This year's theme is TRUE GRIT.

October 20-22, 2023
Truro, Nova Scotia


We are excited to welcome you to the 2023 Nova Scotia Libraries Association Conference hosted in Truro, Nova Scotia. 

It takes true (=real) grit to work in today’s libraries. As the library’s role in the community grows broader, we must summon passion and perseverance in order to continue to adapt to our communities’ ever-changing needs.

Below you will find more information about the conference program and venue. You can register now by downloading the registration form.


Register Today!


All conference attendees must adhere to the Code of Conduct.

General Information

The Venue

The 2023 NSLA Conference is being held at:

Inn on Prince Hotel & Conference Centre
437 Prince Street
Truro, NS
(902) 895-1651

For more information about the hotel, please visit their website. Delegates are responsible for arranging their own accommodation.

  • The conference room rate is $124.00/night plus tax (single or double occupancy).
  • Specify that you are attending the Nova Scotia Library Association Conference.

  • Guest rooms will be available at the conference rate until September 20. After that time rooms will be available on a first come, first served basis, and the conference rate will not be guaranteed.
  • Check in time is 3 pm.
  • Check out time is 11 am.
  • Parking is complementary.


Conference Fees

Early Bird Period: August 18 – September 12                Regular Period: September 12 – October 5

Full Conference (includes Friday night Meet & Greet, breakfasts, nutrition breaks, lunch, and 1 banquet ticket):

  • Early Bird Member ($185)
  • Early Bird Non-Member ($210)
  • Regular Member ($195)
  • Regular Non-Member ($220)

Pre-Conference Only ($40)

Saturday Sessions (includes Saturday breakfast, nutrition breaks, lunch, and 1 banquet ticket):

  • Early Bird Member ($100)
  • Early Bird Non-Member ($110)
  • Regular Member ($110)
  • Regular Non-Member ($120)

Additional Banquet Tickets ($50)

Register Today!

Exhibit Information

Saturday, October 21 9:00am to 4:00pm

Exhibitors play a vital role in our annual conference. They not only introduce their latest services and products to our community, but also provide important sponsorship and support for our conference. Please take the time to visit our exhibitors, show your appreciation, and play vendor bingo to win some fabulous prizes! On behalf of the 2023 Conference Planning Committee and all of the conference delegates, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of the exhibitors participating in the 2023 NSLA Conference.

Registration Desk Hours

Friday, October 20 12:00pm to 6:30pm

Saturday, October 21 8:00am to 2:00pm

Featured Speakers

James (Jim) L. Turk

Saturday Morning Keynote
Appearance Date: Saturday, October 21, 2023 at 9:00am AST

Jim is Director of the Centre for Free Expression at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

He speaks and writes extensively on intellectual freedom, freedom of expression, human rights, and civil liberties and on their importance for social justice and democracy. His most recent book is an edited collection, Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Speech Rights in the University.

From 1998 to 2014, Jim was Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers; previously having been a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto teaching Canadian studies and labour studies. He has also held several senior positions in the Canadian trade union movement.

Dr. Lynn Jones

Sunday Morning Keynote
Appearance Date: Sunday, October 22 at 10:30am AST

Jones is a proud African Canadian born and raised in Truro, NS. She has over 30 years of experience as a federal public service employee, and extensive experience in the Canadian Labour Movement. Dr. Jones became the first Black person to join the executive ranks of the largest union in Canada, becoming the first general vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress and national vice-president of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union. She co-chaired the first national union Anti-Racism task force conducted in Canada. She has spent much time assisting communities in their development and in coordinating diversity, employment equity, and embracing change initiatives.

She possesses several awards including the Queens Jubilee Medal and 100 Black Canadian Women of Excellence Award. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from Acadia and Mount Saint Vincent Universities and in 2023 was named to the Order of Canada, the highest civilian award in Canada. She presently chairs the Global Afrikan Congress – NS Chapter, which seeks reparations for the atrocities of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Her present passion is in obtaining affordable housing for the Indigenous African Nova Scotian community from “The Marsh” in Truro. This has been possible through the creation of a community land trust that addresses the gentrification and environmental racism that swept through her home community.

Pre-Conference Sessions

Friday, October 20 1:00-4:00pm

Presenters: Norma MacDonald, NS Take Home Naloxone Program Coordinator, Nova Scotia Health, and Emily Percival-Paterson, Harm Reduction Consultant, Nova Scotia Health.

Libraries across North America are in the midst of responding to the opioid crisis. With more libraries experiencing opioid overdoses in their spaces, it’s critical that library staff are trained to administer Naloxone, a temporary antidote that reverses an opioid overdose.

Join us to learn all about opioid overdose prevention and response training. We will discuss harm reduction, how to engage in an empathetic manner, trauma-informed care, and teach you how to save a life by administering Naloxone. Naloxone kits will be provided for all participants to take home.

Presenters: Megan Gainer, Director of Facilities, HPL, and Siobhan Wiggans, Programming and Community Engagement Lead, HPL.

As communities change and the role of libraries has evolved, careful consideration of the Library’s built environment from the lens of universal design needs to take place. This workshop will focus on how to use thoughtful and considered design approaches to make your Library more inclusive to all, including community members living with disabilities or experiencing addictions or mental health issues, newcomers, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and more. Discussions will explore how to balance the needs of public and staff safety, ensure security, and enhance spaces to foster a sense of belonging to all. The content of this session will include a presentation, a walking tour of the Truro Library with an eye towards universal design, followed by a hands-on design charrette where participants will be encouraged to share photos, drawings and ideas they wish to get feedback on.

