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Archive | V50-N2-Winter 2013

President’s Letter

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the winter 2013 edition of The Courier newsletter. It is my great pleasure to serve as your SLA Toronto Chapter president this year, and l am looking forward to working with many of you to continue building our very strong chapter.

One of the reasons SLA Toronto is such a strong chapter is the passion our members have for their profession and collaboration with their colleagues. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by highly talented and motivated people. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the 2013 Executive Board:

Erin McDonald – President-Elect
Laura Warner – Past President
Melanie Browne – Treasurer
Helen Kula – Secretary
Stephanie Quail – Technology Director
Christine DeLuca – Membership Director
Bernadette Roca – Programming Director
Kim Stymest – Partner Relations Director
Stacey Piesner – First Five Years Director

My goal for 2013 is to continue to grow the Special Libraries Association, and the best way for me to accomplish that goal is to focus on growing the Toronto Chapter. This means broadening our membership to include those who work in the information profession, but have a wide range of education and experience that may not necessarily include a degree in library science. While many of us are librarians, some of our colleagues also have complementary expertise in knowledge management, competitive intelligence, fundraising, prospect research, records management, GIS and data management, and a wide variety of information services. To this end, I will focus on building partnerships with complementary associations outside of the library profession, and offer programming to attract new members to SLA. Currently, SLA Toronto partners effectively with other library associations and groups–expanding beyond “libraryland” will benefit SLA and our new partners, resulting in a stronger information management community overall.

Growth through diversification is one of the key strategies for SLA this year. In early February during the Leadership Summit, SLA President Deb Hunt announced the “Get on the Beach” recruitment campaign. This campaign is designed to increase the size of the SLA membership by encouraging current members to recruit one or more new members. Members who recruit at least one new member are entered into a draw to win lunch on the beach in San Diego with Deb and a Visa gift card. To learn more about how to “Get on the Beach,” check out the SLA Blog.

We learned at Leadership Summit that the SLA 2013 Conference Planning committee has some wonderful things in store for us in San Diego this June. SLA Toronto has historically represented our city well and I look forward to seeing many of you in sunny San Diego in just a few months. It is a wonderful event to look forward to as Toronto creeps toward spring weather!

All the best,

— Kim Silk
SLA Toronto’s President

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

Editor’s Letter

Welcome to the winter 2013 issue of The Courier! If you are looking for some travel ideas for the upcoming year, perhaps some of the articles in this issue will provide some inspiration. Our feature article, by Crystal Sharp, recaps her travels to two very different, but equally fascinating, libraries in India­—the MCubed Library in Mumbai and the Learning Resource Centre at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. If you prefer to stay closer to home, Gillian Clinton reviews the tour she received during her recent visit to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Or perhaps you will want to save up your vacation days for a trip to sunny San Diego in June to attend the SLA 2013 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO!

Included in this issue is a report from Amra Porobic, chair of SLA Toronto Solo Librarians’ subgroup, which provides an overview of all the insightful discussions, meetings, and resources available to Toronto solos that came about in 2012. Be sure to check out the SLA wiki to view the presentations mentioned by Amra as well—the wiki is a veritable wealth of knowledge!

As always, many thanks to our contributors for their articles. We genuinely hope you enjoy this issue. Submissions to The Courier are always welcome; please send comments, ideas, or suggestions directly to:

Kelly Butler
kelly (at) kllybtlr (dot) com

Heather Buchansky
heather (dot) buchansky (at)

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

Board Watch

2013 Leadership Summit

Kim Silk and I had the honour of attending the 2013 SLA Leadership Summit in Dallas, Texas at the beginning of February. It was a wonderful few days spent reconnecting and sharing with SLA colleagues from across the globe, and in particular the SLA Board of Directors. You can catch up on the Twitter conversations and updates from the Leadership Summit using the hashtag #slaleads.

One of the most important topics of conversation at this year’s Leadership Summit was the five-point plan the Board of Directors has developed for 2013. This plan focuses on conference, professional development, volunteering, collaboration, and growth through diversification. Another exciting topic at the Leadership Summit was the unveiling of a new website. This new site will be launched soon, with an improved user experience and design. We were impressed and are excited to see the new site in action—we think you will be too!

This year’s Rising Stars and Fellows were announced during the Leadership Summit. An extra special mention goes to Toronto’s own Martha Foote, who was named as a Fellow this year. Thank you for your time and contributions to SLA, Martha—congratulations!

