Saturday, 2 September 2017

Summer 2017 Wrap Up

SLA had a busy calendar of events over the summer. Our first event of the semester was our iced coffee fundraiser, held over the lunch hour on June 19th to 21st. It was one of our most successful fundraisers to date! Students, faculty, and staff appreciated the easy access to caffeine since the Tim Horton's in the building next door was closed for the summer.

We held two tours during the semester. First, the Toronto tour on July 6th gave us a chance to get an insider look at the City of Toronto Archives, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy at TPL, and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. Please see the previous post for more information and pictures. Our second tour was to the mental health library at the Parkwood Institute in London on July 24th. Library staff gave us a great overview of their services and collections. Their unique setup serves both staff and patients and was very interesting to see!

Finally, SLA Toronto Technology & Communications Director (and UWO SLA alum) Sarah Morrison visited the FIMS Graduate Library on July 20th to present a talk on "Writing Outside the Ivory Tower." Several SLA members joined her for drinks at the Grad Club after her talk.

Thank you to everyone who participated or assisted with these events!

At our final meeting of the semester, we began discussing our plans for next semester. Thanks to outgoing Communications Director, Eleonore Shaffer. Our incoming executive will be:
Chair: Meg Antoine
Secretary: Danielle Drimmie
Events Coordinator: Jordan Bulbrook
Communications Director: Sarah Bartlett
Fundraiser: Vanessa Wdowiak
Treasurer: Nadine Poulos
Records Manager (new position): Katie McNamara
First Term Rep: TBD

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Summer 2017 tour of Toronto special libraries

Over reading week, Western's chapter of the Special Libraries Association had the privilege of visiting The City of Toronto Archives, The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy at the Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library, and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for behind-the-scenes tours. 

Our first stop, the City of Toronto Archives:
No automatic alt text available.
The order picker in action! 
No automatic alt text available.
TTC advertisements and posters! 
No automatic alt text available.
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

The second stop on our tour was the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy housed at the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library.
Image may contain: 1 person, text
No automatic alt text available.
Image may contain: text

Our final stop was the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives (CLGA)
Image may contain: plant and outdoor
Image may contain: 3 people

Thank you to all three organizations for hosting us!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Iced Coffee Fundraiser

For this semester's fundraiser, the SLA will be holding an iced coffee sale. Between the hot weather and the lack of other food options nearby, we figure it should be a pretty popular event!

We'll be selling iced coffee for $2 apiece from the MLIS grad lounge on the third floor of the FNB, everyday between 11:30am - 1:30pm from June 19th to 21st.

See you there!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

November Wrap up!

The end of term was very eventful, and we definitely slacked a bit to write a blog update... BUT, we're back!

This is what we did in November:

November was full of the events we spent October planning.

Our "Care package" fundraiser paid back the costs, but we didn't make any extra money. However, we still have a lot of supplies left so we'll be able to reuse them for another!

Our event with Sarah McCabe was very successful. We had a great turn out. Sarah shared her insight on the MLIS program, on finding a job (and keeping it!!). Her dedication to continuing education and enthusiasm about the Ontario Historical Society really showed. It was a delight to listen to her and learn from her experience.
Thank you Sarah! We hope to see you again soon. 

We also elected our new executive! Check out our exec page to see who's taking over for the Winter!


Sunday, 6 November 2016

October Wrap Up

October is now over! Here is an update on what we did this month, and some upcoming events.

