Monday, December 7, 2009

Retro-Progressiveness for Librarianship

An interesting book has come out today from a library science professor at U of T's I school. Professor Juris Dilevko believes that

anyone wishing to work in an academic, research, or public library must independently pass a series of essay-type subject-specific examinations in about ten to fifteen fields or areas of the arts, social sciences, and sciences. In addition, he or she must be able to read and speak at least one non-English language fluently.

While I admit I have not read the book (it was just published in November), Dilevko's premise seems to me to be bit far-fetched. The idea for example, that anyone can pass exams with essay-type questions in 10-15 areas of law is extraordinarily difficult-if not impossible-in this day and age. Take the subject of law for instance. There are so many different areas of law that law librarians have to at least have a basic understanding of. It used to be that they could have a good general knowledge across a wide spectrum of the law. Now, we're lucky if we are competent in one or two areas.

I do agree with his idea that professionalism has devolved to a point where people are more concerned with credentials, careers, and the accumulation of power and prestige. However, the notion that we should not be obsessed with being professionals is missing the mark. I do not believe we are obsessed with being professionals, it is just that that is the nature of the beast. We are professionals, who handle information, and we use our knowledge-in many cases-for the social good. There have been many times when I have helped patrons who have no knowledge of the law find information on their topic. I won't try and explain the law to them-that is something I cannot and will not do as a librarian-but I will at least show them where to go, and who to turn to for further help.

It would be an interesting book to read, but I'd be worried about what I would think afterward.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Switzerland Bans the building of Minarets

An interesting and shocking vote in Switzerland today. The Swiss people, in a referendum, have voted to ban the building of minarets in the country. The vote-forced on the Swiss by the Swiss People's Party (SVP)-a right-wing party-after collecting 100000 signatures in 18 months-comes as a shock to both the Swiss government and the country's 400000 muslims. This paves the way for a constitutional amendment.
The odd thing about this is that there are only 4 mosques in Switzerland that actually have minarets. They are a well-known feature of mosques around the world. The SVP believes that minarets represent a growing power of Islam in Switzerland and promote a sense of fear of rising Islamic fundamentalism. See the news report on Al-Jazeera in English here.
The scary thing is that now, another right wing party in Holland wants the same ban on minarets. Is this going to be a wider movement? Let's hope not. Where will it end if it does? A muslim country could therefore ban the building of churches, saying there is a threat of growing christianity in the country. Highly unlikely, but you never know.
Would this sort of thing happen in Canada? I doubt it. The Charter protects freedom of religion, and any ban on building minarets would probably be struck down as going against the multicultural fabric of the country.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Golf Swing Defined

Who knew that a golf swing such as the "Happy Gilmore" shot ever existed. Here is a recent posting on Slaw that deals with what a "Happy Gilmore" shot is, and what a regular golf shot should be like. Go down to the entry entitled "Fore" by Mark Lewis. Hopefully, this will get your golf juices flowing in time for next spring.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Greeting people with a smile!!

It truly is amazing how greeting patrons at the reference desk with a smile can not only ease their fears of coming to the reference desk, but also shows how important customer service really is. A good example is this posting I read this morning from AALL's Reference list serv. One librarian wrote:

That morning, as I awaited my meeting, I watched the students as they entered the building to start their day. For security purposes, students had to wear badges and walk past a reception area. The weather was gray and windy, the hour early, it was Friday the 13th, and the stage was set for student moods to match. However, that wasn't the case, and the reason was the person sitting at that reception area. She smiled, greeted the students with genuine enthusiasm, and moods visibly lifted in the scant seconds that transaction took. It was inspiring to see, and, in a time when it's increasingly important to show the value of personnel, I can't imagine an electronic alternative to that human element.

A smile can make all the difference. An electronic service provider couldn't do that!

Food for thought for your Friday!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Settling in to our new temporary digs

We're now in our new temporary digs at the Health Nursing and Environmental Sciences Building (HNES). We'll be here for approximately two weeks. We've been here since August 31st. So far, it hasn't been too bad. I will admit though that for the first week things were not in the best of shape. The library services area wasn't set up, so even though we were supposed to begin to provide service on August 31st we couldn't. When we finally officially opened on September 8th, we had to provide reference from a laptop as the reference computer wasn't working. Circulation couldn't do much on that day because their computer wasn't installed.

Fortunately for us, the students have been patient and understanding for the most part. They realize its been diffiuclt for us to provide service. I want to thank them for all of their patience. It must be frustrating to come to the library and find out that a book in our collection is inaccessible for two years. But it is they who provide us with our raison d'etre. Without our students and faculty, we wouldn't exist. We in the academic library field would do well to consider that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back from AALL and the move

Well, I just got back from the American Association of Law Libraries conference in Washington D.C. last week. My first time there. The networking was excellent. I met all kinds of interesting people there.

