Magazine article American Libraries

Sunny Celebration in Ottawa: Canadian Library Association Annual Conference

Magazine article American Libraries

Sunny Celebration in Ottawa: Canadian Library Association Annual Conference

Article excerpt

In contrast to the flooding during last year's meeting in Calgary CAL, Aug. 2005, p. 34), warm, sunny weather greeted the 61st annual conference of the Canadian Library Association in Ottawa, the nation's picturesque capital, June 14-17. Not that all was clear skies for CLA, however: Facing a prolonged strike at the Ottawa Congress Centre, the Executive Council decided in May not to put members in a position of either crossing picket lines or missing the conference, and changed the venue. Most activities, including the Trade Show, were moved to the Ottawa Civic Centre, five kilometers from the conference hotels, with shuttle buses provided for delegates.

While some complained of the inconvenience caused by having to rely on the shuttles, most members applauded the Executive Council's decision to respect picket lines. The labor dispute was settled two weeks before the conference, too late to reverse the decision.

Despite its difficult start, the conference, with the theme "Libraries Build Communities," had much to celebrate. CLA turned 60 this year, while the Ottawa Public Library and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's library both marked centennials. Blind performer Terry Kelly sang "That All May Read," a song he wrote to mark the anniversary. Kelly spoke of his school librarian, Miss Gallant, from whom he discovered "the joy of putting your fingers on fresh Braille."

After a National Summit on Libraries and Literacy preconference that attracted a large number of delegates, keynote speakers Stephen and Avi Lewis opened the conference with a thought-provoking father-and-son discussion of tactics for achieving social change. Stephen Lewis is the United Nation's Secretary General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and a director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Avi Lewis is a television journalist who recently directed The Take, a documentary about resistance to the global economy set in Argentina. Their topics ranged from the crisis of climate change to the vulnerability of libraries under international trade law. Avi chose broadcasting, he said, "because a media intermediary is the key to getting the message to the public in the face of media control."

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Ultimately father and son agreed on the importance of reading to children, with Stephen referring to books as "a constellation of social ethics. …

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