It’s been a few years since I’ve attended a Manitoba Libraries Conference.  The first time I went as a newly qualified teacher-librarian, I found there was little for me in the way of professional development so I stopped attending.  Now, as president of the MSLA, I have learned that in the past few years, there has been a renewed effort in ensuring that the professional development needs of school library personnel are met at the conference.  This past year, one member of our MSLA board, Leanne Falconer, and our liaison officer from Manitoba Education, John Tooth, committed themselves to making sure that there were suitable sessions at the 2010 Manitoba Libraries Conference for both library technicians and teacher-librarians.

With this in mind, the library technician in my school, Edna Johnson, and I set off to participate in what was shaping up to be a professionally worthwhile activity.   I’m pleased to report that we weren’t disappointed.  As winner of the Manitoba Library Technician of the Year Award, Edna was fortunate enough to be able to attend all three days of the conference whereas I only attended two days. The pre-conference was especially meaningful to her as a school library technician since she was able to learn more about the new RDA cataloguing standard which replaces AACR2.  Other sessions that as a library technician Edna found valuable were:


  • What Factors Affect Health and Literacy? Lessons From the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (Facilitator: Marni Brownell)
  • Designing Dazzling Displays: Tips and Tricks (Facilitators: Dawn Huck & Jennifer McSweeney)
  • Reaching out to Newcomers (Facilitators: Ricardo Blanco, Guy Prokopetz, Janis Pregnall, June Shymko & Kathleen Williams)
  • The Power of Project Teams in Libraries: The Success of the University of Winnipeg Library Website Redevelopment Project (Facilitator: Michael Hohner)
  • Making Reports Highlight Your Successes (Facilitator: Denise Weir)
  • It Ain’t Over Yet: Continuing Education Opportunities for Library Technicians (Facilitator: Karen Hildebrandt)
  • Gale Databases

As a teacher-librarian, there were five sessions at the conference that I found valuable.  These included John Tooth’s explanation of the new school tariff on Manitoba school libraries and copyright updates.  School library staffs are constantly faced with challenging copyright questions and this was my opportunity to “ask the expert.”  Next, I attended a session facilitated by Pat Cavill regarding library advocacy.  As president of the MSLA, advocacy encompasses a large part of what I do but as a teacher-librarian, I’m also aware that I must be prepared to advocate on behalf of my school library program on a daily basis.  Although Pat’s session was geared more toward public libraries, at the end of the session I was able to connect with her and she offered to send me a document prepared exclusively for school library advocacy.

The third session I attended was sponsored by the MSLA.  It was my pleasure to introduce author and retired teacher, Larry Verstraete, and Lisa Sykes, teacher-librarian at Westgrove School in Pembina Trails.  Their presentation, P is for Partnership: The Tale of Two Alphabet Books, chronicled the steps involved in publishing a book written by Larry, G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet, and a book published by the students and staff of Westgrove School, W is for Westgrove, that was modeled after Larry’s book.  If you’re considering writing and publishing a book at your school, I highly recommend connecting with these two knowledgeable educators and writers.

Next, I attended a session sponsored by Manitoba Education’s Instructional Resources unit.  Lynette Chartier from DREF demonstrated an exciting new online resource for French teachers, students and parents from TFO Education (   Sam Davoodifar showed the latest offerings in English language streaming services (    Contact your school division for more information on these services or contact DREF directly at 945-4813 or Manitoba Education at 945-5371.

If you’ve ever considered using audio books in your library or classroom, you  first need to educate yourself as to what is legal and what is not.  Facilitator Chantal Fillion from Van Walleghem School in Pembina Trails took us on her frustrating journey spanning two years as she attempted to integrate audio books into her library and classrooms in a way that respects Canada’s copyright laws.  Perhaps the new copyright laws currently before Canada’s parliament will change the way schools can access audio books but from what I learned at Chantal’s presentation,  as it stands now, there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to using audio books legally in schools.

As you can see, both my school library technician and I found many worthwhile sessions at the 2010 Manitoba Libraries Conference.  Although geared more toward public libraries, we even found the keynote address by Gerry Meek, the chief executive Officer of the Calgary Public Library, to be highly inspirational.  At a time when budgets are tight Gerry discussed the need for ground-breaking partnerships between various libraries in our province and the need to learn from each other.   Certainly my attendance at the conference reinforced my feeling that as a teacher-librarian, I am vital part of the library community in Manitoba.   I hope you will consider taking in, or volunteering at, a Manitoba Libraries Conference in the future so that you can experience this partnership, as well.