Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Appreciations from IASL2011

This was my first time attending the International Association of School Libraries annual conference. There are so many people that made it possible that I really need to thank them, frequently and publicly.

1)  Jeanne Buckley, fellow University of Alberta alumni and Ontario teacher-librarian
It was because of a conversation with Jeanne at the Ontario Library Association's Superconference that encouraged me to take the first step to attending IASL. I was chatting with Jeanne at the Ontario School Library Association's awards reception about her trip east (I believe it was either Hong Kong or Taipei) to present a version of her capping paper. Jeanne said that the 2011 conference would be held in Jamaica, a cheaper location for Canadians to attend than other places, and encouraged me to fill out the proposal form.

2) Dr. Dianne Oberg, my former advisor at the University of Alberta
Although I have given many presentations and workshops in the past, only one other engagement has been based on an academic paper. I didn't realize that my original capping paper (over 35 pages long) did not come close to meeting the specific requirements needed by the IASL. In a panic, I emailed Dr Dianne Oberg, my U of A advisor for help. Not only did she herself edit out 40 000 words, she gave me tips on how to further prune and shape my paper properly. Not once did she scold me for my stupidity or naivete. My conference paper was a lean 10 pages after we were through. If it wasn't for Dianne, my paper would not have "made the grade".

3) Ms. Myrtle Harris, Program Conference Chair
Myrtle was very patient dealing with a "n00b" like me. She kindly extended my deadline so I could repair my paper and answered all my various questions. I had the opportunity to thank her in person on the last day of the conference and she confessed that when she and her staff first received my huge tome, they thought it was a prank or practical joke! It was very comforting to have that contact to email for guidance. Thanks Myrtle!

4) Mrs. Gloria DeFreitas, my mother
Even though Jamaica is not as expensive a destination as Australia, it can still be a challenge for a single-income (or 1.5 income) family, especially one that just had its primary breadwinner take a conference trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia the same year and pay for it without aid. My mother saw this presentation as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and financed the entire trip (with the sole exception of my conference registration fee). She came along with me and was my companion, security guard, assistant, bank machine, on-call photographer, and cultural translator (having lived in British Guiana, another Caribbean country, for 35 years before coming to Canada). She herself had a wonderful time exploring the country with relatives of the other delegates. It was wonderful to share this voyage with her and without her, it would not have been possible. Love you Mom!

5) Dr Paulette Stewart, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee for IASL 2011
It takes an awful lot of work (a year's worth of work, at least) to organize and pull off a conference of this size with people from around the globe. Big thanks should go to Paulette and her team for all the work in creating a memorable conference - the 40th one of its kind and the third to be held in Jamaica. To quote Gerald Brown, fellow Canadian and honourary IASL ambassador in his letter to the group,
I do appreciate the work that is needed just to co-ordinate the committees, and to recruit all the help for the various events.  You did it well.
To this, I say a simple, "ditto". 
 6) Dr Diljit Singh, President of the International Association of School Libraries (and his wife)
 The chief of an international association, insanely busy with meetings, speeches, and all the organization that goes on behind the scenes before and after such an event ... yet Dr. Singh was friendly and welcoming to me, a new attendee. His wife is an absolute treasure and the unofficial social convener for the relatives of the delegates in attendance. She ensured that my mother was among new friends and enjoyed her time visiting a new country.
There are so many others I can mention, but I think they'll fit into the "people who taught me things at IASL" post later this week. 

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