Category Archives: 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions

7 Questions with Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

We’re happy to feature the Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity as part of the 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions this month.

1. What is the most interesting/unique item or collection in your library?
Our Artists’ Books collection is the most interesting collection with the most unique item being a cheetos broach made by Sebastian Butt. Described as a “fraudulent cheeto mounted on a silver plated stick pin.” Now your favourite cardigan can experience the joy of cheeto dust.

2. What is something that users are often confused about in your library?
Borrowing permissions can trip up some of the visitors through our doors. While most of our users are either Banff Centre staff members or participants in our residencies, we do get some hotel, conference, and festival guests, and a number of community members wandering through as well. Guests are often disappointed to find out that they cannot borrow items (unless they have a membership to another TAL library), and community members can be surprised to learn that their borrowing privileges are somewhat limited (for example, they can’t borrow items in our Object Library). On a more positive note, Banff Centre staff and artists are happily surprised to learn that they DO have access to our Creative Tool and Object Library, with items like hiking poles, record players, board games, and even tarot cards!

3. What has been a recent change for your institution or library?
The Banff Centre Library is making a huge change from the current circulation system to a brand new one. We’ve been operating on Horizon for the better part of 20 years, but we’re moving onto a cloud based solution provided by OCLC later this year. It’s a huge move, but the server the Horizon database is locally hosted on is no longer supported by Microsoft as of January 1st, 2020, so the change couldn’t have been better timed. With the new system, our records will let us add photos so our Artist Book collection can finally be seen outside of its locked away boxes.

4. Where/what is the best spot in your library or institution?
The best spot is on the 2nd floor of the library, the chair in the corner. This spot gets some sun and love. It’s a spot to sit and read a book, slouch down in the chair to take in the views or even have a brief little catnap.

favourite spot

5. What is the newest database/product your library has subscribed to?
In an effort to support small-press, Canadian content, Banff Centre Library has most recently subscribed to a quarterly, risographed zine based out of Toronto; FeelsZine. Dedicated to deconstructing taboos around discussing feelings, each issue of FeelsZine takes a different emotion and highlights its many facets through visual art, poetry, graphic design, short articles, and interviews. FeelsZine addresses shame language head-on and encourages readers to connect in a community of openness in true Thoreauvian fashion; by identifying and revealing the most intimate essences of human experience in order to bond with others who share them. Intersectional, relevant, and raw, FeelsZine exemplifies the forward movement of our library’s collection as becoming fully inclusive and diversely representative of Canadian artistic content. Banff Centre is one of three libraries worldwide that carry this periodical.

6. What is the oldest item in your collection?
The institution was only founded in 1933, so the oldest items in the library and archives aren’t all that old! The oldest items we have are scores. Specifically, some of the scores in the collection of the musician/broadcaster Ina Dennekamp are from the 1880s and 1890s.

7. What’s a recent team-building activity/event you’ve done for library staff?
We hosted a springtime awards ceremony based on the Office’s Dundie Awards called the Pauly Ds. Awards were given out in the areas of periodical management, throwing shade, and best cosplay among others. Naturally this event was hosted at the local Chili’s (surprisingly not that bad!).


7 Questions with Mount Royal University

October features Mount Royal University for our 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions.


1. What is the most interesting/unique item or collection in your library?

Our Archive has a very cool Medieval and Early Modern Manuscript Collection. We recently added a beautiful complete printed and illuminated Book of Hours to the collection. Peter, our archivist frequently uses this material in his instruction and makes sure that students have an opportunity to engage with this collection.

2. What is the best spot in the library?

This is a very subjective question! I thought I would ask around and of course, everyone has a different amazing spot in our library to highlight. Francine, our Associate Dean of Collections and Metadata said that her favourite spot was “where I was able to chat with David Attenborough in the Natural History Museum yesterday”. She was referring to one of many of our VR applications available in our Experience Lab. Geoff, our Business librarian and avid cyclist said that, although he also enjoys the WWI collection in the stacks and the microfilm reader (yes, he said that), the best spot to him is the showers located in our underground bike storage/parkade: “there is nothing like a hot shower to start your work day after a grueling all weather cycling commute to work”. Pearl, our department Chair, stated without any hesitation that the best spot was the seating in the Curriculum Collection where she does a lot of her teaching and work with Education students. Staff members Heidi and Isha favour specific spots to relax, Isha highlighting our pod seating that has a prime location next to a bright and sunny window and Heidi enjoys sitting by our fireplace during the summertime because it is less busy. I personally like the window spot in the café because I like to do things while I feed my body with caffeinated drinks. And they also play good music there.

