerous awards were presented. The life-long commitment to our profession by many of the recipients was very moving, and the projects that received awards (and those that were nominated) were very inspiring. Details of the various projects can be found on the Ministry and OLA websites. Ian

Bibliotherapy in the 21st Century
This session covered the use of reading in therapy as a tool to cope with life and issues. The types of materials used, include fiction and nonfiction titles.
There are 2 types of bibliotherapy:
1. Clinical, which means it occurs in a clinical and structured setting. This form is used when a known issue is present and the therapist is working with that issue.
2. Creative, which mans that it is outside the clinic and less structured. Here, the therapist is working to be preventative and to predict and prevent potential problems. It is also used in a wider array of settings (ie. prisons, nursing homes, hospices, libraries etc.)
The increase in bibliotherapy is, in part, due to the increase in a need and interest in patient education.
Overall, I thought this was an interesting session that provided some interesting real-world examples. I know it makes me think a little differently about book clubs. While we're certainly not providing therapy, it's clear that books and providing a space to talk about them does have an impact on individuals. Jaclyn

The Reading Experience
This session provided a quick overview of several researchers current research.
Paulette Rothbauer went over the reading worlds of older adults and made it clear that we know more about older adults digital lives than we do about their reading lives. It's also an issue that will continue to have an impact considering the large aging population. With this group of readers, the library has a role in providing sociability, reading materials, reading cultures and a support of reading cultures.
Lucia Cederia Serantes took a look at reading comics and comic readers. There's an consistent link to time and reading and people tend to view comics as a means of quick reading. Libraries tend to feel that they need to justify why they have comics (ie. changing the name to 'graphic novel') and it's often stated that we have them for readers who "lack" (that is in reading ability, literacy, language etc).
Lynne McKechnie took a look at boy readers and the "reading problem" that boys seem to be facing. The problem really seems to be that what boys tend to want to read isn't considered "real reading", meaning that boys are reading catalogues, gaming manuals, which their teachers and librarians do not consider "real" books.
Pam McKenzie is looking into the re-reading of everyday documents like calendars or agendas. She states that people re-read for 2 reasons: 1. to obtain mastery and, 2. to time travel (revisit and event, nostalgia).
While all of these session were interesting, I found the first three researchers the most useful for everyday life at the library, and all presented some ideas that I will keep in mind for this year's summer reading list program. Jaclyn

Maker-fying Your Library
This session went over the basic principles of makerspaces and some current trends. Overall, I didn't think there was anything new here, considering a lot of this was covered with Maker Month not so long ago. However, they did provide some online resources: Maker Media, Maker Faire, hackerspaces.org, Howtoons, Tinkering Studio, makerspace.com, Adafruit Wearables, Social Body Lab. Jaclyn

Maker Spaces were a huge topic of conversation at this year's OLA. It was interesting to hear and see how other libraries are incorporating maker activities into their libraries. It also became evident that WPL is already doing a lot with maker activities, although we may not always market them as such. In addition to Maker Month, we host a variety of LEGO and DUPLO programs, as well as hands on activities that include creating things with items such as Duct Tape, card board and recycled books.

The speakers discussed some good points to be aware of when creating maker spaces, including the fact that maker spaces are a lot of work. It's important for staff to work together to avoid burnout, and it's ok to start small and grow. They stressed that staff should strive to get adults involved in Maker Spaces too, they don't have to be just for kids. I also really liked their idea of putting things out in the open and making them drop-in friendly so that anyone can participate. ~ Emily

Session 427: E-Books, Publishers & Public Libraries (Andrea B)
This session has been held annually and is presented by a panel composed of CULC representatives and eBOUND representatives. eBOUND represents the viewpoint of small Canadian independent publishers in the e-book marketplace.

E-Book Landscape
-A 2012 Pew study revealed that of those surveyed, 86% read a physical book within the last year and 12% had read an e-book.
-E-book use continues to increase, and e-audiobook use has increased dramatically recently.
-An Hamilton Public Library borrowing analysis revealed that, in their library system, there is little crossover between those who read physical books and those who read e-books.

Format Shift from the Publishing Perspective
-hardcover publishing is steady, maybe up a little bit
-paperback publishing is down by 12% according to an Association of American Publisher's study.
-audiobook CD publishing is down but mp3 publishing is up
-e-book publishing represents about 5% of the market, but varies significantly by publisher.

eBOUND/CULC Joint e-Book Lending Initiative
-Began several years ago with the goals of diminishing the role of the vendor in the library e-book purchasing process, integrating e-books records into library discovery layers, increase library control of e-content, create a better relationship between publishers and libraries and increase e-book discoverability.

-despite lengthy negotiations with a vendor that could potentially help with shared publisher/library goals by creating a platform for library e-book collecting the project was ended. Commercial products made it unimportant for the team to create their own system/framework.

Advocacy and Vendors
-Readers First is a coalition of 260 North American libraries working together to expose e-book data in catalogues and discovery layers.

-That there are many vendors creates greater difficulties to patrons trying to download e-books, learning different models for different libraries. However, in October 2013 OverDrive released its circulation API, which can be integrated into certain OPACs (including Bibliocommons) so that patrons do not have to leave the catalogue to download an OverDrive e-book.

-Readers First ranks the top three vendors, as it pertains to catalogue integration: OverDrive, 3M and Maker & Taylor Axis 360. More information about vendors and ranking can be found at www.readersfirst.org under Guide & Analysis.

In 2014
-3M announced at the OLA Conference that it will launch as a vendor in Canada. It has a circulation API for integration with many library catalogues. Their vendor agreement states that libraries that use 3M e-book services and then later choose another vendor can take their 3M content with them to the new vendor.