2013 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO

The SLA 2013 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO will take place in sunny San Diego, California  June 9 -11. I strongly encourage you to attend; the Annual Conference is an incredible opportunity for professional development and networking, and is a great opportunity to invest in yourself and in your career. To find out more about the conference visit the conference website, and remember to mark your calendar to attend in June!

— Erin McDonald
SLA Toronto’s President-Elect

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

Report from the Membership Director

Please join me in welcoming the following new members who joined our Chapter from October 2012 through January 2013.

Alexandra Kwan, Toronto
Allison Li, Toronto
Alyssa Bigelow, Toronto
Andrew Hinton, Richmond, BC
Annmarie Uleryk, Mississauga
Ashley Beausoleil, Windsor
Brittany Medeiros, Toronto
Carey Toane, Toronto
Caroline Chung, Oakville
Conrad Ng, Toronto
Courtenay Telford
D. Grant Campbell, London
Elizabeth Mens, Toronto
Francine Berish, Richmond Hill
George Hawtin, Ajax
Helen Horrocks, Eden Mills
Imthiyaz Hameed, Toronto
Janet Mensah, Toronto
Jessica Samuels, Stouffville
Katie Thomas, Toronto
Kim Pham, Toronto
Lola Rudin, Toronto
Mari Vihuri, Toronto
Meghana Jakate, Toronto
Melissa Bruno, Toronto
Nabeela Zafar, Toronto
Natalie Donohue, Toronto
Pam Murray, Toronto
Varsha Prakash, Brampton

I look forward to meeting each of you at an upcoming SLA Toronto event!

— Christine DeLuca
SLA Toronto’s Membership Director

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

People on the Move

Greg Barber is now a Prospect Management and Research Officer at Sunnybrook Foundation, and can be reached at gbarber000 (at) sympatico (dot) ca.

Michael Meth is the new Director of the OISE Library at the University of Toronto. Until recently, Michael was the Director of the Li Koon Chun Finance Learning Centre, where he played a key role in the Centre’s development. It is now a flourishing and integral part of academic life at U of T Mississauga. He can still be reached at michael (dot) meth (at) utoronto (dot) ca.

Stacey Redick has moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where she continues to search for cultural heritage opportunities. Looking to expand her network in her new area, Stacey would like to keep in touch, and can be reached at stacey (dot) redick (at) gmail (dot) com.

People on the Move is a regular column highlighting the achievements of our members and helping us all keep in touch. Please share your career changes, retirements, life changes, or volunteer work with column editor Kim Stymest.

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

Two Libraries in India: How Things Have Changed!

I visited two very different libraries while recently in India: a neighbourhood public library in a Mumbai suburb and an academic library at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. I was impressed by the innovative resources and programming, welcoming spaces, and philosophy of service in both libraries.

I grew up in India in the 1970s. At that time, our local lending library was a hole-in-the-wall enterprise sandwiched between shops on the main street. We paid a fee to belong and were charged per book borrowed. Despite the limited choice of used popular adventure, mystery, and comic books, my siblings and I were eager patrons.

The MCubed Library

Imagine my delight when I discovered on the ground floor of the building where my sister lives a lively story session held in a bright, inviting, cheerful place—what looked like a children’s library! I subsequently learned that this very new venture, the MCubed Library, opened September 30, 2011.

The inspiration for a public library such as this was conceived by Vibha Kamat, a local French teacher, during a visit to the USA in 2004. Several attempts to locate affordable space in expensive Mumbai ended in disappointment, and she almost gave up. Kamat discovered the current location in 2006. At this time it seemed perfect, but unfortunately did not work out as the space was occupied by the non-profit Maharashtra Mitra Mandal (MMM) Library. The purpose of the MMM Library was to promote Maharashtran culture, but with a very limited budget its offerings were meagre. In 2010, Vibha and her friend Vaishali Shinde tried again. They offered a proposal to the MMM committee to maintain the library for two years without funding or staffing from the MMM. This time, they were successful.

MCubed Library Exterior

They began soliciting funds and setting up the library with the help of another friend, Sonal Bimal. Friends and family were tapped for donations of books and money, and the space was decorated in keeping with its new purpose. Response to solicitations was generous—over 2,000 books, 2.5 lakh rupees ($4,400 CDN), library software, equipment, and furniture donations helped the MCubed Library get started. On the first anniversary of its inauguration, MCubed Library expanded its collection and created an adult section. The library now has over 10,000 books and one can usually find a few university students enjoying the peace and quiet of the library to study. However, there currently appears to be little interest in the adult books. This may be because there are other options for borrowing adult books. For example, adults can subscribe to The British Council Library and Librarywala which allows them to search the catalogues and order books to be delivered to their home. In addition, the American Library’s collection, housed at the US Consulate in Mumbai, is freely available to all Indian citizens.

