Meet Kayla Lar-Son!

Kayla Lar-Son is a proud Métis woman originally from Tofield, Alberta, and now residing in rural Strathcona County. Currently she is an Indigenous Academic Resident for the University of Alberta Libraries where she works in Digital Initiatives and is the embedded TYP Librarian. When she isn’t at work she can be found hanging around the farm with her husband, dog, and cat.

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Describe yourself in three words. 

Energetic, passionate, strong.

What’s an average day at your library? 

Chaotic and ever changing. I currently work in Digital Initiatives which keeps me in my office some days where I have been evaluating our digital collections, and working within an Indigenous Data Sovereignty framework to create a consultation guide for my unit. However I do a lot of engagement work with Indigenous communities on and off campus. I am currently the Transition Year Program Librarian so I can often be seen running around campus going to meetings, consultations, and events.

I am also a sessional instructor for SLIS at the UofA where I teach LIS 598 Indigenous LIS in a Canadian Context with my co-instructor Tanya Ball in the fall semester. As instructors we believe in experiential learning so often you can see our class visiting different UofA campus libraries, going on field trips to Indigenous communities, and meeting with special guests.

What was the first job you ever had? 

I grew up in a small farming community called Tofield and my first job was a summer job painting horse corrals.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

My first library position was in Rutherford Library at the University of Alberta where I was an Indigenous Intern while completing my MLIS.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

If I wasn’t working within information services I think I would still continue to work with community, I would probably be a community support worker or maybe a teacher.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

I have a huge Métis battle standard flag that takes up one of the sides of my cubicle.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

For sure it has to be outreach with undergraduate students as well as teaching and learning. I also am passionate about advocacy within our profession, I am very privileged to be in the position that I am and want to use my voice to make changes within our profession.

 

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Meet Kristen Thorp!

Kristen started working in libraries 16 years ago on a whim and totally fell in love with the work. She started out as a shelver and for the last three years has been the Youth Services Manager at Eugene Public Library. She has a passion for working with youth, building relationships with patrons to deepen community connections, and strives to ensure that the library is active and fun!

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What are you reading or watching right now? 

I am currently on YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers so I am frantically trying to read a ton of teen books; and like most folks I know I am getting ready for Avenger’s Endgame and the return of Game of Thrones with some re-watching of past movies and seasons.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

Be 100% honest and true to yourself and your library values in an interview. During one interview they asked how I felt about rules, when I honestly answered that I felt like rules should be broken as often as necessary… THEY HIRED ME! Being honest allows you and them to gage if the fit is right for the organization.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

It was hard to pick the COOLEST. I really enjoy my collection of Batgirl art and figurines and my terrarium with 3D printed creatures but the best thing on my desk is a giant light up sign that says, “YES”. It’s a great reminder to me of why I work in a library and how I want to show up for my colleagues and patrons.

Meet Alessandra Waddell!

Alessandra Waddell is the Library Technician at Aurora College Yellowknife Campus. She is originally from Calgary but has lived in Yellowknife for 2 years. When she’s not working, you can usually find her buried in a book with a giant cup of coffee, or snuggling her puppy dog.

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Describe yourself in three words. 

Dorky, noisy, and intelligent.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Before I found a job in the library field, I was the queen of assorted retail jobs. I started working when I was 16 at Forever 21, and continued to work retail jobs for about 6 years after that, up until I graduated from college. Safe to say I do not miss it!

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

I had a handful of practicum placements when I was in the LIT program at SAIT. I worked with Alberta Health Services at a couple of hospital libraries, including Knowledge Resource Services in their downtown office, and I also did a 3-week practicum at an elementary/junior high school library, which I LOVED.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

My favourite part of library work is watching people get excited about learning. I think learning is so important, and some people don’t realize how exciting it can be to learn about things you’re passionate about. Some people will come into the library with little idea of what they’re even looking for – and the feeling of matching them with a book that suits them perfectly is a great feeling.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m currently reading Columbine by Dave Cullen – it’s a non-fiction novel about the tragedy in Littleton Colorado, written by a journalist who covered the story back in 1999. It’s full of information that was never showed in the media, and I think although very heavy, it’s a really important read. On any given day, you can find me rewatching The Office for the 2,000,000th time.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I think I would be teaching. I always wanted to work with kids in one way or another, and when I was growing up, I would make my brothers play “School” with me. Of course, I always got to be the teacher. I’m sure they loved that they would go to school all day and then come home to made up homework from their big sister… but it was tons of fun for me!