-OverDrive has committed to circulation API integration in more library catalogues. OverDrive is also working on a way to week e-book collections and enhance the children's e-book collection.

-Smashwords is continuing to grow as a self-published e-book vendor.

-Bibliodigital is a Bibliocommons service being used by the Edmonton Public Library in a pilot project. Bibliodigital is a way of integrating e-book collections from any e-book vendor into the library's Bibliocommons catalogue for easier e-book borrowing. Bibliodigital brings together the metadata of print records and e-book records.

Session 600: Libraries Change Lives (Andrea B)
This was a talk by Richard Wagamese, author of a number of books including his most recent, Indian Horse. He spoke about how a library played a significant role in his life. As a young child he was taken away from his family and adopted by a white family, during which time he experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse. At 16 he left his adoptive home and was essentially homeless. He did, however, find solace in a library, where he was able to read about any topic he found interesting and listen to music. He had an insatiable will to learn, and feels that the library gave him the tools to perform in life. He credits his local library, and one librarian in particular, for guiding him during his formative years, which enabled him to work and become the renowned author that he is today.

His talk was heart-wrenching at times, but really showed how those less-fortunate individuals can and do benefit from the existence of libraries. It is a place to be free and a place to learn. ABu

The impact that libraries and library staff had on Wagamese served as a reminder that we never know who that person we encounter across the desk or in the stacks is, or has the potential to become, and that every interaction is deserving of the same level of respect, professionalism, effort and caring. What a compelling storyteller; I now need to read all of his books!

Forest of Reading Breakfast

The Forest of Reading Breakfast is a great opportunity for Forest committee members and authors to meet and celebrate the events of the past year. It allows committee members to meet the people that they usually work with via email and the Internet, and it allows the authors an opportunity to meet the people who have a role in putting their books into the hands of thousands of students. I always enjoy catching up with committee members, and having breakfast with the authors is a great experience.

Following the breakfast, the winners of the 2013 Forest of Reading awards shared their experiences with the audience. I attend this session every year and never get tired of hearing authors speak about how thrilling it is to be a part of the Forest of Reading. Some authors had never planned to write a children's books, and many had no idea what the Forest of Reading was prior to their nomination, but they all spoke highly of their experience. ~ Emily

Julia Donaldson
When the session that I had planned to attend turned out to be standing room only, I checked the Superconference app (one of my favourite additions to this year's conference), and I discovered that children's author Julia Donaldson was leading a session nearby. I walked in and found the author dressing librarians in various animal hats and preparing them for their part in a song. The hour that followed was filled with singing and storytelling, and was one of my favourite parts of the conference. While I was familiar with Ms. Donaldson's book The Gruffalo, I hadn't realized just how many books she has written. Nor had I realized how much fun they are to read aloud. I'm looking forward to checking out the other books that we have in our collection, and hopefully I'll be able to incorporate some of them into a storytime down the road. ~ Emily

Friday, January 31

All Conference Plenary with Robert J Sawyer

Sawyer discussed the genesis of science fiction and the "socially disruptive" works of Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells. He feels that science fiction died with Star Wars and its opening sequence with the words, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…" The original film had the story taking place in the future and Princess Leia was actually a senator, not a princess. When the film was tested, studio executives thought they would pull in more women if the story was more of a fairytale. Sawyer believes that something vital was lost and that potentially socially disruptive scene in the bar where the bartender says, "We don't serve their kind here," referring to R2-D2 and C-3PO (who are slaves) is buried in the story of a princess who needs rescuing. Sawyer also talked about the stigma of being categorized as a "science fiction" author and wonders why Margaret Atwood doesn't wear the mantle proudly.


Session 1009- Creating the New Librarianship: Indoor and Outdoor Cats

This session was presented by the Markham Public Library. It was mostly in a panel format, where a Branch Librarian (indoor cat) and a Community Librarian (outdoor cat) each talked about their role at MPL and how they work together to help realize the strategic goals of the library. The Community Librarian position is new at MPL and its implementation was part of their system-wide "Customer Service Revolution" which began a couple of years ago. The Community Librarian serves as the library's voice to the community and the community's voice to the library. Consequently, most of their time is spent outside of the library, developing and maintaining community relationships. These librarians are also not confined to the boundaries of their home branch, but are assigned an area of interest which they must pursue city-wide. The Branch Librarian, in turn, implements changes, adjustments and new services at the branch level, based on input received from the community via the Community Librarians. The two positions work closely together to build a better, more responsive library for its community.
They highlighted two major challenges that MPL is currently trying to work through: communicating better with branch staff about the role of the Community Librarian (which is difficult to do because these librarians are not in the library most of the time); and establishing clear job expectations and measurables for the Community Librarians themselves. Since this change is still relatively new, they are tweaking things as they go and trying to accept the fact that they don't have all of the answers up front.
Erin Anderson

Session 1012- What Does Effective Library Leadership Look Like
This session was presented by library staff who have participated in the APLL Institute- Advancing Public Library Leadership course and what they learned from taking the program. All of the participants at the session had the common message that the program had profound effects on them and their leadership abilities and success. The APPLL Institute promotes a practice based approach to public library leadership and has nine key practices: animate the vision, reach for exemplary service, navigate municipal and community connections, make intelligent decision, create a learning environment, embrace strategic change, cultivate relationships, develop individuals, sustain a healthy workplace. I found this session to be incredibly inspiring and getting to hear the first hand accounts and experiences was very interesting. I hope to be able to participate in this program in the future.
Sandra Walters Marrin

Session 1026 Public Library CEO Panel: What's Keeping Them Up at Night

The panel of CEOs considered and spoke to three question. The first question was "Are we wasting time and money building new libraries?" The general consensus was no as long as we are building for future needs, not just current needs. It was remarked that although traditional measures are down, walk-in traffic and program attendance are up. One CEO noted that it is a great question to be asking since many of us have Councillors asking the same thing. Our community wants us to be a space and if we are truly a community-based service, we need a physical place. We do have to be cautious of billing ourselves as the community living room or the "third place" since there are lots of cheaper spaces out there. It can be politically risky. One CEO drew attention to a recent G&M article on how banks are finding that bricks and mortar matter even in a digital age.