MCubed Interior

MCubed Library aims to be self-sustaining. Patrons pay annual or semi-annual membership fees to borrow books from the library, but children who attend the local government school from “modest backgrounds” can join for free.  Currently MCubed Library has approximately 900 members. Costs are kept low by employing creative solutions to administer, maintain, and decorate the library. There are two paid librarians, a helper, a gardener, and cleaning lady on staff, all other services are provided by volunteers. The three founding members are actively involved in selecting books for the library and organizing cultural programming on a purely voluntary basis. Sharmila Kamat, an educational consultant, and Rajani Kothare, from the MMM, also provide invaluable support to the library’s cultural and educational programming. There is no formal collection development policy, but the range of resources is broad, and books are available in English, Hindi, and Marathi. Donated books that are not selected for the MCubed Library are sent to local school libraries.

MCubed Chalkboard

There is no plan to offer computers or e-readers at MCubed Library—books remain their focus. The library also thrives as a social space, bringing children and adults to the library to attend art and craft workshops, book clubs, creative writing workshops, language courses, and movie screenings. I attended a showing of Louis Malle’s Au Revoir Les Enfants one evening, which was followed by a lively discussion on the state of social and political consciousness in Germany and India with guest speaker Georg Heinzen, writer of the German film Gran Paradiso, who was in Mumbai at the time for a Indo-German script writing workshop.

MCubed Library encourages donations of time and talent, as well as cash and sponsorships of memberships and book purchases. They can be contacted at

The Learning Resource Center, Indian School of Business

The other library I had the opportunity to visit was the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) situated at the heart of the beautiful Indian School of Business (ISB) campus in Hyderabad. I had no prior experience of Indian academic libraries, having only studied in the US and Canada, but was very impressed by the LRC and its services.


Photo Courtesy of ISB

In an open and elegantly designed space, the LRC stacks, reading spaces, and meeting rooms are placed on the outer periphery of stairs that spiral up to higher floors around a central atrium. As one would expect of a library connected to an internationally high-ranking academic insitution, the LRC has specialized databases, excellent electronic, print and career resources, and audio-visual material. It also has an excellent knowledge management system, and uses the technology efficiently to ensure its collection is relevant to the teaching, research, and learning communities, by reaching out to researchers, professors, and students to understand  their information needs.

The LRC appears to be in tune with its community of users, employing a number of ways to keep in touch. For example, the LRC is given a list of all visiting faculty and new classes of students. Every visiting faculty member and every new student receives a welcome email shortly upon their arrival to campus, describing LRC services and inviting them to the LRC to explore the available resources. If the library does not record any activity from a member of the community within a certain period of time, the member will receive a follow-up message inquiring if LRC services are meeting their needs or if they have any suggestions. Course guides are made available to students listing new resources and information relevant to courses and projects. These guides not only list titles and call numbers of resources, they also point to the physical location and stack number for items—a helpful little detail.  The LRC is open from 8am to 2am daily, and during exams stays open until 4am.

Global InfoWatch” is a specialized information product created by the LRC in 2008, which provides a monthly update on the latest trends in various industry sectors, current happenings in business schools across the globe, and recent articles on management. The Placement Guide and Industry Watch, under the umbrella of Global InfoWatch, are useful to students interviewing for jobs, as they provide relevant and updated company overviews, the latest news, financial statements, analysis reports, and direct links to career opportunities at companies recruiting on campus. These products are accessible to the community from a single platform that individual users can personalize to meet their specific needs.

The LRC takes an active role in knowledge management and archiving of important knowledge resources and intellectual capital created at the school including: research reports, working papers, projects, articles and cases by students and faculty; news items related to ISB and visting lecturers; and yearbooks covering every graduating class.

There are also services offered to families of the ISB community. ISB has many visiting faculty and students living on campus. As ISB believes that families play a significant role in the professional growth of students, faculty, and staff, the LRC has an extensive collection of popular non-academic literature, best-sellers, comic books, biographies, magazines, and DVDs  for families to borrow. The LRC also lends board games and electronic games. The library doesn’t simply cater to entertainment and literacy, it also has a set of umbrellas that can be signed out in inclement weather! Ramesh Kotnana, the librarian who took the time to show me around the LRC, said these resources are appreciated and well used.