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

As I’m just settling into my office, there isn’t much going on in here yet. So for now, I’d have to say my SAIT diploma is the coolest thing in my office, which is super nerdy! I never really had a place for it, but I like having it up on display finally.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about?

Reference and reader’s advisory. Connecting people with material that fits their needs is so rewarding, and I have learned so much from assisting with reference and research. I love learning alongside patrons, and it’s exciting to see people get excited about the material you provide them with. The library can be an overwhelming place, it’s important for library staff to be able to provide those services for people who just need a hand navigating through the stacks!

 

 

 

 

Meet Tracey Therrien!

Tracey Therrien is the Chief Librarian at the Nelson Public Library in British Columbia. She came to library work later in life. After rediscovering the magic of public libraries while living and working in Montreal, she moved back to BC and enrolled in Langara College’s Library & Information Technician program. Since then, she has been fortunate to work in a number of public libraries and regions in BC and along the way complete a Masters in Library Science. Her partner and her call Nelson home for now but who knows there may be one move left in them!

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What was your first position in the library or information field? 

I worked for what was then called CILS (College & Institute Library Services), which is now CAPER – BC (Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources). The Library provided alternative format materials for post-secondary students with print disabilities. Students requested textbooks in alternative formats (audio, large print, digital or braille). If we didn’t have it, we produced it. It was eye opening; before I started there I had little understanding of the different information/format needs of students and how a library could help.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

I believe one of the best ways to do this is to seek out opportunities to meet up (face to face or online) with colleagues: develop relationships, listen to their challenges, achievements and most importantly be inquisitive and ask questions.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

Ikebana – Japanese flower arranging. I love this art: I love the history, the simplicity and the symbolism.  You can find materials all year round even in the coldest climates – a twig, a piece of evergreen can be turned into a beautiful arrangement.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

Be yourself. When starting something new (career, job, project) it’s easy to become immersed in the newness and lose parts of yourself that brought you there. I find I make the best decisions when I trust my intuition and use my past experiences to guide me. Being authentic and true to yourself makes doing something you believe in easy!

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

A Nelson landscape picture made entirely with stamps: a genuine piece of folk art. The artist is Ilsa Williams; her and her husband moved to the area in the 1930s and worked as architects until the 1950s. She was a pioneer in her field and many homes and commercial buildings she designed in Nelson are still standing. Besides its quirkiness, I also appreciate that the picture belongs to the Library; it’s comforting to know that it will remain hanging on the wall long after I am gone – like a sentinel, witnessing changes and guarding the history of the library and community.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

Access – that’s why I was drawn to this work. Working in a public library, I get to see first-hand, on a daily basis, how we strive to achieve equal access.  Every decision we make is a based on this, whether its policy development with the library board, a collections question or decision on how to physically configure the library space – we ask ourselves, is this accessible?

 

Meet Caleigh Haworth!

Caleigh Haworth is the Training & Communications Coordinator at Marigold Library System in Alberta where she provides training to member library staff in the use of eResources and other technologies. She also creates online content for Marigold websites and social media and develops communications and marketing materials to promote library services. Prior to joining the Marigold headquarters, she worked at the busy and growing Okotoks Public Library.

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Describe your self in three words. 

Creative, Inquisitive, Quirky.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

My first position after graduating from the SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) Library and Information Technology program was as a Library Assistant at the Okotoks Public Library. Two years later I became the Assistant Librarian and had the eye-opening experience of a library expansion where the building more than doubled in size.

My twelve years at the Okotoks Public Library taught me so much about public library service and leadership. The community grew so much in my time there, from 6,000 in 2001 to 26,000 in 2013! This meant I experienced library service from a small-town to a small-city perspective, all in the same place.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

Part of my current position at Marigold entails training. While searching for and collating lists of resources for our member library staff, I realized that there are resources galore for us in the library world, many of which are free! Three years ago, I began sharing the professional development opportunities I discovered online through a monthly newsletter I called Professional Development Resources for Library Staff and Board Members.

