APLA 2012 Merit Award Acceptance Speech

Jennifer Richard

First, of course, I want to say thank you. Thank you to the Executive, my nominators, and to all who have conveyed lovely notes of congratulations and of course, Su Cleyle, because she told me to thank her. I let you know that I plan to keep this short because Bill Slauenwhite told me he didn’t want to hear any long boring speeches, so it’s a one-pager, Bill and I tend to read quickly.

I must admit, it felt exciting, humbling and a little nerve-wracking due to some other minor responsibilities I had this year, when Joceylne called me with the news. The first thing I did was re-read Elaine MacLean’s speech from last year – and as any good academic librarian that teaches students about plagiarism the first thought through my mind was: her speech was good and with a couple name changes, I could give a try and see if anyone notices.

But in the end, I thought better of it. So here goes… One thing that did strike me as I read notes of congratulations was that people said it was fitting that I receive the award here at Acadia and the more I thought about it the more I realized it was pretty neat – the first Atlantic/Maritime Library Association started at Acadia, it was revived at Acadia twice, and when I came to Acadia they were in the midst of planning for the 1998 conference and now 12 years later I was involved in organizing the conference getting the Merit Award at Acadia.  That’s really special to me.

I know that sometimes librarianship is referred to as a calling. For me it wasn’t. I never planned to work in a library, but I also didn’t plan to work in room service at a hotel after graduating with a science degree from St.F.X., either, so it was an easy decision to take a cataloguing position at Dal in October 1990. From there it was the grab of my hand by Sylvia Fullerton as I walked by the ref desk, who simply said “have you ever thought of becoming a librarian”, I laughed and said nope, but that was enough, so I’ll continue my thank-yous with Sylvia. I want to acknowledge Judy Reade at Dal again who hired into my first librarian job in the School of Resource and Environmental Studies and Marie DeYoung for providing me one of the best interview processes where I didn’t get the job, and of course a huge thank you to Lorraine McQueen who brought me to Acadia. It was a dream job in the ideal location, at a time when positions in academia were pretty scarce and though there have been many ups and downs, I still do love what I do. And I love the people I work with – like a family, you don’t always get along all of the time and you have all kinds of personalities, but in the end you get to see great things from people, in particular one of my favorite traits in staff I work with is creativity, which often comes out when working on events or special projects. Steve MacNeil, Mary Lou Conrad, Carol Hadjisterkoti, and in the past Janet Ness have been such wonderful and fun people to work with during my time at Acadia. I can’t forget Susan Martin, who is a rock for all of us, not to mention treat provider. I also need to thank Tanja for her hundreds of hours as programme chair, Erin Patterson for the great food and wine and local arrangements, and all of the volunteers, David and Jason and everyone who worked on this conference and have made it so great!  

APLA often struggles with “benefits of membership” (am I correct Ann Smith?). So I thought I would share the benefits of membership APLA has given me over the last 18 years:

  1. The excitement and anticipation of heading to the conference, remembering to pack my Past-President’s pin, finding a roommate or at least finding out where everyone is staying, making arrangements for dinner and drinks, lots of drinks.
  1. Finding out about the secret talents of your colleagues. Like John Teskey, Patick Ellis, and now Lou Duggan’s musical talents, and oh there is nothing like seeing your well-respected colleagues dance like they are in junior high at this event.
  1. One of the biggest moments of my life, getting to meet and introduce Stephen Lewis and having him inscribe a book to me, a book he had given my mother 20 years earlier.
  1. Discovering connections and treasures in the APLA archives. Getting know people I’ve never met, like Karin Somers and Alberta Letts and then finding out their connections to present-day colleagues – did you know either Karin or Alberta used to babysit Sara Lochhead?
  1. The 3:00 a.m. chats with librarian roommates, (sometimes up to four of them in a room) ones I’ve known for years and new ones I just met, until we fall asleep literally mid-sentence, laughing or lamenting some aspect of the library world.
  1. Finding that great idea or collaborator for your next project.
  1. Skipping sessions to chat with exhibitors or better yet to go shopping with Donna, Su, Ann, Cordelia, or Tanja.
  1. The food, I must say the three crème brulée in Halifax in 2009 was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had and I still remember the potatoes shaped like pears with a clove for stem in Antigonish in 2002.
  1. The gems or treasures you pick up in OGMs. You may think I’m kidding here, but no really, I learned there that a seconder does not have to support a motion, the purpose of the seconding is to get the motion on the floor for discussion. I have shared this info with countless of people who didn’t know it either – thanks to Norman Horrocks for that one.
  1. Finally I think the best benefit is you, the same yous (and I’m from Cape Breton, so I can say yous) I connect with each year and every year, like the Lynn, Elaine, and the other library ladies (a.k.a. – the extremely successful class of ‘94) and new yous I’ll meet this time around or next year in PEI – that’s the best part of APLA. So thank yous all!