Canadian Library Conference 2010 - #cla2010

From Wednesday to Saturday this past week I attended my first Canadian Library Association (CLA) Conference. Held at the Shaw Conference in Edmonton, I felt most fortunate to attend the big national conference right after I graduated from library school. The timing was perfect, as I never would have been able to afford to go to the conference if it was held in another part of the country. Lucky me, graduation and CLA all in one year, all in the city I love!

Here's a bit of a session by session overview of what I went to:

- Opening Keynote: Sue Gardner, CEO of Wikimedia. She talked about Wikipedia and why it is awesome (useful, education etc). She encouraged us as librarians to sign up and help edit so that we could truthfully educate the world. Her talk was a bit of a sell, but also inspiring. I've been thinking of signing up for awhile, and since I'll have some time on my hands this summer, it's a definite possibility.

- Google Books Settlement: Oh gosh, lots to learn and think about on this one. The speakers pointed out that though Google Books started off as a card catalogue, it's now a book store, and it'll take a lot of work to get it to be a library. There are a ton of issues such as privacy, foreign language content and international viewing rights. One of the speakers pointed out our National Library should be used to archive digital content. Also, the settlement only applies to the US, so once again Canada loses out, which makes sense when you consider how disengaged the federal government and Canadian society are about this whole issue. Interesting, but still rather disheartening. I wonder if in 100yrs people will wonder why we bothered trying to stand up for our content since Google owns everything anyways?

- Collection Budget Cuts/Weeding a Reference Collection: Yay, some practical steps to how to accomplish these two activities! The biggest tip from both sets of speakers was to have a communication plan and involve all stakeholders (faculty, users, administration etc).

- Preparing for the Profession: This session was run by the Re:Generations Committee  I'm on. The panel, and various experienced audience members provided tons of tips on topics such as resumes/CVs/cover letters, interviewing, and other job search topics. I'm not going to lie, I left feeling completely disheartened about the whole job climate right now (stupid recession), but did learn a lot.

- New Technologies: Web 2.0 Tools: I took a class on this, but it was good to see that libraries are using wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, Delicious, and Twitter with success.

- Text Messaging for Reference Services: This great session was really inspiring. It was super easy (and cheap) for the library to implement text messaging reference, and the students at the particular college really like the service and did make us of it. What a great tool, and I plan on using this idea if I ever find myself in a college library home (oh please please, fingers crossed).

- Engagement of New Professionals in Leadership: There's an interesting difference between knowledge of vs willingness to vs ability to vs opportunities for new professionals to get involved in leadership. I'm not sure where I fit in with all this, but this session definitely also gave me something to think about.

Collaborating Across Institutions: Oh! How inspiring. What if school librarians and academic librarians and public librarians worked together to educate students and prepare them for life long learning? Great idea, but lack of time and money seem to be getting in the way. This is another idea I hope to take with me when I find a library home though. Who knew my B.Ed. would come in handy?!

- The Great Debate - The Reference Desk Is Dead: This was an interesting and humourous session. The debaters didn't sway my opinion, but it was interesting to hear both sides. It comes down to the issue of the physical desk vs the reference services provided, and for the moment both are still very important. The vote came down to 102 (desk is dead) vs 105 (desk is alive) so this will definitely be an issue to discuss in the future.

- Copyright: Oh gosh, this session was so informative. Basically it's about to become a lot more expensive to pay Access Copyright tariffs. This is a complex issue and I'm always glad to have someone teach me more about it.

- Streaming Video Content: Another great session with practical tips. This might be a 'new wave' of content to watch for in the near future.

- CLA Awards: What I remember from this is that Wendy Nelson, winner of the advocacy award, gave her cheque back to the CLA to help them fix the organization's financial problems (winning her a standing ovation), and that Lynn Copeland is my hero (also worthy of a standing-O). I found her speech very inspirational. It's nice to know there actually is a place in the library world for librarians who speak their mind! We can't all be meek and on our best behaviour all the time. What I took away from this was that me and my big loud mouth might not actually end up flipping burgers instead of finding a library home.

- Closing Keynote: Michael Geist. He mostly talked about the history of the copyfight in Canada, followed by a lengthy description about the current copyright bill that was just announced, Bill C-32. So interesting. It seems that Geist and the CLA mostly support the new bill, but want the bit about digital locks to become less abrasive. If the bill goes through as is, the fair dealing component will really benefit libraries in terms of Access Copyright. He encouraged librarians to keep an eye on this issue and to speak out about it. Hopefully they don't change the bill dramatically before (if) it gets passed, and hopefully libraries will win this copyfight for once!!

So yes, I learned a lot. The unfortunate thing is that I don't have a librarian job in the field yet, so I can't implement all the exciting things I heard about. I'll have to try to keep all those ideas in my head until I do find a library home.

I can't help compare the recent Alberta Library Conference I attended in Jasper in April to CLA 2010. It certainly was nice to live on-site in Jasper, and that made for more of a community atmosphere. Plus the gorgeous scenery and walks around the lake beat walking to the train station or to the downtown mall in Edmonton. Keynotes were great at both, and sessions were informative at both also. It was very interesting to learn about what libraries around the country are doing however. I learned a lot at both conference, and met a lot of great library people likewise at both. Of course this is all swayed by the fact CLA 2010 was in Edmonton, my home town. Thus there were likely more Alberta librarians in town, and I did talk to a lot of Alberta/Edmonton librarians I already knew. I would certainly be very interested in attending an out of province conference. I imagine it would be very different if I didn't know so many people. I would be forced to meet new people and step out of my comfort zone, something I was pretty reluctant to do this time.

I did, however, meet the cool people on the Re:Generations Committee that I belong to. It was great to put faces to the names of the librarians I've been blogging with. I also met Jason, who blogs at Head Tale. I've been following his blog for years and years (if fact, his blog played a part in my decision to become a librarian), so it was great to meet him in person.

CLA 2010 was a big success. I learned tons and met some great people. I certainly would love to go again sometime!

Check out the official CLA 2010 Conference website, which promises to post powerpoint presentations of the sessions at some point. You can also read the #cla2010 page on twitter for a bit of a recap.


  1. I also wish that I could attend a library conference outside the province where I'm living! I've been to/volunteered at several conferences but they have all been in Montreal. At local conferences there are so many familiar faces that it is easy to stick with the same group of people. If you promise to attend an out-of-province conference in the next year then so will I!

  2. I'd love to attend an out-of-province conference! It's definitely something to think about for next year, depending on where I end up in the next year. Maybe I'll see you there!


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