Toronto Tour

October was a lot of planning, as we needed to organize our Toronto Tour. We decided to visit the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, the Legislative Library and the CBC News Archives.
Here are some of the highlights of our tours:

Thomas Fisher Library
The Thomas Fisher Library is always a delight to visit. Our tour guide always finds great new items to show us. This time they included some of Leonard Cohen's notebooks, an example of cross-hitching, a book that was re-bound with beautiful materials and designs, as well as a 1000 year old bible!
Here are some pictures that we took on our tour:

Legislative Assembly
Visiting the Legislative Assembly was fascinating - their stacks were not all that impressive, but their job was very different from a traditional librarian. The legislative library is almost a library for librarians, as the patrons request reports that the librarians put together. In fact, the patrons very rarely use the stacks, and the librarians are the ones to look for the information. 
Some of the fun facts we learned that day: neutrality is very important to work at the Legislative Library which means that the librarians cannot have been affiliated with a political party before working there. Other fun facts include the newspaper clippings that librarians pass out to the member of the legislature in paper format (!!), and the fact that the library has suffered multiple fires before finding its place in the current building. 

We didn't take many pictures of the holdings, but we had a cool name pass that I took a picture of: 

CBC News Archives
CBC Archives is like a futuristic dream - their digitization process is on such a large scale that it is difficult to grasp. The coolest thing is the storage robot that pulls tapes as they are requested in the news room. 
We also visited the news room, their studios, and the film archives. Their building is as large as multiple football fields which is very impressive. 

Archive Space Robot

Archive Space Robot #2

Film studios

What's next? 

We are planning a fundraiser here on campus for the first full week of November (see the poster below).

Coming up, we also have guest speaker Sarah McCabe coming to talk to us about her work at the Ontario Historical Society at the end of November (Nov. 23). 
 Stay tuned for more details, coming soon. 

Don't hesitate to let us know if you want more details about what we're up to! You can contact us by email or simply come to our meetings.
Stay tuned to this page for updates!

SLA exec

Sunday, 25 September 2016

September Wrap up

As September is wrapping up, here is a brief summary of what we're up to.

This term, we started out by electing officers for the exec positions that were still vacant. Check the executive team page to see our new exec team! It's been exciting to see what a great turn out we've had so far.

This month we have been focusing on planning events for this term. Our major event is the Toronto Library Tour, which will take place at the end of October during Reading week. Stay tuned for details!
We are also planning to invite a couple of guest speakers to talk to students on campus about special libraries. Nothing is set in stone yet, so we will let you know once everything is confirmed.

We resolved our on-going banking issue this month, which was a huge relief. We are now in good shape to face this term head on!

Don't hesitate to let us know if you want more details about what we're up to! You can contact us by email or simply come to our meetings.
Stay tuned to this page for updates!

SLA exec

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Web Talk with Kim Dority

On Tuesday, November 24th, we met with Kim Dority, an accomplished LIS professional. She began her career in research and publishing with Libraries Unlimited. Now, as an LIS Career Expert, working with the Special Libraries Association, she has a lot of great advice for students in the field looking to start their careers. As I listened to her explain not only the importance of information professionals, but also the versatility of our skills I was struck by the realization that a wide range of opportunities were available to me.

One of the first big ideas she put in my head was the notion of building your professional equity. Your professional equity, she insists, is made up of what you know, who you know, and who knows what about you. This is the fundamentals of of successful networking, a notion we've all heard before, but perhaps haven't been taking too seriously. But Dority is right, in order to succeed you must build your network and build your visibility. You start this by building a base of contacts, or to put it simply, making relationships with your fellow LIS students and colleagues. Dority goes on to recommend that you keep your mind open and say to new opportunities. Her message here is to remind us not to let fear keep us from taking on a a new challenge. Chanel a spirit, she says, to convince yourself you can do this. She reminds us to let go of the need to be perfect and just be fearless.

"I haven't mastered that yet." 

When you approach a task, don't shy away from the unfamiliar. Promote your skill set and get that information out into the universe. Don't be afraid to use your network of colleagues to help expand your skill set. These are the key ideas Dority is pushing. As you build your professional equity you expand your capabilities to help other people. 

Next, Dority opened up the floor for questions and we instantly wanted to know if networking was so valuable how could sites like LinkedIn be used to help us. 

