Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 3 at OLA Super Conference

I began the day with Eleanor Wachtel. She does CBC's Writers & Company. I am in love with her voice.

Today's highlight was Justin Trudeau.

There was a delicious moment that I will get to later.

I first saw Justin's father in 1968. I was 6 years old. I remember my father gave me a rose from our backyard. Pierre Elliot Trudeau was giving a speech at the Centennial Community Centre that opened in 1967. As he drove by in a convertible car I threw the rose at him. It didn't make it to the car. I was disappointed but I remember he looked at me and smiled. He gave a speech which I remember absolutely nothing of. I was six.

The hall was packed for the luncheon. I do not want to denigrate Justin but it is hard to be anything but a pale fire in comparison to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He was the man who repatriated our Constitution and gave us our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Justin has a good speaking voice but it seems a bit too practiced.

He talked about social justice and the importance of libraries. It was a conference of librarians and he is a politician, whaddya expect?

After the talk the floor was opened up to questions. The first woman to speak asked a question about what the government planned on doing about restricting access to the internet because she sees people accessing porn in her library. This caused a great round of 'boos' from the freedom loving librarians. Justin danced around the answer.

The next man up to speak said that he wanted to reassure everyone that librarians are staunch supporters of the free and unfettered access to information. This was greeted by great cheers and applause. He went on to say that one is more safe in a public library than they would be at a church or the Boy Scouts. There was a mixed response to this. Justin said something, perhaps damning, about the Boy Scouts which I did not hear. I did hear him say, in recovery mode, that the Boy Scouts did lots of wonderful things and were a wonderful organization. The man asking the question replied, "Yes, as long as you are not gay or an atheist." Again, a mixed response.

It made me smile from ear to ear that this type of thing is being said more widely and publicly. Librarians are a bunch who generally are in favour of more access to information. The great and the not so great and the benign and the outright offensive all have a place in the great libraries of the world. The whole of human knowledge and output should be accessible to all.

That being said, each library cannot contain all books. There is a discerning judgement that takes place in each individual library. The character of the head librarian will often be reflected in the volumes on the shelves. Our library has an excellent collect of art related books, if I do say so myself.

All in all it was a good Super Conference again this year. I may help out more next year with the planning. I may even put on a session myself.

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