Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Far Away

Last week I flew north to Regina, the provincial capital of Saskatchewan. It's a long way from New Orleans and any body of water of a significant size--although a river runs through it, the South Saskatchewan. It is place that many Canadians hate to drive across because of the sameness of the southern landscape and the straight Trans-Canada highway (one curve, I think). I've driven across the province several times and I find the landscape beautiful and the light, particularly at dawn and dusk, often pearly and luminous. The sky...there is a lot of it, even more than in Alberta, because there's little to obstruct the eye. Sometimes the view is so open you can see the curvature of the earth. The population density, according to Wikipedia, is 1.7 people per kilometre. It is the birthplace and home to the labour movement in Canada as well as the training school and museum for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Ironic, no?

But this visit, I stayed in Regina, and visited at the Regina Public Library and the Education Centre of the Regina Public Schools, with my colleague Nigel Long of OCLC Canada. On Thursday I did "Libraries and Their Communities: digital immigrants and digital natives" for library staff at the U of Regina at the invitation of Bill Sgrazzutti, the AUL for Research, formerly a colleague of mine at the U of Calgary.

The library system at the University of Regina is one of the few I'm aware of headed up by a non-librarian. Bill Howard has been an English professor and administrator and now administrates the library. I was impressed by his grasp of the library world....among other things, I don't think I've ever heard the phrase "net lender" leave the lips of another library director.

So, on Dr. Howard's watch, the library is undertaking an extensive review of itself and its services. To assist in the review of service quality, it will participate in LibQual+(TM) under the guidance of Julie McKenna whose major responsibility is being the Queen of Assessment, like her colleague Pam Ryan at the University of Alberta. There was no such position when I worked in academic libraries, but this is a trend I celebrate wholeheartedly. When I used Yahoo! to search for the term "assessment librarian" most of the returned items on the first couple of pages were job ads. "Ongoing assessment of all library services" What a concept.

So I was out of the US for most of the awfulness unfolding in the South, particularly the 7th Circle of Hell that the Superdome and Convention Center quickly became in New Orleans. And I was also away shortly after September 11, 2001 when my husband and I were on one of the first international flights to leave Newark, bound for Italy. I must say the reactions from people were different--2001 there was a great deal of support and expressions of solidarity. This time, people were not at all complimentary about relief efforts by the official agencies and would ask me questions I couldn't answer about readiness and planning and race.

And if anyone knows where Mary Holt of the Tulane University's Rudolph Matas Medical Library is, I'd appreciate knowing she's OK. Mary was for many years involved in the now disbanded Health Sciences OCLC Users Group and is known to many OCLC staff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mary Holt checked in at http://nnlm.gov/scr/blog/?p=176.