University of Saskatchewan and Montreal Lake Cree Nation celebrate an important treaty document returning to Saskatchewan

Coming to you today from Montreal Lake, where I am attending a community celebration to acknowledge the recent acquisition by the Montreal Lake Cree Nation of an original copy of their Treaty 6 adhesion document signed in 1889 and its transfer on permanent loan to the University Library, in the care of University Archives and Special Collections.

The complete news release is available here.

Open Access (OA) Week – October 20 – 26

This global event, now in its eighth year of promoting OA as a new norm in scholarship and research, is being celebrated this year from October 20 – 26. Some are even extending the celebration to the whole month of October!

SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication and an off-shoot of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), describes OA as “Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need. Open Access has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

There are many celebrations planned to mark OA week, and you can check out a sample of those at the following websites:

Locally, you do not have to wait for OA week to be connected to the latest developments. Check out our LibGuide, attend a session from the 2014 Library Researcher Series, and/or visit the OA Blog maintained by DeDe Dawson (Science Librarian).

Vale: Edward Gough Whitlam, AC, QC (1916-2014)

In my country of origin, in the pubs, clubs, and across kitchen tables, Australians are remembering the legacy of Edward Gough Whitlam, the 21st Prime Minister of Australia (1972-1975), who died yesterday at the age of 98. Gough was a big man (he was 6 feet 4 inches tall), with a big vision and determined leadership, who challenged the men and women of Australia to think differently about themselves and their country. A man whose aggressive public policy legislation and reform agenda was far reaching and impacted the lives of entire generation of Australians. High among Gough’s list of achievements were the introduction of government-funded universal health care (borrowed from the Saskatchewan experience); the end of national conscriptions (my older brother did not have to do army service in Vietnam); the abolishing of university fees (I got to go to university); reform to divorce laws (I got to marry the man I love); and, the active engagement of women and Indigenous peoples in the ongoing development of the Australian nation.

As the Foundation Director of Australia’s first Prime Ministerial Library (the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library in Perth, Western Australia) in the late 1990′s, I had the privilege of interacting with the library’s Foundation Patron (the Hon. Gough Whitlam) on many occasions and have very fond memories of an outstanding Australian and International Statesman, who was not afraid to think big and to pursue a transformative vision for Australians.

In my country of origin today, Australians from all walks of life are remembering and celebrating the life and contributions of Gough Whitlam, and in doing so, are recalling a truly remarkable Australian whose vision, passion, and leadership have left behind a lasting legacy of a stronger and more resilient nation.

Read more here about the man who reached for the sky.

A Busy Month for Weeks

October marks both International Open Access (OA) Week and Saskatchewan Library Week.

Libraries of all kinds across Saskatchewan are celebrating Saskatchewan Library Week from October 19 to 24. For more information, visit:

International Open Access (OA) Week, a global event now entering its eighth year, runs from October 20 to 26. For more information, visit:

Tune in next week, as I will have a bit more to share on the topic of OA.

C-EBLIP Fall Symposium

Coming to you today from the Marquis Hall Private Dining Room on the University campus, where the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) is hosting its inaugural Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers.

When the Centre Director, Virginia Wilson, first floated the symposium idea, I asked her what a successful symposium would look like in terms of numbers attending. Privately, I was thinking somewhere between 12 to 15 participants. Virginia thought before responding, but then announced confidently that she thought having 20 participants was realistic and would make for a successful day’s discourse and discussion.

Imagine our delight to today welcome 54 registered participants from libraries in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the United States! Keynote Speaker Margy MacMillan from Mount Royal University will get the day started, presenting on the topic of “Interactions between the what and why of research” and I will book-end the day speaking about workforce data to inform workforce planning.

A lively and exciting day is promised. For more details, please visit the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium website.

What is a Monograph?

This is a question I was asked recently at a meeting of library users at the stage of a discussion where quite frankly too much ‘library speak’ was being used to describe the business of libraries.  So, for the record, Wikipedia defines a monograph as “writing on a single subject” and I say, it’s really just a library technical term for a book.

