Good evening and welcome! The last few days have been beautiful, haven't they? Given the beautiful weather we've had I'm sure that, under normal circumstances, many of you would be at home in your gardens so I'm pleased that you chose to join us this evening.
In particular I'd like to welcome our special guests Marjorie Harris and Jack Batten. Most of you know that I'm a recent transplant to Canada and that I enjoy gardening. In leaving the US I unfortunately left behind a beautiful garden – and, fortunately, one very annoying Bush. I'm looking forward to her presentation this evening.
I'd also like to thank a few guests from the community including Ken Roberts, CEO of Hamilton Public Library; Jo-Anne Westerby the Director of Academic, Teaching and Learning Services at Mohawk College; and Bryan Prince, bookseller.
I know you're eager to hear from Marjorie Harris but I hope you'll allow me a few minutes to highlight some of our achievements over this past year. To use a gardening analogy, growing a strong organization begins with preparing the plot. Over the last year the libraries began a radical transformation that has touched every area of the library. Like removing sod it was hard work but it allowed us to amend the soil and start planting and we've planted some extraordinary seeds! A few of them include:
We are the first Canadian research library to build a new interface to our online catalog using the same web software as Home Depot and Chapters.
We're opening new facilities like the Mills Learning Commons, which won the Rudy Heinzl award and we are the first Canadian research library to offer reference service in Second Life, a virtual world. (and my librarian told me today she had 6 visitors during her first 15 minutes AND that someone left her a virtual box of Timbits –yes, Tim Horton's is really everywhere!)
We've added 6 new librarian positions including the first immersive learning librarian in the world.
We added the archives from Leslie McFarlane, author of the Hardy Boys.
We digitized all of Mac's dissertations and more than 1000 WWI maps and aerial photos.
We're building new relationships and have been working more closely with HPL and Mohawk College.
We're in the process of launching an exciting new book purchasing program in partnership with Bryan Prince books that we hope will expand our print collections.
It's through your generous support that we're able to do amazing things. In the last year alone we raised more than $1 million, much of it for the Thode Learning Commons, which is part of the capital campaign! Since I'm sure we're all looking forward to hearing tonight's presentation I'll get on with the introduction!
This evening, I have the great pleasure of introducing Marjorie Harris who graduated from McMaster with a BA in English, following in her father's footsteps who received degrees from McMaster in 1934 and 1935. In the early 1960s she worked for Toronto art dealer Dorothy Cameron which led to a position at Maclean's magazine. She continued as a freelancer, writing on a wide range of topics for nearly every major Canadian magazine In the early 1970s she was also a writer, producer, and commentator for CBC Radio and wrote and co-authored numerous books. She describes her "epiphany" in 1988 when she combined her writing talents and passion for gardening to create The Canadian Gardener. Published in 1990, it launched a new career, and was the first of nearly 20 gardening monographs she has written. Recognition for her expertise led to gardening columns in Chatelaine and The Globe & Mail, and to editorship roles with Toronto Life Gardens and Gardening Life. She continues to be much sought-after for speaking engagements, public appearances, and garden tours, and is a regular garden commentator on television and radio programs and online forums. In 1999 she was inducted to McMaster's Alumni Gallery and in the same year, was also the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Arts. In 2006, she donated her papers to the Library, and I'd like to echo Dr. George's thanks to her for this generous gift.
Please join me in welcoming her tonight.