AAO Conference

So, here I go throwing acronyms at everybody with my title.  Something I find we do too much in libraries and archives – and I can confidently say in other professions too.

Yesterday I returned home from the Archives Association of Ontario Annual Conference in Windsor.  The focus of the conference was on building partnerships and many wonderful and great ideas were put forth.  I met so many colleagues who I could bounce ideas off and people I could learn from.  Although it really was a very small conference it truly was a wonderful experience and I am delighted that I had the opportunity to attend.

The conference began on the VIA train for me – I quickly found out I was sitting beside a fellow archivist who would be attending the conference.  I had felt so nervous to attend the conference for the first time, but this fellow archivist made me feel truly comfortable and introduced me to people every chance.

One really big point that was raised at the conference was the need of archives to talk to one another more and to know about what is going on so that we can help one another out.  I think that this can really only come through greater communication among archival organizations and developing partnerships and strong communication between other cultural organizations too.

There are many partnerships available to us if we go out looking for them and are creative about it and really think about our needs and the needs of the individuals, organizations, associations we hope to partner with.  When attempting to form a partnership, one must talk in words that the potential partner can understand and at the same time show confidence and legitimacy so that you can be trusted.

Examples of partnerships include working with libraries, museums, galleries, volunteers, universities, other archives, schools and government.  Partnerships can be started for many reasons from acquiring funding, obtaining/sharing expertise and creating awareness of the role of the archives in the community.  A partnership may be started to accomplish a single goal or may be much more long term.

I am very fortunate to be part of an archive with many partnerships – some informal, others formal.  Partnerships are crucial to me in my position at work and without partnerships my job right now would not exist.  The talk about partnerships was eye opening and fascinating.  I really enjoyed the conference.

I wish I had brought a camera with me – there are some nice walking paths in Windsor that I explored while attending the conference and my hotel had a beautiful view of Detroit and the river – though sometimes it was admittedly quite noisy with ships passing by and with the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup!

I am so fortunate to have a workplace that supports my learning and development by providing me with the opportunity to travel to this conference and am thankful for the people at the  AAO for putting together a conference filled with learning opportunities and experiences and for providing me with the opportunity to meet friends and colleagues in this field.

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The Importance of Course Selection…

I am now down to my last three courses towards a masters degree that will qualify me as a librarian.  I am seeing most of my friends graduate and go to job interviews and getting feedback from them about the importance of course selection.  Part of me is sad to see them leave me behind in graduate school but I am also really excited for my friends.  I chose to go the part-time route so I could work while I finish up my degree and am really grateful for the experience I am having.  I love my job and the people I work with.  Also, I know that I am going to really miss school when I finish up this degree.

Many of my friends are being asked by prospective employers if they took courses in Readers’ Advisory, Collection Development and Information Literacy.  This makes me more than a little nervous since I have been avoiding taking courses in Readers Advisory and Collection Development since I feel like these are things that may be better suited to learning on the job.  I took an advocacy course and I felt like the issues in that class were really important for libraries and for anybody in the profession to understand.  I think design is also pretty crucial to getting people to step in the front door of a library and to come back – though customer service also plays a strong part in that and I think the collections and library programs do too.  I have taken a course in Children’s Collection Development.  Do you think that counts?  How important is it that I take these courses?  I have a couple of years working as a library technician under my belt and am now working as a librarian archivist on a digitization project.  Did you take these courses?  Do you think it will hinder my chances at getting a permanent position when I graduate if I don’t take these courses?  Would I be able to learn these skills on the job or should I focus on taking these courses in the fall and winter?  Maybe it depends on the job I want to have when I graduate? Any advice would be appreciated.

Digitization Project Update

I never realized how much digitization would involve and have learned so much.  I had to develop standards and looked at what many of the libraries and archives out there were doing.  I had to decide on how to back-up my work.  Also I have had to think about what to digitize first and prioritize the collections.  Luckily I took the advice of so many that have done this before me.  I did not jump in right away and start digitizing.  I researched and figured out what would hopefully work best.  When I am digitizing I am making a preservation copy (a large TIFF file) and a small jpg that can be easily posted online.  I am hoping that this will allow us to follow a scan once policy.  So, if someone wants to have a print of a photograph they have seen online I can size the unedited master file to the size they require.  This allows for people to look at a specific photo in detail and will hopefully allow us to upload larger higher resolution photos as people get better quality screens on their computers.  We are pretty fortunate to be able to use the OurOntario.ca toolkit for this project.  The one great thing is that a person does not need much technical knowledge to upload photographs to the website.  At the moment I have digitized just over 600 photographs.  Although it is a slow process, in the end it should be really worthwhile.  Describing the photographs takes a lot of time since I am putting in all of the details that we know and thereby making the images searchable on the website.  It is really great to see that the list of organizations contributing to the ourontario.ca project is increasing as I really think this is a wonderful project.  I will soon be at the point where I will be finalizing my design for  marketing materials and promoting this project to the local community.  You can browse through the images I have posted here.  If you have any comments, suggestions or ideas for me about this project (or marketing this project) I would appreciate it.

