Off to Toronto!

It’s that time of year again…the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2014!


Meriah and Shirley are bustling off to Toronto to attend this year, and we’re all excited to see what exciting and new information they’ll come back with. As usual, there will be plenty of fabulous workshops, poster sessions, book signings and plenary sessions (which means AMAZING speakers!).  And this year, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is going to do the closing session, so that should be great!

Super Conference is billed as Canada’s largest continuing education event in librarianship. If you happen to be anywhere near the Toronto Conference Center this week, it’s the largest gathering of librarians you could ever imagine. You might be surprised that you’ll hardly see a tight bun or glasses anywhere, and expect to see more than a few young people . Libraries are a great career choice, full of exciting change and expansion. And mixed into all this is an enormous trade show, where vendors come from all over to display their newest fare with regards to books, libraries, technology and much more. There will even be dozens of authors on hand to sign books and do a few talks.  It’s going to be amazing!

The theme this year is “A Universe of Possibilities”, and OLA invites everyone attending to explore, collaborate, connect and inspire…..things we aim to do everyday at our very own library. 2014 is a year of possibilities, and we hope you’ll partake in library events as well as make regular library visits to see what we have to offer.

So, safe travels to Meriah and Shirley, and we’ll see you back here in Carleton Place next week!  Have fun!



The best thing about going away to a library conference is that we come back so inspired! While we choose the sessions we’d like to attend–many of which apply to the job we do in our own library–we’re also free to go to sessions that are just plain interesting. Often, it’s a tough choice, as there are so many sessions going on at one time, but we manage. (Some people even slip out of a session midway through in order to pop into another one so as not to miss out completely.) Most of the sessions are available online after the conference (handouts, at the very least), but nothing compares to attending the sessions live. It’s the people who make the topics vibrant and interesting.

I attended a variety of workshops. Since my job here in Carleton Place is a combination of technical work and children’s programs, I went to a nice mix of both. I sat in on a session called “The Creative Library”, which had all of us playing silly drawing, word and problem solving games.  The idea is to create a library environment where the staff have great morale and problem solving abilities, as well as being able to foster creative thinking in all areas of librarianship.  What does that boil down to? Well, the examples had library staff playing Wii games every morning together to help bolster team building skills (I can’t imagine having time to do that here, but it was an interesting idea), and staff rooms set up with puzzles and modeling clay in order to allow staff to de-stress when needed.  When tracking productivity and the impact happy staff had on patrons, the results were amazing. While we might not adopt these specific ideas, the creative library approach is something every library could benefit from in some manner.


I also listened to a fascinating talk called “Confessions of a Social Media Librarian.”  At first, I couldn’t imagine that there could be a position devoted entirely to tweeting and posting on Facebook, but in a large university environment, it made perfect sense. While we often center our social media approach around events that take place in the library, she took a very different approach. Instead of tweeting that the library was going to have different hours, let’s say…she focused on tweeting to actual library/university members about things they were already talking about. Engaging the students in dialog about what they were doing at the library and what they needed to know about (for instance, free tables for study space), she got them talking about the library as a positive experience.  I’m not sure how we’ll apply that approach here, but I’d love to have more dialogue with people who USE the library, rather than just tweeting between town facilities.

One of the most fascinating presentations occurred on the final day of the conference. It was titled “Why Libraries Should Emulate Apple Stores”.  The presentation focused on the idea that Apple stores are all about providing superior service and products to its customers.  If libraries could emulate the practice of making each patron feel like the center of the universe, then they’d keep coming back and rave about the services the library provides. Not everyone agreed with the presenter’s claim that Apple wasn’t just out to make money (she was a certified Apple trainer, so apparently, she knew all about the ins and outs of the company), but whether or not they thought the reason behind superior service was wrong, no one could argue with the fact that listening to your customers/patrons is THE way to keep them coming back.

Now  I just have to sit down and figure out how to implement some of these great ideas into my programs and service at the Carleton Place Public Library.

A Brush with Fame

One of the things we most anticipated at the Super Conference this past week was the chance to hear Canadian authors speak. I’ll admit, while Janet was eagerly anticipating the spotlight session with author Louise Penny, I was also looking forward to hearing nominated Forest of Reading authors talk about their experiences with the program. Both sessions took place at the same time, so we parted ways and found seats in our packed session rooms.

