Black History Month 2024

Image of Black History Month

February is Black History Month

“Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black people in Canada and their communities.

The 2024 theme for Black History Month is: “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build”.

This theme celebrates the rich past and present contributions and accomplishments of Black people in Canada, while aspiring to embrace new opportunities for the future.

The theme aligns with the 10th year of the International Decade for People of African Descent and recognizes that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.”
Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month.html

Libby OverDrive logoThe Ontario Library Service is committed to providing resources and training opportunities that support and enhance Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for all libraries across the province. Check out the #BHM2024 curated list available on OverDrive!

How are you recognizing Black History Month? What books and resources can you recommend?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Staff Profile Series: Allison Pilon

Meet the team!
Today’s post is the last in our Staff Profile Series, where you can learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.
Our final profile is of our newest staff member…

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Name: Allison Pilon

Position: Consultant

I am fortunate to have worked in public libraries for over 10 years before joining the Ontario Library Service. Working with the public, dedicated staff and providing innovative programming has been an absolute joy.  As I continue my work with public libraries, I am also pursuing my MPA to have a greater understanding of the importance of political collaboration and relationships for library leaders. I also teach the public libraries class for the MLIS program at Western University.

When I am not working, teaching, or studying, I am with my three little kids and husband who keep me inspired and motivated. My background is in music performance where I still play oboe and teach a small number of students. I love to travel whenever I can, learning about culture and exploring new areas.

My favourite meal is…
Anything Mediterranean! I love shawarma, salads and hummus on everything.

My desert island record is…
I love all types of music everything from baroque classical to electronic but for a desert island, it would be Bon Iver.

My favourite desert island book is…
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, one of my favourite books.

A random and seldom known fact about me is…
I have hand crafted over 1,000 oboe reeds, as I started making them when I was a teenager. Oboe players need a lot of reeds, so I have had to become quite skilled at it. Also, I’ve run five half marathons and hope to get back into running when I have a bit more time in my life. 😊

What do diversity, inclusivity, and connection mean to you?
Listening, learning, and valuing the contributions in our communities. We can learn so much from one another if we open our minds and hearts. I strive to teach my children to treat all people with kindness, empathy, and respect.

Staff Profile Series: Alexandra Taylor

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Alexandra Taylor  

Position: Consultant (Bilingual)

For whatever reason, it never occurred to me that I could make a career as a librarian until I started working in a library at the University of Toronto during my undergraduate degree. But if I look back on my childhood, it should have been the obvious choice because I was always reading, loved going to the library, and even volunteered to help my elementary school librarian shelve books during recess. If you’re choosing libraries over recess, it’s probably where you belong!

I started my library career in academic libraries, then worked in knowledge management for a not-for-profit, and finally found my way into public libraries. I’ve been a consultant here at the OLS since 2016 (SOLS pre-2021) and I work with libraries across the province in both French and English. When I’m not at work, you will likely find me baking, gardening, or travelling!

If you could become a character from any book who would you pick and why?
Tintin from The Adventures of Tintin. He’s courageous and resourceful, has a cute dog, and gets to travel the world while solving puzzles and mysteries. What more could you want!?

My favourite meal is…
Anything Thai! Noodles, curries, soups… I just love the mix of sour/sweet/spicy. And I LOVE cilantro (controversial opinion, I know…)

My desert island record is…
So hard to pick just one, but currently: Black Pumas’ self-titled album.

A random and seldom known fact about me is…
I’m an avid traveler, have been to about 30 different countries, and have visited 6 of the 7 continents. Africa is still to come!

Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it… 
I have a soft spot for the work I do with the francophone libraries across the province. I grew up as a French-speaking kid in Toronto, where it was really hard to find French books, French resources, or really anything in French. If I can make it even a bit easier for libraries to operate in French or offer services to their French-speaking communities, I’m happy.

What do diversity, inclusivity, and connection mean to you?
To me, diversity, inclusivity, and connection mean taking the time to listen to those around you, but more than that, really hearing what they have to say and doing your best to understand their points of view, experiences and challenges.

Staff Profile Series: Karen Reid

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Karen Reid            

Position: Director of Operations

I started as a summer student in the mailroom at the former Ontario Library Service – Escarpment (Hamilton) in 1989 and returned after university to be a part of the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS). I have been involved in many governmental and funding changes over the years and was closely involved in the merger of the Southern and Northern Ontario Library Services. I am currently responsible for Finance, Human Resources, Purchasing, IT, and Resource Sharing including Interlibrary Loan and e-Collections.

