I have just returned from an energizing conference of fellow independent school librarians. The conference was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada near my hometown, of Cornwall, Ontario. 120 fellow librarians from both Canada and America discussed issues relating to independent school librarianship. Our neighboring Berkley Prep (Tampa) and Cantebury School (Fort Myers) librarians were present as well.
Some of the many issues discussed, were funding, motivating reluctant readers, author talks.
The weather was typical of Toronto in late Spring… sunny, highs of 14 to 18 degrees. All of the heavy winter snow has melted away. Comfortable for walking with a t-shirt and jeans on.
I was able to exercise by swimming a few nights, after my meetings. Low and behold the hotel’s pool was closed. Thus, due to a reciprocal agreement with my hotel, I was able to swim at the Toronto Athletic Center, located on the 34-36th floors of the Toronto Domino Bank Tower. Yes, the pool is on the 36th floor of this huge office tower building. Can you imagine swimming so high off the ground? It was a very surreal experience!
Should you be planning a trip to Toronto in the near future, know that it is the home of the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, National Hockey Museum (Wayne Gretzky’s famous loonie which was embedded in center ice during the Utah Olympics is on display. Some say that it was a good luck charm to spur on both the Women’s and Men’s Canadian Hockey teams to Gold.), the Bata Shoe Museum, shopping at the Eaton’s Center/First Canada Place. The world’s oldest department store, the Hudson’s Bay Company, is headquartered here. I might recommend Indigo bookstore, one of my favorite bookstore chains.
On Wed April 23rd, we attended an opening breakfast. The keynote speaker was David Booth. As a reading specialist, and scholar and adviser to the Ministry of Education in Ontario, his message was simply put ” As librarians we need to promote both literacy and literature to children without focusing solely on the other.”
We then departed to the Crescent School , a boys private school , grades 3 to 12. After listening to an author talk by Eric Walters, we toured this historic school.
The attendees then travelled to Havergal College, founded in 1894, with 700 girls attending from grade K-12, to listen to a presentation of Havergal Reads, a community reading program bases on the popular Canada Reads. Suggested titles are promoted within the student body, then voted on as the community book which all grade 7-12 students read. Of course, we visited both the US and LS library facilities.
On Thursday April 24th, we departed for a tour of Ridley College and attended a professional development session entitled Design for Success, a learning seminar highlighting methods in which to teach information literacy to grades 3-8. From St. Catherine’s we travelled to Niagara Falls to have
lunch and view the falls. A brief stop to Niagara on the Lake and we were onto the Peller Estates to learn about the process of ice wine ( a popular stop with many conference attendees!)
On Friday April 25th, our coach travelled to Country Day School, an alternative school to the many city educational facilities. This school is fairly closely aligned to Saint Stephen’s structure, or so it would appear. It is relativity young (est. 1972), has under gone a massive building
campaign in the past 18 years under the same headmaster, is co-ed and serves children in grades PK-12 with a specific focus on nature within its curriculum. They have recently completed a huge building project to construct a performing arts facility and music room. Another strenght of this school is their music and arts program. Displays relating to Earth Day, Inuksuits and our earth’s resources were prominent in the hallways of this school.
While at the Country Day School, we attended a storyteller, Bob Barton’s presentation “Tales of a Northern Land”, as well as learning more about ‘branding’ of a library. We then travelled to the neighbouring McMicheal Gallery Canadian Art Collection in Kleinsburg, Ontario. We toured the famous
collection of Group of Seven art collection. However, time did not permit viewing of their art library.
On Saturday, April 26th, I had made plans to meet up with a librarian friend of mine and tour the Toronto Public Library’s children’s collection, though due to a public transit strike, that did not happen. I did take a walk through the University of Toronto’s campus, and visited St. Micheal’s
College. I also spent some of my time browsing the shelves of Indigo Bookstore.
And no, I was not able to visit the Canadian Hockey Museum.
This conference is set to be held next Spring in Nevada. It was a wonderful experience to visit other schools and view their successes.