The AALT Technician is the official journal of the Alberta Association of Library Technicians.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

AATL 2016 Wrap Up

AALT 2016 came to a light-hearted conclusion with a presentation and reading by author/library technician Glenda Goertzen. She touched on the confluences between writing and library work, including cataloguing her own book. Glenda closed her talk by treating delegates to a reading from her upcoming book.

My compliments to conference co-Chairs Janis Rapchuk, Pablo Zanetta and Danica Dixon for bringing together a great conference. My thanks also to the Conference Committee (Chris Savage, Melanie Belliveau, Brenda Gee, Kathleen Johnston) and all the SAIT Library Information Technology students and faculty who volunteered to help out before and during the conference.

Over the course of the conference I heard several positive comments from delegates regarding the quality of sessions and keynotes. Also, many delegates appreciated being at SAIT during its centennial year and being in Heritage Hall, in particular.

Finally, if you attended AALT 2016, please be sure to complete the Conference Survey. As a past conference chair (twice), I can assure you that feedback to the survey really does guide planning for the next conference.

AALT 2016 Delegate's Survey

Glenda speaking at the AALT 2016 Sunday Brunch. 
Last of the door prizes being given away.

AALT 2016 Banquet

Congratulations to the Conference Committee on a great banquet. I was having such a good time that I neglected to take pictures. So, here's a photo I lifted from Sarah's Facebook page.

Friends and colleagues (and Sarah's daughter) at the AALT Banquet (courtesy Sarah Stephens).


Three awards were presented last night by outgoing President Sarah Stephens. As Sarah noted, AALT doesn't give every award every year. So, when a recipient is selected it marks a significant contribution to libraries and library techncians.

I had the honor of introducing Mo Keshavjee, recipient of the Advocacy Award. Mo, in his role as marketing and communications coordinator for SAIT's School of Information and Communications Technology, was recognized for his his work promoting the SAIT Library Information Technology program to employers, library workers and learners across Alberta.

Author and library technician Judith Graves will receive the Merle Harris Achievement Award for her work as a school librarian in Cold Lake, Alberta and contributions to the library technician community. Judith couldn't join us, but incoming President Karen Hildebrandt said a few words of thanks on her behalf.

Finally, Sarah and Karen presented the Dewey Award to Journal Editor Kristian McInnis for his contributions to the AALT Board during the 2015-16 year.*

Kristian accepting the - tiny - Dewey Award (courtesy Karen Hildebrandt).
Mo (centre) accepts the Advocacy Award (courtesy Karen Hildebrandt).


We closed evening with a performance by the Chinook Country Line Dancers. The dancers kicked up their heels through many energetic routines and did a fantastic job coaching delegates through several dances.

Our dance coach (on the stage) leads delegates through some steps (courtesy Marcia Holmes).

Delegates line dance mostly on the beat (courtesy Marcia Holmes).

*I had a little debate with myself about whether to discuss my award in the first or third person. Either way, it feels awkward.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

AALT 2016 Day 2 Summary


More fantastic sessions filled the second day of AALT 2016.

Deb Cryderman offered a really engaging session on diversifying library collections. Jim Gray had is delegates talking about challenged books and how to manage those challenges in consistent, professional and respectful way. SAIT instructor Matt Adolphe discussed strengthening workplace teams through embracing diversity. Meanwhile, Conference co-Chair Pablo Zannetta led a dozen delegates to the C-train for quick run up to the University of Calgary and the Taylor Family Digital Library.

Three SAIT library technology students presented in our Student Lightning Talks this year. First, Jessica Machacek discussed using Camtasia to support training staff and patrons. Then Kira Maros and Anna Friesen shared their project marketing and delivering a program for children at Calgary Public Library.

And, again, there was a lot more that I didn't get to see or hear about from other delegates. Thank you to everyone who contributed the professional development of library technicians by stepping up to present at the AALT Conference.
Kira (left) and Anna present their marketing project.
Small group discussion in the Challenged Books session.
Jessica shows a Camtasia tutorial on using Discovery Search.

AALT 2016 Annual General Meeting

The AGM this year saw a substantive change to the organization of AALT's Board of Directors supported by the AALT members present at the meeting. 

Several Board positions were merged to support changing business needs within AALT. So, Marketing and Journal positions have been merged into a single Communications Director role. Similarly, Secretary and Treasurer are now the Administrative Services Director and Webteam and Membership become Online Services Director. 

As a consequence of these changes several revisions to the by-laws were supported by members and a separate motion reduced the quorum needed for Board meetings from 6 to 4 to reflect the reduction in Board positions.

Later, after calling for nominations from the floor, the slate of Directors was announced. For the 2016-2017 year, the Board of Directors is:
  • President: Karen Hildebrandt - Concordia University
  • President-Elect: Theresa Remtulla - Mount Royal University
  • Administrative Services Director: Lynda Shurko - Alberta Legislature Library
  • Communications Services Director: Amy Southgate - University of Alberta
  • Online Services Director: Christy Nicols - Banff Centre Library
Member-at-Large, along with Student Representatives from SAIT and MacEwan, were unfilled at the time of this writing and will be appointed at a later date.

During the AGM outgoing President Sarah Stephens thanked the former Board for their work and welcomed the new Board. Finally, she passed the gavel to incoming President Karen Hildebrandt who adjourned the meeting.

Delegates listen as motions are presents at the AALT AGM.
Sarah calls the AGM to order.
Incoming AALT President Karen Hildebrandt takes up the gavel.

