2009-2010 Tours

The following tours were arranged in the 2009-2010 year:

Atlantic Provinces Special Education Library on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Stewart McKelvey Law Library on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Atlantic Provinces Special Education Library

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
APSEA (the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority) “is an interprovincial cooperative agency established in 1975 by joint agreement among the Ministers of Education of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island to provide educational services, programs and opportunities for persons from birth to age 21 years of age with low incidence sensory impairments.” APSEA is funded by all four provinces and the APSEA agreement is the only one of its kind in Canada. The APSEA Library, located across from the IWK Hospital on Halifax’s South Street, is therefore unique in that it serves “children and youth who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, blind or visually impaired”, their caregivers, and teachers. The library is staffed by three library technicians. One of the technicians, Heather Ferrier, conducted an in-depth and engaging tour of the library for interested members of the Dalhousie SLA Student Group which included an extensive survey of its specialized collections.

Some of the items held in the APSEA Library collection:

+Books -both fiction and non-fiction- in various formats including large print, Braille, and digital -for e.g. books in PDF format, and DAISY books (Digital Accessible Information System) which allow patrons to both listen to and navigate a book through audio prompts
+Specialized school supplies and teaching tools (Braille rulers, custom scribblers)
+Toys (Heather demonstrated a dodge ball that helpfully emits a beeping sound)
+The APSEA database, custom designed for the library and their patrons’ resource needs
+EBSCOhost e-resources and the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) digital library
+As well as many others

In addition to the library, APSEA operates a school at the South Street site where students attend 2-3 week programs; however most of the library’s resources reach their users through the public school system’s itinerant teachers (qualified teachers in the public school system with specialized training in assisting children with visual impairments). At the library circulation desk Ms. Ferrier pointed out a teacher’s resource corner she recently constructed consisting of photocopied and other take-away resources to keep teachers up to date on what the library had to offer. Included as well at the circulation desk are some of the library’s new acquisitions including (you guessed it), a copy of Twilight. The translation of such popular titles into Braille and other specialized formats can cost up to ten times the amount of traditional formats. Ms. Ferrier stressed the importance of making these items as available as curriculum items for the library’s patrons. Access, whether it is to learning resources or pleasure reading materials, is of the utmost importance to both the library and its readers.

Highlights of the tour included:

+A show and tell of the specialized toys and school supplies,
+A peek into the craft corner where interactive components (touch and feel) are added to story books
+Seeing the equipment used at APSEA for printing Braille books (onsite)

Ms. Ferrier emphasized the increasing importance and popularity of digital resources due to their portability. One school textbook translated to Braille can end up spanning 11 or 12 volumes. A Braille copy of Wuthering Heights boasts four volumes; not terribly convenient for carrying, handling, or remaining inconspicuous amongst ones peers.

Heather Ferrier has been with the APSEA library for over a year and is demonstrably excited about her position. She is committed to raising the profile of the library in the Halifax community, and currently enrolled in signing lessons in order to communicate with her clients more effectively. Ms. Ferrier also currently holds the post of Membership Officer with the Halifax Library Association.

Tour summary written by Andrea Crabbe
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Stewart McKelvey Law Library

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Cyndi Murphy, Knowledge Manager at the Halifax location of the Stewart McKelvey law firm, generously showed several of SIM’s current students around the law library on Wednesday, January 27, 2010. The firm is located at Purdy’s Wharf, with a beautiful view of the waterfront. The Halifax location has just over one hundred lawyers on site. The law library has two full time staff, one half-time library technician, and an additional part-time filing clerk who deals with the incoming loose leaf filing that anyone who has visited a law library will be familiar with. Cyndi pointed out the reference collection of Canadian and British law materials, and described the in-house classification system, which groups materials concerning specific areas of law together. This makes it easy for lawyers and associated staff to come in and browse the material available in a particular area of law.

Library staff often work with recent graduates who are now working as articling clerks at the firm, assisting them with research and understanding the library’s resources. Though the print collection is substantial, many of the library’s resources are online, of course. Cyndi mentioned that one of her challenges is marketing the library’s resources to the lawyers, and also convincing senior partners that the library is more than just a line-item on the annual budget. Though she doesn’t have a method for keeping a gate count — tracking the number of people entering and exiting the library — staff do track circulation statistics carefully. Cyndi graduated from Dalhousie’s library program with an MLS in 1980, worked for just under two years at SMU, and then began working as a law librarian. Early on in her career she marketed the libary’s services by spending time near the firm’s photocopier, asking lawyers what they were working on and offering assistance with their research. Cyndi also said that her job is not the same as when she first started 30 years ago, and in fact it is different from even five years ago. The constant change keeps the job interesting.

Cyndi is also currently in her first year serving as Vice President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL), and emphasized the importance of professional involvement in one or more associations related to one’s area of work. In another year Cyndi will be preparing to take over the CALL presidency.

Tour summary written by Lara Killian

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