Sunday, October 17, 2004

Catching Up, Period.

George has shamed me into doing a better job of recording where I've been, although I doubt I'll be as good at describing my travels. One reason is I've let too much time go by and although I still like to think my memory is as good as it once was...the truth is, it isn't and I should take a lot more notes than I do. And the other reason is I am not as good a raconteur as George.

I too went to talk to library school students--mentioned as an upcoming trip in this space a while ago. At the end of September, I spoke to about 35 masters and doctoral students, and some faculty, at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, which is where I received my own MLIS in 1986. The coordinator of my visit was Heather McNeil, once a student in the archival program at the same time I was in the library program, and now, a professor of archival studies. Truly, though, except for a drastic hair colour change (that was flattering), Dr. Heather looked, to me, much as she had 20 years ago.

This was my youngest audience yet....I am usually speaking to people who sometimes find the trends we focus on in the Scan terra incognito, but this crowd was one with the Borg. There were a lot of nodding heads when I spoke about seamlessness and gaming, and the clash of cultures in libraries. I did a pretty strong pitch for research by library school students on gaming and its relevance to information literacy acquisition, and I think a few eyes lit up.

I was travelling with Wendy McGinnis, the OCLC Director of Public Relations and Communications. We left Vancouver to travel to Victoria, capital of British Columbia, and on Vancouver Island, and did so in style on a very large BC ferry, Spirit of British Columbia. The ferry ride is about 90 minutes and these big ferries can hold hundreds of vehicles. Wendy and I wrapped up (it was sunny but windy) and found a good spot at the front of the ferry. This turned out to be a very good decision because as the ferry came into Active Pass (quite narrow and full of conflicting sea currents) the captain announced that the sister ferry coming through the pass from the sea side had spotted killer whales. I've seen orcas only once before, later in the year when they swim lower in the water, fins barely breaking the surface. They are big and I was truly glad I did not see any when I was kayacking off the west coast of Vancouver Island years ago. My friend Doug was almost drowned by a large salmon as he kayacked in a river once--imagine what a killer whale might do....I imagine me as an hors d'oeuvre.

Wendy and I had a premier spot for this sighting. As the ferry came abreast of the point of an island, around the point we spotted the spray of whales blowing as they skirted the edge of the island, heading for Active Pass where clearly there were a lot of fish, if the clouds of seagulls were any evidence. Five? Six? It was hard to tell because they swim in unison, three or four together, and you never quite know if you're seeing the same ones come up or different ones. We decided there were at least eight of different sizes in this group. As they passed the ferry, one came up out of the water and flopped back in on its back. Ooohs and aahs resulted.

But as this group passed by, all the watchers realized that there was another group coming around the point--another 6-8 whales were in this group and as they moved through the water, every now and then the black and white markings could be clearly seen below their tall, sometimes floppy dorsal fins. Well! At this point there were no blase observers. The woman beside us said "I've been riding the ferries for 20 years and I've never seen this many killer whales."

But wait! There were more! A third group came around the point with as many whales in it as the previous two. So, in all, we probably saw an entire pod of various ages, maybe 24 whales in all. It was an amazing event. Wendy, a talented photographer, managed to get some good pictures that she showed her three kids when she got home. They were much more impressed with the moose teeth she brought home. Another story for another day.

In Victoria, at the invitation of my colleague from the University of Calgary days, Marnie Swanson who is now the head honcho of the U Victoria Libraries, I did a scan presentation and then facilitated a strategic planning day. I was able to use some exercises I had done in 2 pre-conference sessions I took on futures planning at the World Future Society conference and they worked really well. No credit to me but to Peter Bishop and Wendy Schultz, faculty at the U of Houston-Clear Lake who taught the 2 sessions.

Wendy and I celebrated a successful day with martinis at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress Hotel. It hardly gets any better. And as I've run out of steam for today, the next post will cover Connecticut and the trip to Pennsylvania that didn't happen.

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