The LRC collects and analyses different types of data to help evaluate and improve its services. Some methods are simple and low tech, but effective: a librarian supervising a floor is required to record the number of users on the floor every hour and the knowledge management system collects lots of useful data, like circulation records, that allow analysis of the resources and types of resources signed out most often.

In Conclusion…

I was very privileged to have the opportunity to visit and view the inner workings of both the MCubed Library in Mumbai and the LRC in Hyderabad.

In the LRC, I was impressed to see the strong integration of the library with its community of users and the innovative and creative ways the LRC carried out its mission. The LRC’s commitment to service and the quality of its resources seems exceptional by any standards.

In MCubed Library, the passion and dedication of the founding members, the support of the MMM Library partners, the enthusiasm of community volunteers, and generous donations to this project have resulted in a well-needed and well-used public library space in this suburban neighbourhood. The only other resource like it appear to be the Hippocampus library system, founded in 2003, by Umesh Malhotra,. Situated in Bangalore and Chennai, Hippocampus is growing its services and its reach. Like the MCubed Library, it is subscription-based, has a public library focus with literacy programs, and a program to encourage access to books for underprivileged children.

A paper published in 2008 by Zahid Asraf Wani on the Development of Public Libraries in India[1] reported that there are, “twenty-eight states and seven union territories in India, each with its own public library system and pattern of financial assistance. Twelve of the states have enacted library legislation and the rest are providing public library service without legislation.” Amazing… but where? I will have search them out on my next visit to India. Asraf Wani concludes that public libraries in India are “doors to learning,” and a massive investment in public libraries is needed to make them “true information resource centres for the layman.”

The state public library systems could take note of successful ventures like MCubed Library and Hippocampus, and dedicate resources, support existing efforts, and provide more public libraries like these in India.

Crystal Sharp, MA, MLIS
CD Sharp Information Systems, Ltd.


[1] Ashraf Wani, Zahid. 2008. Development of Public Libraries in India. Library Philosophy and Practice. (March). . Last accessed  January 11, 2013.

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

Touring the Library of Congress

Last fall, I was fortunate to be given a private tour of the Geography & Map Division of the United States Library of Congress by Colleen Cahill, Digital Conversion Coordinator.

Photo 1

My private tour began with a quick look at the old card catalogue that has been put out to pasture in a very long hallway. Some of the card entries went back almost a century, and many of the cards were handwritten in a surprisingly legible script.

Photo 2

There are two acres (!!!) of maps in the collection, which consists of everything from atlases to globes and flat sheets to topographical and three-dimensional maps for the blind. According to the figures on their website, the Geography & Map Division has over 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases and 500 globes, which they have been actively collecting for over 200 years.

Photo 3

Photo 4

The maps consist of a variety of material such as paper, plastic, clothing—including bras—and a chocolate map of the Grand Canyon. During the French-Indian war of the mid-eighteenth century and the American War of Independence, maps were carved on scrimshaw powder horns. In the same period, travelling teachers kept miniature globes in their pockets, which were often the only introduction to the wider world their students would see.

Photo 5

Photo 6

There are maps of imaginary places like Middle Earth and Treasure Island, and even maps of Toronto (which, the author can assure the reader, is not imaginary).

Photo 7

Later in the day we joined the public tour of the main Library of Congress building, which is quite impressive.

Photo 8

The public tour concentrated on the symbology of the building’s architectural and design features, however what I really wanted to see and learn more about the collections themselves. We did get a quick look from a viewing gallery of the main reading room, which was comprised of a multitude of alcoves of floor-to-ceiling books and looked incredibly enticing.

The Library of Congress offers free lectures, concerts, and access to the facility. It has over 3,000 employees with a collection based on copyright deposits and houses original documents such as one of only three perfect copies of the Gutenberg Bible, and the American Declaration of Independence. In recent years, these historical documents have been scanned and made accessible online to the public via Library of Congress’ Digital Collections.

— Gillian Clinton
Principal of Clinton Research – Gillian is an engineer, librarian, and information specialist who likes to travel and take photos of library edifices. She has been principal of Clinton Research for over 20 years and can be contacted at clintonresearch (at) sympatico (dot) ca or

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 500 Comments

Toronto Solo Group Report: Practical, Informative and Engaging

2012 will be remembered for two major improvements in the Toronto Solo Librarians’ Group: the introduction of webinar technology and the inclusion of outstanding guest speakers.

