Creative Legacy of Courtney Milne

August 29, 2014 marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Courtney Milne, one of Canada’s most recognized professional photographers renowned worldwide for his images of landscape and nature. Milne made more than 350,000 exposures, photographing in 35 countries and on all seven continents.

The creative legacy of Courtney Milne lives on in the Courtney Milne Collection, housed in University Archives & Special Collections at the University Library. This legacy provides rich resources for learners, teachers, researchers and practitioners now and in the future.

In all his work, Courtney Milne was an ambassador of the land, depicting how its beauty nourishes the human spirit and how we are responsible for respecting it, caring for it, and living upon it with integrity.

University Archives & Special Collections, Courtney Milne fonds (MG 410), image 367-219, Close-up of sunflower with bee, near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1984.  Courtney Milne, photographer.


Coming to you from the beautiful Prince Albert National Park and Waskesiu, where senior university leaders are on their annual retreat.

Retreat, according to the Free Dictionary, has the following definitions:


    1. The act or process of withdrawing, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant.
    2. The process of going backward or receding from a position or condition gained.

2.  A place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security. See Synonyms at shelter.


    1. A period of seclusion, retirement, or solitude.
    2. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study: a religious retreat.


    1. Withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack.
    2. The signal for such withdrawal.
    3. A bugle call or drumbeat signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset, as on a military base.
    4. The military ceremony of lowering the flag.

Well, I am confident the definition of “a place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security” applies to our surrounding.  But what of the other definitions in the context of our purpose and our conversations?  I’ll report in on this next week.

Donors Connecting with Transformed Collections, Facilities and Services at the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library

A small but, as always, enthusiastic group of library donors and supporters attended a donor appreciation event at the Leslie and Irene Dub Health Sciences Library on August 17, 2014 between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.  It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with library donors and supporters after my year away.  Thank you to Allyssa Anton, Kerry Evans, the library ambassadors (Lara O’Grady and Eva Wong) and branch employees (Gwen Chan, Jill Crawley-Low, Justina Datta, Shelagh McDonald, Valerie Moore) for their assistance with the event. If you have not visited the branch library since the installation of the new artwork then I recommend a visit.Donor Event1Donor Event 2Donor Event 3

Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics

This week, The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) published the ARL Library Investment Index 2012-13.

On an annual basis, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), a non-profit organization of 125 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the US and Canada that share similar research missions, aspirations, and achievements, releases the ARL Library Investment Index. The University of Saskatchewan is one of 16 Canadian research libraries that are ARL members.

The ARL Library Investment Index ranking is calculated based on 4 variables including 1) Total Library Expenditures, 2) Total Library Materials Expenditures, 3) Salaries & Wages Professional Staff, and 4) Professional + Support Staff.  In the recently rankings, our University Library moved up 14 spots in the overall 2012-13 ranking to 52nd place compared to 66th place in 2011-12. When specifically looking at Canadian ARL institutions, the University Library placed 8th out of 14 institutions in 2012-13 which is an improvement of 3 spots from 11th place in 2011-12.

With respect to the 4 variables that make up the index, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) library showed increases across the board.

  • Total library expenditures increased from $22,760,405 to $25,881,025
  • Total library materials expenditures increased from $11,488,195 to $14,211,586
  • Salaries & wages professional staff increased from $5,497,165 to $5,875,811
  • Professional plus support staff increased from 137 to 141

For more information and to view the data please visit the ARL Statistics website at:

An interactive analytics version of these data is also located at:

Veterinary Medicine Library Renovations

Continuing the theme of library transformation, and through a partnership with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), renovations to the Veterinary Medicine Library are currently underway.  This project has been considered for many years and has grown out of the evolution of student and college needs.  Working together, the college and the library will better meet the needs of students, faculty, and researchers working in the area of animal health and toxicology both in the WCVM and across campus.  When completed in late fall, the renovated spaces will deliver new collaborative learning spaces.

The renovations commenced this week with a planned completion date by the middle of November 2014.  During this time the 3rd and 4th floors of library space will be closed to the public.  However, library services will continue to be offered from the library’s workroom, Room 3110, during regular office hours.

When completed, the renovated spaces on the 4th floor will deliver new dual-purpose rooms (exam writing and bookable study rooms). Rooms will vary in size (for individuals and also groups, some being wheelchair accessible), will be visible from the front (frosted glass), sound proof, provide ventilation and have ample electrical outlets.  The renovations will allow the 4th floor area to remain open when the library is closed, providing 24/7 access for WCVM students.  The rooms will be booked through the library, but WCVM exams and study/class projects will have priority in their use.  The former Reserve Room on the 3rd floor will be repurposed to become a quiet study room with nine carrels and library services will operate from the 3rd floor.  If you have any questions please contact Jill Crawley-Low, Head, Health Sciences Libraries.