My favourite meal is
Anything Mexican – I could eat tacos or enchiladas every day!

My desert island record is…
My iPhone playlist with over 2,000 songs. 😊

A random and seldom known fact about me is…
I have my Bronze Cross swimming certification. I might be a lifeguard when I retire!

Staff Profile Series: Steven Kraus

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Steven Kraus             

Position: Director of Training and Consulting

I started my career within the OLS with the OLS-N in 2004 as a Consultant. I’ve held several titles in our organizations over the years, but at the heart of it all, it’s always been about connecting and serving our clients libraries and their unique library board members to the very best of my ability! What started as a job, quickly grew into a passion to best assist Ontario’s Public Libraries in both French and English and that motivation to bring our best to the table still endures to this very day.

If you could become a character from any book who would you pick and why?
Michael Connelly’s, Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch. The Gritty, no nonsense, find-all-the-answer’s type character really speaks to my drive and convictions… plus the consistent sarcasm doesn’t hurt either… to entertain.

My favourite meal is…
Cajun Catfish, Wild Rice and Slow Cooked Molasses baked beans. I could eat that same meal daily and NEVER get sick of it…

My desert island record is…
This is a dangerous and impossible question for a musician to answer… so I am going to bend the rules and give you all a short list of Albums you simply need to hear at least once in your lifetime…

ZZ Top – Tres Hombre
Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Exodus – Bonded by Blood
Voivod – Killing Technology
Oscar Peterson Trio – Night Train
Mark Lanegan – Whiskey for the Holy Ghost
Telefon Tel Aviv – Map of What is Effortless

A random and seldom known fact about me is…
Random
– I’m 50% French Canadian and 50% Austrian… it still surprises folks when they review my last name… and discover I’m francophone! 😊

Seldom – When I’m not working, I’m usually immersed in one of two things… A deep appreciation of music, playing it or listening to it as a musician and as an FM Radio DJ or, I’m deep in the woods hunting, fishing, and kayaking.

What was the most personally inspiring public library related work you’ve helped make a reality during your time with the OLS?
I’ve been tremendously lucky throughout my career with the OLS and its predecessor organizations to have been a participant and contributor in many significant projects and significant events for the library sector. It has been incredibly rewarding to work closely over the years with librarians, boards, our parent ministry, and so many incredible other stakeholders. The list is exhaustive, and I am always happy to be out there building our brand in the sector and making strong bonds and connections for the good of our organization and clients.

Every day, especially in my current role, I feel even more deeply connected to everything that makes up our Ontario Public Library community.

It’s my privilege and honour to lead our talented Consulting Team through the work we do in support of Ontario’s Public Libraries of all sizes.

What do diversity, inclusivity, and connection mean to you?
I am grateful and thankful for any opportunity that presents itself, or I seek out to embed myself into occasions where I can deeply listen, learn, and connect with new groups, new cultures or perspectives different than my own. I am continuously inspired by the people around me who express their gender fluidity, cultural practices, and beliefs, which I might know less or nothing about.

I want to be thoughtful in my approaches to others’ realities, without imposing my lens on their experiences.

Life offers so much for us all to experience and share in the challenges and successes each and every person faces.

I am grateful to share even just a tiny moment with anyone who’s got a story to tell, especially in today’s complex world.

Staff Profile Series: Brandon Fratarcangeli

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

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Name: Brandon Fratarcangeli           

Position: Consultant

For the past seven years, I’ve worked as a consultant with Ontario Library Service, and previously Southern Ontario Library Service. My first library job was about 15 years ago at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education Library, and there I realized for the first time that libraries are so much more than books and journal articles. I checked out puppets, toys, board games, teaching equipment for student teachers. It really helped shape my perspective of what a library can be. During my time at library school, I worked at the University of Toronto Libraries in Faculty & Student Engagement, gaining new perspectives on the community building, statistical reporting, and curriculum development. These experiences led me to my current position at Ontario Library Service, where I provide advice and guidance on numerous topics related to public library governance and service.

My favourite meal is…

Mushroom risotto.

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

My dream vacation to travel across North America with a teardrop trailer, and stopping at the best hiking trails. I especially want to visit the American Southwest.

Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it…

I really enjoy working with library board members and on governance issues more generally. Before starting at OLS, I only had a very basic understanding of how libraries are overseen and governed. Through my experience at OLS, I gained tremendous insight into the importance of strong governance models for the continued success of libraries. I’ve met wonderful board members from across the province, and I’m truly heartened by volunteer community members willing to serve on their boards and strive to provide effective governance structures that support staff and let them excel at their jobs.

