Re-CALLing Edmonton

From May 26-29, 2019, around 300 law librarians and legal information professionals flooded the dusty streets of Edmonton, AB to congregate for the 57th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries/l'Association canadienne des bibliothèques de droit (CALL/ACBD).

#CALLACBD2019

#CALLACBD2019

Last year I said that last year was different for me, but this year was different. Being the face of a conference is an odd feeling. I had a pink “planning committee” ribbon dangling from my neck, an Edmonton conference logo sticker over my heart, people constantly approached me, and I kept being handed the mic! Let me tell you…that is not what my normal life is like. Despite how busy it got, this time - my fourth CALL/ACBD conference - was my absolute favourite to date.

The wonderful, smart, resilient 2019 CALL/ACBD Conference Planning Committee! Left to right: Shaunna Mireau, Josette McEachern, Kristin Hodgins, me, Julie Rainey, Katie Cuyler, Anke Eastwood, Gisele Abt.

The wonderful, smart, resilient 2019 CALL/ACBD Conference Planning Committee! Left to right: Shaunna Mireau, Josette McEachern, Kristin Hodgins, me, Julie Rainey, Katie Cuyler, Anke Eastwood, Gisele Abt.

The 2019 CALL/ACBD Conference Planning Committee - Gisele Abt (Social Committee), Katie Cuyler (Programming Committee), Anke Eastwood (Sponsorship Committee), Kristin Hodgins (Professional Development Committee Liaison), Josette McEachern (Co-Chair), Shaunna Mireau (CALL/ACBD Executive Liaison), and Julie Rainey (Communications Committee) - was a small, but resilient team. We overcame several challenges together over the last couple of years…

  • Several construction plans within downtown Edmonton were (and are) scheduled to continue until 2020 or 2021

  • CALL/ACBD’s event management company changed around the 1 year mark

  • A plenary speaker needed to be replaced in January (4-5 months before the conference)

  • Alberta’s provincial election writ was dropped in February (3 months before the conference)

    • This meant that the election communications policy hindered the participation of about half of the conference planning committee

    • We had to remove certain local sponsor logos and government employee bios and session descriptions from the conference website and program until the election period ended

    • We couldn’t advertise anything to do with provincial government programs or employees on CALL-L, In Session, the CALL/ACBD website, or social media

  • The Westin Edmonton (our conference venue booked 2 years in advance) flooded in March (2 months before the conference)

  • 1 of our social tours double-booked themselves

  • A number of flights coming in from BC were delayed within the first 2 days of the conference

  • 2 of our lightning talk speakers experienced medical setbacks during the conference

  • We were in the middle of Alberta’s fire season and there were 7 states of local emergency declared right before the conference started

The list goes on…but despite these challenges, these superstars pressed ahead made it happen. If you decide to take a ride on the emotional rollercoaster of conference planning too, curating a solid and reliable team should be a top priority. Of course, the credit for logistics and operations has to go to Taylor Green, Samantha Rosen, and Maggie Large at Redstone Agency, who run CALL/ACBD National Office and were our tag team on-site in Edmonton. Kudos to them on their ability to find us a replacement venue for our conference and all their other magical event management ways!

New Professionals SIG, represent!

New Professionals SIG, represent!

This conference was really special to me.

There were more opportunities for new professionals to connect. In addition to our New Professionals Special Interest Group (NP-SIG) business meeting, we organized 3 informal meet-ups. The first meet-up for casual dinner and drinks drew 22 new professionals at its peak. It gave those of us within the first 5-6 years of our careers to lean on one another and bond in a way that we can’t necessarily do with more established colleagues.

The conference program was more diverse and inclusive (but we can always do better). We had an equal number of men and women on our plenary speaker roster. We had 2 breakout sessions and 3 lightning talks that highlighted indigenous justice issues and work being done in that area. Our pre-conference workshop, delivered by Helen Frost, was on the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) method of analysis, which encourages the integration of an intersectional lens into planning, decision-making processes, policies, and programs.

There were sessions that addressed topics that we have a tendency to steer away from. Kristin Hodgins bravely stepped up to the plate to facilitate an interactive session called, “Things I messed up: Stories of failure and how to lead, support and learn from failure in your organization” where colleagues shared stories of failure and their lessons learned. Dr. K. Jessica Van Vliet presented her session, “Feeling Like an Imposter? Opportunities for Improvement”, which addressed the commonality of “imposterism” and the “imposter phenomenon” faced by many of us. Judge Charles Gardner presented his session, “Indigenous Justice Issues Being Faced by the Provincial Court of Alberta”, where he spoke about the work being done and the work that needs to be done in order to decrease the over-representation of indigenous people cycling in and out of the court system in Alberta.

There were more opportunities to network throughout the conference. We opted to host a splashier Opening Reception, nix the Closing Reception, have Dine-Arounds on each day of the conference, extend refreshment breaks, and have social tours near the start and end of the conference.

There was a committee that meant something to me in both my personal and professional life. 2 years ago, Kim Nayyer founded CALL/ACBD’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization Committee (DIDC). 1 year ago, CALL/ACBD passed Resolution 2018/1 put forward by the DIDC, which acknowledged that CALL/ACBD would incorporate diversity, inclusion, and decolonization into its activities and partnerships. This year, I joined the DIDC as their Membership Development Committee Liaison and as a self-identified queer person of colour and new professional.

I’m so excited to continue my involvement with CALL/ACBD and stay in touch with my new professional colleagues until we see each other again in Hamilton for #CALLACBD2020!

Re-CALLing Halifax

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.

I highly recommend visiting Peggy's Cove to watch the sunset.

I highly recommend visiting Peggy's Cove to watch the sunset.

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!

Josette and I were ready to promote the heck out of Edmonton!

Josette and I were ready to promote the heck out of Edmonton!

Our prize basket included locally-roasted coffee beans from  Rogue Wave , notepads and pens from  Alberta Law Libraries , triple chocolate chip cookies from  Duchess Bake Shop ,  Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City's Best Chefs  from  Audreys Books , and mittens, a water bottle, and bag from  Edmonton Public Library .

Our prize basket included locally-roasted coffee beans from Rogue Wave, notepads and pens from Alberta Law Libraries, triple chocolate chip cookies from Duchess Bake Shop, Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City's Best Chefs from Audreys Books, and mittens, a water bottle, and bag from Edmonton Public Library.

Our theme for the 2019 CALL/ACBD Annual Conference is,  Get Informed. Be Inspired. Innovate .

Our theme for the 2019 CALL/ACBD Annual Conference is, Get Informed. Be Inspired. Innovate.

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!

"Taking the 'Work' Out of Networking: Build Relationships, Not a Stack of Business Cards" brought to you by the New Professionals SIG. Photo courtesy of  Matthew Renaud  (Acting Liaison Librarian at the University of Manitoba, E.K. Williams Law Library)

"Taking the 'Work' Out of Networking: Build Relationships, Not a Stack of Business Cards" brought to you by the New Professionals SIG. Photo courtesy of Matthew Renaud (Acting Liaison Librarian at the University of Manitoba, E.K. Williams Law Library)

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.