Her response:
It's something we all know, yet don't like to think about. Employer's upon receiving our applications, will be searching our online profiles to uncover our digital identities. Getting behind your online presence early is the best thing you can do. Not only that, but LinkedIn also provides the opportunity for people to reach out to you and vice versa. When you engage with the site you are able to follow the profession in groups and find out who the though leaders are. 
Dority's take on Twitter:
In addition to LinkedIn, we asked about her opinion of twitter as a tool. She promotes its ability to establish high speed connections and discussion. However, you do need to maintain a constant presence in order to stay relevant. She notes that Twitter isn't for everyone, but it can have great benefits when used properly.
 Organizing your Information Interview
 This is the perfect opportunity to build upon your professional equity. She starts by explaining how to get an interview. Sending emails to professionals over calling allows the interviewee to review your request and makes it easier for them to understand what they are saying yes to, or to reschedule a time that works on their schedule. She emphasizes that this is important, allowing the interviewee the flexibility of choosing when to do the interview. Afterwards, Dority stresses it is important to follow up with a written thank you note and use the chance to confirm you have remembered their advice. Next she recommends getting in contact again once you have implemented their advice and letting them know you appreciate their words and time. At this stage it is also appropriate to send a LinkedIn invitation. If you want to maintain that connection, start by giving back and treating them as peer.
Marketing Skills and the Jobs Search
Dority is very clear that you should always avoid the "j-word" when you are networking, it tends to scare people away. In addition to networking, it is important to volunteer both in your field and outside of it. When marketing your skills to outsiders use the most ambitious title for yourself, always make endorsements for your skills. The key is to get visible, get out there and think of new ways your skills can be transferred to outsiders. 

I am very thankful for the opportunity to talk with Kim Dority and get her view on what it takes to get your foot in the door to the LIS field. I am also eager to begin building my personal equity and implementing the advice she has given us.

- written by Amanda Wheatley (Fall 2015 co-chair)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Overview: SLA at UWO Toronto Tour!

Written by Cassandra Lopes (cross-posted to the The Courier: Toronto SLA)

On February 18th, 2015, the SLA Student Chapter from the University of Western Ontario visited three special libraries in Toronto and then had dinner at the Loose Moose with several SLA members and executives. We visited the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the Legislative Library at Queen’s Park, and the library in the Toronto International Film Festival Theatre (TIFF). It was very exciting to see these very different libraries and talk to the librarians about their work and their career paths.

Our first stop was the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The Outreach Librarian, John Shoesmith, led the tour and showed us the facilities and collections. It was an amazing atmosphere, and as library students, we all felt a sense of awe and excitement especially when we were permitted to touch the old and rare books that John had brought out to show us. We also got to see Margaret Atwood’s notes and correspondences that she donated to the library. It was very interesting to learn about the donations and accession policies for a Rare Book Library, and about all the different Librarians and positions that are staffed there. Many of the students talked one on one with John and he answered our personal questions about the profession and tips on what we could do if we wanted a career like his.

Next we walked to the Parliament Building at Queen’s Park where we visited the Legislative Library. We meet with the Manager of Library Clients Services, Eileen Lewis. As she led us up the grand staircase and through the marble entrance way to the library, she told us of the history of the library, including the fire that destroyed the collection. Now the collections are housed in steel stacks that are resistant to fire. The stacks are closed and only the Librarians can access them to get materials that the Members of Parliament may need. Eileen also told us about other services the library provides to the Members of Parliament; they have staff that comes in at 5 a.m. to create a compilation of articles from the front pages of the important newspapers in Toronto and Canada. There is also a collection of leisure reading materials for the members to read between sessions. Many of the students with political science backgrounds were interested in talking with Eileen and learning various job hunting tips. It was also interesting to learn that the library was non-partisan and so the librarians had to be as well, at least while on the job.

The last library we visited was the one in the TIFF theatre. The space was small and the group had to be divided into two tour groups. While one group was touring the library the other got to browse their magazine collection and speak with the reference librarian about the collection and the job. The tour was led by Michelle Lovegrove Thomson and she was very friendly and knowledgeable about the collection. They were able to house a lot of materials in the small space with the use of compact shelving. They also house props that have been donated, including the bear-proof suit from the movie Project Grizzly. We learned about the various services they offer free to the public, including a room in which you can watch a movie from their collection.