 

Leadership “Coach Approach” Program Wins ICF Prism Award

Ontario Library Service and Big Cheese Coaching Honoured Together with Tribute of Excellence

Image of PRISIM Award winners on screen

On June 14, 2023 the Ontario Library Service (OLS) with Eileen Chadnick, PCC, of Big Cheese Coaching were awarded winners of the annual International Coaching Federation Toronto Prism Awards, in recognition of a two-year “Coach Approach” integrated component of the Advancing Public Library Leaders Institute (APLL).  The Prism award, now in its 23rd year, celebrates excellence in organizational and leadership coaching.

Championed by Anne Marie Madziak (recently retired), the former APLL lead, and OLS executive recognized the potential to bring coaching skills into APLL’s leadership development curriculum.  Designed and facilitated by Eileen Chadnick, the multi-modality “Coach Approach” program was delivered with a hybrid of live workshops (virtual and in-person), videos with online discussion, peer practice, reflective assignments, and a plethora of resources.

41 emerging and aspiring leaders participated in the 2021-2022 cohort, representing 32 public libraries in Ontario. Focused on coaching in the library leadership context, the training highlighted the coaching mindset, and various coaching skills and approaches to amplify potential for collaboration, engagement, and capacity-building.

Image of Anne Marie Madziak at podium.Anne Marie Madziak (program champion) said she saw enormous synergy in the coach approach with the organization’s mandate: “The focus on coaching is well aligned with many of the Institute’s nine leadership practices, including developing individuals, embracing strategic change, reaching for exemplary service, and creating a learning environment. The Coach Approach initiative, with its sharp focus on practical coaching skills and a coaching mindset, is aligned with the learning objectives of the Institute, resulting in many current and future important coaching conversations across Ontario’s public library sector.

Image of Eileen Chadnick at podium.This is the second Prism award for Eileen Chadnick, who said: “It is an extraordinary honour to receive an ICF Prism award. Working with OLS and seeing the transformation amongst the 41 leaders was even more gratifying – seeing the leaders develop new coaching skills and approaches to inspire, empower, and catalyze potential with their people in their respective libraries and communities.”

Image of APLL instructors and Big Cheese Consulting OLS CEO and incoming APLL co-facilitator, Mellissa D’Onofrio-Jones said: “The Coach Approach had a demonstrably positive impact on aspiring leaders in the 2022 cohort. Our aim is to provide leaders at every level in the public library sector with tangible tools for having people centred conversations that develop not only staff but a positive work culture where psychological safety is valued.  Coaching skills will continue to be a significant part of the 2023-2024 curriculum.

Lead ICF Award Judge, Lucy Shenouda, said, “Your delivery of a diverse and comprehensive program in meeting the needs of different types of learners and honouring the ICF competencies is an outstanding achievement.”

We continue to incorporate coaching into the APLL Institute with the current cohort already expressing keen interest in learning more about and practicing coaching skills as a part of their leadership tools.

Big Cheese Coaching Logo       Advancing Public Library Leadership Logo

Staff Profile Series: Deanna Nebenionquit

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

Image of Deanna Nebenionquit

Name: Deanna Nebenionquit

Position: First Nation Consultant

My name is Deanna Nebenionquit, and I am an Ojibwe-kwe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. Growing up, I was a frequent user of the Atikameksheng Kendassi Gamik. The library sits halfway between my parent’s and grandparent’s house. From a young age, I was encouraged to practice reading and writing. My bedroom was an organized mess of notebooks, novels, and magazines. I was also raised to engage with the community by visiting people and attending events. The First Nation was our playground back then! I felt safe exploring on my bike and walking the perpetual loop around the main village with cousins and friends.

My family values and upbringing led me to a career in Museology. I graduated from the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa and the Indigenous Internship Program (formerly the Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices) at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. Before joining Ontario Library Service, I worked for many years at the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury as the Collections Intern, turned Collections Manager and Curator Alternate.

The synergies between museums, libraries, cultural knowledge, and history have allowed me to work towards the grand goal of supporting on-reserve public librarians and the services they provide to patrons.

