On My Summer Vacation I… Played at the MCL

By Les Corbay

Summer fun and fun with books! That’s what it’s like working for the Montreal Children’s Library (henceforth known as MCL) in the summer.  I have now been working for the MCL for a little above a year, and over that time I have gotten a pretty good handle on what it’s like being a children’s librarian here in Montreal.  Summers working for the MCL are comprised primarily of four things:  Book Club, Cabot Square, Board Games, and Community Events.  I, however, have managed to toss in a few extra tid bits of amazingness just for fun.

My first major summer event was a book drive I coordinated with the CBC.  The story goes, back in March my library had a flood.  And, well, the CBC got wind of it and before you know it, I had 5000 books donated to me by bookstores and private donors from across Montreal.  With these books, the Tyndale St. George’s Community Centre team and I were able to replenish the Community Centre’s book supply for their Early Childhood Education department and the After School Program, as well as help refill the shelves in the MCL.

Since then, I have been cataloguing like crazy and working to get the donated books on the shelves.  These books also need to be ready to read for the summer Book Club.  So far we have 18 children in our Book Club, and the kids have registered more than 180 books read since the Book Club started at the end of June.  And because we received so many books as part of the book drive, I have been able to give away lots to the kids as prizes for just being amazing readers.

Oh, and there’s more! In collaboration with the Ville Marie borough the MCL has a summer events series which takes place in Cabot Square, near downtown Montreal.  Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, about 150 kids show up for a different cultural event showcasing the talents of Montreal performers.  So far we have showcased: circus performers, singers, and even a paleontologist.  It’s amazing watching the kids get really excited about learning how to dig up and preserve dinosaur fossils.

I have also had the pleasure of working with the Ville Marie borough with their Quartier en Movement events happening on Rue Pierce.  As part of the event, I helped operate an information table, answering questions and giving out important information about the library to the community.  It was a hot, but great way to spend a couple weekends enjoying the summer sun.

Oh yes, and in June, with the Release of Cars 2 3D, AMC donated 100 movie passes to my library.  I was happy to share them with the Community Centre, where kids from the Tyndale Summer Camp, who are regular library patrons in their own right, and students from our reading club were able to see the movie for FREE!

Not a bad list of events and accomplishments considering we’re only half way through the summer!  Still to come, I have more community information sessions, and then at the end of the summer the Little Burgundy Festival is happening and I am so excited about it!  (Oh, and I forgot to mention, yours truly invited Emily U. to a BBQ in Little Burgundy at the Community Centre this summer, where she got just a taste of what it’s like to be a librarian in such an amazing community.)

Editor’s note: It’s awesome. Especially if you’re good at ducking rogue basketballs like I am.

On My Summer Vacation I… Had a Rare Job

Flip, McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections department is cold in the summer! Actually, it’s cold all the time. It’s got something to do with book preservation, but I’m no old-book expert. I’m just a summer student worker. To kick off the “Library-ish Shenanigans I’m Up To This Summer” series, I’m going to tell you all what it’s like in a land where fleece is worn yearlong and books need spine protectors.

At Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC), I technically work under two job descriptions: Student Navigator and Safdie Project Assistant. However, my daily work assignments are hard to categorize under either description. I guess, generally, I’m a student assistant and as such, I get to do a lot of different things. This means that I’m learning new stuff all the time, like What’s an incunable? Where is the best Architectural Archive in Canada? What’s in the McLennan Library basement? And totes more.

I suppose the three tasks that I spend the most time doing per week are: re-shelving books, conservation work, and manning the desk. While re-shelving books is never the most exciting job, re-shelving books in RBSC keeps me on my toes. The collection is divided up into lots of little sub-collections and each one has its own quirks. When it comes to classification systems, the main collection and many sub-collections are easy peasy LC call numbers, but I’ve also had to learn about Cutter call numbers, as well as some custom in-house systems like the one used for a sub-collection called Colgate. Half of the items in this collection are listed under textual call numbers and the other half under numeric call numbers, but all are inter-shelved together. And then divided into more mini Colgate collections. And then housed in two locations. So yeah, finding things isn’t always so straightforward. As another example, an item in the Blackader-Lauterman Rare collection could be in any of 4 different rooms depending on its format (octavo, folio, or extra large folio, a.k.a. “elf” in the biz) and whether it’s under LC or Cutter classification. Lugging around all the keys to get to books in various glass cases beyond various locked doors kind of makes me feel like a dungeon master.

Conservation work, on the other hand, keeps me on my butt. Conservation work entails sitting alone in a back room, suiting up books in mylar dust-jackets, spine protectors, acid-free-cardboard boxes and other gear that helps to ensure these books last another couple hundred years on the shelf. It’s during this task that I get to look through some pretty neat stuff. I’ve heard that books are supposed to be dead and whatever, but gosh, some of them are so pretty and old and alive! Like Vanna White.

And finally, manning the desk at RBSC, which is what I was doing when most of this blog post was written, can sometimes be a little dull. However, at the desk I get the chance to practice my reference skillz and interact with patrons. And that’s pretty fun! Even when patrons are befuddled and have come into RBSC only to find out how to get away from RBSC. (They’re usually looking for the P’s on the 5th floor). When I’m at the desk, I feel a little glamorous. I get to buzz people in and check ID’s. I act as the face of the whole operation and I keep things moving along. Just like Vanna.

And then I remember that I’m just a summer student worker. But hey! It’s good experience for the resume.


SIS students! What are you doing this summer? I need s’more submissions, so don’t be shy! Email me your ideas: emily.upper@mail.mcgill.ca

*Are you an incoming SIS student and looking for a library job on campus? Sign up for Work Study (if you’re eligible) ASAP. That’s how I found my job. Feel free to email me with questions. Also, props for finding the blog!

Summer in the City

Flip, Montreal is hot in July. While some of my American pals are celebrating their Independence with hot dogs and sparklers in Parc La Fontaine (how very American!), I am baking in my apartment and pondering my own independence — from library school, that is. July has arrived and the luxuriously long summer break is half over.

So, it seems high time that I get this blog rolling again. At the very least, I should introduce myself. My name is Emily Upper (Librarianship, ’12) and I am MLISSA’s Publications Committee Chairperson for the upcoming school year (2011-2012). This means that I am going to be administering this blog. So if you have any ideas, spare time to help out, content, feedback, etc. please, please, please feel free to email me at emily.upper@mail.mcgill.ca. It is my hope to make this blog a visible, well-used channel through which us SIS kids can share ideas and get to know one another. And I mean all SIS kids — past, present, and future!

To this end, I’m going to need your help. Right now I am looking for some contributions vis-a-vis your summer library adventures. Yes, you. I know a lot of people are off doing interesting things and I, for one, would love to hear from them. (So what if the old “What I did on my summer vacation…” essay is lame? This is my first post. And, anyway, we all love to toot our own horns. So toot with me, guys.)

Are you working in a library (or “Information Centre”) this summer?

Yes, I am! Great! Tell me about it!

No, I am not! Terrific! But you’ve probably visited a library (or “Information Centre”) this summer, right? Was it a good experience? Did you find what you were looking for easy-peasy? Good read? Meh? Is there anymore to this story? No? Actually, then maybe don’t contribute it.

I did not visit a library (or “Information Centre”) this summer. Maybe you’ve used Google+ and have an interesting opinion about that? No? Do you like crafts, baking or Dr. Who? No? Get out!

Right. Send your stuff to emily.upper@mail.mcgill.ca.

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.