This week, librarians and people who work in libraries are gathering at the Delta Hotel for the Manitoba Library Association’s 2014 Conference. The Manitoba Library Association (MLA) provides leadership in the promotion, development and information services in Manitoba for the benefit of MLA members, the library and information community, and the citizens of Manitoba.
The MLA typically holds a conference every two years, and it is an excellent opportunity for people to get together who may not see each other in a regular day’s work. You’ll get public librarians talking to school librarians, academic librarians smiling across the room at special librarians, circulation assistants having lunch with cataloguers! Dogs and cats living together! It’s going to be CRAZY.
The Winnipeg Public Library has a number of staff presenting at the conference this year, and I’m lucky enough to be a convener for one of the sessions. We have an hour-long time slot, but you’ll actually get to hear three presentations within that time. The conference’s theme is “Unlimited Potential” and I think our presentation fits nicely into the idea of going out beyond “traditional” adult programming and exploring new ways of engaging the community.
Carole Reeve from the Osborne Library will talk to us about a Cook Book club that she started a couple of years ago at her branch. Instead of just reading books and coming to discuss them, member of Carole’s club take cook books home and try out a few recipes from each book. They meet back and talk about what they liked, didn’t like, which books were easy to follow, which books were not. An added bonus is that someone from the group brings one of the food items to share with the group each month.
Laura Harby from the Louis Riel Library will then give a talk about a “Knit Night Book Club” that she leads on a monthly basis. Her group is made up of all levels of knitters, and it is emphasized that this is not an “instructional” club (although of course if people have the odd knitting or crocheting question, the group tries to help out). Similar to the cook book club, the members of Knit Night each choose a knitting or crocheting book and work on projects from it. They are encouraged to bring their projects to the library to show the group their progress. It helps that Laura herself is an accomplished knitter and is enthusiastic in helping people find patterns and projects that work for them.
The second half of the hour will be Kirsten Wurmann, branch head of the Westwood Library, and Tauni Gerrie, who led a “Storytime for Adults” when she worked at Westwood. Kirsten and Tauni will talk about where the idea of organizing an “adult storytime” came from, and the nuts and bolts of choosing appropriate stories to read aloud in a library. Tauni will give the audience an idea of how “adult storytime” works with a dramatic reading of a couple of short pieces. Kirsten will finish up by giving examples of other innovative programs that Westwood has tried, encouraged by the success of the adult story time. One such program was the “Literary Walk” organized in the autumn of 2013. There are a number of literary themed street names within walking distance of the Westwood library, and one afternoon Tauni led a group through the neighbourhood, stopping at a number of streets to give a bit of historical information about each author/poet and to read a sample of that person’s work.
Although this session has the highest concentration of WPL people in one spot, there are a number of other WPL employees taking part in presentations over the course of the conference:
- Nadine McCaughan, branch head of the Charleswood Library, will take part in a discussion of the benefits and challenges of pursuing a MLS degree online through distance education.
- Karin Borland, coordinator of Children’s and Teen Services, will be leading a talk called “See Spot Read! Dogs as Reading Buddies in the Public Library”, a program created through a partnership with the Winnipeg Humane Society and St. John’s Ambulance.
- Kim Parry and Monique Woroniak, Outreach Librarians at WPL will be joined by Amy Story of the archival community for a panel titled “Libraries, Archives and Social Justice: Shared Values, Common Causes.”
- Monique will participate in the presentation “Common Threads? Indigenous Library Services in Public and Academic Libraries” and will discuss some of the challenges and successes she has experienced working with Indigenous-focused library services at WPL.
- Monique will also give a talk called “The Road from Here: Indigenous Services in Public Libraries” which will feature her thoughts on the future of this service area.
- Barbara Bourrier-LaCroix, one of our Collections Librarians, will take part in a panel called “Together at Last: An Academic and Public Library Leisure Reading Partnership.” This presentation is about a new WPL “leisure reading” collection which will be available at the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library.
Find out more about these presentations, and all the other presentations at this year’s conference at http://www.mla.mb.ca/content/conference. You can also follow the Manitoba Library Association on Twitter: @MB_Lib_Assn and see or tweet conference-related content using the hashtag #MLC2014.
In addition to the presenters, a number of WPL employees are volunteering during the conference, making sure that everything goes smoothly. Conferences like this wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated efforts of the many nameless volunteers, many of whom hail from Winnipeg Public Library.
I’m hopeful that this year’s conference will be inspiring and thought-provoking for everyone who attends. The theme of “Unlimited Potential” lends itself well to what we are doing at Winnipeg Public Library.