My favourite desert island book is…

There There by Tommy Orange, published in 2018. I look forward to rereading Cover image of novel: There There by Tommy Orangemy yard sale copy of There There at camp each summer. Tommy Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, raised in Oakland, California. Orange’s fictitious storylines and characters weave together multi-generational experiences through several succinct journeys. The storylines describe Indigenous realities that I’ve tried to process as a First Nation Millennial. Orange’s writing style made me realize that I had never experienced the fiction writings of an Indigenous person from my age group. The City of Oakland is a focal point that the author features as a living entity that can store memories and culture. Tommy Orange’s ability to describe Oakland as home for his characters was the first time I felt the connection to my own community described through written word. Year 2023 will mark my sixth reading of the book, so I think I could survive on an island with this text!

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

A random and seldom known fact about me is that I have no artistry skills. Because I worked in the arts sector for so many years, people assume that I am a master at painting, drawing, sewing. Truth be told, I did not inherit any of those skills. My mom and sister still hem my curtains! I’ve been working on the same beading project for years – a 3-inch flower that I had to turn into an image of an over easy egg in a frying pan because I botched the original project. I appreciate artists and respect their skills, but I am not one of them. However, I do appreciate the compliments that follow once people realize the truth: “You seem like the creative-type!” or “You look like an artist.”

Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it…

I love many aspects of my job as a First Nation Consultant. However, my favourite is engaging with the on-reserve public librarians through the weekly informal virtual Tea & Chat. The drop-in model has consistently been a welcoming space for clients, First Nation Consultants, and the occasional special guest. The group consultation model provides opportunities for OLS to curate training initiatives. The librarians remind me of family and community members that I grew up with. The librarians are all welcoming, sincere, honest, and supportive.

Staff Profile Series: Dayna Lintner

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

Image of Dayna Lintner

Name: Dayna Lintner

Position: Operations and Training Administrator

Since 1989, I have been fortunate to work for the Ontario Library Service in various administrative positions. In my spare time, I enjoy sports, travel, 🤩glamping🤩, woodworking, and painting.

My favourite meal is…

Homemade lasagna! 😋

My desert island record is…

🎵 Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits   

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

I hold a black belt in Taekwondo. 🥋

First Nation Communities READ Top 5 Programming Tips

This year, First Nation Communities READ (FNCR) marks 20 years of celebrating the very best in Indigenous Literature in Canada.  The popular program is led by First Nation librarians working in First Nation communities across Ontario.

Many libraries look to the FNCR program for best book recommendations when purchasing for their collections.  Each year, a shortlist and selected titles are named in two categories: the Children’s Category and the YA/Adult Category.  The titles are chosen by juries made up of First Nation librarians here in Ontario, and are judged with very specific guidelines that reflect First Nation librarianship and the value of knowledge transmission and cultural importance. The winning titles will be announced and celebrated during First Nation Public Library Week (FNPLW) in October 2023.

One of the goals of the FNCR program is to invite all communities and libraries to learn about and showcase Indigenous literature through unique programming and increased numbers of titles in collections.  One of the easiest things librarians can do is purchase the titles named in the long and/or shortlists. These titles can be found through the official FNCR wholesaler, Goodminds.com.  One of the great things about purchasing through Goodminds.com is that a portion of all sales flows to the SILT (Supporting Indigenous Libraries Today) fund.  It’s a win-win!

In anticipation of this year’s line-up, we’ve compiled a Top 5 list of ways you can incorporate FNCR titles into programming throughout the year:

  1. Horror
    If you want to recommend horror to readers, look no further than Inuit titles from Inhabit Media.  Many of these stories are connected to old Inuit stories passed down from generation to generation.
  1. Black History Month
    The Indigenous community is wide and diverse and includes our wonderful Afro-Indigenous brothers and sisters.  During Black History Month, don’t forget to celebrate titles like Beautiful You, Beautiful Me by Tasha Spillet Sumner.
  1. Graphic Novels
    The longlist for this year includes many graphic novels.  Katherena Vermette, Richard Van Camp, and David Robertson, all highly recommended for those graphic novel fans.
  1. Support for Language Revitalization
    Throughout Canada, Indigenous peoples are working hard to grow language proficiency.  Your library can help to support this movement by purchasing titles from the longlist that include various language groups.
  1. 2 Spirit/Pride Month
    The growth of titles created by 2 Spirit writers and illustrators has been wonderful to witness.  During June and all year really, libraries can support the 2S community by highlighting these titles. Joshua Whitehead and Billy Ray Belcourt are just two of the 2S authors highlighted in this year’s longlist.

Visit www.fncr.ca for more information.