We ended the day with a dinner at the Loose Moose with several members of the SLA Toronto Chapter. It was a fantastic opportunity for the group to network and get job hunting tips from professionals currently in the field. The students on the trip really enjoyed the tours and the chance to speak with so many librarians and information professionals. We learned that it is important to create connections with the community and that SLA is a fantastic way to do that. The student membership for SLA is offered at a discounted price and I think that many of us will want to take advantage of it, especially after all we learned on the tour.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Two great opportunities!

Presentation Submission...

SLA Toronto West will be hosting our first Student Presentation Showcase on Wednesday 22ndin the Frank Rose Room of the Central Branch of the Burlington Public Library (see contact info below)

If you are interested in doing a short presentation on your interests, research or current projects in the library world and connect with a local professional organization, please submit a proposal by no later than Friday April 3rd outlining what you would like to discuss. Individual and team presentations are encouraged.

Other points:
  • Presentations cannot exceed 10 minutes (this may be altered based on the number of participants)
  • A laptop and projector will be provided. Please bring your presentation materials on a flash drive as access to WiFi is not guaranteed.
  • We will need a minimum of 3 or 4 presentations to proceed with this event.
  • Participants must arrange their own transportation to the venue.
If you are interested in submitting a proposal or have any other questions please contact Brian Rooney ( or Pam Casey (

Volunteer Opportunity...

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph has a volunteer opportunity for a few students. The convent is a very lovely place for students to try out their library skills. The Sisters need help in weeding their collection.

More information here.

The convent also offers an archives bursary which can be viewed on their website.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Updates and Upcoming Events

Our first fundraiser will be held next week, February 2-6, from 12-1:30pm in front of the GRC. We will be selling Valentine's Candy Grams to be delivered to student mailboxes the following week! Tell your friends :D Everyone loves candy after all!

Also coming soon, the Herbarium Tour has been ocnfirmed for Monday February 9th from 12-1pm. We will be meeting at the stairs in NCB and walking over together. Please show up around 11:45 so we can get there on time. Hope to see you all there! It will be a great learning opportunity!

We will also be having our SLA Speaker Series sometime after Reading Week, so if you'd like to speak or just come out and listen to some interesting stories from your fellow students related to special libraries, keep an eye out for updates!

And speaking of Reading Week, we can't forget the exciting Toronto Tour! We are still working on confirming locations, but for now, except the trip to happen on Wednesday, February 18th!

Lastly, for the remainder of the term, we will not be meeting in the originally planned room. We will be meeting in the Staging Building room 250. This is located next door to the NCB in the direction of University Ave.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Welcome Winter 2015!

Hello and welcome to all new and returning students!

We hope you all had an enjoyable holiday break, but it's time again to hit the books for another term, and we here at SLA are excited about the things to come!

Weekly meetings will begin next week on Tuesday from 12-1pm in the Grad Lounge on the 4th floor. However, starting in February, we will be meeting in room 266 going forward.

On the agenda for this Winter, we hope to schedule more speaker series with professionals currently employed at special libraries and organize tours of local special libraries - and that is just the beginning!

SLA is always in need of volunteers to help run events, and suggestions are always welcome! So if you are interested in getting more involved, don't hesitate to speak up at a meeting or send us an e-mail at

Lastly, this year is SLA Toronto chapter's 75th anniversary so expect some updates regarding our parent chapter and special or networking events.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

MLIS Alumni Interview - Yasmeen Awadh!

Western received a special visit yesterday from a MLIS alumni, Yasmeen Awadh!  She was in London for the day, and returned to Toronto the same evening, and then back to Vancouver for a week before heading to Calgary.  Despite her busy schedule, she took some time out for this interview! 

Yasmeen completed both her Master of Library and Information Science and undergrad in Media, Information and Technoculture at Western and currently works at the Centre for Digital Media.