The second question was "Are we prepared for disruption of service and is our online presence enough?" Most agreed that we're not there yet when it comes to virtual branches. Physical space is still the core of our business and we find in times of service disruption just how many people make visits to our facilities as part of their daily or weekly routine.

The last question was "Public libraries are thought of as safe spaces. How safe are we?" Two CEOs remarked that we are as safe as any public space but we have to manage our spaces and we have to own them and staff need to be prepared to step up. One CEO remarked that that we are so worried about welcoming everyone but there is a line and often we are reluctant to draw it. Another CEO though said that we need to do a better job of reaching people and connecting them to services they need. It makes for safer libraries when we partner with expertise.


Session 1201- Evergreen Award Winner-Terry Fallis
I'm on the OLA Evergreen Award Steering and Selection Committee and it was such a pleasure to attend Terry Fallis' session where he spoke about this books and the writing process. Everyone in attendance enjoyed Terry's engaging talk and stories.
Sandra Walters Marrin

Session 1228 SPARKing Student Success

The academic librarians at York University have put together a Student Paper and Academic Research Kit (SPARK). Spark is a learning resource that's focused on the development of academic literacy and the process of producing academic work and is aimed at 1st year university students making the transition from high school. However, this could be an excellent resource for students in the upper years of high school who face research reports or essays for the first time.

SPARK is divided into 13 modules further divided into three categories - Getting Started, Exploring, and Pulling it together. Designed in such a way to reflect the recursive nature of the writing process, SPARK has no steps, but instead users are free to jump in to whichever section they need assistance with.

Normally, this resource will be imbedded into the university course management system, but it is also licensed by creative commons, it is usable by the library and the public.

SPARK can be found at the following URL:


I think this could serve as an excellent resource for us to employ, and I encourage anyone staffing the reference desk to check it out.

Ben S

Session 1217 The Economic Impact of Libraries


This session was based on the report above on the economic impact of the TPL on the City of Toronto. TPL needed to demonstrate value and accountability and undertook a study with the Martin Prosperity Institute. They used measures readily available to put a number on the valuation of library services and of direct spending. They found over $1 billion in total economic impact. There were direct tangible benefits; i.e., services being provided that have a replacement cost such as collections, programs, databases, access to technology, etc; total direct spending ($ that the city spends on library services); and the multiplier effect.

The report was launched at the December Board meeting and then launched to the media. They used an infographic to put the information in an understandable format for the community. They also spoke to intangible benefits in the report and noted that we need to make both arguments - intangible benefits and economic impact - and be as passionate about both.


Session 1219- Changing Libraries: New Ways of Working

Presented by a library consultant based in the UK, this was quite an educational session. She discussed research findings from her agency, Opening the Book, including: most people are "chance" browsers, only 1 and 3 is looking for something specific; few people stop and ask staff anything; a small proportion of library patrons use the catalogue in the library (they either browse in the library or use the catalogue at home); the average time spent in a public library is 5 to 10 minutes; 80% of judgement on the library is made in the first 30 seconds of entering it.
She presented suggestions on how libraries need to improve, including: removing staff service desks where the staff member is on one side and the patron is on the other— design desks where staff and the user are on the same side (think about equality between the patron the staff member to increase approachability); increase roving services so as to reach patrons where they are and reduce the frequency of the “invisible patron”; think of library displays as a conversation you can have with users who don’t want to talk to you— drop the props and make the books the focal point and easy to see from afar.
Perhaps the most interesting point she made was the importance of increasing the self-serve functionality of library services. She argued that this will enable a higher quality of staff interactions with users because it frees up staff time to do this.
Erin Anderson

Session 1100 Plenary- David Usher

I did not know what to expect from this session and I was pleasantly surprised. David Usher was a very engaging speaker and his thoughts on creativity were interesting and applicable to the library and staff. He spoke about the importance of creativity and how we are all creative even if we don't think so. We should encourage unexpected outcomes and take risks and be willing to work and think outside of our comfort zones.
Sandra Walters Marrin

David Usher on Creativity.

This session was particularly relevant in regards to library programs, particularly ones of the "maker" nature. David, in this presentation stressed many times that creativity is a learnable skill. Although many people make the claim that they're "just not creative", David refutes this, claiming that creativity is 95% work and only 5% inspiration. He provides a number of different ways in which we can spur creativity, notably, by creating situations in which creativity can flourish by encouraging unexpected outcomes and by stepping out of one's normal comfort zone.

He recalls how easy it was to be creative as a child since it "far easier to draw outside of the lines when you can't see the lines". And he suggests that we return to this adventurous mindset when we wish to be creative.

David notes that every new idea is a mix-match of already existing ideas, and stresses the importance of collaboration and engaging every idea and examining how it could interact with others to create something new. This he calls a "creative collision".

Libraries as a gathering place are an excellent environment for such mixing of ideas, particularly during library programs. David notes that the key to being not only creative, but also productive is to have the right mix of freedom (the initial idea) and structure (the work and planning put in to developing the idea).