I love learning new things and getting to share that learning with library staff. Learning something new is the only way to keep career and mental stagnation at bay. Plus, I tend to get ridiculously excited over new information. Jeopardy, anyone?

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work?

The collaboration! The library field, as a whole (if I may make a sweeping generalization), is full of smart, creative, and generous people all willing to share ideas and resources and give each other support. I can’t imagine having this beautiful sense of connectedness in any other industry.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

Definitely something creative, perhaps an artist or an actor. I love making people laugh or smile.

 

Meet Michael Ciccone!

Michael Ciccone has over 20 years of public library leadership experience, managing collections, technical services, historical collections, web presence, and data gathering and analysis. In addition to his 4 years as Executive Director of CELA, he is also a member of the eBound Canada board and one of the founders of Loan Stars.

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Describe yourself in three words. 

Energetic, Funny, Pragmatic.

What’s an average day at your library? 

In my current position, there is no average day.

What was the first job you ever had?

Paperboy.

What was your first position in the library or information field?

Entry level Librarian at New York Public Library.

How do you stay up to date in your field?

Library Link of the Day, Twitter Feeds from key resources, discussions with colleagues, conferences.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

Leveling the playing field.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman – and March Madness.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

Data Analysis.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Never rest on your accomplishments.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

Cranky the Crane replica of Thomas the Train fame.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

The people I meet – both the users and colleagues.

Why do you think library work is important?

My career has been spent in public libraries. They are open to everyone and easily adaptable to the needs of a community. They are an unbiased supplier of information, a place to be exposed to ideas and technology, and a trusted community centre that serves as a pillar of a democratic society and a social equalizer. It uses the collective wealth of a community to provide access to a collection of tools that few could afford on their own. It is the ultimate public good.

 

 

 

Meet Colette Poitras!

Colette (BA, MLIS) is the Manager, Indigenous Public Library Outreach, with the Public Library Services Branch (Government of Alberta). She has worked in public libraries for almost 20 years. She received a Library Journal “Movers and Shakers” award in 2017 for her work with library services to Indigenous communities. Colette also serves as the Chair for the Canadian Federation of Libraries Association Indigenous Matters Committee. She is a proud member of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

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Describe yourself in three words. 

Passionate (about service – particularly to Indigenous communities), committed (to library service) and (slightly) neurotic.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Construction clean up. There was an apartment building being constructed close to my home, so I was in charge of sweeping and disposing of the garbage when I was twelve. It was hard work, but I found it satisfying to be helping in a small way.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

Retro-conversion clerk (adding item records to bibliographic records), which turned into full fledged cataloguing. I like public service, but I really liked cataloguing as well.  I found it soothing, but also had a hard time staying focused when cataloguing non-fiction titles – particularly biographies (all of those interesting photos!).

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

I watch webinars, attend conferences and am a real nut for academic papers.  My daughter’s make fun of me because I tend to read graduate thesis papers for pleasure.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

I work in the public library sphere.  Connecting people with resources (either by Internet or with hard copy materials), watching a small child participate in a program while their parents get some sweet relief, being able to provide anyone marginalized a safe space – libraries can be such amazing, life changing places for community members.  I remember being a small child and spending hours in a library – it was my happy place then as it is now.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

When I read a book, I tend to read it from start to finish, before putting it down. As I noted earlier, I like to read academic papers. The latest paper I read yesterday was called Daniels v. Canada: Understanding the Inkblot from a Metis Nation Perspective by Jason Madden. I also like general non-fiction, biographies and love goofy fiction like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing?

I have wondered about that myself. I think something in the service industry helping people. I really enjoy learning about my own culture and history, so perhaps something to do with Métis culture.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

To do something that makes me happy. I enjoy helping people and through my job I can do that and make a living!

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

I have a lot of artifacts and mementos in my office. Some people would likely say it is cluttered, but it makes me happy (see below).

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? Why do you think library work is important? 

