In the Canadian Rockies majestic setting, more than 600 delegates recently gathered to learn, share and celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Alberta Library Conference (ALC), held in the same location for forty years. Jasper Park Lodge was the comfortable and luxurious setting of this iconic conference that was rich in informative sessions, networking and entertainment.
The three-day conference was packed with all day and evening events, including a First-timers’ Soirée and a Red Carpet Banquet and Dance. The Alberta Libraries Association (ALA) is funded and regulated by Municipal Affairs and the conference also benefits from the generous support of many dedicated sponsors.
There were dozens of educational and challenging session at the ALC. The well-designed, compact conference agenda listed the many sessions that delegates had to choose from before the conference start of April 29. ‘Library staff and Trustees: Partners in our libraries’, ‘Libraries and Museums: Networking for greater community impact’, ‘The paperless library board: Two approaches’, ‘So not boring: Social media policy for libraries’, ‘The Welcome Baby Project at Edmonton Public Library’ and ‘Popular perceptions of Libraries’ are a few session titles offering a glimpse of the rich and broad scope of all that was available for librarians, elected officials, board members and trustees.
Aside from the well-planned information sessions, evening entertainment was also meant to educate and engage the delegates. Talks by published authors were popular. Drew Dudley, founder of Nuance Leadership Inc., was an inspiring speaker on the topic of leadership and one more presentation earned unanimous approval…
‘Two mayors, One voice’ was an informal panel hosting Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi who were in agreement, passionate and vocal in their support of libraries. They were articulate and funny in their replies to the moderator’s questions. After the lively conversation, Mayors Iveson and Nenshi joined in a lively stand-up reading of the children’s book ‘Vote for me!’ by Ben Clanton, the tale of an elephant and a donkey feuding to win an election. The large audience roared with laughter with the mayors’ antics sharing the book’s storyline and language, and the surprising conclusion that ‘in the end, the independent Mouse won!’
The next day, Mayor Iveson graciously agreed to a brief chat and shared, “I grew up loving my weekly visits to the library with my folks in our South Edmonton neighborhood, and I recognize the timeless value of libraries. A good day for me is when I get home early enough to read a story to my kids.”
Among hundreds of Alberta communities, the City of Leduc knows the value of this large, complex conference. Upon his return from Jasper, the Chair of the Leduc Public Library Board Dave Marriott enthusiastically offered his feedback. “The Alberta Libraries Conference is really helpful in bringing together librarians and trustees to learn the best practices in developing and operating great libraries. The mayors of Alberta’s two largest cities expressing their perspective on the cultural and critical importance of libraries was quite uplifting!” Eugene Miller, Board member also enjoyed many of the sessions and the overall atmosphere of the conference.
The Conference Tradeshow was an amazing gathering of 60 exhibits that offered online services to library members, technical support, products and other forms of support to librarians, and introduced hundreds of samples of modern day book collections of many genres. This writer found it fascinating to discover that despite Dr. Seuss having passed on ten years ago, two of his hidden manuscripts were discovered last year, and a new Dr. Seuss book will be published in July 2015 by Penguin Random House.
Ruth Ohi is a Toronto-based prolific illustrator of more than 50 children’s books, some of which she has written as well, such as ‘Kenta and the Big Wave’ and the Fox and the Squirrel series. Miranda Hill, the charismatic founder of Project Bookmark Canada and the author of ‘Sleeping Funny’, a collection of short stories, was also happy to sign books for dozens of fans. Tyler Trafford wrote ‘Almost a Great Escape’, an award winning book connecting a WWII pilot, a Montreal debutante and a Calgary family, among other award-winning books. Suzanne Trudel, a congenial rep with the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association, promoted dozens of iconic magazines.
David Narciso, a dynamic executive of CVS Midwest Tapes was happy to further promote their Hoopla, the online service offering hundreds of thousands of book, video and music titles, a service proudly offered at the Leduc Public Library. During the Friday luncheon, the Punch Jackson Award for Excellence in Library Service was presented to the Grande Prairie Library. It was proudly accepted by Shirley Suecroft, a GP Library board member and a former Calmar resident of twenty years. Small world, isn’t it?
With the hashtag #network, the 2015 Alberta Libraries Conference was well-planned and executed, succeeding in helping delegates ‘network’ towards creating a stronger libraries coalition. Well done, ALC Planning Committee!