ACA Colloquium 2016

by Ben Wrubel and Annelise Dowd


On February 12th, students and faculty gathered at the School of Information Studies for the Association of Canadian Archivists’ McGill Student Chapter’s 9th Annual Winter Colloquium. The audience heard from a host of local archivists and librarians contending with the preservation of textual records, rare books, digital records, graphic materials, and sound recordings,and learned about the unique challenges that different formats and institutional settings bring to the field.

The first speaker was Shannon Hodge, Director of Archives at the Jewish Public Library Archives. Her presentation discussed the challenges of storing archival collections in a mixed use building. Stemming from her experiences of facing issues of mold and flooding at the JPL, she stressed the importance of communicating preservation concerns with facilities management and forming a comprehensive disaster plan before any of these “worst case scenarios” develop.

Ann Marie Holland, History of Printing Collections and Canadiana Collections/Liaison Librarian at McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections, provided an overview of rare books preservation issues. Examples ranged from outsourcing material conservation to donor outreach for funding conservation projects. She left the audience with several websites to visit for more information regarding rare books conservation:,,,, and


 Tim Walsh, Archivist in the Digital Archives at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, detailed the legal, cultural, and technological challenges of born-digital bit preservation. Walsh spoke of how the CCA’s digital archival holdings often consist of proprietary 3-D modeling file formats, making software preservation, emulation, and user access major concerns.

Greg Houston, Digitization and New Media Administrator at McGill Library Digital Initiatives, walked the audience through the criteria for digitization and outlined the process of facilitating user access to digitized items via McGill Library’s catalog, the Internet Archive, and HathiTrust. Greg also shared a link to a Google Maps photosphere view of Digital Initiatives, which can be viewed here:


Offering a user’s perspective, Catherine Nygren, Research Assistant at the Burney Centre at McGill University, discussed the value of accurate and comprehensive metadata for facilitating researchers’ access to archives. In particular, she emphasized the financial and time limitations that many researchers face, and thus the high importance of digitized resources to be made accessible online.

The final speaker was Melissa Pipe, Documentation Technician at the Audiovisual Archives at McGill’s Marvin Duchow Music Library. Her presentation addressed the collaborative efforts of her department and McGill’s Sound Recording Program to preserve a collection of 78 rpm jazz records. From physical preservation and storage, to digitization and metadata creation, Melissa described the numerous informed decisions required of archivists for the preservation of sound recordings.

The students who were among those in the full School of Information Studies ballroom were privileged to hear the illuminating and diverse experiences of professionals in the archival field. The 2016 Winter Colloquium could not have been such a success without the professionals who took the time to present and the McGill ACA chapter’s tireless work organizing the event. Until next year!


ABQLA/SLA Ottawa Trip

On November 16 approximately 20 aspiring librarians and archivists got up really early to take a road trip to Ottawa. The day’s schedule included a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Gallery of Canada’s library and archive, as well as a tour of the Library of Parliament. It was a gorgeous day, albeit a little chilly, and we learned about lots of neat stuff!

Our first stop was the National Gallery where our group was split into two so we could fit in the stacks of the library and archive. The library houses a number of books and periodicals about Canadian and international artists, although the focus is generally on Western art. As our guide explained, most of these books serve researchers, but they can also be used by other people, such as those who are looking for auction price information. They also house a large number of exhibit guides from museums around the world.


The archives on the other hand, house more actual works of art. One staff member explained to us about an art periodical that regularly produces a small piece of art to go along with each issue. She told us about the challenges involved in cataloguing untypical objects, showing us a recently acquired ball that she had yet to catalogue. We were also able to see some other examples from the collection, including some sketchbooks belonging to Emily Carr, amongst other small pieces of art.

After spending the morning in the National Gallery, the group continued on to the Parliament buildings, where after making it through security we met up with two Parliamentary librarians. The best part of this tour was that we actually got to see the collection close up, as well as visit their rare book room. Normal tours of Parliament will only get a short glimpse into the Library, but we were able to get a much more extensive tour. After hearing about the library’s history, we were taken into the stacks, and then down into the basement to see the rare books collection. We were able to get a look at John James Audubon’s Birds of America of which the Library of Parliament has a unique copy. For the most part though, the library collection holds reference materials for Parliament, as well as parliamentary and committee proceedings.