AALT 2016 Saturday Keynote

We're off to another fantastic start on the second day of the AALT Conference.

There was again lots of great conversation as delegates gathered for breakfast and settled in for this morning's keynote address.

Saturday's breakfast in historic MacDonald Hall.
Kathleen (left) and Janis give out door prizes.
Kathleen gets help drawing prize winners. 


Saturday's keynote by Dr. Lauryn Oates was a reminder of the fundamental value of literacy and a stirring call to action in support of vulnerable women and girls.

Lauryn is Programs Director for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. She plans, manages, monitors and evaluates programs that target improving literacy for women and girls in Afghanistan.

Early in her talk Lauryn connected her topic to libraries and literacy by quoting Dr. Seuss: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." She emphasized the importance of literacy for women and girls in Afghanistan (and other developing/post-conflict) states, not just for them but also for their families and communities. She noted, particularly, the strong positive connection between higher levels of education improved health, economic and social outcomes.

Lauryn also stated that the best predictor of a state's peacefulness is the status of women within the state.

Dr. Oates discussed challenges of development work in authoritarian and undemocratic states. She drew a comparison between how communities in democratic states can pressure their government verses the experience of communities in less free states. She offered a scenario where water accessed by a community has become contaminated. In a free, democratic state the community can pressure the government to fix the issue through protest, activism and media engagement (I thought of Flint, Michigan when she described this scenario). In undemocratic states, communities simply can't pressure the government for relief through these means.

So, the fundamental need in her mind for sustainable development is to not simply provide these communities with resources and expertise, but also with more freedom. Because, when people are free, they are free to solve their own problems.

Dr. Lauryn Oates begins her keynote address.

Lauryn describes the impact of literacy on women and girls in Afghanistan

AALT 2016 Day 1 Summary


There were several great sessions through the day. For instance, some delegates learned about their communication and learning styles with Rob Chubb. Others joined Stephen Abrams to further discuss the issues raised in his keynote and, later, many headed off to the Military Museums.

In keeping with the conference's theme, Karen Hildebrandt discussed the framework they are using at Concordia University for engaging with and supporting disabled learners. And, in their session, SAIT's own Sandra Lee (Academic Chair, Library Technology and Journalism) and Shan Robertson (Manager, Learner Success) had delegates role play various limitations - including social disabilities - to provide insight on the challenges faced by people with disability.

There were, of course, many other sessions by great people giving back to the community and supporting the professional development of their colleagues. If you enjoyed any of the other sessions on Friday, share in the comments. Also, be sure to fill out those session feedback forms.They really do guide the conference committee's decisions for the coming year.

Karen talks about effectively engaging with disabled learners

Delegates learn about their learning styles with the True Color profiles.


There was more good times at lunch as delegates gathered in MacDonald Hall again to chat and share a meal.

Shiny happy people. 

People laughing. 

Door prize winners Karen, Megan and Chloe.

Shirt Twin

Finally, in the most awesome happening of the day, Andrew and I wore the same shirt to conference.

Andrew (right) and I are shirt twins! Though I think his shirt is newer than mine.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Thank You to Our Vendors and Sponsors

Business has been hopping at our many vendor tables. The main floor of Heritage Hall is overrun with commercial and library vendors offering a wide variety of products and services.

Vendors have always been an important part of the AALT Conference, providing a forum for delegates to connect with sales representatives offering books, online resources, office supplies and more.

I took the pictures below during the first breakout sessions, so most of our delegates are off learning instead of networking and buying. But, I thought this was a good time to show you the number and variety of vendors without too many people blocking the view.

Panorama of the foyer of Heritage Hall (click for full size).

Almost the full length of Heritage Hall is take up with vendors.

Thank you to all our vendors and sponsors for contributing to a great AALT experience and supporting the professional development of library technicians.

Please take a moment to visit our vendors, sponsors and donors below.

Sponsors and Donors


AALT 2016 Keynote Overview

Delegates gathered this morning for a great pre-keynote breakfast in historic Heritage Hall on the SAIT campus. The program began with a welcome to the conference by co-Chair Janis Rapchuk. Delegates were then welcomed to SAIT by Genevieve Luthy, manager of the Reg Erhardt Library.

Genevieve took a few moments in her address to note that this is SAIT's centennial year and the connections between AALT and SAIT's history.
Janis welcomes delegates to AALT 2016.
Lots of friends and colleagues reconnecting at the Friday keynote breakfast.
At 9:00 am ("not sure if we'll stay on time, but we'll start on time", as Janice put it) AALT President-Elect Karen Hildebrandt introduced keynote speaker Stephen Abrams with a warm recollection of their first meeting. 

Stephen opened his presentation by complimenting the quality of his suite in SAIT's residence and noting it was much fancier than he expected. He then entered into a wide ranging and enthusiastic talk about why this is an exciting time to work in libraries. 

His presentation challenged traditional library attitudes and practices by asking questions like "Do you make it easy to find resources or is it a treasure hunt?" and emphasising that library professionals provide not merely transactional services but transformational ones. He said we focus to much on what we have (nouns) and not enough on what we do (verbs). 

He highlighted some of our professional "diseases":
  • avoiding conflict
  • passive resistance
  • risk aversion
Stephen challenged delegates to work against these tendencies and to focus on our core competency of "improving the quality of the question and user experience."

Stephen Abrams asks AALT 2016 "What business are you in?"

This rousing, humorous and challenging presentation was a fantastic way to kick-start the conference. Stephen's slides are on his blog Stephen's Lighthouse. I encourage to have a look.

More to come from AALT 2016.