Incredible Learning Opportunities

Learn more about the incredible range of panel speakers featured at the Stronger Together Library Conference. Panellists will cover a wide variety of topics, including advocacy, artificial intelligence and technology, issues in the workplace, intellectual freedom, governance, and programming.

October 3 Sessions

Presented by: Laina Kelly and Sue Hopgood

Description: In this session, Stony Plain Public Library Director Laina Kelly will talk about the library’s method of engaging teens through relationship, community and restorative justice. She will outline how the library used a restorative justice approach to engage teens in accountability and relationship, helping reduce incidents of vandalism, disruptive behaviours and disrespectful treatment of staff.

Audience: Public library staff and managers, Trustees

Presented by: Rob Hudson and Michael Gourlie

Description: Are you a librarian responding to law questions? This session will engage librarians working in information services in public, academic, and special libraries in Alberta. Fortunately, AI and technology are enhancing research and reference in this subject area, and tools will be discussed such as Elicit and MS Copilot. Collections and services of the Alberta Law Libraries

(ALL) and Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA) are central themes as well. Outcomes include the principal objectives of learning how and where to find Alberta legal resources and future trends. Assessing digital, print, and archival challenges and identifying guerrilla tactics for researching unpublished primary sources in law are discussed. Using AI tools to enhance your search technique is detailed. This session is essential trench warfare for librarians in law subject support and related disciplines!

Audience: General Library Staff in public, academic, and special libraries

Presented by: Karla Palichuk

Description: In 2023, the Canadian Federal government ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190, the Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (C190). This global treaty focuses on ending workplace violence and harassment. In addition to a framework to prohibit, prevent, and address workplace violence and harassment, this treaty moves away from considering violence and harassment as either an equality or an occupational health and safety issue and solidifies this as a workplace psychosocial hazard.

 A national survey of public librarians was conducted in 2023, in completion of an MSC in Organizational Psychology. The survey results indicate workplace bullying and destructive leadership behaviours exist and may be impacting perceptions of organizational culture. This session will present the results of the study, and outline the interplay between individual behaviour, leadership practices and systemic factors that perpetuate and support workplace bullying. 

Audience: This session is appropriate for: public library staff and managers; academic library staff and managers; trustees

Audience: Public library staff and managers, Trustees

Presented by: Danielle Frey

Description: We all face risks every day in our personal and professional lives. While some risks are inevitable and even acceptable, others can be catastrophic. Preparing for uncertainty by learning about what types of risk may affect library services is key.  Learn about the risk management cycle and what tools you can use to assess, plan, and respond to risks accordingly. Discover how to develop a strategy that will help you mitigate risks and start building a risk aware culture at your library.  

Audience: Trustees, Public and Academic Managers/Directors and staff

Presented by: Amanda Wakaruk

Description: New evidence-based research shows that legal chill hampers the work of employees in higher education in Canada and the UK. This session presents some of the quantitative and qualitative results from that project, including practical tips for reducing anxiety and chill when working with copyright in all types of Canadian libraries.

Audience: Anyone working in libraries who has felt confused or anxious about navigating copyright issues. Survey results (from the research project described above) indicate that copyright anxiety is a widespread issue in Canadian libraries. By the end of the session, participants will be able to define and better identify copyright anxiety and chill in the workplace and identify options for mitigating both phenomena.

Presented by: Various speakers, moderated by Jessie Morris

Description: In September of 2022, Frog Lake First Nation made history by opening the very first provincially connected Indigenous library in Alberta.  This was no simple achievement as there are unique complexities involved with creating a provincial library board in a First Nation community, not to mention, a global pandemic raging across the world, as well as the more common challenges of securing funding, and finding board members. The tireless efforts of the Frog Lake First Nation community scouted the way forward for other First Nations and Metis communities to follow suit, and in this panel discussion we will share some of the stories, challenges, and success stories of expanding library and information services in Indigenous Communities.

Audience: All - public, academic, and school library staff, managers and Trustees

Presented by: Harold Semenuk and Katherine Schock

Description: School libraries and learning commons, as physical places and philosophical foundations for pedagogy, instructional design, and community, have been ignored, misunderstood, and decimated in Alberta for at least 30 years. This is not the case in all provinces and jurisdictions in Canada and globally. Despite the mounting challenges and barriers, individuals and small groups are relentlessly working to repair, cultivate, and reclaim the integrity of school libraries, professional and wise oversight and management. Vignettes of struggles and inspiring stories across Alberta will be shared, along with abridged interviews, demonstrating the vital and nurturing power of school libraries to rejuvenate and protect the best and most leading edge approaches in schooling and education. By drawing-on live attendee experiences, this session demonstrate how any library can connect with a school community, for a wiser and more adaptive hub for school safety, intellectual freedom and preparing for book challenges, digital literacy and learning integration, community programming, competency building, equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and idea brokerages - and then, of course, the endless applications for literacy and numeracy.

