Colloque conjoint Asted/CBPQ

On May 15, I presented along with Heather Lea Mouliason at the Colloque conjoint Asted/CBPQ held in Montréal, Québec. The topic of our talk was “Library Subject Guides 2.0.” Before you read any further, I should mention that I only have cultural comments to make and not any LIS content because I wasn’t able to attend/understand any sessions. Thus, you may want to stop reading now.

The drive from Binghamton was enjoyable and we had no trouble getting into Canada – although we were asked by the Canadian border guard for our hotel reservation, which luckily I had in a handy spot. On the morning of the 15’th we finalized our presentation and walked down to the conference center just in time for lunch. The lunch was very nice and the weather was excellent so we got to eat outside. During lunch we talked to a number of the conference goers and found out that the librarians in attendance spoke very good English (at least the ones we talked to did). We weren’t really sure that would be the case because all of the sessions (except for ours were in French).

Being that we were the only English-language session, we weren’t sure how many people would attend our talk. I’m happy to report that our session was standing room only. I didn’t count the number of seats, but I’d say we easily had 200 people in the room – probably closer to 250. I think our session was well received and that people enjoyed our talk. One of the possible reasons for the large turnout for our session (according to another presenter) was that French Quebec librarian community tends to be slightly insular and attendees were interested in hearing about what libraries outside of French-speaking Canada were up to. I was also a little surprised about the large number of academic librarians in the audience (@ 90% of the attendees by a show of hands). In fact, there was a very good mix of public, academic, and special libraries represented at the conference.

As mentioned, our session was the only English-language session. My co-presenter speaks excellent French, but I don’t speak any. I am pretty sure that I was the only non-French speaker at the conference. For this reason, I wasn’t able to get much out of the conference sessions and only attended the talk just after mine.

The fact that the other librarians spoke English made the conference social activities more enjoyable for me. Heather and I were able to learn a little more about the French-Canadian library world during the evening reception. One of the people we talked to was Eric Bégin from inLibro. inLibro provides hosting, installation, migration, development, support and teaching services for Open Source Integrated Library Systems in Québec. I was able to learn a lot about the Open Source Library community in the province and some of the issues involved with supporting Koha in French-speaking Canada.

On Friday, Heather had an appointment with a cataloging professor at Université de Montréal, and I found out that French Québec uses translated AACR2 whereas the rest of the French-speaking world uses AFNOR. After her appointment, we drove back down to Binghamton (crossing the border in record time).

All-in-all, it was a great trip. Not only did the presentation go extremely well, but I was able to meet a number of nice people. Everyone was friendly and the conference organizers (especially Régine Horinstein, the Executive Director of Corporation des bibliothécaires professionnels du Québec) did an excellent job making us feel welcome. I think there probably is some very good collaboration opportunities with the French-speaking academic librarians (even for a non-French speaker such as myself) and I am going to try to pay more attention to what is going on in Québec libraries.