2012 Vol. 15 Issue 1

Wired West, Volume 15, Number 1

News from your Chapter Board

Developments in Special Libraries

News and Resources


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President’s Message

President’s Message, Wired West, Richard Matiachuk

Who, or what, are professional associations for?

As I write this there is a fair bit of activity in the Blogosphere about the CLA.  In his blog post on PLG LondonAndrew Lockhart pointed out that, from his perspective, the CLA has failed librarians and libraries in general.  A number of people have posted comments in reply; some to agree and others to offer suggestions.

Lockhart’s post prompted me to compare the mission and vision of the CLA and the SLA and there is a significant difference.  Before I go any further I want to affirm the work of all other associations.  Each association has it role and member constituency.  In addition to the SLA I belong to two other associations (you might belong to more).  I want to see all our professional associations thrive and be effective in their mandates.  Our profession needs more than one association and it grieves me when associations face challenging times.

As I compared the mandates / missions of the CLA and SLA I noted that the CLA’s mandate is to support libraries and the SLA’s mission is to promote and strengthen its members.  Those members might include libraries or corporations but what immediately comes to mind is that the SLA’s focus is on the individual information professional.

We need organizations like CLA to advocate for libraries at the national level; and when they do then individual information professionals benefit.

As an ‘information professional’, in day-to-day work, I also need an association which has ‘me’ in mind; that can help me (and people like me) in my work.  This is the main focus of the SLA and our Chapter.

In 2011 the Chapter reviewed and updated its strategic plan and in the plan we stated the:

SLA WCC (the Chapter) provides individuals and groups working in the field of information with an energizing environment in which to build and share the skills and expertise they need to thrive and prosper in an information environment. We achieve this through leadership, relevant communication, mentoring and the provision of outstanding learning opportunities.

The focus of SLA is primarily on the individual information professional.  And the SLA offers its members:


Professional development opportunities such as through Click U:


Networking and Information Exchange through:

  • Annual Conference (which will be in Chicago in July)
  • Chapter membership
  • Division membership (subject areas of interest)
  • Discussion lists
  • Student groups and
  • Information Today resources.

In our Chapter we have had both professional development and networking opportunities and we are continually looking at ways to offer these in our various regions.  Also, this year the Chapter will be hosting the Canadian Reception at the SLA Conference in Chicago and I hope that there will be a strong WCC representation at the Conference and Reception.  The Chapter is contributing to the cost of the reception but it is primarily sponsored by CEDROM SNi.

Associations thrive with member involvement.  This year most of our board positions are filled (the exception being the student representative positions where we only have a representative from SLAIS at UBC).  Having these roles filled indicates a high level of involvement and commitment to the chapter among our members (thanks!).

Every year the Chapter relies on members to volunteer their time and energy to leadership roles.  In 2014 the Chapter will host the SLA Annual conference in Vancouver.  There will be a Host Committee.  The Host Committee itself will need volunteers and the Committee will need us to help out as the Chapter shows the delegates and guest the highlights of the Vancouver area.

We need associations like the CLA to advocate on the national level.  To some degree the SLA advocates for libraries but, from my perspective the SLA’s strength is that it brings together information professionals and offers to help us develop in our profession.

If you are a member be sure to take advantage of the programs and resources offered.


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Chapter & SLA News

Compiled by Adrian Mitescu

Chapter News:

  • A new year is here, a new Board! Many thanks to the departing members, welcome to the new officers: Lingbo Yan, Rachel Zhao, Suzanne McBeath, Iona M. Reid, Catherine Lee, Ann Dreolini, Lindsay Willson and Helen Brown.
  • The Pub Night in Vancouver happened again! Hope you came out to your fellow SLA-ers at the Railway Club.
  • The latest BCLA Browser is out; for everything that you wanted to know about copyright (and more!) read the interview with SLA Western Canada member Carolyn Soltau.
  •  The minutes for the September 2011 Board meeting are available.


SLA News

  • Registration for the 2012 SLA Conference in Chicago opened up February 27th.
  • SLA’s Click University offers several interesting and relevant workshops – check it out!
  • More SLA news can be found here.


Adrian Mitescu is Communications Director at SLA Western Canada Chapter.

