Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Halifax, Day Four

Went to two really excellent sessions today: The Technology of Law, and Best Practices: Training Our Users. The first was a presentation by a law professor who runs the website Jurist, and was about the need to teach law students (or other legal practitioners) not only how to be information-literate, but also how to use technology to its full potential in the practice of law. Very interesting, and I plan on learning more about what is happening in this field. It has inspired me! In the "Best Practices" session, we heard from 3 speakers on tips and ideas for training library users. The first spoke about telephone training, the second about social media and Facebook and library guides, and the third about teaching across the generational gaps. Some good ideas in that session.

I skipped out on the last session with the intention of going shopping. Ran into David M. from Dal Law Library, and he joined me on my brewery and art gallery tour, then we went for a drink and a bite on the waterfront. It was so nice out, we sat out on the patio overlooking the harbour. It was just lovely. Then I headed back to the hotel, with another quick store stop or two. Dropped my stuff off at the hotel, combed my hair, then headed back to the conference hotel via cab with Margo.

This evening was the closing banquet. I made a giant mess of a delicious lobster. Then we were entertained by Irish and Scottish dancing, and regaled by a band with an extensive repertoire of Irish songs and sea shanties. We were also taught how to play the spoons, though I don't think I'm very good. Robin N. and I left around 11:30. I dropped her off at her hotel, then came back here. Now I just want to sleep, but we have to check out tomorrow, so I should probably re-pack my things first. Tomorrow morning there are a few more conference festivities, and then I am moving myself and my things over to the Dalhousie residence hall for two nights.

I don't know if I will have access to the Internet at the Dal residence, so this might be my last entry for a few days, unless I hit an Internet cafe, a wireless hotspot, or, god forbid, a library.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Halifax shouldn't have such nice weather while I am here; it makes me miss the town and miss the people and miss the sea and the harbour. The sky is blue, the tulips are all out (which is funny, since I missed most of them in Ottawa), the air was fresh and salty. Nice town.

On an unrelated note,* tonight was Martini Madness Nite at The Fireside. I was joined by Robin N., who I know from LOP, and Michelle H., who I went to library school with. Between the 3 of us, we polished off 2 club sodas, 4 martinis (though I thought hard about making it 5), a pound and a half of mussels, a bunch of garlic cheese bread, and a big pile of cheese nachos. A good time was had by all.**

* OK, a bit of a lie. Everyone who knows me knows that drinking makes me slightly nostalgic.

**An especially big thanks to Michelle who was a trooper and drove an hour from the Valley to Halifax just to hang out for a couple of hours before having to drive an hour back home. That's dedication to the martini cause. (And she didn't even have a martini, due to aforementioned driving.)

Halifax, Day Three

I have less than 10 minutes before we head out of the hotel again. Thankfully, and as a direct consequence, this will be a short post.

Today dawned bright and sunny and mild. (It's still May in Halifax, so I hesitate to use the word "warm".) So I put on my sundress, my flats, a jean jacket and a big scarf, and headed out to the conference hotel with Margo around 8:00 a.m. They were serving free breakfast, so it was worth our while to get out so early.

Plenary session at 9:00. Topic was recent developments in Canada's immigration and refugee policy. Speakers were Markham MP Paul Calandra and Halifax immigration lawyer Lee Cohen. Session was interesting, though not overly informative. Calandra talked about all the great things the federal government is supposedly doing; Cohen told some heartfelt stories. I think I know too much about immigration and refugee issues, and so am a bit cynical. Sorry.