It’s funny how “regular” these people seem when you sit in a room with them. At my Forest session, the panel included picture book author/illustrator Rebecca Bender, charismatic author Jan Andrews, the funniest speaker of the morning–Kevin Sylvester, uber-famous juvenile fiction author Kenneth Oppel, Young Adult author extraordinaire Kelley Armstrong, French author Maxim Cyr and non-fiction author Cindy Watson.

forestThey each talked about how they got started in the program, their experiences with writing and lots of stuff in between. The session was pretty full and everyone had a chance to ask questions at the end. It was also fun later on at the Expo running into Kelley Armstrong who was busy editing her latest manuscript in between signing books and bookmarks. (She’s learned to edit anywhere, she said, due to her insanely busy deadlines.)

After my session, I raced  over to hear the last of Louise Penny’s talk. Janet had a great seat and enjoyed the talk VERY much.  But we were both looking forward to seeing her up close after the session during the book signing. Janet, thinking ahead as usual, purchased one of her books the night before to avoid the lineups and was only about ten or so people from the start of the line. Ms. Penny was gracious and pleasant, taking time to speak with each person who was having a book signed. And while she couldn’t divulge any secrets about her upcoming books (darn!), we managed to get a great shot of Janet alongside her favourite author. (Yes, she probably could have left the conference right then, completely happy.)

louiseBut the thing we laughed about the most was my paparazzi skills later on. It seems that I always get the most flustered with visiting picture book authors (I am a children’s librarian, after all!).  When we heard that one of my absolute favourite authors, Oliver Jeffers, was going to be there the next day to sign books, we made a special point of coming back to the Expo. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they’d run out of books.  Yes, we got to see him signing books, but it was a little disappointing.  Never fear, however, Janet happened to notice him a while later looking at picture books at one of the displays. I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick shot. Yay!  (No, I wasn’t stalking. Honest.) It was a great moment, nonetheless.


We came home happy we’d attended the sessions we wanted, and got a few extra moments of excitement by brushing with fame!

We’re Back!

After an exciting and hectic four days in Toronto, we’re back from the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference 2013!

After starting out on a foggy and slightly icy morning, we made it to the train station in Smiths Falls and headed out on our journey.

trainIf you haven’t taken the train before, it’s always a comfortable way to travel, with free wi-fi and frequent snack cart visits to get you through the journey. We passed through snow and rain and fog and sunshine, and got to our destination in great time.

shoppingI’ll have to admit, the train ride was the easiest part of the trip that day. After checking into our hotel and a quick bite to eat, we were off to visit the Whitehots showroom to purchase books. Let’s just say it was an interesting cab ride out to Mississauga.  But once there, we found LOTS of great books, friendly staff and got down to the business of loading up our carts with books.  While we left a few books on the shelves, we can’t wait until our boxes arrive back here at the library. Then, it’ll be down to work to get them all into our system and onto the shelves. Fun!

Back at the hotel, we made our way to the Conference Center and checked in.  If you can imagine thousands of librarians in one space, this was it.  Excitement was in the air and we were all looking forward to getting down to all the plenary sessions, author visits, presentations and poster sessions. Vendors were busy setting up the Expo which we’d all attend at least at one point during the conference, to view books & products and to meet with the wonderful people who keep libraries current and relevant.

Janet and I headed back to our room after a nice dinner with librarians from Smiths Falls, and we poured over the catalog to see what sessions we’d be attending the next day. Exciting!

Stay tuned for more information on the sessions we attended, people we saw and things we learned. It was a great week!

We’re Off!


We’re off to Toronto for a library conference! (No, we aren’t on this train…but we’ll catch one in Smiths Falls.) That means we’ll take a little break from the blog.  But if you’d like to see what’s happening, drop by our Facebook page for lots of updates from the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2013. See you back here next Monday!

We’re Conferencing!

You might not even notice, but a few of the staff from the library will be away this week at the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference 2013! (Don’t worry, the library will be running as usual. Our staff is THAT good!)


While we’re there, we’ll be posting (hopefully) on Facebook, so please go to the Carleton Place Public Library Facebook page in order to see some of the fun.


Toronto will be bustling with librarians (it’s a sight to see, believe me!), all of us going to workshops, making new connections and gathering exciting ideas to bring back to our own libraries.  I can’t wait to see what we might discover this year.  And please, if everyone would take a moment to place an order with Mother Nature to ensure there won’t be a blizzard this year, it would be greatly appreciated!

See you next week!