2014 Vol. 17 Issue 2

Wired West – Volume 17, Issue 2

Welcome to Volume 17, Issue 2 of Wired West

News from your Chapter Board

Conference review – SLA 2014

Featured article

News and Resources

This issue of Wired West, compiled and published by Dawn Bassett, Bulletin Editor for Wired West

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President’s message – August 2014

For this summer, our main activity has been the successful hosting of the Annual Conference in Vancouver, from June 8 to June 10. This year’s conference has attracted 2,402 information professionals and representatives of industry partners (compared to 2,808 in 2013 in San Diego and 3,473 in 2012 in Chicago) – of these, 1,652 have registered to attend workshops and seminars (compared to 1,589 in 2013 and 1,613 in 2012).

 Our task has been to make our colleagues’ stay as smooth as possible and I think we have acquitted ourselves admirably. I now have the very easy and satisfying task of offering my thanks to those that have contributed to this success.

Full credit should be accorded to the two co-chairs of the Hosting Committee – Patricia Cia and Christina de Castell: they have worked tirelessly to coordinate and compile the great online Vancouver guide (so great, that our friends at the 2014 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference – GECCO – have asked for permission to reuse some of the guide’s material). They have gone above and beyond what was required of them, and they contributed not only time and effort, but they also offered material support for one of our members to attend the Leadership Summit. I would also like to add my thanks to those that have contributed gifts for the table draws – they have been excellent icebreakers in conversations with conference attendees.

I would like to thank Debbie Millward for her work in organizing the volunteer-staffed Host table with knowledgeable and friendly information professionals; they have been the local face of the Chapter and I have heard nothing but positive feedback from the Conference attendees. Richard Matiachuk (a veteran of the Western Canada Chapter Board) has organized our local dine-arounds – as a testament of their success, all of the dine-arounds have been oversubscribed.

 This year also coincided with the hosting of the Canadian Reception – at the beginning of the planning process, we were hoping that we would perhaps match the number of attendees from last year (~115). This turned our to be a wild underestimation – ultimately, approximately 200 SLA members have stopped by our reception. I would like to thank our partner Eureka.CC (CEDROM-SNi), for their generous support for the reception (and for donating the proceeds from the tickets to One-to-One Literacy, a local literacy program). I would like to thank Suzanne McBeath for her assistance in organizing the Reception, and to the volunteers from the three Canadian Chapters that have selflessly donated their time at the registration table.

 Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank all of those that have attended the Conference: information professionals and vendors, SLA members and SLA staff – the Conference is a huge undertaking and everyone deserves recognition for making this year’s event an extremely useful and thoroughly enjoyable professional development event.

Adrian Mitescu, SLA WCC President

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Be Seen Being Seen: Library Outreach at the 2014 SLA Conference

Be seen being seen. Be your own advocate. Be findable online. These points were stressed over and over again at the 2014 SLA Conference, an event that highlighted the many ways in which librarians and information professionals are engaged with new forms of outreach in their organizations. Beyond simple promotion of the library, I found that many of the panels and speakers addressed outreach in terms of building relationships within one’s organizations and strengthening one’s professional presence.

One of the first sessions I attended was Eugene Giudice’s talk “Library Outreach and the Italian Beef Sandwich.” Mostly intrigued by the name, I found Eugene’s presentation to be full of interesting points, including tips on drawing people to the library (have a candy bowl or funny conversation starter on one’s desk) and relationship building (create excuses to talk to people, ask them about their work). I also appreciated Eugene’s advice to “be seen being seen” meaning that others should know you are making an effort to promote your library.

 Another event that focused on outreach was the solo librarians panel “Solo Success Stories.” The story that struck me was Alisun Dekock’s tale of moving her library twice in the span of two years. Alisun learned the hard way the importance of advocating for the library and making sure her voice was heard on the design and moving committees. In Alisun’s case outreach involved engaging people on the ground (electricians are your friends!) and in administration (join those committees!).

 The third form of outreach I noticed at the conference was that of personal branding as a way to promote oneself and one’s organization. In her talk on building a professional profile, Mary Ellen Bates (one of the major rock stars of the conference) stressed the importance of being findable online. Mary Ellen urged the information professionals in attendance to improve their online presence so that a simple Google search would reveal information about their achievements and professional values. In terms of outreach, personal branding and portfolio building can make it easier for librarians to connect with users online and make their organizations more discoverable.

