7 questions with Shiloa Thomas

June’s installment of 7 Questions features Shiloa Thomas, Director of Library Services at Northern Lakes College.

1. What is something interesting you learned in the last month?
I attended the WILU conference at U of A in May. I learned a lot of interesting things, but in one session the presenter gave me a whole new perspective on the search results we find in the catalogue. She quoted a passage from Virginia Wolf’s A Room of One’s Own. The passage was in reference to Shakespeare’s sister who died young and is not mentioned in most biographies of Shakespeare, but she could have been a poet in her own right. Virginia writes, “She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed.” The presenter said that this quote made her think of all the people who are not found in our library catalogue and that now when she gets No Results Found, she wonders why they are not represented and that could be a topic worth researching in itself. So now when I am searching in the catalogue, and keep trying different subjects and keywords with no success, I will stop to think about why this might be. Perhaps this awareness could be a first step in changing attitudes towards non-traditional sources of knowledge, and finding ways to access them?

2. If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
I would like to take a look at best practices in providing Information Literacy online. The majority of courses at Northern Lakes College are taught online, we are the distance college of Alberta, and our students are spread throughout the province, but mainly in the Northern communities. The challenge for the library is finding ways to incorporate our services into their Moodle courses and to be an online presence when they need us. I am sure that there are many good examples of how other online institutions are providing library services and information literacy, and I would love to be able to dedicate a year to working on a strategy to develop and implement some of these practices at NLC. A good start might be attending the 18th Distance Library Services Conference in San Antonio, TX!!!

3. What is your best piece of life advice?
Try to live in the moment and consciously make time for what really matters to you.

4. What is your proudest work-related accomplishment?
I was once asked this question in an interview and after I gave my answer one of the younger panel members said, well that happened a long time ago, do you have anything more recent to share? I was a little insulted by this remark because to date my proudest work-related accomplishment is the work I did as the first College Librarian at North Island College in Courtenay, B.C.

I started at the college in June of 1991, when the college was building physical campuses for the first time. Prior to that NIC had only taught distance courses or “correspondence courses” as they were called then. I was hired to set up a fully operational library system and to open the physical library at the main Courtenay campus by September. Yikes! That was a huge challenge for anyone, but I had just graduated with an MLS from UBC and this was a great opportunity for me to put everything I had learned into practice, and to do most of that in a couple of months. I am pleased to say that I was able to do this successfully, but of course I did get a lot of help from my colleagues at other institutions and particularly from the Distance Learning Department at the University of Victoria Library, as well as a great library technician who I hired to help me with the cataloguing and processing of our opening day collection. I gained an incredible amount of practical experience in a very short period of time, and I will never forget the support and the welcome I received from the library community in BC.

5. What is your favourite quote?
“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.

I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.” ― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

6. What is your favourite cake and why?
Welsh cakes, hot off the griddle and dipped in sugar. They are not really cake as most people know it, more like little, fluffy pancakes with black currants in them. I love them because they are delicious, and they bring back memories of my Welsh grandmother who made them all the time and would have them waiting for me after school with a cold glass of milk.

7. If you could live anywhere in the work, where would you go?
If money was no object, I would live in a few different places, I would for sure have a cottage in Wales near the sea because I lived in Wales until I was 11 years old, and I miss the countryside of England and Wales, there is nowhere else quite like it. A house overlooking Nanoose Bay in Parksville B.C. to come back to when I was missing the views of mountains, forests and ocean that are unique to Vancouver Island, and finally to escape the rain in Wales and BC, I would have a little villa in the Camargue Region in the South of France. Yes, I know keep dreaming!!

Mentorship page is live!

AAAL is excited to launch its new mentorship pilot program! Below is a link to the page where you read about the program and find links to forms.

https://aaal.ca/mentorship/

The website also has new Professional Development section. In addition to the mentorship program, this is where you can find information regarding the Professional Development Award and presentations from our semi-annual meetings.