The next session I went to was on embedded librarianship. Basically, this is the idea that librarians don't need to be in the library, but are often more effective outside the library, working in their organization directly. The session was interesting, though not earth-shattering (for me, at least). Working at the Library of Parliament last year, I already was a kind of embedded librarian - I was nowhere near the actual library, and I worked alongside, with and for, the analysts in the legal division. The library, at the LOP, was more a concept or idea than an actual physical place, at least for those of us in the research divisions. Anyway, the only thing truly controversial about the session was a couple of comments the speaker made about how she didn't think library schools were taking in the right types of students. I don't think that is necessarily true, though to some degree, library schools are more interested in filling seats with bums than with brains. I think the problem is more that library schools, at least in the U.S. (where the speaker was from), do not always teach library students the wide range of skills that they will need to survive once out in the real world. Some library schools focus very closely on technical skills. Many U.S. schools do not teach management skills, or how-to-deal-with-people skills. That's the real problem, in my opinion.

Anyway, must move on.

Lunch was served in Pier 21, just behind the conference hotel. I sat with Robin N. from LOP, and Mark and Maggie, friends of mine from library school. We ate salad, chicken in a cream sauce with veggies, and a delightful custard pie of some sort for dessert. There was an awards ceremony, and thankfully all the speeches were short and sweet (a skill I must still learn, obviously). Then we were regaled by Bruce Nunn, a/k/a Mr. Nova Scotia Know-It-All. I used to listen to him on CBC Radio, and would sometimes see him on CBC News in Halifax. He was very entertaining.

Post-lunch sleepiness having kicked in, I went back to the conference hotel for a session on sharia and talmudic law. It was very informative and two areas of law I think we will need to acquire resources in over the next year or two as they become more popular.

Margo and I skipped out on the last session to come back to our hotel to unwind for a bit, but now we are heading back out for the first of two back-to-back receptions. Then I am headed to The Fireside again for post-reception food (might not be hungry for the salmon, however, depending on how much they feed us) and drinks (on the other hand, there is always room for more drinks).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Halifax, Day Two

So yesterday I never made it to Spring Garden Road, as I wandered along the waterfront, taking pictures, etc. Then back to the conference for a short reception. Met some pretty cool people, including a bunch who have similar jobs and concerns to mine. If only I weren't so busy conferencing, I could sit down and have a real pow-wow with some of these folk.

Was on my own for dinner. I decided to hit Rogue's Roost on Spring Garden*, which is a restaurant with a delightful microbrewery. I had a raspberry wheat ale and chicken fingers. Then I headed back to the hotel, around 9:30.

Earlier in the day, Margo had told me she was planning on going after dinner down to The Lower Deck, where Signal Hill was playing. I was thinking about heading out again to see if I could find her when she walked in the room. She hadn't been down yet, so we headed out together. Signal Hill was great! We didn't stay very late, though, as I had an early morning ahead.

This morning I woke up at 6:00 since I had a First-Timers' Breakfast at 7:30.** Actually made it almost on time. Then I went to a meeting of the academic law libraries. It was interesting to hear the updates from the other libraries, though we didn't have time to make it through all of them.

At 9:30 a few hours of meetings of various committees were scheduled. I could have gone to some of these, but on Saturday night I had convinced Margo that we should skip these and go on the Harbour Hopper instead. It was awesome! It was cold and gray, like your typical Halifax spring day, but we had a great time. It was just Margo and I, and two older ladies on a road trip from North Carolina. Normally they won't run the Hopper with less than 8 people, but they decided to take us out anyway. For those of you who might not know, the Harbour Hopper is an amphibious vehicle which was formally an American army vehicle used in the Vietnam War, now painted with giant frogs on the side and with nicely cushioned seats installed. The tour spends 30 minutes driving around town, and then 30 minutes in the water. Pictures to follow.

We then got back to the business of conferencing, showing up back there just in time for lunch. Then I went to a bunch of mini vendor demos which lasted all afternoon. We crashed back at our hotel for about an hour (by which time it was pouring rain, but hey, at least we weren't still on the Harbour Hopper) and then went to a reception which was being held at the famous Pier 21.

Pier 21 was very cool. We watched a multimedia presentation on the history of Pier 21, which was the first port of entry for many of Canada's immigrants who arrived between 1928 and the 1960s. There was also lots of yummy food. Food and museuming, always a nice combination.

