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CUPE contributed significantly again this year to the annual convention and trade show of the Canadian Library Association (CLA), held from Friday May 29 to Monday June 1 at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal. Over 750 delegates from all over the country were present: workers—including CUPE members—employers, publishers, professors and researchers, volunteers, administrators, and others.

CUPE was a platinum sponsor for the CLA conference and had a booth of its own, which proved to be a real draw with attendees. CUPE also sponsored the conference’s JobLink fair and its opening address, a masterful presentation by Joseph Janes, associate professor at the Information School of the University of Washington.

Joseph Janes, a frequent conference speaker in the U.S. and abroad, is the founding director of the Internet Public Library and coauthor of eight works on librarianship, technology, and the relationship between the two. With great humor and enthusiasm, he delivered an overview of what is currently going on for libraries in North America.

According to Dr. Janes, the library’s traditional role as a refuge where any and all can come to think, study, and dream must be maintained.

He also emphasized how important public libraries become in tough economic times: usage spikes dramatically and substantially, but financial backing (particularly in the U.S.) plummets.

In addition, if libraries are to succeed at their basic mission and respond to the needs of new generations, they will have to diversify their operations, going wherever technology leads them—into the realm of Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging, for instance. “Libraries must be available and positioned and ready in all the ‘new places’—not unlike building new branches or bookmobile routes,” said Dr. Janes.

Almost 17 000 CUPE members are at work in libraries across Canada as librarians, library assistants, library technicians, shelvers, library clerks and pages.