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From the President's Desk

May 2017

Good morning everyone! Bonjour, tout le monde!

Je suis très honorée et flatée, d’être en face de vous aujourd’hui, en tant que Présidente de ACBD/CALL. La barre est très haute pour moi, et je ne suis pas très grande.

I am very honoured, and at the same time humbled, to be standing in front of you today as the new President of CALL/ACBD. I’ve got big shoes to fill, and my feet are very small.

I am very much looking forward to the journey we are embarking on together for the next two years.  

I attended my very first CALL/ACBD conference right here in Ottawa in 1991. I have a clear memory of being at the AGM – and in particular I remember Cyndi Murphy getting up to the mike to ask a question. I thought she was so incredibly brave to do so and wondered if I would ever be brave enough to ask a question. And here we are today.

First of all, I would like to say “thank-you” to a number of people.

Connie, will you please stand? On behalf of the entire CALL/ACBD Board and the members of our association, I thank you for the leadership you’ve given us over the past four years, first as Vice-President, and then as President. There are many things I admire about you, but one thing that stands out for me is your ability to always look at the bigger picture. With that picture in mind, you strategically look for ways to move our association forward. You care about how CALL/ACBD operates now, and you think about and care about how our association might look in the future. As you move into the role of Past-President, the new Board and I will appreciate your good advice.

Please join me in showing our appreciation to Connie!

Annette, will you please stand? On behalf of the Board, I say thank-you to our out-going Past President, Annette Demers. Annette – you have worked tirelessly for our association for the past six years, and you’ve accomplished a lot. When you became President, one of the key areas you wanted to focus on was education. You wanted CALL to provide high-quality educational programming in a cohesive manner informed by member needs and core competencies. As a result, the Professional Development Pathways document came to be. It was your idea, and you were instrumental in its development. This document will be used for years to come by our Professional Development Committee, our webinar sub-committee, and future conference planners, to help ensure that we have a broad array of professional development offerings for our members. So much of your work in the last six years is a legacy to the association. Annette, you are the only person I know who can take part in meaningful discussion at a board meeting while at the same time putting together a document or an email message on a totally different topic that will be helpful to board members. You are amazing.

Please join me in showing Annette our appreciation!

Thank you to the outgoing members of the executive, with whom I served while as Vice President –Alicia Loo, Erica Anderson, and Maryvon Cote. I’ve learned a lot about the association from you, I’ve enjoyed our discussions, and I’ve truly enjoyed working with each one of you. On behalf of CALL/ACBD, I thank you for all the work you have done over the past two years. And Jennifer Walker, I look forward to continuing on the Board with you for another two years.

Let’s give the outgoing Board members one more round of applause.

Thank you to Nicole Cork, Jessica Symons, Claire Leahy, and other members of the staff at our National Office. They perform many key operations for the association, and they keep us ticking along nicely.  

Let’s show them our appreciation.

My two years as vice-president went by in a heartbeat, and I know that the next two years will go by quickly as well.

Many of you know Denis LeMay, who was the President of our Association from 1991 to 1993. He told me recently, and I quote, “the timeline of office for the executive board members is thus: the vice-president looks to the future (conference planning, the presidency); the past president looks to the past (archives, memory, etc.) The only time left for the presidency is the present!”

As I take on this new role in our association, I have a lot to be encouraged about:

  • I am encouraged by the dedicated CALL/ACBD members who devote so much of their time to our association.
  • I am encouraged that our Membership Development Committee is creatively exploring ways to retain and attract new members.
  • I am encouraged that I’ve met new members who aren’t law librarians in the traditional sense, yet who understand the benefit of belonging to an organization such as ours.
  • I am encouraged that we have a good number of young librarians who have joined our association over the past few years.
  • I am encouraged by our New Professionals Special Interest Group. On Sunday, I attended their business meeting. Note I didn’t attend because I am a new professional, but because I wanted them to know that as incoming president, I support them 100%.  Fifteen enthusiastic new librarians were in attendance, and I learned that their SIG actually has thirty members!
  • I am encouraged by the innovation shown by the SIGs and Committees during their business meetings. They are really engaging their own members, and are also attracting members who might not ordinarily feel drawn to their business meetings.  
  • I am encouraged by the new faces we see in our exhibit hall.
  • I am encouraged by the innovation I saw on Sunday in the Lightning Talks.
  • I am encouraged by the way we are interacting with our wider network –for example, the relationship we are building with the new Canadian Federation of Library Associations.
  • I am encouraged by the opportunities that are arising for legal information specialists in new technology start-ups.
  • I am encouraged by the speaker in the tech talk on Monday who said that we’re not going to be replaced by robots any time soon.