Webinar technology is BIG for solos. About twenty percent of meeting and workshop registrants cancel at the last minute, and many can’t attend meetings because of their location. With the webinar option there is no excuse! Although webinar technology can create hiccups and require extra preparation, it DOES help keep attendance numbers up, averaging fifteen attendees per workshop.

Guest speakers are another refreshing enhancement. High calibre presenters such as Connie Crosby and Martha Murphy were truly valuable and extremely appreciated by solos.

Featured themes were: “The Corporate Library in Turbulent Times” (February 14, 2012), LibGuides for solos(May 15, 2012), and “Communities of Practice and solos” (September 25, 2012).

The Corporate Library in Turbulent Times consisted of a panel discussion following a similar talk at the 2011 SLA Annual Conference presentation, which was bursting with practical tips, lively stories, and questions to consider, such as:

  • How do we spot warning signs of trouble like reorganization, loss of clients, or high turnover?
  • How do we recognize and deal with potential triggers of further turbulence, such as a new supervisor, moving, or new technology?
  • How might libraries be affected by loss of space, resources, downsizing, or going virtual?
  • What new roles could your position morph into or take on—social media, web content management, records management, editing, marketing?

The crucial point is how to defend your value in tough times. Some points to consider:

  • Play different roles for different customers
  • Evaluate your services using impact analysis
  • Recognize when an area of service must be dropped out
  • Bridge the gap between knowing what you do and understanding what your clients value
  • Know the “what-if” scenarios, in case the worst happens:
    • Document everything that you do
    • Keep records accessible (bookmarks, contacts, personal files, passwords)
    • Decide in advance what you are willing, or unwilling, to do
    • Find mentors, and
    • Don’t take it personally

The “LibGuides for sols” workshop had the largest participation level thanks to presenters Martha Murphy, from Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal, and Joanna Bielecki, from Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative. The workshop covered the functionality and features of LibGuides, as well as business requirements and implementation issues.

LibGuides is a fee-based Web 2.0 application, built for libraries to facilitate sharing knowledge. The platform can be used for subject and research guides, information portals, training and instructional sites, and bibliographies. It is predominantly used in the academic environment, but numerous special libraries are implementing this product into their corporate intranets. Interactivity, control and privacy features, ease of use, and analytics are the main characteristics that make this product stand out from wikis and traditional sites. The LibGuides, created by Martha for the family of libraries within Ontario Workplace Tribunals and the Office of the Fire Marshal, exemplify the added value they bring to organizations.

If you want to know if LibGuides are right for your organization, view Martha’s presentation, and don’t miss the resources listed at the end of Part 1!*

“Communities of Practice” (CoPs) “are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” — Etienne Wenger

Thanks to Connie Crosby, this workshop was an interactive and energizing session that brought a sense of belonging and connected us all. We realized that, for all these years, Toronto Solo support group has been a living model of an autonomous and informal Community of Practice. We do what all CoPs do: share information, techniques, and resources; explore common issues and ideas; and act as a sounding board for each other. We document our knowledge on the wiki in the form of presentations, handouts, and minutes.

There are many examples of Communities of Practice in the workplace: working groups, work teams, and project teams. Pay special attention to these communities as they can maximize your value in the organization. If you are isolated and without peers in your institution, CoPs can help you survive—this is why the discussion on how to build and cultivate CoPs inside our organizations was extremely helpful.

I am looking forward to more practical, informative, and engaging sessions in the year ahead.

Please contact me if you have ideas for upcoming topics or are interested in co-chairing solo events. Solos usually meet at lunchtime at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (777 Bay Street).

— Amra Porobic
Manager of Library Services for the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). Prior to taking on the position of the Chair of the Toronto Chapter Solo Subgroup in May 2008, Amra co-chaired the group with Jasmina Landekic from 2000-2001. Amra has been a solo librarian since the onset of her IBC career in 1998. A member of TALL, AIIM, and ARMA, she can be reached at aporobic (at) ibc (dot) ca, or via LinkedIn where she manages the Solo Group discussions. 

*IBC has been sponsoring Solo events since 2008.

*Presentations and materials from the first two events are posted on SLA wiki (found through the links: SLA Solo Division –Toronto Chapter Solos). Connie’s presentation can be obtained from Amra.

Posted in The Courier, V50-N2-Winter 2013, Volume 501 Comment

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