A BCLA Conference Report

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” – Anne Herbert

That is just one of the many quotes that inspired me at the BCLA conference in May. Hi, my name is Alan Woo and I was lucky enough to attend the BCLA conference after receiving the Student Library Bound award from the BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group. Not only did I have a chance to connect with people and network, but I also attended a variety of different sessions and felt myself being inspired at each one!

The first session I attended was on services for the LGBTQ community, where one big takeaway I got from it was the website NoHomophobes.Com, which tracks homophobic language on Twitter. The average for the number of homophobic tweets is about 40 tweets per minute.

The Reading For Change session had a speaker panel consisting of two writers and one book club organizer, who runs a local chapter of the Amnesty International Book Club. Not only did I manage to jot down a number of recommended titles from this session (i.e. Shake Hands With The Devil, The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk, Indian Horse, 28 Stories of AIDS In Africa,  Escape from Camp 14, and We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, to name a few), but I also witnessed people realizing that “just” reading was in and of itself a catalyst for change. It may or may not lead to volunteering for or donating to an issue/cause, but the act of reading about said issue/cause has now informed the reader of something new they may not have known before. And if it leads to further action beyond reading a book, even better! The entire session was very inspiring, including the group “hymn” that we all read aloud alongside the poem’s author Renée Sarojini Saklikar, from her book Children of Air India.

A session on legal resources was very educational for me, as I was not able to take the Law Libraries course at SLAIS. After hearing two law librarians discuss their work and offer up resources for librarians who might have to deal with patrons asking for legal advice, I feel more equipped to be able to point people in the right direction, whether they are looking for laws dealing with family matters, tenancy, criminal law, or Aboriginal issues. At the very basic level, I learned about the Beginner’s Guide to Finding Legal Information at the website: www.clicklaw.bc.ca

The conference would not have been complete without some children and youth service oriented sessions and activities. The Summer Reading Club session was great in describing successes and failures of one library’s summer reading club. Through that session, I learned about the very inspirational Caine’s Arcade, which I dare you to visit and watch the 10 minute documentary film without shedding a tear! You can find that here: www.cainesarcade.com

The session on Early Literacy brought up examples of a Parents’ Night Out felt-making workshop, the Alligator Pie program being held weekly in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, and Baby Talk, a VPL collaboration with Children’s Hospital. For more resources and information, check out librarianasearlyliteracycoach.wordpress.com.

Both opening and closing key notes dealt a lot with the issues of privacy and security, which I found fascinating.”Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say” is a quote by Edward Snowden that one of the speakers had up and had an impact on me. I learned more about the TOR network and became fully convinced that we should ALL be using it: torproject.org.

Being among all those people involved in the library world and seeing their passion and all the amazing work they are all doing was a good reminder as to why I am pursuing a career in this field. Thank you BCRAIG for the opportunity to attend!

-Alan Woo

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