For security reasons the wolf is in charge of the hen house

FTLComm - Regina - Tuesday, April 27, 2004

This writer's connection with the
Saskatchewan School Librarian's Association goes back some eight years when we had a display at their conference and since Ensign came into being in 1998, we have presented stories on this important provincial conference each year. With this perspective, it seems absolutely imparative that we do not ignore the casual, but sequential decline in the numbers and participation that is taking place in both this profession and the service school libraries provide for the over all function of schools in Saskatchewan.

The theme for this year's

conference was "Embracing Literacies" but if we don't increase the emphasis on this part of the educational programme, there is going to be little left to embrace.

This page has pictures of the book and commercial displays at this year's conference and you can see, when compared with other years, that commercially this conference and what it represents is becoming more and more insignificant. I noticed long time participants, local Regina companies, who have been at this conference in the past, were absent.

I took these images while sessions were in progress so that I could get just pictures of the displays, but even so I was

confronted by Chris Amstead who was in charge of the displays and a teacher librarian with the Regina Public School system, who was displeased with my photographing the displays without seeking her approval.

I think her attitude might well explain why there were so few exhibitors present.

But, those who were present were doing a fine job.
Lisa Robinson (right) of Kelowna Software was the only representative of library automation software present, while Thistledown Press, one of Saskatchewan's most hard working and thorough developers of Saskatchewan writers and material, had their fine display. (below)
One of the most popular displays was by CBC who did their part informing teacher librarians of the wealth of material available in the CBC archives.

This display (right) by the debating folks demonstrated the valuable contribution made to a person's life by being involved in debates and how this process and the library is so closely linked.

Saskatchewan Publishers had a modest display, (below) but I was disappointed not to see representatives of Gabriel Dumont Institute who had an exception display and such outstanding material, at last year's conference.

Though most teacher librarians attend a conference to catch up on new developments during the

sessions, the displays help to focus on the real and day to day work of the teacher librarian, in providing a conduit to the materials students need to successfully develop their skills and pursue their interests, both elements that will last them a lifetime.

I was really pleased to meet once again
Deborah Black who is the president of Saskatchewan's New Media Association. This association has worked successfully to develop film and multimedia productions here in Saskatchewan.

But Ms. Black was at this conference in support of the
People in their world display (below) for Saskatoon's remarkable instructional material on the people of the plains, you can get a great view of this material at their outstanding web site.

This was the only technical dispaly (right) at this year's conference.

Several of the main stream publishers were present, as seen below and they have been experiencing considerable re-organisation during the years I have been dropping in on these conferences. Companies are almost continually being sold, merged, renamed and re-organised, creating a level of confusion and uncertainty in the book publishing industry. Though we all know that the publishing industry in general was in constant turmoil, one would not expect materials designed for education to be suffering from the same problems. However, the consolidation of ownership and disappearance of companies is now the main feature of the industry.

These three people who were hosting displays really demonstrate the importance of a conference like this. The core of every human experience is the interaction with other people as we share and relate to problems and solutions while gain some insight into the direction of the world and environment in which we must cope. For these three and a fourth not in the picture, it was a time when there were few teacher librarians in the room and an excellent opportunity to share with each other.

On Thursday as this conference was about to begin, it was announced that the city of Regina (right) would find enough money to keep the three libraries slated for closing, open a little longer.

Regina has gained the unpleasant reputation across this country as a backward city. Everywhere, people are realising the vital importance to their community, its future and the on-going development of that community, is based on learning, life long learning. But Regina when facing a civil election last fall, kept from its voters, that its plan was to close three of the branch libraries in the city, in areas of low income and high

unemployment. Not only that, but they also decided to close the federally supported art gallery in the main branch.

It seemed ironic to me for the Regina Public school system to be the organisers of a library conference when their city is the black hole in library development in the country. With school libraries in crisis for funding and retaining teachers, the values of a society must be considered.

Clearly, Regina Public School's are not advocating library closures, but the mayor of their city has allowed this development to take place on his watch and the people of the city and their school system have to accept the responsibility for being in a place with such little foresight.

While Regina is less than promising, there is always hope. Qu' Appelle Valley School Division, the giant rural school Division North and East of the city under the direction of Jim Hopson has set as its goal to have teacher-librarians in each of its schools. Mr. Hopson began his career as a grade four teacher and understands the value of making the library the core of the school instructional programme. The Saskatchewan School Library Association recognised the efforts of Qu' Appelle Valley School Division at their conference.

Timothy W. Shire


Shire, Timothy W.,. Bridges '99 crossing to the 21st century, May 2, 1999, Ensign
Shire, Timothy W., Celebrate Our Libraries, May 11, 2001, Ensign
Shire, Timothy W., Saskatchewan School Librarians Hold Annual Convention, May 5, 2002, Ensign
Shire, Timothy W. Belly Button Buddies, May 5, 2002, Ensign
Shire, Timothy W., Libraries: Cornerstones of the learning community, March 14, 2003, Ensign
Shire, Timothy W., Cultural icon and Medieval feast, March 15, 2003, Ensign


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