It’s the little things that count

It’s approaching the one year anniversary since a very expensive-looking door handle on the hospital side of the then new Academic Health Sciences Building disappeared, leaving those entering the building to use the remaining door handle stump. Then again, maybe it’s approaching the two year anniversary – time flies as you age. Regardless, this morning the door handle is back, fully restored and operational. I don’t know why it took so long to fix that particular handle (a second handle on the inner set of doors also went missing a few months after the first and it was fixed just a few months later). For now let’s focus on the positive.

Regardless, users of that building are very grateful and on their behalf I say a very big thank you to the person or persons who took the time to follow-up and to achieve a positive outcome. My mother used to say, “It’s the little things that count!”, and she was right. It’s put a positive note on my day and for that and the restored ease of building access I am very grateful.


Given my administrative leave during the academic year 2013-14, it has been awhile since I have attended a convocation ceremony. This past Saturday, October 25, I was honoured to be part of the platform party. While enjoying the view from the stage and dressed in my academic robes, I reflected on the grand occasion. Watching the faces of proud students and their families; the colourful array of academic and some national dresses; the live music; the skill of the signer for the hearing-impaired; and, the variety of shoes worn by those processing across the stage all helped to pass the time.

There have been some changes to the protocols since I last attended a ceremony. Among these changes included some very welcome and more obvious recognition of our place on Treaty 6 Territory, including recognition in the printed program about Aboriginal culture, the presence of the Treaty Flag, and the main highlight of the afternoon for me, the Honour Song.

The performance of the Honour Song and the words of explanation about the song given by the Chancellor in his remarks brought new and positive perspective to the ceremony. I learned that honour songs are special songs to demonstrate respect for an individual or group in recognition of their accomplishments, such as a return from military service or other events. In some families, individuals have their own song, which is sung for them when they are being honoured.

I was also very pleased to see the use of materials from the University Library collections and the work of University Archives and Special Collections in the convocation program in a feature about the impact of World War I on university life. Visit this website for more information:

The ceremony and all that it symbolized was a timely reminder about the role played by the library in contributing to a positive student experience and success in learning, teaching, and research. It’s what we do and why we do it.

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!