Ben S

Session 1100 – David Usher

David Usher’s session was the highlight of the day! His presentation was all about creativity. He talked about his creative process and how much work and discipline it takes to stay on the creative track. He believes that creativity is 95% work and just 5% inspiration. He talked about breaking down the rules that keep us safe and in our comfort zone. You need to breakdown the rules and overcome your fears … and those unexpected outcomes as a result, are what you need to strive for to be successful. Don’t fear failure.

The big concept that I really took to was when he said – Don’t wait for the perfect situation, don’t get ready to be creative …. just start. When asked about Makerspaces in libraries, he suggested start with small ideas and test them. Work in teams and start small and bigger things will come out of that process. Excellent session.
Elaine Y. D.

Session 1226 – The Coolest Library in the World

This session drew me in based on the ‘cool’ name. The session was about how a group of students in the Master of Digital Experience and Innovation program were to investigate and report back on how to raise awareness of the University’s underused resources and services and report back their findings. Many suggestions that came back were already in place here in Whitby – have a mobile app and redesign the website to make it more user friendly. It was suggested in the investigation process that the library be involved in the learning process, in other words, bring the library into the lecture as well as put the syllabi online.
Elaine Y. D.

Session 1308 – Maker Culture – part 1: Checking out your DIY self-check options

The first part of the session dealt with organizations making their own self-check machines using inexpensive parts or components already in the organization. Jonathan Younker of Brock University talked about using the small credit-card computers such as Beaglebone or Raspberry Pi to power the self check. For libraries with 3M strips that need to be desensitized after checkout, the use of hard drive magnets have been found to be effective. These DIY solutions were possible in organizations with staff who have the time, support, and tinkering ability to make it happen.
Elaine Y. D.

Session 1308 – Maker Culture – part 2: Engage electronic makers with a Raspberry Pi workshop

Eric Pierce provided the audience with an enthusiastic presentation on developing library programming around the credit card-sized single-board computer called Raspberry Pi. These very inexpensive, yet powerful computer boards are ideal for maker projects for all ages. It was stressed that if you accidently blew the board up, it would only cost you $35 to replace it, rather than a few hundred if you were using a full-sized board. He also touched on the Scratch programming language for kids. This program language geared for kids allows you to program your own interactive stores, games and animations. Another great option for maker programs in libraries.
Elaine Y. D.

Session 1313- Data Mine (ing): The Quantified Self, Technology and Libraries

The focus of this session was on customizable technologies, which the speaker argued is the latest trend and will become increasingly important in the future. Libraries need to move away from traditional ways of thinking and go beyond providing computer terminals and research databases. Adopting technologies that enables users to keep track of things that are of importance to them (i.e. a heart-rate monitor, or a pedometer that patrons can sign out) will enable users to quantify themselves and ultimately lead to a better quality of life. Libraries need to play a part in improving society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.
In her presentation, the speaker talked about her own journey of self-discovery when she was able to quantify what she ate and how she felt which led to the diagnosis that she had Celiac Disease. She didn't talk too much about how her public library helped to facilitate this or how libraries in general can fit "Quantified Self" technology into their services.
Erin Anderson

Session 1321 - Understanding Academic Libraries

This session was primarily aimed at university and college libraries/librarians, although some of it is still applicable to a public environment.

The presenter interviewed 17 academic library provosts to find their perspective on a number of issues.

9/9 provosts viewed libraries as "mission critical" or used terms like "heart" or "nerve center" with regards to the university mission.

7/9 mentioned learning and teaching as a large aspect of the library. This is reflected in popularity of learning commons and student learning spaces in libraries.

Many of the provosts interviewed spoke of the shift from print to electronic resources (this is particularly relevant for academic libraries with their reliance on academic journals, but we're currently witnessing this in the public world as well).
Also mentioned is the shift towards networked and convergent collections, as well as the increasing importance of special collections.

I found it interesting that most provosts seemed to talk and think about their libraries in three distinct sections: Library as Place; Library as Service; and Library as Collection. And many seemed to give the impression that they feel that these 3 aspects of libraries are becoming more and more disaggregated. I'm not sure that I agree, but it's interesting food for thought.

Ben S.

Session 1328 Making Good on the Promise: The Centre for Equitable Library Access

3.4 million Canadians have a print disability and only 7% of internationally published materials are available to them. In Canada, that percentage drops to 5. Equitable access to materials is a public library issue and Canadians have been relying on a charity to supply them. CULC is partnering with CNIB to ensure access to a growing 85,000 item collection. The new Centre for Equitable Library Access will offer bilingual collections and services, Summer Reading Club support, community outreach support, and training and advice on technology and accessibility matters. The launch date is April 1 and CNIB will transition their members to their local public library and any new member will be referred to their local public library.


Friday morning Stephen Abram and I made a presentation to the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on "The Status and Future of Canada's Libraries and Archives," detailing the contribution that libraries make to our communities, our province, and our country. We spoke about changing services, successes, opportunities and challenges. The expert panel is consulting with library leaders across Canada and will report their findings to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Ian

Session 1011: Core Competency Training (Andrea B)
This was a session on the process the Welland P.L. took to implement their 2013 Technology Core Competency program. This formal commitment to technology training came out of difficulties staff had when WPL began offering e-books. Many staff had low technology skills, and e-book questions/troubleshooting were put on the shoulders of only a few staff members who could adequately assist. In an effort to increase customer service with regards to digital material, Jason Redshaw, the Electronic Services Librarian, put together an extensive year-long technology training program that all public service staff were required to take. The following training was done while at work, and 1-on-1 training was used to assist individuals through module questions to ensure that they gained the required knowledge/skills. All modules had an assignment component that each staff member was required to submit to Jason for evaluation and follow up.