I thought I would answer these at the same time. In many of the small, rural communities that I often work with, public libraries may be the only truly inclusive space within that community. They can level the playing field by offering free computer/Internet access as well as free resources, programs and services for everyone. Libraries can play such an important and meaningful part in peoples lives. I have experienced lovely moments in which someone has gotten a library card for the first time because they saw a library book in their own language, for the first time ever. The online resources that we offer assist in helping young people with homework, which has lead to higher graduation rates in one community I work with. The library in Standoff, Alberta (Kainai) offers a job board, resume services and job coaching – what a difference they are making!

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that I am humbled to be working alongside some amazing people in the field!

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Meet Rachel Bergquist!

Rachel is the Public Services Librarian at the Squamish Public Library. She grew up in Olympia, Washington, and has lived in a lot of places including New York, Boston, Madrid, Vancouver, and Whitehorse. She did her undergrad in creative writing, and received her MLIS from the University of British Columbia in 2018. She likes doing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle, thrifting, dancing in the kitchen, skiing and snowshoeing, good cappuccinos and flaky pastries.

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Describe yourself in three words.

Puzzles, coffee, friends.

What’s an average day at your library? 

An “average” day means a little bit of everything! Some of my regular tasks include ordering new nonfiction books and eBooks, helping patrons troubleshoot technology, planning adult programs, building partnerships with community organizations, conducting local history research and showing folks how to use our local history collection online, connecting community members to legal resources, circulation, weeding, cutting out paper hearts for displays, laughing with my coworkers, eating leftover cookies in the lunchroom, and lots more.

What was the first job you ever had? 

I grew pumpkins in the summer for a few years when I was a really little kid (like, 5). Before Halloween, I would set up a stand downtown and sell my pumpkins to passers by. I made a killing! I don’t think my pumpkins were anything special, I was just a cute kid. Alas, I left my entrepreneurial ways for…less seasonally-dependent work as a librarian.

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

Apart from a brief internship at the Boston Public Library, I worked at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the reading room. But, what feels like my first job was working as a Coop Librarian for Yukon Public Libraries, where I got to travel around the territory visiting community libraries and catching some amazing views while I was at it.

How do you stay up to date in your field?

I stay in touch with my friends from library school. Also Twitter and Instagram, blogs, and podcasts. Librarians are really good at banding together as nerds on the internet.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services?

Helping people. It’s the best feeling in the world when someone comes into the library for help with practically anything and we are able to answer their question, show them a solution, connect them to a resource, or point them in the right direction, ALL for free. It’s pretty amazing.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I just finished two books that I loved: John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies and Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind. I’m almost always watching The Great British Bake-Off.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

When I was a kid, I wanted to study bugs, which I still think would be pretty cool sometimes. The Bug Zoo in Victoria is one of my favorite places!

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

I think it’s pretty special that the library is working to create free access to information for everyone in the community. And it is one of the only places in the community where people from different backgrounds, ages, languages, cultures, identities, etc., inter-mingle and interact daily. Not to mention the non-stop amazing customer service I’ve experienced in every library I’ve ever been to.

Meet Angela Reynolds!

Angela is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Annapolis Valley Regional Library in Nova Scotia. She has been a librarian since the early 1990’s. She’s served on ALA committee’s such as the Notable Recordings for Children Committee and the 2015 Caldecott Committee. Angela is currently on the NSLA Board as the Public Relations and Promotions Convenor.

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What was the first job you ever had? 

My first job was waitressing at a small cafe in Wartrace, TN. I learned a lot about customer service in that job. I served lunch to farmers, guitar makers, WW2 Veterans, families, and rowdy teenagers. We had regulars and we had folks just passing through. A lot like a library….

What was your first position in the library or information field? 

I started this long journey as a work-study job in college. The library was a great place to work: I took the hours no-one else wanted, like Friday night, and since the place was pretty much empty, I got to read, do assignments, and explore the stacks while shelving. There was a rare book room at my college that I made excuses to visit. I loved how it smelled in there, all papery and cool and musty.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

Conferences, blogs, Twitter, volunteering on committees, working with my local library association, webinars, and journals. I love to network and meet other librarians and find out how I can borrow their ideas for my own job. Let’s connect on Twitter! @annavalley

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work? 