3. What is the busiest time of year?

Mid-September through to mid-October is always a busy time for everyone.

4. What is something that users are often confused about it your library?

Printing. And they are not alone. Printing and printers are a constant struggle for us all. I think I have an “Office Space” moment at least once a month. I think you all know what I am talking about…

5. What has been a recent change for your institution or library?

Even though we opened the doors to the Riddell Library and Learning Centre (RLLC) in 2017, we still feel relatively brand new. Moving libraries was a huge change. The process of imagining the new space truly allowed us to think about the ways the Library is, and can be, involved in teaching, learning, and research. We now share our space with several building partners, we went from a single floor library located within the university to a four story stand-alone building…we have added so many new roles to our growing team. The list of change is endless and we are still learning. We are still a relatively small, yet mighty team and have embraced the many opportunities that have come with our new digs.

6. What is a recent team-building activity/event you’ve done for library staff?

We hold a professional development day for the entire Library annually, and this year, in one of the activities we spent some time exploring and reflecting each of our strengths and work styles, and how we work with those who may have similar or diverging styles. Then we each designed a quilt patch, to reflect a particular strength. People used a range of tools, including markers or stencils or vinyl or any of the tools and technologies available in the Maker Studio. The patches will be sewn together to make a quilt that represents the ways we work together as a team.

7. What is a surprising fact about your library?

Every floor in our library features a skateboard wall when you get off the elevator and they are constructed from real, repurposed skateboard deck pieces.

7 Questions with The Alberta Library

Our September 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions blog post features The Alberta Library.

1. What is the most interesting/unique item or collection in your library?
The great thing about the Alberta Library is that we facilitate resource sharing for library users across Alberta and allow users to request items from across the province. So unfortunately, we don’t really have any unique items, but we help users find them. That being said, I was really happy to find Dungeons and Dragons: Dungeon of the Mad Mage in TAL Online recently 🙂

2. What is the most interesting/unique program offered at your institution?
TAL Online, which is a federated search tool that allows users to discover and request items from across Alberta. Based on feedback from staff and users we have customized to include language filters, reading lists, journal articles and more. It’s been a lot of fun working on it.

3. What event are you most proud of hosting at your institution or library?
TAL is working on a symposium this fall with the U of A called Alberta Library Staff to connect library students with library staff to find more about the realities of working in libraries what the current job market is like and how they can better prepare themselves for professional library work.

4. What is one surprising fact about your institution or library?
We are a small shop with 6 staff. We have a lot of heart, though, and we care deeply about reducing barriers to library services and resource sharing. Also some of us (not all) think that Deep Space Nine was the best Star Trek.

5. What is something that users are often confused about in your library?
That we are a library consortia and not a physical library. No one is confused that we are based in Alberta though.

6. What was the last major project your library or institution undertook?
We recently became members of Project ReShare. ReShare is a community developed resource sharing platform for interlibrary loan being developed by former programmers who worked on Relais and VDX as well as input from library consortia such PALCI, Greater Western Library Alliance, Duke and the University of Chicago. Testing for this new platform is expected to begin this November, we are very excited.

7. What is the newest database/product your library has subscribed to?
One of our newer offerings for our members is Cyprus Resumes. This a resource designed to guide through the process of building resumes and cover letters. This resource is particularly useful for users who are unfamiliar with word processors and building resumes for the first time.

7 Questions with The Kings University

We’re happy to feature The King’s University for our 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions blog this month.

1. What is the most interesting/unique item or collection in your library?
We have a harpsichord in our curriculum collection!

2. What is one surprising fact about your institution or library?
We have a cart of bibles that is used for Theology, and a few years ago the entire cart disappeared into thin air. The library staff searched high and low for it, but it was gone. Almost exactly a year later our security footage caught the cart being pushed in through a set a doors and left in the atrium to be found. The library was grateful to get it back. Oh the stories that cart could tell us!

3. What is the busiest time of year for your institution or library?
September. It’s the happiest time of the year when everyone comes back!

4. What has been a recent change for your institution or library?
We are undergoing renovations for our new Academic Enrichment Centre, so we are excited to welcome them in the fall of 2019.

5. Where/what is the best spot in your library or institution?
Our students seem to love the single carrels against the windows. The last carrel against the books always seems to be the first place to fill up.

6. What is the oldest item in your collection?
We have a 1602 John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion.

7. What aspect our your library website are you most proud of?
We work really hard on our LibGuides, and I don’t think they get the attention they deserve, but we will continue to work on promoting them.

