OLA Super Conference 2015: Think It! Do It!

OLA Super ConferenceThis year I made my library conference debut at the OLA Super Conference, and I expect to return for many years to come. It was the perfect combination of so many things I love: meeting new people, learning about innovative library programs, sharing ideas, and of course free books! (Also, Winterlicious, lattes, taking the train, and reuniting with so many library school friends.)

I left feeling invigorated and inspired to bring meaningful change to my communities. For those who weren’t able to make it on Friday Jan 30th, I have complied a summary of my experience so you can live vicariously though my library adventures.


Maker Culture

I attended “1502J Library Patrons as Open Source Maker Community” presented by Micheal Laverty from Sioux Lookout Public Library. Their new motto “You Can Do That Here!” perfectly represents the shifting perspective we want to see towards libraries today. He referenced the ever-popular Community-Led Library Toolkit, recommended the book Makers by Chris Anderson, and directed us to ning.com as a tool to create a social media site unique to your library to encourage collective intelligence and interaction.

He also raised an issue that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – interlibrary resource sharing. I’m not talking about ILLOs, I’m talking about program plans, display outlines, booklists, policy documents. I spend a lot of time at work creating new documents: instruction sheets for makerspaces, unique booklists, feedback forms, displays. What if there was a widespread database out there where librarians could upload modifiable versions of their creative work for others to access? Image how much we could do if every public library started building upon each other’s ideas. I’ve been trying to share as many resources as I can on my blog, and I will continue to do so, but I would love to work towards a large scale database of some sort.

Main takeaways: think carefully about the words you use to promote your services, listen to your patrons and actively ask for their opinions, and work together with other libraries by sharing resources.

Canadian Superheroes I attended “1608 Caped Canucks: The Rise of the National Superhero,” because as if I was going to miss an academic talk that combines graphic novels, Canada, and libraries. I was excited to hear about the following graphic novel projects, featuring Canadian superheroes: Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Brok Windsor, True Patriot, and the Pitiful Human Lizard. The discussion inevitably shifted towards Canadian identity and comics as a more widely-accepted literary genre. I chatted with Hope Nicholson about running self-published comic events in public libraries, and was able to connect with Jason Loo and get myself a signed copy of the hilarious Pitiful Human Lizard.

Reader’s Advisory

The final session filled the rest of my afternoon, “1703F Readers’ Advisory: Building Demand and Services” presented by Vaughan Public Library. They discussed the challenges of their specific demographic, successful reader events and services, as well as methods of preparing staff for reader’s advisory. Attendees participated in an abbreviated example of staff training, which was a good reminder to think outside the box when offering suggestions. I love their idea for a summer BookFest and a staff Reader’s Advisory Committee focused on providing innovative services.

I was able to chat with the presenters after the session about their online personalized book suggestion services – last week I set up a trial version of the same thing, so it was perfect timing for me to talk to librarians who have been doing the same thing successfully for a while now. I will be implementing some of their suggestions this week.

Best Expo Finds


Self described as “the best comic book store in Canada,” I agree that Beguiling has a lot of potential. I had heard one of the owners speak during the Canadian Superhero panel and was impressed by his knowledge. After speaking to a representative I was promised that now that they have a library technician on staff, Beguiling can act as a suitable stand in for LSC when ordering comic books. Additionally they offer a 20% discount to public libraries, and will work with you to determine gaps in your collection.

Reel Canada

Reel Canada is a not for profit organization dedicated to promoting the power and diversity of Canadian culture through film. They are specifically interested in working with school libraries, and offer lesson plans to accompany their collection.

Good Minds: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Books

I was very impressed after my conversation with president Jeff Burnham. Their collection includes over 3,000 items that have all been carefully approved and deemed appropriate, all of them First Nation, Metis, and Inuit books. The representative I talked to was very knowledgeable about the collection, and was able to point me towards the Nunavut specific resources I was looking for. He explained that items must be approved before they are included, and that the collection is designed to bias-free, high quality, and highly relevant. What a valuable and important resource for libraries. Check them out at goodminds.com


I loved the Super Conference. Aside from the amazing sessions and expo booths, there is immense value in gathering librarians together to talk. I got to meet colleagues from many surrounding public libraries and I really valued the opportunity to swap ideas and share advice. Check out this compilation video of the day (I make a small appearance towards the end):

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