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Overview of the Robin Best Library

Sea Urchin at Vancouver Aquarium, Credit: Meighan Makarchuk


One afternoon, I was standing by a locked door, beside a huge room and someone saw me, and let me into this room. This was my first step into a great realization of what was “behind the scenes” at the Vancouver Aquarium. One of the many educators at the Aquarium, let me into this room, and we spent a few minutes looking at some of the amazing animals. I actually got a chance to touch some of these creatures, like sea stars, sea urchins, anemone, and so on. She told me a bit about what happens in this room and how, at that moment she was actually feeding the animals in her care.

So, it goes without saying that I work in a very different type of environment. There is a small, special library, called the Robin Best Library, which serves a community of dedicated staff and volunteers at the Aquarium. Currently there are 400 staffers and about 1000 volunteers. I get questions every day, and these range from details about our animals to looking for obscure books or references. And in the Robin Best Library, I also currently have five volunteers. Truly, what a great group of volunteers. They have been extremely helpful and also very resourceful at times. Some of the volunteers have a strong interest in library studies, but some are just extremely organized people, who always saw themselves volunteering in a library setting.

The library contains a variety of different resources, including a small TV and DVD player. And there is a wealth of rare books. Some of these books are quite unique and unusual. I am quite sure some of these publications have been discarded from other collections, but remain as part of our collection. And I love seeing new people come into the library and remark “This book, it is just the kind of thing that I have been looking for…but I didn’t know it was still around.”

I also work closely with the Content team. This group creates all of the content for the Aquarium such as new identification labels for exhibits, making new videos for our Vancouver Aquarium YouTube channel, maintaining a database filled with videos and images, and writing up great projects that we are working on, like some of the on-going research at the aquarium. I also do all of the library acquisitions and the volunteers aid me with the processing and cataloguing of new items. Last fall, I had a great experience of purchasing a book on nature journaling, just as a member of our Education team, was about to do a learning session for kids on journaling and how it can be a really useful tool. I love being able to help people, and provide them exactly what they need, right at the point when they need it.

And, I am really looking forward to whatever is coming up for 2012, and that includes being the new Editor of the Wired West for the Western Canada Chapter of the SLA.

By Ann Dreolini,

Manager of Information Services

Robin Best Library

Vancouver Aquarium

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From Pencils to Pixels

From pencils to pixels — The department has evolved from custodians and cataloguers to collaborators, playing a key role in research, retrieval and more

By Debbie Millward

Debbie Millward gives Margaret Atwood a tour of PNG Library. Courtesy of the Pacific Newspaper Group

Marilyn Monroe’s one-time husband once said, “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.”

If Arthur Miller was right, then a good newspaper’s library provides transcription and playback of the conversation.

The Vancouver Sun has had the support of a department to serve this role for most of its history, definitely since the 1940s. It has answered to morgue, press library and news research library — sometimes all three in the same week.

The word morgue still trips off the tongue of at least one seasoned journalist, the label perhaps derived from the cold-hearted expedient of filing pre-written obituaries of prominent people, ready to retrieve from the press library, the date of terminus inserted before publication.

The Sun’s library today is a hive of activity that has less to do with the custody and cataloguing of what was published yesterday, and more to do with collaboration on what will be published today.

The daily wrangling ofSun content that has been printed or posted online is mostly automated now, with human intervention only for corrections and troubleshooting. The days of a 24/7 library operation to manually clip, index and file every story and photo ended 20-odd years ago:Namaste, old friend.

That legacy continues to deliver, however, as points of entry into a trove of Vancouver memories, silly and solemn: from swooning Beatles fans at the Forum, to the tragedies of harbour explosions and collapsing bridges.

New roles for the press library evolved while retaining the archiving-and-organizing core of the past. Training new reporters to search online databases like FPinfomart and to navigate newsroom technology — with names like SaxoTech, SouthPARC and Merlin — is akin to teaching them to fish, instead ofthe library fetching, a particular filet.

Pulling together the right photos and statistics forSun stories and projects brings more gratifying, and visible, value than hand-indexing clippings.

