Taking Stock of the Conference

“Reading Connections” was a one-day event that took place at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, on Friday, September 23, 2011. The Bissell Building at 140 St. George Street was transformed overnight into a reading hub that celebrated reading through a tasteful display of book jackets and favorite quotes chosen by both members of the FI community and attending guests.

This “academia-field connection” event allowed students and recent graduates to showcase their coursework and highlight their talents and skills. For librarians from various public and academic libraries, it provided an opportunity to see what we teach in the area of reading, literacy, and readers’ advisory. Coffee breaks, lunchtime, and the closing reception gave the presenters and the attending guests a chance to mix and mingle in an informal environment.

In addition to individual papers, our guests had a chance to visit readers’ advisory exhibits and listen to authors reading creative short stories about books and readers. Please see the “Reading Connections” program for the description of sessions and view our photographs.

“Reading Connections” was a result of genuine collaboration between the professional and academic communities and showed the unbreakable connection that exists between the faculty and the field of library practice in the area of literacy and reading. Some of our alumni came back as guests and potential employers. The most recent graduates returned and joined the current students in doing presentations, facilitating sessions, and helping with the overall event organization.

“Reading Connections” was continuously supported by many people within the Faculty of Information, especially the Inforum librarians and Student Services staff. We would like to thank Joe Cox, Kathleen Sheaffer, Nalini Singh, Glen Menzies, Kathleen O’Brien, Christine Chan, and Kara Wilson.

We wholeheartedly acknowledge Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow and Lecturer at FI, for her thoughtful guidance and dedicated support, and Dean Seamus Ross for making this event possible.

A warm thank-you goes to Ahlya Fountain for spending long hours working on our delicious catering; Mary Teresa Iaizzo for leading the building decoration; Anete Ivsina and Ellen Buckley – for being the most efficient and meticulous registration team in the world; Kim Parry for creative and thoughtful signage; Claire, Kerry, and Lily for facing endless tedious tasks with patience and a great sense of humor; Eric Chor for producing the original program cover; and Ana Malespin for organizing a book sale for the benefit of the Children’s Book Bank. As we gratefully acknowledge our wonderful webmaster Brandon Weigel, we recognize that his work is never done: the website needs updating and maintenance. Thanks, Brandon, for your indefatigable work!

However, we would not want you to think that it was all work and no fun. Every stage of this event – from preparation to closing reception – was infused with a great community spirit, marked by caring support of participants for each other, and memorable for the tremendous passion for books and reading. It was a collaborative creative endeavor of like-minded friends and avid readers.

The response of the professional community to “Reading Connections” was overwhelmingly positive. “[T]he papers were so interesting…. The students’ ideas were provoking, entertaining, and unique,” commented Shelagh Paterson, Executive Director of the Ontario Library Association. Diana Krawczyk, Manager of the Readers’ Den Department of the Central Library in Mississauga, remarked that the event “was very interesting, well-organized and was obviously filled with passionate readers and readers’ advocates.” This sentiment was echoed by Robin Bergart, User Experience Librarian from the U of Guelph: “What a wonderful conference you created. Such a great opportunity for your students to showcase their work and practise presenting to the profession. We need more library school-professional connections and it was a terrific day.” This day was greatly enjoyed by participants and coordinators alike. The feedback board carried the following notes: “It was a very informative, interesting and enjoyable event. I had a great time, and it would be great to make this an annual event!”; “It’s so exciting to see the interesting and passionate ideas presented by current students and alumni! Absolutely inspiring!”; “Thank you so much! It was fabulous, informative, and exciting!”; “Great people, interesting topics, and informative discussions!”; “An amazing learning experience!” Brittany Medeiros just started her journey at the Faculty of Information when she volunteered to help with “Reading Connections.”: “As a first year student, volunteering with Reading Connections was a wonderful experience that showcased the iSchool’s true spirit,” Brittany said. “The high value placed on student work and their demonstrated real-world applications has increased my enthusiasm about every aspect of this program. I met some great people and left with a really good reading list!”

 We thank everyone who joined our celebration of reading.

 Reading Connections Coordinators

Dr. Keren Dali
Dr. Greta Golick
Amanda Brooks, MI
Ellen Buckley, MI student
Ahlya Fountain, MI
Lily Hoang, MI student
Mary Teresa Iaizzo, MI
Anete Ivsina, MI
Ana Malespin, MISt
Larissa Momryk, MI
Kim Parry, MISt student
Monica Rai, MI
Alexandra (Lexi) Sensicle Black, MISt student

Web designer: Brandon J. Weigel, MI
Program cover designer: Eric Chor, MI

Special acknowledgement and heartfelt thank you for continuous support and advice:

Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow, Lecturer
Dean Dr. Seamus Ross