… when I started writing this post, anyway.
I had hoped to post at least every other day this week about the preparations for my trip. But said preparations have been taking up all my free time instead. I’ve been working hard on my paper, redrafting it and sourcing images for the accompanying Powerpoint presentation. I am confident that my talk will be interesting, but I am a firm believer in the importance of equally arresting pictures as a way to drive the point home.
My itinerary of library and research visits is now more or less confirmed. I had not realised until Wednesday that this coming Monday is Thanksgiving, so naturally everybody is on holiday. I plan to head out to Niagara Falls; since my first visit to the Falls of Clyde as a wee lass, and my Brownie pack’s visit to the Spectacle E’e, I’ve never been able to resist a waterfall. Or, in this case, a WATERFALL. The evening will be hopefully be spent eating in a friendly Toronto hostelry, in a manner that befits Thanksgiving celebrations as I understand them (i.e. lots and lots and lots of eating).
Back to the formal itinerary. Because my current research into the library space involves comparisons with gardens, I’m spending Sunday (jetlag permitting) in Toronto’s historic gardens. The Museum Services staff have been really helpful in recommending gardens and confirming opening hours over the holiday weekend. I’m also looking forward to visiting Casa Loma if I can; if for no other reason, the study has a secret door linking it to the wine cellar. I don’t need to know any more than that. I have a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum library lined up for Tuesday, which means a visit to the Museum itself is in order to compare the library resources with the collections they support.
At the University of Toronto, I’m planning to visit the iSchool – where they make librarians – and the Centre for the Book – where they make/encourage book geeks like me. I’ll be using the latter’s website in my conference presentation as well.
I’ve then got an overnight stay in Ottawa, to visit the Canadian Library Association headquarters. I’m very interested in finding out how they respond to the challenges working in a bilingual culture. The CLA staff have also helped me to organise a visit to the Rare Books department at Library and Archives Canada. European rare book libraries usually contain a significant amount of medieval and earlier material, so I wonder how the collections in a younger civilisation will compare, and what skills are needed by librarians to best care for them? I will end the day with a visit to the Main Library, the central public library in Ottawa. Again, I am particularly interested in the challenges involved in catering to the needs of bilingual communities, but would also like to see if any of the issues currently affecting British public libraries are being raised in Canada.
Once back in Toronto, I’ll be heading to York University. My first stop is the Scott Library, home to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. It’s then time to indulge my Victorian geekery with a visit to the Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies HQ. As well as pandering to my research interests, it’s always helpful to find out more about a resource that may be of use to my own students. In this case, I’m thinking in particular of those studying Fine and Decorative Arts. The aforementioned Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections department has an excellent Victorian collection, and I am hoping to see the Pre-Raphaelites’ letters which they acquired not too long ago. It’s always fascinating to see such original artefacts, to know who created them and used them – but that could lead into a dangerously long discussion of the physical object in the library. A post for another time.
These visits done, it remains only to take advantage of the delights of the Toronto Chocolate Festival and to treat myself to a chocolate high tea.
And the Ninth International Conference of the Book begins the following day … but that will be another story.