Needs Assessment
Prior to creating the program, Jason created a needs assessment survey for all staff to take so that he could create modules that would best increase staff confidence with technology. Staff were asked a variety of questions regarding technology, and they were to indicate how comfortable they were using various devices, software, apps, online resources, etc. Through this survey, Jason was able to determine that most staff at the WPL were very uncomfortable with digital services and resources and created modules to increase both comfort levels and skills.

Module 1-Mobile Devices and Overdrive
Because Overdrive e-book service was recently acquired by WPL, this was a high priority skillset for staff. As such, it was the first training module. WPL had purchased some devices, and staff were required to complete an assignment composed of tasks and questions for each device (iPad, Android tablet, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Wifi e-Reader, Kobo e-Reader). The tasks and questions varied by device type, but some of the common ones were:
-connecting to the wifi
-becoming familiarized with the operating system interface
-learning device-specific touch gestures
-adjusting device settings
-downloading apps

Staff were encouraged to ask Jason questions and report issues. Thereafter, staff were required to complete an Overdrive-specific assignment, which included tasks such as:
-visiting the app store for the tablets and downloading/installing the OD app
-create an Adobe ID and authorize the app
-add a library and download an e-book
-navigating an e-book
-going into library OD account, placing and deleting holds
-adjusting app settings
-downloading Adobe Digital Editions and authorizing with an Adobe ID
-transferring an e-book to a device with ADE
-deleting/returning e-books with ADE

Similar tasks were also required for Overdrive audiobooks.

Module 2-Databases
Jason had noticed that database use had been slipping in recent years and that staff were not promoting the use of databases to patrons when appropriate. As such, he designed a module with the intent on informing staff of the different types of databases available, navigating the database successfully, and being able to search for information within the databases. To do this, Jason created an assignment with questions that patron had actually asked him at some point. Questions varied to try and expose staff to as many different databases as possible. Some questions were intentionally made to be more difficult to try and expose staff to as many database features as possible. Databases staff were trained on included:
-EBSCO databases
-Gale databases
-Proquest databases
-Children-specific databases
-Ancestry Library Edition
-Mango Languages

Module 3-Equipment Training
To try and reduce the number of questions directed to the Systems department regarding hardware issues, Jason created a module specifically for staff to become more familiarized with the hardware at computer workstations, and how to troubleshoot common hardware issues. Equipment training also included assisting patrons connecting to the wifi with a laptop, using the microfilm machines, OPACs and (though not hardware) how to navigate email accounts of three popular web-based email providers. Below include some of the tasks/questions that staff had to complete for each component of this module:

-staff had to learn how to connect a laptop to wifi, and how to access wireless settings within a laptop.

Microfilm Machine
-some staff had never touched the microfilm machine before and would look to other more familiarized staff to handle patron questions.
-staff were given an obituary to look up. They were required to find the reel, zoom in on the obituary, print the obituary (and hand it in to Jason), save the obituary to a USB stick and email the obituary as an attachment to Jason.

Internet Workstations
-how to sign in to use the workstation
-printing from the workstation
-saving to a USB stick and hard drive
-open up a document from a USB stick
-uploading a document from the hard drive/USB stick to a web-based email

-using three different popular webmail providers (Outlook/Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, I believe)
-download an attachment using the public internet workstation
-save a file and attach it to an email using the public internet workstation
-create folders and manage emails

-WPL had recently gotten a new catalogue, so the OPACs were used to provide training for this as well.
-how to place holds
-how to create a wish list
-basic searching and advanced searching with limiters
-making account changes
-creating and editing lists

Module 4-Digital and Mobile Services
Focused on other digital and mobile services outside of Overdrive as well as reading and database apps for mobile devices.

-how to download a song to a PC
-how to download and use the mobile app

-how to sign up for a Zinio library account
-how to browse and checkout magazines
-how to download and use the mobile apps
-how to read magazines on a PC computer
-how to create reading lists

Using the Bookmyne app and the Mango languages app.

Module 5-Windows Operating Systems and Microsoft Office
With the release of Windows 8, many staff were having difficulties assisting patrons using their own laptops since the WPL has not upgraded to W8. Because the WPL doesn't have any W8 devices, online tutorials were used for training.

Staff were also trained on using Windows 7, which is the OS used on staff computers and the public terminals. Exercises for W7 included navigating the control panel, connecting to the wifi and file/folder management.

The WPL uses Google Drive for program registration, so all staff were required to learn to navigate Google Drive and how to perform registrations. All features taught were specific to the WPL's registration processes.

To be able to ensure that staff would be able to answer basic questions patrons had about MS Office, assignments were created to get staff to learn the basic features and functions of MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. Staff were required to hand in documents created in these programs.

Module 6-Troubleshooting Hardware
To reduce the number of calls to the Systems department for easy-to-fix hardware issues on the public computer terminals and the accessible computer workstations, staff were required to become familiarized with common problems that require troubleshooting. A checklist was created for things to look at when troubleshooting hardware problems (before calling Systems staff) as well as how to report issues with proper documentation.

Measuring Success
All staff were required to partake in this training, and all new hires at the WPL are required to go through each module as well. Jason kept an excel spreadsheet with all of the staff who were being trained, along with all of the modules and assignments they had completed.

Success was measured through on-floor observations by both Jason and managers. Jason noticed during and after the training that staff were better able to help patrons and were promoting digital services and resources much more than previously.