Here’s a sampling of notable projectsThe Sun’s library staff has contributed to over the past few years: Stephen Hume’s series on the explorer Simon Fraser; BC’s 150th birthday coverage; Vancouver’s 125th anniversary coverage; the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2011 retrospective; the Canucks’ 2011 Stanley Cup run and its aftermath; and, of course,The Sun’s 100th birthday section.

Several of these projects culminated in books, with theSun Library’s efforts stitched in.

The Sun’s library began with paper clippings and metal “cuts” — photographs etched onto metal plates by engravers before going to press — neatly filed away.

Now, like newspapers themselves, the library’s work is conducted in pixels not pencils.

Archiving text and images, digitizing negatives and microfilm, research, training, selling and licensing Sunphotos and compiling content (like “This Day in History” on page A2) are now digital activities.

But no matter the medium, the conversation continues andThe Sun’s library now contributes to it and records it.

Debbie Millward is the manager
of the News Research Library,
Pacific Newspaper Group

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New Members

There are a variety of new members for January 2012:

Danielle Devore

  • Greetings! My name is Danielle, and I am currently in my final year of a Master of Information program at the University of Toronto. I am specializing in both Library & Information Science and Archives & Records Management, and my current interests include law librarianship, government documents, academic libraries, and archival diplomatics. I am presently editor-in-training for Military Libraries, SLA’s Military Libraries division newsletter, and a member of the Public Relations committee for SLA’s Legal division.  Although I am earning my degree in Toronto, I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, and feel very connected to my western roots. I look forward to learning more about librarianship in a western context through the Western Canadian chapter, and hope to perhaps meet some of you at upcoming gatherings, such as the 2012 CALL conference in Toronto.

Donna Samcoe

  • Donna Samcoe is an Information Researcher at TELUS Spark, Calgary’s new science centre. Before joining TELUS Spark, Donna was an Information Specialist in the plastics & petrochemicals and oil & gas industries. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Biology & Biochemistry) from the University of Saskatchewan and an MLIS from the University of Alberta.

Melissa Williscroft

  • After working in the Engineering Library at the University of Saskatchewan, Melissa moved back to Vancouver and got her first taste of working in a law library when a one-year mat leave position arose at Harper Grey LLP. She loved working for a private firm and jumped at the opportunity to join McCarthy Tetrault’s national library team once her term at HG was finished. While Melissa takes care of the local technical responsibilities, she is also the Coordinator for the firmwide research and reference service, and a member of the Business Intelligence team. The BI team is a collaboration of the library and marketing departments, and Melissa works on building snapshots and gathering profile information for projects with this team. She loves the firm-wide relationships McCarthy Tétrault promotes and has established close rapport with her colleagues in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys reading, working out and can often be found “brunching” on the weekends. Follow Melissa on Twitter: @melwilliscroft

Catherine Young

  • Catherine Young has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo (2006) and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario (2009). Since graduation, she completed a diploma in Arabic at Qatar University and volunteered in a librarian role with BC Children’s Hospital and the Burnaby Youth Custody Centre. She currently works as a Reference Librarian in the Saskatoon Health Region’s Medical Library.

Maria Tan

  • Maria Tan is an MLIS student at the University of Alberta’s School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS). She currently works as a student librarian at the University’s H.T. Coutts Education & Physical Education Library, and as an assistant at the institution’s Copyright & Licensing office. Prior to entering library school, Maria was an occupational therapist, and then a content specialist for the Canadian Health Network. Influenced by these careers, Maria has enjoyed exploring the roles of embedded librarians and examining how people use digital technologies to facilitate health decision-making, during the MLIS program. A past co-chair of SLIS Partners´ Week, Maria helped to connect library students with information professionals from diverse information environments. Maria enjoys travelling and visiting libraries in other parts of the world. An avid foodie, Maria’s motto is, “There’s really no good reason to stop the flow of snacks”.

 Margaret Jenkins — Vancouver, BC

Amanda Gajausky — Winnipeg, MB

Benitta MacLachlan — New Westminster, BC

Sue Bengtson — Victoria, BC

 The Western Canada Chapter welcomes all new and returning members. If you are a new member, please take a moment to send a short bio to Ann Dreolini, Bulletin Editor. Welcome new members to the SLA Western Canada Chapter!