Now I am headed off to bed. Tomorrow is a full day of conferencing, followed by - count 'em - two receptions, and then I plan to go to The Fireside (yes again) for more martinis and salmon.

* So I guess I did make it there after all.

** Note to future conference organizers: Scheduling the First-Timers' Breakfast for 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning is just MEAN.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Halifax, Day One*

Arrived in Halifax last night at 5:11. Margo, the director of the library where I work, was also on my flight though we did not sit together. The shuttle bus to Halifax was leaving at 5:25. Miraculously, both of our suitcases were among the first ten pieces of luggage to hit the baggage carousel, so we booted it to the shuttle bus and were on our way.

Upon check-in at the Delta Barrington, it turned out that Margo had been upgraded from a queen room (which would have two beds) to a king (I guess she forgot to tell them there were actually 2 people staying in the room). There was a queen with a pull-out available, but a bunch of hockey teams are also staying in town, and they were in that section of the hotel, and we were warned it would be loud. So we are sharing our giant bed until at least tomorrow, at which point we might switch rooms, though it doesn't really matter to me. I don't think I could even find Margo on that bed even if I wanted to! LOL

We went for dinner at The Fireside last night, which is hands-down my favourite restaurant anywhere. The Fireside alone is almost reason enough to move back to Halifax. We were joined by Sarah S., Andrea N., and David M., all of whom I went to library school with, way back when. I had my usual: pecan-encrusted salmon and MARTINIS (a melon ball and a black russian). Monday night is Martini Madness Night, so I may just have to return.

Back to the hotel by about 10:45, and managed to get the Internet working by plugging in the same cable I had tried plugging in earlier in the day. This time, for some odd reason, it worked. Yay me! Lights out by midnight.

This morning, I had a pre-conference session that I was attending on "Making and Presenting the Business Case". It was quite good. These are things that are not obvious to me - I have not yet had the pleasure\honour of having to cajole management into buying a certain product, or (heaven forbid) of having to justify my own job or my library's existence. But I have just recently embarked on a long-term project with a couple of the professors at the law school on developing some legal research materials, and I've been lucky enough to so far leave the please-give-us-money document-drafting to one of the other team members. However, it is a skill I should learn, so I found this session quite useful.

That finished at noon, and I wandered down to the waterfront just in time to be serenaded, along with many others, by a tall ship sailing slowly out of the harbour, with a band playing and all the sailors lined up and singing some songs very loudly. It was magical. I didn't have my camera on me! Boo. But I whipped out my cell phone and took a couple of bad pictures. Once I figure out how to transfer pictures to my computer (I don't have a cable, but I think I can maybe email them via phone - technology confuses me sometimes), I will post here. I believe the ship was Chilean.

Then I went to catch the end of the Farmer's Market, in the Brewery buildings. It ends at 1:00, so I just made it. I had almost no money left, unfortunately, so couldn't buy very much. I spent my last dollars on some Indian chicken curry and a samosa, plus some omiyage for my dog.

Ate my lunch in the hotel room. I have just made reservations for next Friday night to stay in a B&B in lovely Mahone Bay. I wanted to stay here, which was recommended to me by my friend Cheryl who stayed here a few months ago, but ironically they are not taking bookings for next weekend because the owners will be in Ottawa! So I am staying here.

Now I am headed out to do some shopping. First I must cross the road to Scotia Square and go book a vehicle for next Friday-Saturday. Then, since my hotel is attached to the Barrington Place Shops, that will be my next stop. Must go search out the doll house store that I loved so much as a child, except I think I did that once when I was living here during grad school and I think it might be gone now. Then across the street to the Urban Cottage, to find second-hand housewares that will fit in my suitcase. Then, if I have time, I'll wander down Spring Garden Road.

* Title not meant to imply that these entries will be daily undertakings, but I will do what I can.