As my term as OCULA President comes to an end, I would like to say what an honour it has been working with members of an organization which continually pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a library and who continually help to strengthen the value of libraries within our institutions and Ontario. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to members of OCULA Council who have shown such dedication and passion towards making OCULA activities in 2015 such a success. I would also like to give a special shout-out to our departing Past President, Sophia Apostol, who served as our fearless leader for three years and will be greatly missed.
2015 was another busy and exciting year for OCULA as we explored new ways of delivering our professional development events:
- our Spring Conference was one of the best-attended spring events since its inception and featured 14 enlightening lightning strike talks from our members;
- the Spring Dinner was an engaging sold-out event held for the first time at a brewery and without a keynote speaker;
- in the fall, we offered our first virtual Fall Conference to facilitate participation from OCULA members across the province.
I would like to thank all of the OCULA Council members and Members-at-Large who helped make these events such a huge success.
For the second year in a row, I attended Library Day at Queen’s Park, which is an opportunity for OLA delegates to speak with MPPs about the positive impact that libraries have on Ontarians and their communities. While it can be challenging to lobby MPPs about academic libraries, as they are not directly funded by the government, the academic sector was represented in a number of key messages. The first point raised awareness of the fact that academic libraries, like school and public libraries, need funding for e-resources to help support online learning initiatives for post-secondary students in Ontario. The second key message was that libraries are hubs for learning in digital mediums, and that access to the Internet and new technologies is essential in an increasingly digital world and economy. A third discussion point was the growing collaboration efforts between secondary and post-secondary libraries to better prepare students to be information- and media-literate by the time they begin post-secondary education. It’s critical that we educate as many people as possible about how academic libraries are more than just books and the role that we play in supporting lifelong learning and literacy.
One of the many things that I will take away from my time on OCULA Council and the OLA Board, and would encourage all of us to be more aware of, is a greater sense of how academic libraries fit into the overall Ontario library landscape. Knowing how academic libraries are affected by issues that arise in other library sectors, such as budget cuts to e-resources in secondary schools, will help us build relationships with other library partners and continue to plan relevant programs and services that serve the needs of our communities and beyond.
It has been a pleasure serving on OCULA Council and the OLA Board and I leave you in good hands with our incoming 2016 President, Denise Smith, whom I wish all the best in her new role. Denise brings to Council a strong work ethic and enthusiasm towards seeing OLA and OCULA succeed, and has already been busy serving on the OLA Board, OCULA Executive Council and the OLA Mentoring Committee.
Shanna Pearson is the User Services Coordinator at Seneca College Libraries and Past OCULA President. She can be reached at shanna.pearson [at] senecacollege.ca.