The affinity and value of any library system can be firmly rooted and supportively intertwined, if nurtured competently, caringly, and with wisdom, in a place where students consistently spend 7 hours, for roughly 160 days per year, between the ages of 5 and 18. Connecting, repairing, and reclaiming our common well being is vital to all libraries and the health of our collective society.

Audience: Anyone interested or concerned about the state of libraries and learning commons in Alberta schools, and the missed opportunities and resultant harm due to neglect and ignorance; moreover, looking for ways to better connect, co-support, and move synchronously with school libraries and learning commons.

Presented by: Adrian Cropley ** Note this will be a virtual session, speaker lives in Australia**

Description: AI in the workplace (and our daily lives) is here to stay. Yet, what we see in use today is only the beginning of what working with AI will look like in the future. With this evolution, there will be many ethical crossroads that organizations and professionals in the library sector must address, and creating governance and responsible use guidelines will be a role for all leaders in the organization. This session is designed to give leaders the tools to do just that. Adrian Cropley of the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence will lead attendees through a thoughtful journey of creating an organization’s AI ethics, governance, and responsible use practice while aligning with existing ethics and governance organizational policies. With over 30 years in the field of strategic communication. Adrian will share how Ai is changing the way we do our work in all jobs within the organization

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand the principles of good governance and responsible use of AI, and how they fit into ethical practice
  2. Help your organization in navigating the changing world of AI in the library sector
  3. Understand how to apply strategic thinking to incorporate the changing tools and technologies in a contemporary library environment

Audience: All

Presented by: Mary-Ann Shantz

Description: Sickness, aging, death and grief will affect all of us – so how do we support open dialogue around these topics?

This presentation will focus on creating space for thinking and talking about advance care planning, palliative care and death through health literacy resources developed by the Covenant Health Palliative Institute. The presentation will explore how librarians can use these to develop engaging programming and address requests for information, in collaboration with local professionals and community organizations.

Five tools will be showcased during the presentation:

  • The Plan Ahead Toolkit provides practical guidance to community organizations on how to organize and deliver effective public education sessions on health, financial and estate planning.
  • My Wishes Alberta is a fillable workbook to help people identify what is most important to them about their life, health and personal care, available in print and digital formats.
  • Understanding Palliative Care is a short multi-media e-module that explains what palliative care is and the benefits it offers, incorporating the voices of three Albertans who have personally benefitted from palliative care.
  • PalliLearn is a series of short courses to help people develop the knowledge and confidence to be a supportive friend and neighbour in times of sickness and loss, facilitated by a health professional.
  • Death Cafes are events that make space for people to share their thoughts about death and dying with no agenda, objectives or themes.


Audience: Library Managers and General Library Staff, all library types

October 4 Sessions

Session 4A: How to have tough conversations without breaking a sweat

Presented by: Nancy Keough

Description: Session Description: Do you ever wonder why tough conversations make you sweat? You’re uncomfortable, for a variety of reasons, skill, experience, fear of possible outcomes and your own personal connections to the work.  In this session we will share experiences and real-life scenarios, creating a framework for greatness, reigniting your passion for the work. One on One meetings, performance reviews, lack of alignment, disruptive behavior, confrontational conversations, will all be less intimidating, together we will fill our toolboxes for success. Avoiding these conversations steals everyone’s peace and makes your job harder. Let’s create a path to success together!

Audience:  Managers, Supervisors, Trustees, all types of libraries

Presented by: Megan Ginther and Jen Awde

Description: Explore the transformative power of collaboration between Hugh Sutherland School and Carstairs Public Library, as we share insights from our dynamic school/library partnership. Discover how our community-led approach has driven the evolution of our services, from addressing specific student needs to fostering shared programming initiatives. Join us to learn practical strategies for integrating public library resources into the school setting, enriching student learning experiences, and strengthening community bonds.

Session Goals

  1. Gain an understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with school/public library partnerships.
  2. Explore actionable strategies for implementing community-led approaches to library service provision.
  3. Learn how to develop formal agreements and protocols to ensure smooth collaboration between school and public library stakeholders.

Audience: Public and School Audience- focused

Presented by: Kieran LeBlanc and Justin Pitt - BPAA

Description: Thousands of digital titles by Alberta publishers are available to library patrons through the Read Alberta eBook, Prairie Indigenous eBook, and the newly launched Accessible Alberta: eBooks for Everyone Collections. With unlimited simultaneous lending, and at no cost to libraries, these digital collections make it easier to share Alberta-based content with patrons, in a way that is accessible to all.

In this presentation, Kieran and Justin will provide an overview of the digital collections and demonstrate how they can be used as a tool for librarians. Attendees will also be given the chance to explore the collections themselves. With statistics showing that about 10% of Canadians have a print disability, these collections are a valuable resource for librarians who wish to find Alberta-published titles in formats that work for each reader’s specific needs.

Audience: All library staff responsible for connecting patrons with content including public and school librarians, and marketing staff.

Presented by: Dan Hackborn and Shannen Shott

Description: Throughout North America, libraries have found themselves responding to

natural disasters that affect their facilities and their community at large. Wildfires,

flooding, and evacuations are becoming part of a seasonal ‘new normal’ and the

valuable services and resources that libraries can provide during and after these events

is an increasingly recognized part of emergency management.

