Anne Galler Award Acceptance Speech - Wendy Wayling

Award Recipient: Wendy Wayling

May 2014

I would like to thank the Anne Galler Award Selection Committee and those who nominated me for this award. Thank you Rosemary Cochrane and Janet Ilavsky.  

I have to say that when I was told about the award, my stomach did a flip. I thought about all the wonderful librarians who have accepted this award before me and the legendary Anne Galler after whom the award was named and I really wasn’t sure that I should be standing here. I then thought about how much this Association and its members have meant to me over the years and a flood of gratitude took over.

It was twenty years ago (almost to the day) that I graduated from McGill Library and Information Studies with my MLIS. I remember being told by a faculty member that I, and a few others in our program, had been selected as first-time recipients of a free membership to the Quebec Library Association. I didn’t know that much about ABQLA at the time but I relished the idea of meeting more people who loved libraries as much as I did. And so started my initiation into this wonderful group of inspirational and dedicated leaders who are not only exemplary in their own jobs but who also manage to volunteer their time and expertise to continually improve the profession.

Over the years I served as the Vice President and President of the Youth Section – meeting other fantastic children’s librarians and authors from all over Canada. My years as conference chair and president of the Association were also a rewarding experience. I have to thank Sonia Djevalikian for asking me to consider being Vice President – I must say that she was very convincing! I was nervous knowing the incredible work involved but she was absolutely right in telling me how wonderful the experience would be and how much I would gain from it.

When I graduated from library school I started my career as a reference librarian at the Cote Saint Luc library – this was a great experience in that I learned so much about reference work from the wonderful women who worked with me. It was also at the CSL Library that I had my first taste of children’s librarianship when I was asked to animate a storytime session for preschoolers. I had never done anything like this before but I thought – why not? - I was up for a new challenge. One storytime and I was hooked. I loved the children, the parents, the books, the art and I was being paid for it – what could be better!

I continued running the storytime program and doing reference work at CSL until I accepted a full-time position as a reference/AV/programming librarian at the Westmount Library. But it was when the children’s librarian position opened in 1998 that I felt I had truly found my calling. A bell went off - that same excitement I had meeting those children at storytime could be experienced every day!

Another wonderful aspect of working at the Westmount Public Library is of course its extraordinary history. The library, which opened in 1899 was one of the first publicly funded libraries in Canada, and went on to have one of the first children’s libraries in North America when it opened in 1911. To this day it is still strongly supported by the community.

There have been many children’s and school librarians whom I have truly admired over the years, especially the group that makes up the Librarians of Greater Westmount. It is always a pleasure collaborating and meeting with them to discuss  issues we face in our profession.

I have had many mentors and teachers over the years who have meant a great deal to me. I worked very closely with Ann Moffat both at the Westmount Library and on the ABQLA board – she taught me the value of excellence and to always strive for the best. I always admired her ability to get so much accomplished with such calm and grace. I also have to thank my favourite professor at McGill – Peter McNally – who taught me the ins and outs of research and reference work. Again, his commitment to excellence has stayed with me for years.

Of course, I need to express my deepest gratitude to the team at the Westmount Public Library. They are really more than one can ask for – kind, patient, energetic, funny, smart and always, always generous! There are too many staff members to name and I wouldn’t want to miss any one of them. They are each important and unique in their own way - I am truly blessed to work with all of you every day. I have learned so much from all of you. I would like to say a special thank you to our director, Julie-Anne Cardella for all the incredible support she has given us over the last few years.

Finally, those of you who work with me know how much my family has helped and supported me. You have to be proud and blessed to have family who doesn’t mind dressing as the characters from Harry Potter and having their photo on the cover of the local newspaper for all their friends to discover! Thanks Tess and Téa! And a special thanks to my husband Louis who has had lots of patience and great advice for me over the years. And of course, for all the things he didn’t sign up for – building a time machine, making a giant papier maché dragon that had to be lowered out of our second-floor window, constructing a lighthouse that actually lit up - you get the picture. Actually, I thought that this would be a good time to ask him if he can get started on that life-size TARDIS we need for the summer reading program!

In closing, I hope that those of you who are new to the profession will have just as many valuable experiences as I have had over the last 20 years. I cannot stress enough how much an Association like ABQLA can help open doors for you. I would also like to say a special thanks to Marc Galler who is here with us tonight and has always been such a great supporter of our Association.

Thank you again for honouring me with this award - have a good night!

Picture of Wendy giving speach:

Wendy Wayling, Anne Galler Award Recipient