Tour of the Main Library of Parliament / La visite de la Bibliothèque du Parlement Centrale

Upcoming Library of Parliament tour.

Upcoming Library of Parliament tour.

Join us for a tour of the Main Library of Parliament at Centre Block

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm*

* Please arrive by 5 pm for security check.

$5 Members, $7 Non-members

Space limited to 20 people

RSVP at by January 28, 2015.


Joignez-vous à nous pour une visite de la Bibliothèque du Parlement Centrale

Mercredi, le 4 février à 17 h 30*

* Arrivez à 17 h pour la vérification de sécurité, s’il vous plaît.

5 $ membres, 7 $ autres participants

Les places sont limitées à 20 personnes

RSVP à avant le 28 janvier, 2015.

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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Library Tours


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Reliable Sources: Helena Merriam

By Sarah Simpkin

In this column we’ll be featuring interviews with local library, archives and museum staff and students. Our fourth interviewee is Helena Merriam.

2014-08-30 18.04.42

 Who are you?

I am Helena Merriam, Coordinator of the Library and Information Technician program at Algonquin College. I’m also a member of the board of Twice Upon a Time, an organization in the Ottawa area that gives free books to kids who need them. Finally, I’m also the founder of Algonquin Reads.

What’s Algonquin Reads?

Algonquin Reads is a college-run initiative. Each year, we choose to focus on a different book by a Canadian author. We come together to read the book and engage in activities — we have a student writing contest, author visits, performance art, and workshops. This past year, we hosted a genealogy workshop as it connected with our chosen book, The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro.

That sounds like so much fun. What’s it like working at Algonquin College?

I love going to work every day. Being part of students’ lives is very rewarding, inspiring, and a privilege. The program is small, no more than forty students in one class, and each year there’s a cohort that will move through the program within two years. Each year I get to teach first and second year students, and really get to know them as individuals.

What kind of classes do you teach?

I teach reference, marketing, web design, and technology courses. I also oversee the fieldwork placement component of the diploma.

It sounds like students are getting a real hands-on experience. Could you speak more about the fieldwork component?

Students are eligible for field work after three terms of coursework. It’s a mandatory part of the diploma, so I make sure that each student is matched with an organization and position that fits their interests.  Students complete two three-week placements each.

I feel very fortunate being in Ottawa—we have a wealth of libraries and organizations that provide placement opportunities for our students, whether in information management, traditional library settings, and archives. I’m very appreciative and grateful of the support this community gives our students. They benefit from each student’s contributions, and recognize their own role in that student’s growth and development.

What are some other highlights of the Library and Information Technician program?

We have small classes sizes, hands-on applied learning, and real-life and simulated real-life projects. For example, we pair our students with the BScN (nursing) students to teach them how to search medical databases. Both groups of students benefit from this experience.

How did you get into teaching and program coordination?

I was working full-time in Toronto and teaching part-time library technician courses at night. When I later moved to Ottawa, I was able to start teaching part-time at Algonquin. This eventually led to a full-time position, and now the coordinator role.

You mentioned Twice Upon a Time. Could you tell me more about that organization and your involvement?

I’ve been involved from the beginning. I was invited by a colleague, now the current President, Alexandra Yarrow, to join in because of my interest in literacy and work with Algonquin Reads. We solicit donations of new or gently-used books, books that you’d be proud to give as a gift to a child. We operate out of an organization called Heartwood House, which is an umbrella organization for a number of not-for-profit groups. When families visit, we give out one book for free per person. We encourage the children to pick out a book that they want to own, and the parent or guardian can also select a book that they’d like to read with the child. We feel book ownership is a key part of supporting the child’s development as a reader. We also strive to be barrier-free, there’s no membership or sign-in required.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on developing a joint Bachelor’s degree program between Algonquin College and Carleton University, targeted to start in fall 2016. It’s a Bachelor in Information Technology – Information Resource Management. It will include courses in programming, web design, database design, and network technology, in addition to library and information management skills. I’m also Chair of the Local Planning Committee for the upcoming CLA conference in June, in Ottawa.

Wow, I’ll be watching this closely! In the meantime, who should I interview next?

I think you should interview Esenia Jubea, one of my former students who is currently on contract with the National Capital Commission in their Corporate Information Services department.

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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Reliable Sources



Reliable Sources: Liz Hayden

By Sarah Simpkin

In this column we’ll be featuring interviews with local library, archives and museum staff and students. Our third interviewee is Liz Hayden.

Liz HaydenWho are you?

I’m Liz Hayden, Chief Librarian at Saint Paul University (SPU); on loan from the Assessment Librarian position at the University of Ottawa.

On loan! What does that mean?

I’ve been seconded as the transition manager since July 2013 and expect to be back working as Assessment Librarian in early 2015.

As the transition manager, the immediate challenges were to look into updating the Library in terms of technology and resources and therefore in services; overhaul the ILS; and dispose of significant unprocessed physical resources. A fundamental transformation was needed to bring the library into conformance with current academic library standards and practices.

Since SPU and uOttawa are already federated institutions, I also tried to identify ways that the two Libraries could work more closely together in a manner that benefits them both.

What’s it like over there?

SPU is a great place to work! It’s been really different moving from a large institution like the uOttawa to a small institution like SPU. I think my favourite thing is my team. I can’t believe what we’ve accomplished in only 18 months. As the transition manager, without the support of both the library and the larger university team, we simply couldn’t have accomplished the positive changes that have occurred.

Tell me more about what’s changed?

There are three standard library priorities: collections, services, and spaces. The library collection was in fantastic shape. SPU has one of the most captivating collections I’ve ever seen. I encourage your readers to come visit to our rare books room.

So we’ve placed an emphasis on user services and spaces (both physical and online). A couple of highlights include our user services and our catalogue.

We created a user services team headed by your last interviewee, Sandy Hervieux. She has really focussed on developing the reference interview skills of our front-line staff. We’ve also done a lot of outreach to encourage people to come back to the library and to use our new services: group study rooms, research guides, inter-library loan, one-on-one consultations, and small group training.

We have also merged our catalogue records with uOttawa so that our users benefit from one stop shopping. Previously, they had to search in the SPU catalogue for print material, and in the uOttawa catalogue for electronic material. Now we share one discovery layer for all materials. User feedback on this change has been fantastic.

I heard about a gym full of books…

Yes, we did indeed have a gym full of books! They were unprocessed donations. Your readers will be happy to hear that the gym is available for floor hockey rental once again. We donated a significant portion to libraries who aren’t as fortunate as we are, like the St-Joseph’s Theology Institute in South Africa.

Any other surprises?

Seeing my name and “Chief Librarian” on the door of my office when I got there! But seriously, it’s been a wonderful place to work. The people, the atmosphere, and the welcome I received have all been so positive. I would recommend working at SPU to anyone.

What’s next for you?

My secondment is coming to an end and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into some library assessment projects.

Do you really like stats that much?

There’s a misconception that assessment is all about stats. Although there certainly are stats involved, for example, preparing the annual Canadian Association of Research Libraries statistical survey, they are only one piece of the puzzle.

My role is more that of a resource person. Individuals or teams may come see me to get help with any manner of assessment; for example, trying to figure out how to measure the success of an existing program, or how to build an assessment element into a new project.

Which role do you like better?

They are both awesome, for totally different reasons. As much as I’m looking forward to returning to my Assessment Librarian role, I will really miss my team at SPU.

Who should I interview next?

Helena Merriam, the Director of the Library Technician program at Algonquin College.


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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Reliable Sources




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