However, providing library services in this context can be both stressful and

somewhat ad-hoc. With this in mind, this workshop will provide a forum to learn and

share knowledge and practices to prepare your library for these circumstances. Drawing

upon direct experience and situations from around North America, the presenters will

guide participants through

1) the climate impacts and natural hazards that are most likely to occur in


2) common needs and issues that arise during these emergencies,

3) how libraries have met these challenges in similar situations, and

4) finally offer suggestions and reflections for aiding in community resilience.

While this might seem an overwhelming role to take on, even aside from being

directly appointed as an evacuation centre or staging ground, it has been found that

community members often turn to libraries during crises since they are trusted public

institutions. Giving thought to the possibility of a natural disaster and planning ahead of

time can make all the difference for you, your co-workers, and your community.

Audience: All

Presented by: Angela Kublik

Description: lan of service is a vitally important guiding document that sets and communicates your library’s vision and goals. It can also be a powerful tool to help the library board and staff advocate for the library with municipalities and other stakeholders. This session will explore the opportunities that arise when clear connections are made between community engagement, advocacy, and strategic planning, and how to leverage those connections to develop a robust and cohesive approach to advocate for your library effectively.

This session will help participants:

  • Understand the difference between engagement and advocacy – and why both are needed.
  • Build additional engagement opportunities into your strategic planning process to create a more robust understanding of community needs.
  • Involve staff and board members in engagement activities, as a means of helping staff and board strengthen existing community relationships and build new ones.
  • Advocate successfully for your library’s goals and objectives once your plan of service is complete.

Audience: Trustees and public library managers/staff

Presented by: Tammy Oliphant, Danielle Allard and Kyle Day

Description: The Patron-Perpetrated Sexual Harassment (PPSH) in Libraries research project investigates the sexual harassment of library workers by the patrons they serve. Although PPSH is a topic that has not been well studied in libraries, our 2021 national survey conducted with 505 library workers across Canada, revealed that 93% of library workers have been sexually harassed at work (Oliphant, Allard, Lieu, & Mallach, 2021). PPSH happens in-person, over the phone, online, outside of the workplace, and in every corner of the library. Library workers contend with different types of harassment ranging from being told inappropriate “jokes” to being asked out on dates to being stalked, touched, yelled at, and sexually assaulted. Library workers also reported that they consider policy interventions and training as valuable tools to address PPSH and workplace safety. In order to address this serious workplace issue, this presentation will report preliminary findings from our most recent survey, distributed specifically to Canadian public library systems asking them about their PPSH related policies, procedures, reporting processes, and training. Our findings demonstrate that while only about 25% of public libraries have policies and/or training in place that specifically addresses PPSH, libraries have a wide range of related and supporting policies, procedures, reporting, and training approaches that can address PPSH. The purpose of this presentation is both to share information about the PPSH policies and procedures that public libraries presently use and to initiate a rich discussion amongst attendees about PPSH related best practices. Working with and learning from public libraries, our project goal is to better understand existing policies and procedures in order to provide support, education and training, and related recommendations on this topic.

Audience: All - public, academic, and school library staff, managers and Trustees

Presented by: Paige McGeorge and Nicole Hembroff

Description: In late 2022, a challenge was brought to the Lethbridge Public Library board regarding the library’s policy on the privacy of teen membership records. This prompted us to ask ourselves: Should parents have access to teen members’ library records? What role does privacy play in relation to those aged 13-17, and their social and mental development? What are the best practices in safeguarding responsibility and privacy for teens, while acknowledging they are not yet legally adults? We will share the resources we presented to the board in defense of teen privacy rights in public libraries, and the importance of having robust policies in place due to the increase in challenges to teen collections, services, and borrowing privileges.

Audience: Public and school library staff and administrators looking to ensure teens have private, equal access to library materials.

Presented by: Jen Pringle and Kerry Anderson

Description: Library boards have a big job when it comes to governing public library service in their community and it is not without risks. As a corporation, library boards have a responsibility to fulfill legal obligations under the Libraries Act and board members must carry out their fiduciary duties. In this session, we will discuss risks that a library board should consider, such as why it is important that board members have been legally appointed and other potential governance risks. We will also examine the fiduciary duties of board members and offer different strategies the board can employ to manage risk.

Audience: library board members

Presented by: Margaret Law

Description: “Data is like garbage. You’d better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it.” (Mark Twain)

Many libraries use surveys to collect information for their plans of service, for advocacy purposes, or for making decisions about staff.  Decisions and outcomes will only be as good as the data you collect.  This session will provide guidelines for designing and implementing surveys that will provide manageable and useful information. Topics included will include both some practical tips on making surveys work, supported by ethical and confidentiality considerations, and ideas of what to do with the data once you've collected.  This session is for beginners, no survey experience is needed!

Audience: All - public, academic, and school library staff, managers and Trustees

Call for Speakers