Success was also measured through an end of year core competency/electronic resources exam that each staff were required to complete and pass. The exam consisted of 28 questions and staff were given 1 week to complete all of the questions. The exam consisted of more complicated questions regarding database use, Overdrive, Freegal and Zinio. The results of the training assignments and the exam were integrated into the 2013 performance reviews.

The original questionnaire was re-issued at the end of the training session, and overall staff felt much more comfortable with all technologies/digital resources asked about. This was a measure of success as well.

The final measure of success were electronic resource statistics. Jason showed us a number of statistics for the various electronic resources, and he mentioned that some stats increased by over 100%. Overall, library digital resources went up by 23% compared to 2012.

Going Forward
Jason plans to continue with core competency training for new staff, and will add and remove content as new technology emerges and fades. Any changes in core competency technologies will require staff re-training.

Jason has noticed that library staff are getting more questions about Windows 8, and hopes to purchase a Windows 8 device for more in-depth staff training. He also plans to integrate a module pertaining to cloud computing.

Jason also plans to create in-house training videos to help staff who are visual learners understand the content of the modules better.

Reading Programs for Dementia with Gail Elliot from DementiAbility: http://www.dementiability.com/
This was a fascinating talk with real practical tools. Gail covered some basic information about Dementia and then went on to talk about reading groups for those with dementia. Essentially, what is important to note is that those with dementia can be supported and have their own independence in a prepared environment that allows for them to function without relying on memory loss. With the reading groups Gail discussed what worked and showed us the materials that she currently uses (which are also available on her website). What was made clear in this session is the need for this type of programming for people with dementia and the fact that there is not enough support in nursing homes for these types of reading groups to be supported. I think that this could potentially be a great partnership program between a library and a nursing home provided that someone was trained, could supply the material for the program, and facilitate the program. Jaclyn

Booktalking 3.0 Cote Saint-Luc Library (CSL): http://csllibrary.org/
This was a great session that talked about online book inspiration. Both presenters made a clear differentiation between readers' advisory (where you may recommend books you haven't read) and readers' inspiration (where you have read the book). With readers' inspiration you clear enthusiasm for the book comes through. With CSL, they have several blogs that they use with readers inspiration, and they include online book clubs, which is a very neat idea. The presenters also went over some best practices and things to watch for.
Overall, I thought this session was fantastic and there were some great tips that I'll be using when I do my website post on the library's website. The talk also gave me food for thought about this summer's reading list program and some ways to engage online. Overall, I loved the idea of readers' inspiration and blogging and would love to be involved in something like this. Jaclyn

Andrea B's Notes from Same Session
This was a presentation on offering reader's advisory (or "reader's inspiration" as the presenters called it) in an online blogging environment. The purpose of the blog is to highlight titles or collections to inspire visitors to read. The bloggers generally have read the books they are blogging about, which is what helps inspires readers through the blog posts (vs. reader's advisory, where the librarian may not have read a book that s/he is suggesting).

The presenters stressed that quality blog posts are much more important than the quantity of blog posts. Content is important and is what will inspire readers to follow the blog. They point out that blogging is a convenient way to capture audiences, adds value to the library's website and can captivate readers in a way verbal suggestions may not.

One of the presenters began an online teen book club where teens vote on a selected list of titles for each month. Questions are posted through the book club (which is a wordpress blog) and participants are encouraged to comment to participate. The book club launched in 2012 and has been steadily growing in participants ever since.

One of the presenters also contributes to her library's Booklover Musings Blog, which highlights books to readers. There are six categories of writing in this blog: book pairings (2 books that share some kind of commonality), books vs. movie, 5 star pick, novel of the month and recipes (cookbook highlights). The last category I forget.

The presenters shared some important things to consider when thinking about starting a blog. These things include:
-do staff have enough time to commit to writing quality blog posts?
-will there be any cost to blog?
-how often will staff post to the blog?
-will public comments be allowed?
-How will success be measured?
-Will negative book reviews be permitted?
-how will the blog be marketed?

Overall a very inspiring session. A book blog at the WPL would be a lot of fun and would add value to our existing services.

Embedded in the Community: Markham Public Library
The Markham Public Library's Community Librarians gave a quick talk about what they do as community librarians. Essentially, each Community Library is located in a branch and is responsible for a specific area in Markham. What's significant is that these libraries don't spend a lot of time in the branch, but are out in the community engaging. They also made sure to outline the difference between community outreach (showing a group what the library has, one-time event) and community engagement (learning what the community needs, and is a long term relationship). Overall, I thought this was an interesting concept, and it's something I've heard a lot about but didn't really understand how it was put into practice. The talk did a good job of explaining the pay-off of community librarians; however, I would have liked a snap-shot of what an average day looks like for this type of librarian. Jaclyn

Andrea B's Notes from Same Session
In 2012, MPL created 6 Community Librarian positions. These Librarians have system-wide responsibilities, but are each based in a specific branch. These Librarians do not work the public information desk: their job is to get out into the community, attend events and meet with groups through which they are expected to make connections and, ideally, strong, meaningful relationships with other agencies and groups.

Presenters felt it was important to distinguish the difference between "community engagement" (which is the core duty of the new position) and outreach. They defined outreach as more of a one-time engagement, such as a class visit, in which librarians tell a group about what the library has and how they can be served by the resources and collections. Community engagement, on the other hand, has the goal of building long-term relationships wherein there is a constant ongoing conversation about not only what the library has, but how the library can better serve other agencies and groups by gathering an understanding about what their needs are.