My goal as president is to keep this fine ship, the SS CALL/ACBD, on course, because I think we are going in the right direction. Things are going well, we have our rudder in the water, and we are going forward with the wind at our back. We are a healthy, vibrant organization, and with your help, I want to keep the sails up.

Moving forward, we will continue to look strategically at what our association might look like in the future. Just yesterday, in her president’s roundtable, Connie led a good discussion about what our conferences might look like in the future. This is a great start.

This is your association. If over the next few years, you have anything you need to talk to me about, feel free to send me an email or give me a call.

Members of the new Board – Connie Crosby, Shaunna Mireau, Jennifer Walker, George Tsiakos, Karen Sawatzky, and Michel-Adrien Sheppard, I am really looking forward to working with you. I know that together, we will be able to accomplish a lot for our association.

Merci, et j’ai hate de travailler avec vous au cours des deux prochaines années.

Thank-you and I look forward to working with you over the next two years! 

Ann Marie Melvie
CALL/ACBD President

May 2015

Remarks from the 2015 Annual General Meeting:

We heard at this conference from Fred Headon about the changing legal profession and from Gary Rodrigues, Robert McKay and Jason Wilson about the changing legal publishing industry. Annette yesterday pointed out we are the “meat” in this sandwich, and we cannot avoid change.

Many of us are already facing challenges with shrinking budgets and shrinking number of positions—in many ways we might say it is a shrinking profession.

We as professionals are most definitely NOT shrinking. Je suis confiante que nous répondrons aux exigences des années à venir.  I have full confidence in the members of CALL/ACBD that we are ready to face the future.

So many of us are expanding our skills, knowledge and experience. Many are transforming our roles and making great leaps in our professional lives.

As you make the great leaps in your career, I ask those of you here today to make us a promise: to remember your friends and colleagues here at CALL/ACBD, to bring back what you are learning and enrich all of our understanding.

Write, teach, share with all of us.

During difficult times there is opportunity. Our organizations are working to find their way during this time of great change. We can take this opportunity to become leaders in Canadian law.  Je suis convaincue que vous, les membres de CALL/ACBD, êtes prêts à envisager les défis que nous réserve le futur.

This is going to take pulling together, working in collaboration and coordination with one another. Je me réjouis à la perspective de travailler avec vous tous. We can do this!

Thank you.

Connie Crosby
President, CALL/ACBD

March 2015

Welcome to the new and improved CALL/ACBD website!
This website would not have been possible without the vision, time and hard work provided by Rosie Chapman, our National Officer, who was guided by the members of the Website Editorial Advisory Board, chaired by Michel-Adrien Sheppard. It is built on the vision for the original website, and further enhanced by listening to member feedback received over the past several months about how to improve it.

As with the Association itself, the website is an organic creation, ever-evolving. Since it is the primary hub for our Association, it must continue to respond to the needs of members. Accordingly, all members are encouraged to send along their feedback, updates and changes that may be necessary.

Thank you for visiting!
Annette Demers

May 28, 2014

President's Closing Remarks at CALL/ACBD 2014 Conference 

For my closing remarks, I’d like to make the following observations.

We have had a much discussion throughout this conference which is really about rebranding and reinventing ourselves as librarians.  This is a question that our communications committee has also struggled with for the past several years – “what should our Association be doing to raise the profile of the profession?” The task seems insurmountable for a team of volunteers who have their own jobs to do.

"What do we need to do to change the perceptions of our stakeholders?
We must start by SPEAKING. "

As Greg Lambert tells us – a brand is how others perceive you.

Jerry McLaughlin from Forbes magazine writes:

“People are constantly forming perceptions.  But we don’t have to leave the process to chance. Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions.  That is what brand building is about:  the deliberate and skillful application of effort to create a desired perception in the mind of another person.”[1]

What do we need to do to change the perceptions of our stakeholders??  We must start by SPEAKING. 

Here’s a little example that hit home for me the fact that many (but certainly not all) of us in this profession, find it difficult to speak.

