Now that I've more or less settled back into the daily grind, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my experience at the 2018 Canadian Association of Law Libraries/l'Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit (CALL/ACBD) Annual Conference. CALL/ACBD attracts law librarians and other legal information specialists from across Canada. From May 27-30, 2018, 197 delegates convened in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This year was different for me. I first joined CALL/ACBD in 2015, when I was working in a private law library. At the time, I didn't do a whole lot other than participate in the Mentorship Program. This year, I went to my third CALL/ACBD conference and I am far more involved with the Association now. The biggest role I currently play is being Co-Chair of the 2019 Conference Planning Committee (CPC) alongside my beloved mentor, Josette McEachern (Library Manager at Field Law, Edmonton) for when the party comes to my city. Our amazing Edmonton team arranged an exhibit table complete with 72-hour city guides, a business card draw for a locally-curated basket of goodies, an interactive "question of the day" flip chart, and "save the date" chocolates hand-wrapped by members of the 2019 CPC. Josette and I also presented the 2019 logo and theme on the final day of this year's conference, which featured the "Fun Funicular" music video you may have seen on Facebook. I am beyond excited about CALL/ACBD coming to Edmonton and I can't wait to see many of you there!
In addition to the CPC, I am also a member of the Membership Development Committee, Webinar Planning Sub-Committee, and the New Professionals Special Interest Group. Speaking of the New Professionals SIG, we presented our first SIG-sponsored conference session! I was delighted to be on a panel with Alan Kilpatrick (Reference Librarian at the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library) and Veronika Kollbrand (Reference Librarian at the University of British Columbia, Peter A. Allard School of Law). Our session was moderated by Bronwyn Guiton (Senior Librarian at the British Columbia Ministry of the Attorney General, Legal Services). There was a good number of people in the room from varying points in their careers. Alan, Veronika, Bronwyn, and I are within our first 5 years of law librarianship. We each spoke about different aspects of networking based on our own personal experiences. I spoke about how you can build a strong professional network even if you're introverted and socially awkward. Alan talked about the importance of taking the initiative to start networking and embracing new opportunities. Veronika talked about different ways to network both inside and outside of the workplace. For the second half of our session, Bronwyn facilitated a Q&A portion, soliciting responses from the 3 of us while adding her own anecdotes. It was a lot of fun and I hope to see more breakout sessions presented by new professionals in the future!
CALL/ACBD offers support to its members through several channels. You can become a part of a niche community that suits you by joining various committees and special interest groups. You can share your knowledge with colleagues through workshops, conference sessions, and publication in the Canadian Law Library Review. You can also apply for financial assistance through Association-specific scholarships and awards. I am honoured to be the 2018 recipient of the CALL/ACBD Research Grant. The grant will fund my project entitled, "Accessing Legal Information as a Self-Represented Litigant in Rural Alberta". I've been thinking about this project since my first day at the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) about 2 years ago. CPLEA is doing some great work in making legal information and education accessible for Albertans, but more needs to be done for those living in communities that are isolated from essential services and resources. That is what I hope to tackle or at least start to. This summer, I will be working on the initial phase of my research project - the environmental scan! Many thanks to the Committee to Promote Research and Executive Board for presenting me with this incredible opportunity.
Now that I've been to this conference a few times, there are some familiar faces at CALL/ACBD and things don't feel as foreign as they did initially. I have some wonderful mentors and colleagues that I truly enjoy connecting and reconnecting with. I'm doing a job I love, in a field that I continue to grow very fond of, and I'm feeling more in my element than I've ever felt before. This year was different, but a good kind of different.