It was certainly well worth the early morning and drive to Ottawa to see these libraries and archives, and thanks to the ABQLA and the SLA student chapters for putting together a great trip. Also, as a side note, 3 out of 4 librarians or archivists who led our tours were SIS graduates!

Thanks to Jiamin Dai for all the lovely photos!



Annual MLISSA AGM Tonight!

Important Reminder: the MLISSA AGM is tonight (Monday), at which we will be discussing topics which will greatly affect the financial future of SIS. If scholarships and grants, trips and social events, and association funding are topics that matter to you, I strongly suggest you attend.

Education Building
Room 129


Date: Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time: 7:00 pm- 10:00 pm

Place: Education 216

Showing: The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (starring hunky Noah Wyle)

LWB: Donate books to a school in Haiti!

LWB McGill is looking for books to donate to a high school in Haiti. A professor from the Education Department at McGill is working with the faculty at this school, it came to our attention that they have no library to support their students! This professor is going to Haiti in December with two PhD candidates and they are bringing donated materials with them.

Materials that would be of the most use are French language books at a high school reading level. Specifically textbooks, or materials concerning the Caribbean are of particular interest. Please, used books are great, but only high quality, current materials! Please contact


Sign up for a Professional Partner!

The deadline to sign up for a professional partner is tomorrow, Wednesday the 14th. Forms can be found here. The Professional Partnering Program, offered by the CLA Student Chapter, is a great way for SIS students to meet with working librarians from all sorts of libraries. Maybe you have questions? Maybe they have answers!

Important, a mentor is to have.


News from the ACA Student Group

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the Association of Canadian Archivists McGill Student Chapter and it’s holding its first meeting!

That’s right, folks. Archival Girl and the ACA are looking to start the year off right and that means getting all of you out to the organization’s first meeting on Thursday, September 8th 2011, 2 pm, in Room 310 in the SIS mansion (all the way at the top of the building; when you start to get vertigo, you’re there).

Joining the club is a great way to meet other students interested in archives and to learn from and network with professional archivists. The group is planning a slew of tours and workshops (and a 5 a 7 with McGill archivist Gordon Burr) and are anxious to get your input on club activities. And don’t forget the annual colloqium in the Winter term; there will be so many archivists in the same room, you’ll think it’s the Spectacles-and-Tweed sale at Winners!* For only a $5 membership fee, you can be part of it all.

The ACA is looking to fill a number of positions for the 2011-2012 year including:

ASSISTANT COORDINATORS (2–MLIS I)–Help coordinators in planning, promoting and executing events and become next year’s coordinators (Presidents)
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER (disseminate informative emails, update the Wiki, etc.)
SECRETARY (take copious notes at meetings and disseminate minutes)
MLIS I Representatives (2)
MLIS II Representatives (2)

Reps, you’ll help promote the club and act as a contact for other students (and you’ll be “town criers” of sorts).

Hope to see you all on Thursday. Email Sarah ( or Daniela ( with any questions.

*You should go!

News from the ABQLA and MCL Student Groups


The McGill chapter of the Quebec Library Association (ABQLA) will be having its first meeting of the year on Wednesday, September 7th, at 1:30pm, in room 310 of SIS. At the meeting, a brief introduction to ABQLA will be given and the annual elections will be held to fill all open first and second year positions.

Joining the ABQLA is a great way to meet professional librarians working in many types of libraries across Montreal in particular and can also lead to interesting job opportunities during both the school year as well as the summer. There are many great ideas in store for this year and more contributions are always welcome!

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact


MCL will be having its first meeting of the school year this Wednesday, September 7th at 2:30pm in room 310 of SIS and is hoping to see you all there! On the agenda for this meeting is:

Elections to fill all vacant first and second year positions including vice-chair and events coordinator
Study Saturday information and sign-ups
Sign-ups for weeding the current collection and visiting the library
Discussion of other plans for the year

Find out more at the MCL’s blog.

Feel free to contact if you have any questions.

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