Magdalen:   Please tell us a bit more about yourself and your work at Centre for Digital Media. 

Yasmeen:   I graduated from Western's MLIS program in 2004.  What appealed to me about the MLIS program was the information aspect.  I was interested in how people exchanged information, information-seeking and the different channels to access information.  MLIS students could be found in a lot of non-librarian environments.  My boss also has a MLIS degree (from University of Alberta), and she was working at CBC prior to the Centre for Digital Media (CDM).

CDM specifically offers one program:  the Master of Digital Media (MDM) which draws a variety of students from various backgrounds in information architecture, UX design, industrial design, computer programming, software engineer, visual arts, media arts, architecture, etc.  All students’ works are project-based and as they work with industry clients, they develop their project management, leadership and team collaboration skills specifically for the digital media environment.  MDM was modelled after the program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, except the US program cost $100,000!  MDM was created by industry professionals and is a collaboration of UBC, SFU, BCIT, and ECU. 

As CDM’s admissions and recruitment officer, I liaise with all the different departments, work with the faculty, stay well-informed of the changing curriculum as the industry evolves so rapidly, meet with the marketing team, create webinars, develop recruitment strategies, conduct search engine analysis, interview candidates, evaluate admissions credentials... are some of the things I do.

M:  How are information needs of people changing?

Y:  People are more tech savvy, so as they are more connected through social media, they rely more on the learning experiences of others.  Access to people is access to information.

M:  In your present job, what did you find most useful from what you learned in the MLIS program?

Y:  Reference interviews, asking the right questions and customizing information in order to see which candidates were a good fit for the MDM program.   It is important to determine if the student will do well and being able to provide the right information to them.  Digital media has different meanings to different people with different backgrounds.  A gamer perceives digital media differently from a photographer or a compositor, but digital media consists of multi-skilled teams to carry on a project.  Our projects are very team-collaborative, as it is in this industry.

M:  CDM has worked with some pretty big industry partners such as Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Relic, Microsoft, and Mozilla, how can special librarians and information specialists best market their skills when looking for work?

Y:   Students need to be problem solvers and know how information flows, such as in content management systems.  Ask companies the right questions, like what problems do the companies have and companies would want to know that you can help them solve their problems.  MDM students solve problems that clients didn’t even know they had.

M:  In our Information Visualization course, there is a lot of emphasis on being able to identify the problem in the info space, or else any mental activity is meaningless, so I can see how problem solving could top the list of desirable skills.  Besides being good problem solvers, what other important skills should special librarians have?

Y:  Good information literacy skills and be able to determine the relevance of the information.  Take initiative, strong critical thinking skills, be able to work with different types of personalities… soft skills, positive attitude.

M:  What do you see in the future of special librarians?

Y:  Be adaptable, have the ability to be adaptable, pick up skills quickly and adapt to the changing demands of the market.  They will have to have good tech skills.

M:  We have a few SLA members who will be completing the MLIS program this term, any words of wisdom for those venturing out?

Y:  Be open to opportunities and all avenues.  The path to your dream job may not be straight and narrow, but have many twists and turns.  The best opportunities come in strange packages!

Thank you Yasmeen for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us. You can find out more about the Centre for Digital Media at

magdalen lau is currently completing the MLIS program with a concentration in information science and global information.  She is from the Pacific Northwest and uses multimedia as a tool for visual storytelling.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Welcome everyone!

Welcome all new MLIS students and those returning from Co-op!  

SLA had its first meeting yesterday (meetings will be held every Thurs @ 4:30pm, NCB Room 266) and we discussed our upcoming activities and tours planned for the fall.  

It was great to meet some of the new members and we have two new executives on board!  Thank you both to Anita, new Special Events Coordinator, and Brittany, First-Term Representative, for taking on the roles!  We’re looking forward to seeing more new faces at the next meeting, hearing more about your interests and what you would like to learn about in special libraries...

Gilmore Music Library, Yale