The presenters gave some examples of initiatives that have come out of community engagement. They include:
-Family Literacy Day games and activities
-Art as Muse: An art competition for students in grades 9-12. Art pieces are inspired by books.
-Welcome Centre Bus Tour: A program offered jointly with York Region, librarians travelled on the bus with new Canadians for a tour of Markham, pointing out important areas and places to visit.
-One Book One Markham: community reads program
-York Region Community & Health Services: MPL joined with this department to offer a pedometer lending program, walking tours and multi-language parenting workshops.
-Markham Grows Seed Library: Offered through a partnership with the Sustainability Office, wherein packets of seeds were lent out with the expectation that seeds will be returned after flowering by seed library patrons.
-Let's Talk in English: A partnership with the Catholic Community Services of York Region. A program for newcomer youth to boost their English skills over the summer. The program included 9 youth mentors who assisted 26 newcomer youth over 5 sessions. Due to the success of the program, it is going to be offered again over March Break.
-Health Connections: A new MPL branch was opened near a hospital, and MPL partnered with the hospital with the objective to educate about health topics by interacting with Facebook groups.

The presenters have some tips for libraries considering community engagement.
-have clear measurements for success (the creation of programs are important, but not always the best measure of success when the goal is to create long-term relationships with community groups).
-align efforts with the strategic plan
-when measuring success, be sure to not only count discrete numbers, but also value. That value can be determined through discussion with community groups/partners and developments that take place.
-Communication is essential: because the Community Librarians are based in different branches and aren't always able to talk to each other, they have weekly team meetings to share experiences and developments. The Librarians are also sure to include branch staff in discussions and solicit their ideas regularly. The Librarians also sit in on branch meetings, so they can keep in touch with what is going on day-to-day.
-Ask connections who else to talk to.
-Know what you want, and form partnerships that makes sense. Don't feel pressured to say yes to a connection that may not fit.

Child and Youth Expo
I always enjoy the Child and Youth Expo, as it's a great opportunity to connect with other children's and youth services staff and to see what types of programs and services are working well in other libraries. This year, I was given the opportunity to also present at the Expo. I was able to share some of the ways that the members of my Teen Advisory Group have become involved in the library, particularly through helping with special children's programs throughout the year. It was great to be able to share some of the ideas that have worked at WPL, and to hear what teens are doing at other libraries. I also came away with a great book club idea that I hope to try out this coming summer. ~ Emily

Deconstructing the Movie Machine
This session is always entertaining (who doesn't love popcorn and movie clips on a Friday afternoon?), but, more importantly, it provides insight into some of the best (and worst) movies of the past year. I use movies a lot in my programming, but no matter how hard I try, I can't watch every new release, and this session helps me to determine which movies I really need to go back and watch, and which ones to skip. It also helps me to get a better idea of which movies might be suitable for future programs, and I enjoy hearing about some of the lesser known films that don't get a lot of hype, but that are definitely worth watching. ~Emily

Saturday, February 1

Session 1700: eLibrary Accessibility 3.0 Where are We Today? Andrea B
This session focused on the AODA and how it has made changes in digital accessibility with the implementation of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The speaker, Jennison Asuncion, a blind individual who has done extensive research in digital accessibility.

WCAG is the digital accessibility Bible. It lists guidelines that are now more open and applicable to different technologies, and as a result, Jennison admits, the guidelines can be complicated at times. But basically there are 3 levels of division within WCAG: A, AA, AAA. "A level" accessibility is the minimum requirement for those following WCAG. After implementing the A level, the guidelines are more specific for higher levels. AAA is considered the gold standard for web accessibility, and AA is considered the industry standard.

Jennison pointed out some of more important facets from WCAG. Keyboard accessibility, wherein a website is navigable by keyboard, is crucial for those with visual impairment. Alongside keyboard accessibility, Jennison stresses the importance of alternative text for all meaningful web page images. Consistency in web page layout throughout a website is also important, and benefits those with visual impairment as well as those with mental impairment and learning disabilities. He also points out that stressing important information and required fields using only colour differentiation to be a poor practice: those with colour blindness/vision impairment cannot distinguish the difference, and it is better to use some other method. Of course he stressed the importance of colour contrast, but one thing he touched one I thought was very interesting: if a web user were navigating and received an error message of some kind, is the error message clear? Does it give the user information to resolve the problem, or is it only a meaningless code? Creating error meaningful error messages is important in accessibility.

Jennison had some advise for libraries looking to purchase technologies to ensure that they are accessible. He said that the most important thing is to do thorough research on the product in question and to ask LOTS of specific questions. He says that many vendors claim to have an accessible product, and there may be some accessible features, but it may not be truly accessible. Some vendors will say they are "section 508 compliant," which refers to a U.S. requirement that actually equates to an older Canadian guideline. So, in other words, the product may not meet Canadian requirements.

Jennison suggests that when looking into a product, ask to meet with the vendor's technical staff and get them to prove their accessibility features by showing you around the interface. If this isn't possible, it's important to at least make a separate meeting with vendor representatives to talk about accessibility features. Make them a priority, and let the vendor know that they are a priority.

If a library is accepting proposals from vendors, get applicants to answer specific questions regarding their accessibility mandate and accessible features of their products.

Jennison also points out that libraries, being great at sharing information, should talk to each other about experiences with vendors. Put the word out on a listserv, asking other libraries what their experiences are with products and vendors when it comes to accessibility. Don't necessary take a vendor's word for it: talk to other librarians and get feedback on how things really are.

Finally, when purchasing a product, Jennison stresses that accessibility needs to be included in the service contract. Trusting a vendor's word is not enough, especially if they have agreed to do some custom coding to meet your accessibility needs, or if they say they have a timeline to implement accessible features. Get it in writing, bottom line.

