Thursday, June 02, 2005

Where I Was - Quebec City

I have no idea where my blogger pals George and Alice are. Their out-of-office messages contain no info as to their physical locations.

But, I am back from a brief sojourn in a beautiful place, Quebec City. It's the oldest city in Canada (1608) although Jacques Cartier came up the St Lawrence River and landed at Quebec in the mid 1500s. From the mid 1600s until 1760, Quebec City was an outpost of France. In 1759, officially at least, control changed from the French to the British after a battle that took place on the Plains of Abraham, outside of the protection of the walls of the city. The battle was part of the Seven Years' War (the North American part of that war is know as the French and Indian War in the United States) and resulted in the deaths of General Wolfe on the English side and General Montcalm on the French.

The Plains of Abraham is still an open place, a beautiful park now, and so one can still stand out there on the edge of the escarpment, as I did, and imagine the blue and red uniforms of the troops and the many ships below on the St Lawrence. My imagination was assisted by several groups of school kids who were evidently participating in some kind of recreation of the event, complete with flags and standards and loud yells.

And despite this official ceding of Quebec City to the English 260 years ago, the city is a French city. The old part of the city still looks much like it has for hundreds of years--lovely stone buildings, steep roofs, colourful wooden signs advertising hotels, stores and restaurants, and narrow streets. I highly recommend a visit here. And although it is predominantly a French-speaking city, most people speak some English and are much more willing to attempt English than most of us are to attempt French.

I was in Quebec to participate in a panel presentation at the 26th IATUL conference (the International Association of Technical University Libraries). My co-panelists were Ernie Ingles whom I blogged about recently here, and Brian Cantwell Smith, the Dean of the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto.

Ernie presented a high level view of The 8Rs Canadian Library Human Resource Study , a national research project that examined important facets of library human resources from both organizational and individual perspectives. The final report has just been published and will be up on the web site soon.

Brian, who is not a librarian but is a distinguished scholar in computer science and philosophy, gave a thought-provoking presentation on the nature of "information studies" and on the challenges of educating future librarians.

C'est tout bon.

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