Did anyone else notice this - on Monday morning we had Mitch Kowalski in our plenary session with an incredibly thought-provoking session.  At the end of it, we had 30 extra minutes, but I completely dropped the ball and closed the session early.  Now – everybody knows me – I am a very bright person, extremely laid back and I take instruction well.  However, instead of piping up and saying “hey Annette – can we ask some questions?” –there were 125 librarians in the room who said absolutely nothing.  Instead, immediately after the session there was this little ripple of people saying, politely to me, after the fact – “oh that’s too bad that we didn’t get to ask questions…”

Let’s be frank - we are Canadians AND librarians – we are quite possibly the most polite and helpful group of people on the planet! 

The same happened at the President’s Roundtable – I had several people politely tell me, after the fact, that they didn’t know whether it was an open or closed meeting.

Let’s be frank - we are Canadians AND librarians – we are quite possibly the most polite and helpful group of people on the planet!  We don’t want to hurt any feelings or rock any boats – we don’t want attention on ourselves.

This approach is fine when it comes to lots of things, but the ground is shifting beneath us and we can no longer afford to watch it happen from the sidelines. In today’s environment we MUST have the courage to seize the opportunity to make sure that our people in leadership roles don’t screw up on the things that really matter. We must recognize that we may only get one shot at this – if you let it go by, there’s always a chance that your decision about whether to speak or not, could determine the fate of your entire institution.

The people that we work with who are in leadership positions are humans trying to navigate some very difficult situations.  Although there may be a lot of bad apples in the barrel, I truly believe that most leaders don’t want to make mistakes and they don’t want to make bad decisions.

Greg told us that these situations are actually opportunities for us. So we  need to help them.

We need to have our finger on the pulse of the user, the internal and the external environments.  We need to be vigilant about continuously watching for opportunities to demonstrate how the skills that we have and the services we provide are important, and as Mitch Kowalski suggests, should actually be a DRIVER for achieving the goals of the organization.

We need to use this information to continuously come up with new ideas, strategies and plans, we need to actively insert ourselves into the process and to feed our ideas up to our decision makers to let them know that we have ideas, we can see a better way forward, an alternative future; that we  have a plan for getting there and the evidence to back it up. We can do this regardless of where we sit in the org chart.

If we do this, it is possible that we could positively influence the outcome, however, if we are silent, the outcome will certainly be decided for us.

Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions. 

On Monday, Eunice Friesen told us that a very important way to engage those whom we are trying to educate – is to create a connection with them.  Let’s take her advice – at every opportunity, try to take a minute to tell them who you are, the services you offer and what matters to you.

Incidentally, creating connections and feelings associated with a perception is also an important aspect of a brand.  If you look around the room at the people you admire the most, you will see that what makes them special is how they connect with those around them.  Could this be part of what also leads to their success as professionals?  Could they be using their connections to engage and educate?  Do these connections result in an improved profile with stakeholders?  Of course they do.

Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions. 

After this conference, I’ve changed my mind.  For now – I think that we don’t need a rebranding strategy – we just need to SPEAK.

Think about it – we have a network of professionals from across the country who, combined,touch the legal profession at every stage in their careers.

What if every academic law librarian here today made a promise to our  colleagues, that we will set the ground work for them; we will take every opportunity, whether it be in the classroom, or in individual encounters, to make sure that our fresh impressionable young law students are educated about how law librarians are critical to their future success? 

From law student in school – to lawyer in a firm – to judges in the courts – to lawmakers and government – between us – we have access to these people at every stage.

To amplify our message we need to speak and we all need to commit to doing it at every turn.  We can do this regardless of where we sit on the org chart.

Every day, we have opportunities to shape other’s perceptions

From this conference we also were reminded that what we do is immensely important in the lives of others and many of us are not just speaking for ourselves and our libraries – we are also speaking on behalf of access to justice, on behalf of people who need our help – think about our colleagues working with persons in prisons, and those who work in public legal education and with self-represented litigants…

It may be scary for some of us to start doing this, but if you find yourself waivering, just take a breath, pause for one moment, and think about the courage it must have taken for the aboriginal people to share the stories that we heard during Justice Sinclair’s talk yesterday.  If they could find their courage to speak– then surely you can find yours.

I implore you, on behalf of the Board; a group of volunteers who are continuously looking for opportunities to raise the profile of the profession on your behalf, your colleagues in this room, the colleagues in your workplace, and users now and for generations to come – IT IS TIME TO SPEAK.

[1]  Jerry McLaughlin, "A Simple Blueprint for a Successful Brand,"  (12/14/2011) Forbes online:

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