I will say though, that as far as the educational program was concerned, it was rather hit and miss. There were some good programs, including one called, "So you think you can teach". This was done in a classroom format, where the speakers spoke as if the audience were actually their students. It waas intersting to see the differences that each instructor used. One actually liked to walk around the classroom and sit next to her students as she was lecturing. Interesting way to do it. Although if you only have a one hour seminar it probably isn't the best way to do it.

The move to our temporary quarters is proceeding, but its slow. We should be moved in by the time school starts. Hopefully, everything will turn out for well.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Osgoode is finally getting a renovation!!

Many academic libraries have had renovation work done to them over the past two decades. Now it is finally time for Osgoode to join them. The school has finally been given government money to start its long-awaited renovation. The announcement was made on Friday, but was officially announced today on the Industry Canada website. Among the top priorities in the renovation will be the library! Let's hope the renovation will bring much more added light and brightness to the library.

CALL Conference

I'm just back from the CALL (Canadian Association of Law Libraries) conference that was held last week in Halifax. There were actually some very good sessions.

One interesting session was a librarian from Illinois who came and has a theory that sooner rather than later, there will not be many librarians, however there will be more librarians. It sounds odd. Although she makes some good points in her theory, I'm not sure I can ever really see that happening. Yes, its true that most people nowadays want everything online. However, until we invent something like star trek, I'm not convinced that is going to happen. There will always need to be places to store, and most importantly find information, and not everything will be online.

There were other interesting topics, such as the legal obligation of what to do when someone gets older and can no longer care for themselves. The speaker, a professor from Dalhousie, was dynamic and very engaging.

As for the social events, the banquet was quite fun. I especially enjoyed watching one of the government documents librarians from Newfoundland nearly hurt himself playing the spoons. The lobster, which most people had (I had steak) was brought in to the sound of bagpipes.

All in all, it was a very good conference. See all of you next year in Windsor Ontario!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A new deal!! Finally!!!

Yes indeed! Last night CUPE local 3903 and York University finally managed to come to a tentative agreement. After more than six months of negotiations, and a 12 week strike that shut down nearly all of the university, the two sides finally came to an agreement last night. Details weren't released, but here's hoping CUPE members are smart enough to ratify it. I imagine they will. I can't see them turning it down, as I think most of them just want to get it over with.

Some people may wonder why an arbitrator just didn't force a settlement. According to the back to work legislation, s. 13(1) says that the mediator-arbitrator can start to mediate within 30 days of being appointed (that being near the middle of February 2009) and has 90 days to help the parties come to an agreement. If there is no agreement by the end of 90 days, than the mediator-arbitrator can force a settlement on the parties.

Here's hoping YUFA (the Faculty association) isn't stupid enough to go on strike. Their negotiations will start soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

They're baaack!

The strike is finally over! After nearly 3 months, all of York's students are finally back in class. T.A.'s are teaching again, but not cheerfully. Indeed, many report that, while not much has been said to them personally, they have been getting, well, quite angry looks from their students in class.
What, did they think that students would simply forget that they've been out of class for 3 months an let bygones be bygones. I doubt the T.A.'s wouldn't think that, but students are angry, and rightfully so.

Many have asked, why it took the provincial government so long to step in and order the union back to work. Well, the short answer is, you do need to give bargaining a chance to work. However, once the parties are deadlocked with no chance of resolving their dispute, only then can the government act. This is what happened here.

We can all rant and scream that CUPE should never have been allowed to go on strike. However, education has not been deemed essential. Under the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act s. 30 Someone can only be deemed an essential worker if not doing the work would cause danger to life, health or saftety, damage to property, serious environmental damage, or disruption of the courts. Thus, since education doesn't fit those criteria, you can't necessarily order CUPE back to work based on essential services.

It will be interesting to watch the YUFA negotiations. Our contract ends on April 30th. I hope we don't go out on strike. It would be another added hardship to the students, and faculty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Strike is Ending!! (Hopefully!!!)

You may wonder why I put the word "hopefully" in the title. This is because the strike at York is hopefully at an end. The premier finally called the legislature back to get this legislation passed on Sunday. However, the NDP refused to go along with it. So, the bill is stalled while the politicians debate. However, it should be passed by Thursday. If this should happen, all of the students should be back in class on Monday.

However, CUPE held a protest at Queen's Park. 200 showed up. Out of 3400, that's not such a great turnout, if almsost 70% refused to sign onto the University's latest offer last week, you'd think more would have shown up. As it was, 4 people got arrested for being stupid and causing a bit too much of a ruckus.

There are threats that if this bill does pass on Thursday, CUPE will launch a court challenge, which would delay the school year even further. They have no legal grounds to win (at least in my humble opinion). The negotiations were at a complete deadlock, and if negotiations are at a complete deadlock, then the legislature has the power to order the union back. They've lost the battle of public opinion already. No need to damage their already sullied reputation further.