The connections we make with one another. Libraries connect humans in a special way- we see everyone from all ages, birth to death, from all socio-economic classes, poor to rich. We connect people to books and information, and librarians connect to each other. I love a good librarian party, and talking with other book people: patrons, friends, librarians, authors, publishers.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

At any given time I have a stack of picture books in my house. I read piles and piles of picture books. I’m also whiling away the dark Winter hours with British mystery DVDs I borrow from our library. Right now, it is Endeavour

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I’d like to fantasize that I would own a children’s bookshop. A little cozy store filled with light and books and events that brought families in to share the love of books. Either that or a “Harry Potter Party For Hire” business that paid me to travel the world.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

I once had a manager that forced me to do Management Training. It went on for months – different workshops and classes. She said someday I would thank her. Thanks, Eva.

What’s the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?

I have a couple of framed picture-book illustrator pieces that make me happy on a regular basis.

What aspect of library work are you most passionate about? 

I guess I would have to say books. I still get a thrill when I open a new book, take a big sniff of that lovely ink. I drool over digitized manuscripts from the British Library. I read incessantly, and I love to introduce people to books they will fall in love with. Libraries are doing amazing things that are not 100% about books, but we also have this huge storehouse of story, and I sincerely hold a belief that stories will save humanity from whatever dire circumstances we find ourselves in.

Meet Nancy McPhee!

Nancy has worked at Hamilton Public Library for four years, currently as an Arts, Literature and Culture Community Librarian. Nancy was born in Alberta, completed two art degrees in Victoria and Montreal, an MLIS in Halifax in 2013, and now calls Hamilton home. She lives with her husband, two children, and a bunch of grumpy cats. In her spare time she makes art, is a member of The Assembly Gallery, and recently ran her first 5K.

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What’s an average day at your library? 

I’m based at our Central library, a modern 6 storey building in downtown Hamilton, ON.  We’re attached to a mall, a Farmer’s Market, an arena, and down the street from the main arts district. We have 27,000 customers per week at Central and are open 7 days a week. In addition to regular desk shifts I personally run 6-8 exhibition spaces across the system, so the month end is always a busy time with deinstalling, installing, planning social media posts, making signage and planning receptions. As a co-lead for the Arts, Culture and Literature working group, I head or oversee our system-wide programs like Hamilton Reads and work closely with our Communications and DT departments on events and program planning. I strongly believe in the ‘touch paper once’ rule, and occasionally follow it.

What was the first job you ever had? 

Picking strawberries at a farm in Vulcan, AB. The first job I loved was at a video store called Pic-A-Flic in Victoria, BC. It is (still!) a small indie shop that employed a bunch of movie nerds. It was always busy with customers asking for recommendations, and everyone chatting about their new favourite film.

What was your first position in the library or information field?

As a Visual Arts undergraduate at the University of Victoria I had a part-time job with their Photo Services department digitizing their promotional images and creating a basic searchable database. I had no idea that would lead to a career.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

As I’m on the events side of library work, staying up to date means looking beyond the library into the community and thinking about how to create events that either resonate with our existing customers, or that will invite people who don’t regularly use the library. Sometimes that means presenting cultural events similar to the ones already occurring in the community, but in an accessible space, or earlier in the day. Sometimes it means thinking about what the library can offer that is unique. And sometimes it’s a simple as allocating space for community groups who are doing interesting and meaningful things.  Within the library realm, I attend OLA and watch webinars, and these are useful for thinking about strategy and audience, and for meeting authors and publishers.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

A lot of Afrofuturism, fantasy and sci-fi, Canlit and literary. Some recent favourites are R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy WarIn Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo by Claire Tacon, Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk and Banana Yoshimoto’s The Lake. Thrillers are my go-to when my insomnia gets bad but I rarely remember them. I’m enjoying the TV series Cardinal, set in a fictional Thunder Bay-type city, and rewatching Seinfeld as my in-the- background-while-cooking show.

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

Theatre management or city planning.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

For years I floated around from contract to contract thinking that at some point, something would catch. Getting a part-time permanent position at a large institution has allowed me to grow upwards through the organization.  No one told me that as advice, although my husband did (nicely!) suggest that I get a real job.

What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?

The Ergotron sit-stand unit on my desk. It is a life-saver.