 As a new librarian I am always interested to hear how my fellow information professionals are engaging users in interesting ways. The 2014 SLA conference was a great opportunity to hear from professionals engaged in a variety of outreach activities and pick up some tricks to use in my own work

 Ariel Deardorff, University of British Columbia, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies

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Free to Read: Bringing Library Programming into the Winnipeg Remand Centre

Background

In the summer of 2012, a group of Winnipeg librarians and library technicians decided to create a prison library committee with plans to bring library programming into the Winnipeg Remand Centre.  Having participated in the Greater Edmonton Library Association’s prison project in Alberta, the Committee’s founder and current chair, Kirsten Wurmann, introduced the idea to the Manitoba library community when she presented a session, entitled “Books Behind Bars,” at the 2012 Manitoba Libraries Conference (Wurmann, 2012).  Here, Wurmann suggested that the Manitoba Library Association take action in response to the lack of programming within local prisons, prompting library professionals to start thinking seriously about these issues, and how help could be provided.  The Committee was also inspired by the work being done by the John Howard Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society; organizations focused on supporting individuals both inside and outside of prison.  Up until this point, no direct library services had been established for those incarcerated, bringing up a number of significant questions.  Where would the books come from?  What kind of support would be needed?  How would volunteers be viewed by the men and women in prison?  These and other concerns were shared among the newly established Manitoba Library Association Prison Library Committee, and a core group of librarians set out to address them.

 The Winnipeg Remand Centre

The first order of business involved finding a location where we could provide library hours each week, allowing the men and women in the prison to borrow books of interest; a project we came to refer to as the Open Library.  Though the Committee initially considered a few different spaces for this project, the Winnipeg Remand Centre was the best fit, being central and largely in need of programming.  Built in 1992 to house approximately 289 minimum, medium and maximum security risk adult males and females, the Remand has consistently been over capacity for years, the average number of inmates rising from 329 in 2005 to 406 in 2012 (“Winnipeg Remand Centre,” 2012).

After connecting with the administration of the Remand, all volunteers were cleared and given the opportunity to tour the facility. Through this initial site orientation, a number of stressors within the environment became visible.  Such elements included the inability for many men and women to continue certain medications once admitted, and, as we expected, the facility’s ongoing issues with overcrowding.  Often times, three men would be held within a single cell, even though such areas were designed to accommodate only two people.  While a rotating schedule is used to establish recreational breaks, during which individuals can watch television or walk around for brief periods of time, daily mobility is often fairly limited. Conditions are also harshened by a lack of outside exercise time, giving those incarcerated little to do but wait for trial; a process that can take weeks, months or even years.

During our site visit, we also learned that the Remand facility had no major programming initiatives for its occupants.  While such issues were addressed in part by programs offered through organizations including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), and the John Howard Society, eventually, a need for additional assistance became clear.  The literacy classes provided by the John Howard Society, for example, have been reduced in size from 100 people to roughly 25 at a time, due to issues with overcrowding as well as a loss of classroom space (Welch and Rabson, 2012).  All of this considered, we felt the Remand was an appropriate starting point for our project.  Located in downtown Winnipeg, for most volunteers, the Remand is easily accessible.  It is also much smaller than many other holding facilities, making it an ideal choice for a new project needing to be built from the ground up.

 Planning Considerations

After a series of meetings held within the Committee, as well as between the Committee and the Remand staff, specific goals and regulations were established.  The Open Library would be accessible every Saturday evening for roughly two hours within the building’s Program Room, an area normally reserved for meetings between individuals and their lawyers.  Within this space, a number of locked cabinets would be used to store any books we could provide.  Though put off to the side during most days, these storage facilities would be unlocked and brought into the main area of the space when in use.  During Open Library hours, a guard would always be present, along with one or two library volunteers, allowing two groups of ten men or women to be brought down at separate times from different areas of the facility.  Individuals would not be obligated to attend, but simply asked to sign up on a sheet, if interested.  Once in the Library, we would have roughly an hour together, allowing the men and women to have time to choose up to three books, and in the process, speak with us about their reading preferences, or any questions they may have.  We would also make notes regarding book suggestions from our new patrons, in order to help us develop our collection over time.

Initially, it was decided that the items in our collection would be made up of donations from a number of different sources, including withdrawn items from various library collections, namely the Winnipeg Public Library (WPL), as well as personal contributions.  All donations would be sorted by genre, and catalogued with a series of colored dots on white labels representative of popular categories such as general fiction, mystery, and romance.  V[WU1] olunteers would rotate regularly based on availability, providing everyone with an equal chance to experience prison library shifts.  Beyond this, other pertinent volunteering positions would include assisting with Bin Refresh sessions every second Tuesday, allowing for a circulation of the books among the various floors, and Processing Nights, providing the opportunity to catalogue new books intended for the Remand space.