Jennison talked about the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) initiative, which I don't believe is still in its infancy stages. But GPII is an technological initiative with the goal of making all web content accessible to everyone by providing a set of software tools stored in the cloud. A user indicates their disabilities through an online survey, and a personalized interface is created for them with accessibility tools. These tools can then be accessed by the user on any device as soon as they log into their account. OCAD is a contributor to GPII. We watched this video, which provides a good explanation of how GPII works.

Jennison also talked a lot about accessibility features available on phones, and offered some comparisons between phone manufacturers:
iPhone: the most accessible phone device on the market. Accessibility features are built directly into the device.
Android: accessibility features on Android phones depend on the manufacturer of the phone itself. The manufacturer has to enable accessible Android features on their phone.
Blackberry: Many accessible features available only by downloading apps. It does, however, hearing aid compatibility, good screen enlargement capabilities and screen contrast.

The last thing Jennison touched on are some web accessibility features he thought were worth sharing. He mentioned webanywhere which is a screen reader than can be used when Internet browsing, without requiring a software download. Also, it's free. Another free product he mentioned is called NVDA which is also a free screen reader. It needs to be downloaded, but can be saved to, and can run off of, a USB stick. Unlike webanywhere, NVDA can be used to read Windows and MS Word and Excel along with the Internet browser.

Session 1702 Impacting the Lives of the Maasai Mara

OLA did a fundraiser for Free the Children in 2005/06 in memory of Elizabeth Hoffman. This initiative started Free the Children on the path of building libraries as part of their community building projects. Scott Baker, ED of Free the Children, talked about the history of the organization, their approach to development, and how libraries are impacting communities. They have become a space for training, after-school programs, women's groups, a real focal point for the community.


Session 1704- Building an Engaging and Manageable Library Advocacy Strategy
This session presented by staff and a board member from Burlington Public Library was very interesting and inspiring. Burlington Public Library has created an Advocacy Committee and Plan. Acts of advocacy include: telling stories, engagement, evoking emotions, confirming identity, enhancing awareness, building relationships, being creative, and showing respect. BPL's goals and priorities included striking and advocacy committee with terms of reference and community representation and volunteer recruitment. The focus of their Advocacy Team is to increase awareness and support of the library, increase their own understanding of the library's impact, value, and potential, positioning BPL's relevance in Burlington's future. An Advocacy Committee that works looks like this: recruitment and orientation; community representatives; terms of reference; annual workplan; regular board reports. Election time advocacy is very important, sending out election took kits to all of the candidates with library information. Presentations to community groups with the message "Beyond Books" showcasing everything that the library has that people are not always aware of. Shows the great investment of community tax money, highlighting library stories, community presentations included so far: church groups, parents councils, single mom groups, probus, seniors groups, boy scout leaders. They also put work into media advocacy and created some library videos highlighting special programs and services such as Visiting Library Services and Paws for Stories. So far the Committee has done 20 presentations reaching 400 citizens, city council recognition as a key resource and partner, and many passionate and enthusiastic library ambassadors. They have had a tremendous positive reaction and feedback from the community. The lessons learned: Enforce the difference between advocacy and marketing, people love their public libraries and it is worth it!
This was an excellent presentation and I'm so glad I attended it, I think there are many take aways from this session that could be applied at our library, they are able to share the presentation they created for the community groups as well.
Sandra Walters Marrin

Trade Show / Exhibits

I had a trade show pass and visited the exhibits on Thursday to speak with our vendors and others that captured my interest.

  • Overdrive - I asked them about the Simon & Schuster trial in the US whereby participating libraries had to include a 'buy it now' button on every S&S title offered. The rep said that this was some sort of trial to see if the library loans cut into sales, despite earlier evidence that they don't. He added that Overdrive's whole Big Library Read initiative was started in response to this and that it resulted in more sales of the featured title. They also had a demo of the Overdrive touch screen kiosk - told them we'd really like to see some sort of download component to demo to patrons (and for patrons who lack computer access) but it doesn't sound like that's in the cards.
  • SimplyMap Canada is a map-based demographic/spending product, similar to PCensus. However, it's web-based and has some pretty impressive functionality and report-making tools. Like PCensus, there would be a pretty steep learning curve, but the rep is local and would be available for training and outreach. SimplyMap offers some of the data (or estimates) for data unavailable in PCensus due to changes in the 2011 Census. It's also an integrated product, in that it includes business info. So, someone could profile the consumers in an area around their restaurant and see all of the other restaurants in the same area. Right now, we have to use a second product to do that. Finally, the maps show the census areas. Our current PCensus maps don't. It would be tough to introduce this product, but it's definitely pretty slick. I hope to get a trial soon.
  • Related to this, I also spoke to a rep from Environics. They're the data providers for both PCensus and SimplyMap. It turns out I've been passing on incorrect information about the source of our spending data. It all comes from StatsCanada and is more useful relative to other spending data than it is on its own. I had been under the impression that some of it came from private sources. Interesting.
  • EBSCO has a new poetry and short story product that includes text - that is, poetry and short story text. They also had some details and examples of their new Discovery Service, which will change the integrated search. Most of the changes (if we choose to add them) will be on the back end and will make the current EHIS faster and more seamless.
  • GALE has a new product called Learn4Life. Learn4Life is an online course module. We tried something in the same space with Learning Express, but it didn't get a lot of traction. L4L has actual weekly courses and lectures, with assignments, on a variety of things. Some of them award certificates, and are good for US accreditation. Courses include things like playing the guitar, writing business plans, digital photography, PC networking, etc. They've signed up a few libraries in southwestern Ontario and I have a contact at one of them. Hopefully I'll be able to get some info from her.


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