7 Questions with SAIT

This month, our 7 Questions with AAAL Institutions features SAIT. Team photo

1. What is the most interesting/unique item or collection in your library?
Technically this isn’t a collection *yet* but we’re working on it for the coming year… We’ll be applying for an internal grant focused on mental health to fund a collection of “focus tools” – equipment that supports low sensory or sensory friendly environments. Think: noise cancelling headphones and weighted lap blankets. We got the idea after hearing about a similar collection at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and it aligns well with current institutional initiatives. Plus, it’ll enable students to create a quiet, focused environment almost anywhere in the Library!

2. What event are you most proud of hosting at your institution or library?
I’m going to tweak this one a bit too (this might be a theme…) but the answer to this one is more about a few library staff members who’s accomplishments were recently featured at an annual SAIT event. Every year, the institution hosts the Star Awards to recognize excellent work done by SAIT employees. The Library had a banner year with Kevin Tanner, Coordinator for Instruction, winning the Oracle Award for Excellence for his work promoting understanding and adoption of information literacy across campus; and Corrinna Meidinger and Alison Hart, Library Technicians, won the Innovation Award for Technical Implementation for developing an automated data distribution workflow that fulfilled almost 2000 requests for geospatial data (this was an unanticipated 274% increase in requests from the previous year!). Another of our Library Technicians, Kristian McInnis, was nominated for the Alumni Employee Award of Excellence for his professional success since graduating from SAIT and for all that he’s done to support LIT students in their academic and professional pursuits.

So it wasn’t exactly *our* event, but the Library had a strong showing and we’re very proud of our colleagues.

3. What has been a recent change for your institution or library?
In May 2018, SAIT adopted an institutional Open Educational Resources (OER) policy. Jessica Norman, eLearning Librarian, was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the policy. Since then, she’s created a workflow for OER creation; assisted in the adoption of OERs across math, statistics, chemistry, physics, transportation, and communications courses; consulted on a successful grant application for creating OER; developed OER training material for SAIT faculty and staff; worked closely with SAIT Student Association to establish an Open Educator award for faculty; and worked with partners in Alberta and throughout Canada. Jessica’s dedication to this work has inspired the kind of institutional change that often takes much longer and her work is, quite literally, paying off – adoption of OER textbooks has already saved students over $330,000.

4. What was the last major project your library or institution undertook?
By our standards, the recent redesign of our Information Desk was pretty major! We used almost entirely existing material to shrink the footprint of our single service point to about one-third what it used to be. With the consolidated workspace, staff don’t have to move as far to access mediated (and high demand) collections like course textbooks and laptops, and it is much less confusing to our patrons where they should line up and approach for assistance. By freeing up so much floor space, we will be able to bring in some new display shelving near the entrance of the Library and create a seating area for Writing Centre staff to take appointments directly adjacent to the Info Desk. The project itself was relatively small in terms of budget and timeline, but the changes to our workflows and how we think about service definitely qualify as major! Our User Services team was instrumental in the design and implementation of this project.

Ribbon cutting

5. What is the newest database/product your library has subscribed to?
It’s not exactly the newest (I told you I’d be tweaking things), but in January 2019 SAIT’s School of Business purchased four Bloomberg terminals and opted to put two of them in the Library. We excitedly agreed and set them up as dual monitor workstations and they quickly saw such a volume of use that we added them to our LibCal booking system so students can reserve them. In order to provide basic support, Luke Malone, Collections Librarian, worked with School of Business faculty to get basic training and ensure that Library staff can answer questions and troubleshoot for students.

6. What is the oldest item in your collection?
Technically, this photograph is from our SAIT Archives, but the Archives is a beloved and much used department within the Library so we wanted to highlight it. Formerly known as the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA), SAIT opened its doors October 16, 1916 to 11 students enrolled in three programs – mechanics, metals and woodwork.The school was temporarily located in the Colonel Walker building, until 1922 when it relocated to its permanent home on the hill overlooking downtown Calgary. This photograph was taken in 1918 in front of the Colonel Walker School of the second class of tractor and automotive students.

10-05-2007. What’s a recent team-building activity/event you’ve done for library staff?
Every year in June, we close the Library for one day for our annual Professional Development Day. This year, we all completed DiSC assessments ( and spent the morning learning about our individual DiSC styles, associated strengths and areas for growth, and strategies for communicating with others based on their profiles. Interestingly, we have a high proportion of Cs in our library – these are Conscientious individuals who place emphasis on quality, accuracy, expertise, and competency. After our DiSC workshop, we took the train down to SAIT’s Taste Market campus for lunch and a tour. We then continued on for a special tour of the new Central Library in downtown Calgary. All in all, it was a great day!