Regardless, its future in the context of scholarly publishing is being debated this week at the ARL Fall Forum. Under the catchy title of “Wanted Dead or Alive—The Scholarly Monograph,” ARL members, having thrashed out the future directions and priorities for ARL, have now moved on to tackle the future of scholarly book publishing.  Friday’s discussion will be framed by a keynote address by Laura Mandell, Director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M University. Additional sessions will cover the engagement of university leadership and faculty in creating new forms of scholarship and other strategies being employed to address the changing scholarly environment. Stay tuned for more next week.

What’s being talked about this week in Washington, DC?

Coming to you this week from Washington, DC, where Deans/Directors from the member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) are gathering for the 165th ARL Membership Meeting.  Working sessions got underway on Tuesday with President Carol Pitts Diedrichs (Ohio State) calling the meeting to order. Program sessions will explore a range of topics, including the survival of critical primary and global resources; data management centres; privacy in a digital age; and, innovation in fundraising and accessibility.

However, the real action is likely to be around the agenda item to discuss the future of the association.  This fall meeting is something of a watershed in ARL’s long and distinguished history.  Over the last year or so, members and association staff have invested heavily in a Strategic Thinking and Design Framework and the outcomes of which will be presented for consideration by the member representative.  The design process to help identify the future of the research library and to chart a new course for the association has been a long and at times tiresome process but I understand all will be revealed when the full details are shared.  Regardless, the stage is set for what could be an interesting membership discussion.

ARL is a non-profit organization of 125 research libraries in the United States and Canada. The University of Saskatchewan is one of 16 Canadian members.  ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations.

October 1, 1979 – 35 Years of Dedicated Service…

Thirty-five years ago Pope John Paul II commenced a visit to the United States of America, and Fern Fitzharris commenced her career at the University Library.

Fern began her long and distinguished career in the Law Library, and today there was a quiet but significant celebration on the 6th floor of the Murray Library, where Fern works as the Supervisor of Collection Services.

Congratulations Fern! Thank you for your many and varied contributions to the library and to the University!

In the words of the President…

Last week, Interim University President Gordon Barnhart came to visit me as part of a schedule of individual visits he is undertaking with all Deans in their campus work locations.  It was not the first time a U of S President has called into my office, and I hope it will not be the last.  I did appreciate the President taking time out of his busy schedule to have a more personal and reflective conversation with me.

I already knew that Gordon Barnhart, the historian, is a library user and well acquainted with our collections, especially in the Murray Library, which is home to the majority of our humanities and social sciences collections, our extensive microform collection, and the many gems housed in University Archives and Special Collections.

The President and I did a brief tour of some of the lesser known and less savoury areas of the Murray Building on floors two and five in particular.  I also took the opportunity to brief the President about a range of initiatives across the library system that are underway to support Aboriginal programming and engagement.

After the President’s visit, I reflected on the words of Walter Murray, who in his President’s Report from 1915-16 stated: “There is no better index of the intellectual activity of the students than the use made of the Library.”

I think President Murray would be pleased to learn the following:  From July 2012 to June 2013, visits to the then Health Sciences Library were 158,034. Visits in the first full year of the operations of the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library, from July 2013 to June 2014 numbered 182,095!

I was also thankful that the President’s visit had not been scheduled for Wednesday, September 17 when failing building infrastructure and the lack of water in the building forced the early closure of the Murray Library.

Library Collaboration in Western Provinces – Part Two

As I mentioned in my post on September 18, last week I attended the deans’/directors’ meeting of the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL). Presentations at the COPPUL Indigenous Initiatives Workshop, held in conjunction with the deans’/directors’ meeting, are now available on the COPPUL website, here.

The workshop made for a rich day of learning, with some concrete and achievable goals for COPPUL being identified. The opportunity to view and experience the wonderful campus facilities at MacEwan University was also appreciated.