 The Open Library

In the fall of 2012, we began providing men and women within the Remand with access to a functional library space, available on a weekly basis.  In order to ensure the success and stability of this project, the cooperation of our patrons was, and still is, very crucial.  By showing up week after week, they demonstrate their continued interest in using the Open Library, and concretely justify the value in this initiative.  Beyond entering the library space and engaging with the materials provided, it is not uncommon for patrons to initiate conversations with us as well as each other, often drawing on their reading preferences, or discussing their challenges as readers. Those who are strong readers sometimes agree to read to those who are less comfortable with the process.  Beyond this, some men and women have even offered to teach others how to read.   For many of us, a good book can be a way to escape the pressures of everyday life and in the case of those in prison this is no different. Many of the patrons we work with have admitted that there is little in the way of entertainment or relaxation on the inside, making the Open Library a valuable asset.

 In the past year, author talks have also become part of the Open Library, the first of which involved local writer and editor, Niigaanwewidam Sinclair.  The session included a reading from Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water, a collection of unique stories provided by Indigenous Manitobans, as well as a general discussion about the book.  During this experience, Sinclair emphasized a connection between the text and its audience, explaining to the men and women of the Remand that, “these stories were their stories” (Kim Parry, 2014).  The fact that many patrons were already familiar with the book’s contributors only fueled the impact of this realization, creating a memorable patron experience.  Because of this positive response, author talks have continued in the Remand space, adding an enjoyable new feature to the Open Library program and allowing us to expand our services to complement the interests of our patrons.

 Participation

Since its creation, the Open Library has held appeal for a diverse group of librarians and library staff, attracting individuals from many different library sub-fields and positions.  For new librarians and library technicians, this project allows volunteers to gain valuable experience through activities such as developing the collection, and engaging in reference interviews on a regular basis – skills that are transferrable, and critical within most library environments.  While the prison library movement is already well-established throughout much of North America, the Open Library project itself was an innovative concept within Manitoba, providing a unique experience for those who have been involved with libraries for longer periods of time.  From our experience, the inmates are growing through the opportunities presented to them via the prison library platform, creating a rewarding experience for volunteers and patrons alike, and motivating those involved with the Open Library to continue to uphold this project.

 The Women’s Correctional Centre

Since its commencement, the Open Library project has expanded to include additional programming to the women at the Women’s Correctional Centre (WCC) in Headingly, Manitoba.  Given some of the similarities between the Remand and WCC environments, programming in the WCC space is very similar to the Remand Centre’s original Open Library concept.  Crates of books are brought into classrooms within the facility to create a library space.  Within these areas, a book exchange takes place on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, allowing patrons to select up to three items at a time.  They can also consult with library staff, when in need of reader’s advisory services.

Like the Remand, the WCC programming also incorporates author talks, bringing in speakers such as Ann Mahon, author of The Lucky Ones.  In many cases, authors are selected for their involvement with WPL’s On the Same Page initiative; a project that encourages Manitobans to collectively choose a local reading selection, which is then distributed, discussed, and celebrated, throughout the province (Pilon, 2014).  In addition, Committee volunteers, along with staff from WPL, also participate in the WCC’s Resource Fair.  Here, they distribute information about programs and services provided by WPL, ensuring that the women  are aware of some of the ways they can continue to connect with literacy, learning and other readers, upon their release from the WCC.

Final Thoughts

In highlighting the efforts that have been made since its initial formation in the summer of 2012, the Prison Library Committee hopes to draw attention to the hard work and commitment of those who have invested in this project; a group of library employees who embedded themselves deeper within their community in order to provide library programming, and assist in the building of literacy skills.  We also hope to encourage others to pursue similar projects within their own communities, and to continue to strive for positive change.

Sarah Clark, Liaison Librarian, University of Manitoba

References

  1. Parry, Kim. “Books Behind Bars: A Volunteer-run Prison Library Service in Winnipeg, Manitoba.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe. 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 Aug. 2014
  2. Pilon, Danielle. “On the Same Page.” Winnipeg Public Library. 8 July 2014. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.
  3. Welch, Mary Agnes, and Rabson, Mia. “Prisoners Sleeping in Remand Centre Gym.” Winnipeg Free Press. 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 29. Jan. 2014.
  4. “Winnipeg Remand Centre Well Over Capacity.” CTV News. 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.
  5. Wurmann, Kirsten. “Books Behind Bars: Community Development Librarianship in
  6. Prison Libraries.” Paper presented at the Manitoba Libraries Conference, Winnipeg, MB. May 2012.

Please refer to the following link for more information on the Winnipeg-based Prison Library Committee: http://www.mla.mb.ca/content/prison-library-committee

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New Members – August 2014

Welcome to our new members!

  • Olivia Chapman
  • Krystyna Nowak
  • Ulrike Kestler
  • Mel Endelman
  • Dale Barrie
  • Tracy Leung
  • Ariel Deardorff
  • Ulla Vissche

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