Super Conference 2015 Highlights

It’s now a week since I returned from the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference 2015, and time to reflect on the experience.

Think It, Do It!

SC2015memories2The theme of this year’s conference really seemed to capture people’s imagination. Certainly several of the keynote and spotlight speakers incorporated its sense of creative productivity into their presentations.

The theme seemed to capture the new vitality of libraries. It captured the optimism inherent in venturing into new territories, despite the constraints with which we are sometimes preoccupied.

The New Conference Format

It may be too early to fully assess the success of the new conference format, but certainly I received a lot of very positive feedback from participants. People seemed overwhelmingly pleased with the different session lengths. Shorter sessions offered Think It, Do It!the opportunity to hear many perspectives. Longer sessions presented rare opportunities to delve more deeply into topics of interest, in a collaborative environment.

The atmosphere of the conference seemed a bit more low-key than in previous years, but certainly not less energetic. I’m not sure what the ingredients were in this. Perhaps the varying session lengths distributed the hallway bustle a bit more evenly. Perhaps it was the incredibly organized and supportive work of the conference committee, OLA staff, conference volunteers and technical support staff that provided a secure and calm foundation for proceedings. Certainly the energy of new ideas and connecting with colleagues suffused conference proceedings. And the “All Conference Networking Event” – the Wednesday night party – was outstanding.


I apologize in advance for not highlighting all of the awards and recipients who were recognized this year, but rather focusing on three in particular.

Leading LearningPresident’s Award for Exceptional Achievement: One of the great honours of being OLA President is to select the recipient of the President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement. I’ve already posted about this year’s award to the Leading Learning Project. Certainly part of my thinking in conferring this award was to raise awareness about this nationally significant document, which holds so much potential for school library programs.


Education Minister Liz Sandals (R) was on hand to congratulate Dr. Clara Howitt (second from R), Superintendent with the Greater Essex County DSB.

OSLA Administrator of the Year Award: This was presented to Dr. Clara Howitt of the Greater Essex County District School Board, and her leadership in library programs. Under Dr. Howitt’s leadership the GECDSB has implemented an innovative annual program review, which has informed program growth, professional learning and raised awareness of the strategic importance of leveraging school libraries to meet the learning priorities of the board. Dr. Howitt’s acceptance speech, delivered to a very attentive audience which included Minister of Education Liz Sandals, was a highlight for me. Here was an education leader who truly understands the potential of the school library learning commons, and leverages that potential through evidence of, for and in practice.

Larry Moore Distinguished Service Award: Just seeing Larry Moore in front of the conference is inspiring. This is a man whose contribution to librarianship and to the OLA is legendary. Seeing him together with the “two Kens”, Ken Haycock and Ken Roberts was not only inspiring, but quite moving. The award recognized their passion, intelligence, and most importantly their legendary abilities to translate those dispositions into action (Think It, Do It). Awesome.

My Session Materials

Despite all of my organizational responsibilities I did manage to contribute to two sessions. Here are links to session materials.

Session 803F: Leading Learning to Transform School Libraries, with Jeanne Conte and Carol Koechlin.

My materials on Digital Literacy from TMC 2014, as shared in Session 1703E: A Taste of Treasure Mountain.

An Incredible Opportunity for Leadership

OLA Past Presidents

OLA past presidents Karen McGrath, Tanis Fink, and me, Anita Brooks Kirkland.

The OLA is a tremendously member-driven and collaborative organization, and if I can claim any legacy as the president for 2014, it would be to leveraging that culture as much as possible.

I am now entering a rather awesome club – Past Presidents of the OLA. I look forward to continuing my contribution in this role, but more selfishly, to benefiting from the opportunities it provides for my own professional growth.

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