Client Relations Committee Activity Highlights

I recently reviewed the 2013-14 end of year report on the actions of the library’s Client Relations Committee (CRC).  Under the leadership of Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins, the Assistant Dean – Client Services, it is seems the CRC had a busy year with some significant contributions to quality client service.  To mention just a few highlights:

  • Welcome Week/Orientation
  • Library employees volunteered as ‘rovers’ during the first week of September, spending time around campus in bright yellow t-shirts. They provided information to students about the library and the university while distributing University Library highlighters. Feedback from the ‘rovers’ was positive, and supports the continuation of this activity for the 2014-15 Welcome Week. In addition, the library participated in the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) BBQ, providing information to graduate students about library services and connecting them with their liaison librarian.
  • Alumni Library Access
  • With the goal of easier navigation, more visually appealing web pages and to promote library services available to alumni, a new alumni page on the library’s website was launched. The site includes information on a frequently asked question: what electronic resources can alumni gain access to through the University Library?  Check out the easy to remember URL to find out the answer:
  • Tell Us: Comments and Complaints Procedures
  • Tell Us, an online form, was launched and encourages clients to make comments or suggestions on how to improve the library collections, space, and services. The online form also allows clients to let the library know of good or bad experiences. Clients can choose to send their comments anonymously or if they wish a personal response they can provide email contact information.

Our goals of improving the client experiences have certainly been advanced through the CRC’s work.  Thanks to the 2013-14 CRC members Brenda Butler, Darlene Fichter, Rachel Heidecker, Janice Hermer, Lara O’Grady & Eva Wong and CRC chair Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins for their dedication to quality client service and their contributions to the work of the CRC over the last year.

Lesya Ukrainka – Cause to Remember…

Lesya Ukrainka Flower Aug2014_Crop

I am pleased to join the many who will pause on August 1, 2014 to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the death of Lesya Ukrainka.

It has now been a year since the official opening of the Lesya Ukrainka Garden outside the Murray Building that saw the relocation and dedication of the Lesya Ukrainka statue. Lesya Ukrainka is one of Ukraine’s best known poets and writers. The statue was commissioned as a gift by the Association for Cultural Relations of the USSR and initially placed on campus in 1976, and represents an important part of Ukrainian heritage in the province and at the university.

Generous donations, as well as endorsement from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Saskatoon Branch), allowed the library to move ahead with plans to showcase the statue in a permanent outdoor space that would welcome members of campus as well as the wider community. The statue now resides permanently outside the Murray Building and the garden surrounding it has served the campus community very well over the past year with numerous people stopping by to sit, chat or have lunch while admiring the statue and dedication plaques. The repositioning of the statue also allows everyone to learn more about Lesya Ukrainka and Ukrainian history.

My thanks again to those donors whose contributions helped create an enhanced gateway into our Murray Library transformed learning space.  If your summer schedule permits, take a moment to enjoy the garden and/or come inside to engage, enlighten and explore our collections to learn more about this remarkable woman and her contributions to Ukrainian culture.

Indigenous Knowledge… A Rich and Wonderful New iPortal Resource

Each year I host the Dean’s Research Lecture as part of the library’s efforts to build a research culture and to showcase to the campus community leading thinkers in academic librarianship and related disciplines.

During 2011 I secured agreement from Dr. Cheryl Metoyer to present the 2012 Dean’s Research Lecture.  Unfortunately, Dr. Metoyer was involved in a serious car accident which precluded her from visiting Saskatoon to present the lecture.  After a long recovery period Dr. Metoyer has honoured her commitment and has recorded the lecture she had planned to deliver in 2012.  Dr. Metoyer has given us permission to include the video of her lecture in the iPortal and it is now available here: 

My mother used to say ‘good things come to those who wait’ and I think this phrase certainly applies to Dr. Metoyer’s presentation.  Please take a moment to listen to the lecture entitled: In Our Camp: Relationality in Native American Knowledge Organization.

Journey to the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library

Who said you can’t see the wood for the trees? At the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library, you can!

New to the library are eight sculptures by artist Doris Wall Larson. Together, the eight sculptures form an installation titled 3

In 2002, Journey was part of an exhibition titled The Claustrophobic Forest. Helen Marzolf, the curator of that exhibition, reveals this about Wall Larson’s work:

“In her installation Journey, Wall Larson reassembles a woods that compresses elements of a path and a metaphoric maze.  Created to mark her father’s decline and passing, Journey is intended to be touched as one meanders through it.  Wall Larson’s eloquent wood carving traces the inevitable grief most of us must confront, and opens portals where it is possible to see through what first appeared to be impenetrable.”  P.12, The Claustrophobic Forest, Helen Marzolf, published by Kenderdine Art Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, 2002.

This work is the newest addition to the library’s second floor art collection, which includes many pieces that have tree or forest themes.

If your summer schedule permits, why not check out the new interactive learning spaces and building features at the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library? Don’t be afraid to ask any of the library employees if you have any specific questions about the facilities and services.