 

~ AAAL Communications Committee

Call for AAAL Mentorship Committee member

The Executive Committee is looking for a library staff member from an AAAL member institution to join the new Mentorship Committee. The AAAL Mentorship Program will run during the 2017-18 academic year as a one-year pilot. The Committee currently has 3 members, but an additional member is needed for a one-year term, and would be part of a team responsible for:

  • Recruiting and pairing of mentors with mentees over the spring & summer 2017
  • Offering any additional support or training needed to run the program
  • Conducting program evaluation upon completion of the pilot program
  • Seeking feedback and making recommendations to the AAAL Executive as to the program’s future continuation

If you are interested, please email LemayN2@macewan.ca by Friday, June 9, 2017.

Thank you.

AAAL Executive

7 questions with Alison Pitcher

May’s installment of 7 Questions features Alison Pitcher, Collections Assessment Librarian at Macewan University Library. 

1. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Surf

2. If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
Making a library-wide plan for a variety of usage/statistics collection and implementing it in a way that allows the library to showcase how it’s being used and track changes and trends year-over-year.

3. What would you name the autobiography of your life?
Daughter of Dreamers and Doers

4. What is your best piece of life advice?
Make time for yourself. It’s simple, but I find it’s necessary.

5. What is your proudest non-work related accomplishment?
Buying a house.

6. What do you do when you’re not working?
I tend to inhale books and movies. I also have a love of food, so I bake (and destroy my kitchen) quite a bit.

7. What is your favourite colour?
Purple

Call for Communications Committee member

The Executive Committee is looking for an enthusiastic library staff member from a AAAL member institution to put their name forward to join the Communications Committee as Blog Administrator.

The responsibilities of this position are as follows:
  • Work with committee members to copyedit and schedule blog posts and newsletter communications
  • Provide backup support for website maintenance and social media postings
  • Collaborate with the webmaster and social media coordinator to conduct all other day-to-day communications tasks/initiatives
The position has a two-year term. Candidates should have strong technical writing skills. An understanding of WordPress is helpful but not necessary.
Please express your interest via email to LemayN2@macewan.ca  by Friday, May 19th.

Thank you,

AAAL Executive Team

News Flash from the Past

By Jordan Serben, MacEwan University, Library and Information Technology program

AAAL has now made its print newsletters available online! The newsletter began in 1976 as a brief one-page document, titled “News Flash or First (I Hope of Many) Newsletter”. It never wavered from good humour: “The Data Centre will not bill for services until April, 1977, so we MAY get it free (but don’t hold your breath).” Tongue-and-cheek articles like this persisted throughout the newsletter’s history.

If you wander through past issues, there are harsh tales of late fee consequences. In the fall of 1983, in Gatineau, Quebec, the town council passed a bylaw to throw its residents in jail for a maximum of 60 days as punishment for overdue library books. Other stories describe disastrous events. At Keyano College, in the spring of 1984, during a performance of “Alladin and His Wonderful Lamp”, a mishap with the lamp torched the theatre scenery and the backstage experienced smoke and water damage. But, the real excitement was in the Learning Resource Centre where the new ENVOY 100 Electronic Mail network was being “hooked up”, putting the college at the doorstep of the digital age!

Technology was embraced wholeheartedly throughout the 90s as hobbyist microcomputers became PCs and computer labs became the norm. Nineteen-ninety was a busy year for barcoding collections and the installation of 3M security systems, which had library staff cause “patrons some embarrassment by not desensitizing material.” Olds College became an Internet-capable site in 1995, and the library purchased the agricultural database Agricola. Internet classes and Internet facilitators were leading topics across Alberta, while libraries were also faced with converting catalogue records to MARC in the mid-to-late 1990s. And, in the fall of 1999, Grant MacEwan College launched its virtual Ask a Reference Question, leading the way for chat reference.

Find these stories and more in the archives!

AAAL Newsletter Archives