TOC = Simple and Complex

Sorry I kept everyone in suspense so long.  I worried about the presentation and then the morning of I was rushing out the door and remembered to bring my hat.  I was able to talk about the lines in the design of the hat as well as the uses too.  I love my hat.  People talked about some really neat things.  One guy talked about his MacBook, another about his Pentax SLR camera (that uses film), someone else talked about a pair of hiking boots.  There was also an antique rocking horse, an iPhone, a handmade purse and an agenda.  We were all over the place as a class in what we brought in.  Surprisingly nobody brought in a book – the closest they came to bringing in a book was a CD.  In a way it makes sense as there are only 2 or 3 library science students in the class.  Still, I was a bit surprised and maybe I should have chosen the more obvious.

Speaking of books and the obvious…  I have decided to look at Tables of Contents (TOCs) in my design class.

I never realized that something that is seemingly so simple could be so entirely complex.  As a student and as a person who has worked at the reference desk in non-fiction tables of contents are always quite important to me, but they really have been most important to me as a navigational aid.  I am seeing through this project and through really looking at tables of contents that in addition to being a navigational aid they can add style and identity to a book.  They can help to make the difference between a book that you will pick up again and a book that gathers dust on the shelves.  How many book reviews even talk about the table of contents of a book?  To be honest, I am not an avid reader of book reviews, but I have never seen a book review that talks about the table of contents of a book.

I guess I should mention that indexes are also quite important.  I am not sure that they add quite as much identity to a book though.  The table of contents shows where you are and where you are going (or where you could go).  That isn’t really the case with an index.  Still, both can be extremely useful navigational aids for researchers and librarians and really make a difference to what books I pick up when doing research and which ones I help people to select when answering reference questions.

I have come to the opinion that a table of contents is a navigational aid, but that it also gives a multi-page written work (book, magazine) an identity.  I found it quite interesting and I had never really paid attention on a large level to tables of contents.  There are so many ways to put together a table of contents and they may be organized in many different ways.  For example a law book will generally include tons of information and have a lengthy table of contents that mentions chapters, sections and subsections.  Fiction books generally may have short chapter titles listed with a page number beside.  Magazines and newspapers tend to separate out the regular columns and cover stories in the table of contents and do not organize everything in sequential order.  I take it that there must be something to that.  One table of contents does not fit every work out there.  Also TOCs are differentiated from one another by typeface, dot leaders, alignment and so much more.  I really need to think about what will work for my project.  If you have any ideas or thoughts about tables of contents please swing them my way.  Looking at tables of contents is really quite interesting and I had no idea that something so simple could be quite so complex.

I really am enjoying this design class.  Everyone is looking at something different.  One group of students is looking at designing pamphlets based on museum exhibit boards, another group is exploring cubism through photography, another is looking at what works for library design and one that I find quite interesting and in a way similar to what I am doing is a group who is looking at signs in TTC stations.  In my opinion, it’s really quite a fascinating class and it is helping me to take a more conscious notice of design.  I think this is something that libraries, archives and museums really need to notice and think about so I am glad have the opportunity to be taking this course.

From design literacy to design dilemma

I never realized there was such a thing as design literacy until I ran into Stephen Heller’s book “Design literacy: understanding graphic design” on the shelf at the library last week. I am finding it really fascinating to begin to understand some of the objects of graphic design. Heller explains things in an easy to understand way and looks at things from the popular to the lesser known. I have read about the peace symbol and about war time propaganda posters. I have flipped through the book and am looking forward to reading about a lot more including Seventeen Magazine – a magazine that I enjoyed perusing as a teen.

It is really funny that I never thought of design being a literacy though I have designed posters for adult programs at work. It is not easy to design things and it was quite fascinating reading the introduction since Heller explains that most designers don’t recognize the value in their older designs as they are not design literate about the history and value these objects have.

Speaking of design I just started a course on design at school today – one of the last few courses left towards completing my degree. The course sounds really fascinating but I have a real dilemma… next week we need to bring in a photo of ourselves with an object we have an affinity towards and I am having a ton of trouble deciding what to choose. I have thought about a photo of myself with the scar dedication in HP, but then when I think about it there are so many other better examples of typography and it seems a poor choice that I have an affinity towards that, but I really did like it when I first saw it. I am also considering my green hat. I love my green hat. But, if I were to bring it in then people may just think that I am too much of a girly-girl or something. Same goes for my little red purse (it may be small, but it is washable and fits nearly everything in it). Maybe I should go really simple and bring in my running shoes or even better – my inline skates – and more especially the new ball bearings just installed… but then people may just think I am a bit weird. Maybe I should bring a Lindt chocolate bar. I really do have an affinity for those… mmm mmm yummy! but then I’d have to share and with so many people in my class there wouldn’t be enough left to satisfy my affinity for it! 🙂 Does anyone have any ideas or advice for me on this one?

Failure to Fail

I just read this in the Walrus Magazine.  I thought it was quite interesting – especially since I can’t think of a single person who failed out of university and I have been in university for 6 years now.  Still, some of the article I disagree with such as the fact that returning to school on a part time basis seems to be looked down upon in a way through the article and I have been a part time student by choice as I prefer to split my time between work and school.  Although I think it is the experience of learning, doing your own research in university that matters, not the actual grades, this article makes me really question the value of my university education.

Cheating or sharing: Facebook for Study Groups

I just saw this article in the Globe and Mail about Chris Avenir, a student who allegedly started a Facebook group to work on a university assignment.  Avenir is being charged with academic misconduct.  I thought this was interesting to read and see in light of all the talk about Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 and how it is seen among academic institutions.    Apparently the case will be decided today at Ryerson University.