Presenter: Carolina Kovesi, Editor and Accessibility Consultant and Educator (former Awareness and Education Coordinator for the Nova Scotia Accessibility Directorate).

Who gets to be social on social media? And why does it matter?

22% of people in so-called Canada live with disabilities. In this open-level workshop you’ll learn practical steps you can take to make your social media content more inclusive and accessible to as many people as possible on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). The workshop will include topical examples and demonstrations, opportunities to put your learning into practice in a safe environment, and a question period.

Some of the topics we will explore include:

  • What happens when someone using assistive technology like screen readers encounters inaccessible posts on social media
  • How to use built-in accessibility features on Facebook, Instagram, and X
  • The difference between alternative text versus image descriptions, and how to write each
  • How to design (more) accessible visual graphics and posters
  • Best practices for incorporating emojis, hashtags, and GIFs

Not involved with your library’s social media? Join to learn more about digital inclusion and how different people encounter, interact with, and navigate online content.

Saturday Conference Sessions Include:

*Conference sessions are subject to change.

Presenters: Ken Williment, Manager, Programming and Community Engagement, HPL, and HPL Navigators, Sheena Jamieson and Shawn Gregory

Library staff are known for building strong and trusting relationships with the community, and every day see how health, housing and community issues impact the people in our branches. They meet people where they are. As a result, when community members are going through major life changes or challenges they often approach library staff for support. In order to meet increasing and more complex community needs, Halifax Public Libraries (HPL) created two new positions: Community Navigators and Community Specialists. These staff sit on the Library Led Social Response Team. This presentation will explore the work of the Social Response Team and roles of Community Navigators at HPL.

Presenters: Janette Vusich, Assistant Regional Program Coordinator, CBRL, and Nicole MacGibbon, Technical Services Librarian, CBRL.

With the rising cost of living, growing concern for the climate, and enhanced awareness of

conscious consumption, Cape Breton Regional Library (CBRL) is seeing an increased interest in programming that supports sustainable initiatives and a sharing economy. In response to patron interest and community need, staff at CBRL’s largest branch, the McConnell Library in Sydney, Nova Scotia, organized an adult clothing swap in February 2023.

The event was promoted as an opportunity for participants to clear out their closets, refresh their wardrobes, and do something good for the environment and their community. Participants could bring up to 10 items to the branch prior to the swap and receive a voucher for the same number of pieces. A selection of vouchers were also donated to local non-profit organizations to share with their clients, and staff pre-arranged to have all additional items remaining after the swap donated to local charitable groups.

Advertised through the library’s social media channels and website, the event garnered substantial attention. Within days, the Facebook post announcing the event was shared more than 400 times and reached over 42,000 people – nearly double the library’s current membership. Local media—including CBC’s Mainstreet Cape Breton radio program and SaltWire network’s newspaper The Cape Breton Post—also took note and reached out for interviews. The swap drew more than 200 people through the doors, including many new faces and members of the elusive age 20-30 demographic.

In this presentation, we will discuss how we used the simple premise of a clothing swap to build community, encourage civic engagement, and provide an equitable “shopping” experience for all.

Presenter: Charity Fraser, Library Programmer, SSPL

We all know that teens are an ever-elusive demographic in our libraries, especially when it comes to programs. Discord is an amazing platform, and incredibly versatile. In addition to being a platform where many teens are already hanging out, it also allows for more accessible programming, open across a library region – or province. It also affords library staff to bring in guest speakers that likely would not have been hosted in an in-person program.

In this session, Charity Fraser will share her experience and insight hosting two successful library programs on Discord: Anime Club and Teen Summer Book Club.

Presenters: Siobhan Stevenson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, Allyson Aritcheta, Graduate Student Library Assistant, University of Toronto Libraries’ Communications Office, Tia Dayman, LIS and MI student, University of Toronto, Elsie Mahendran, Mississauga Public Library, Allison Swanson, Assistant Branch Manager, Weillington County Library, and Meghan North, Library Page, Toronto Reference Library.

Becoming a community’s hub is as much about creating welcoming spaces that are open to all of the communities within our public libraries’ catchment areas, as it is about facilitating the creation of safe spaces of hope, engagement and empowerment outside the library building itself. One of the ways in which this can be achieved—and has been achieved by a range of helping professions—is through Asset-Based Community Development or ABCD.

The purpose of this one-hour session is to share with participants the concrete research tools (participant observation, walk-abouts) techniques (asset mapping, and role play), challenges (being “out there” on our own), and opportunities (the thrill of connecting with real people) associated with ABCD and as experienced by two teams of LIS graduate students as part of a capstone project. Specifically, students were challenged to pilot an actual ABCD initiative within two distressed urban neighbourhoods in Toronto. In this session, these (recently graduated) students will model their approaches to developing an asset map for an actual community that is both immediately doable and scalable to any size community.

For the public library sector, asset-based community-led development (ABCD) and community asset mapping are many things: a professional practice, a research method, a partnership-building vehicle, and a tool to support the development of: (a) healthy, vibrant, and sustainable cultural, educational, and informational services and (b) leverage professional competencies in support of community-led development. Since the Working Together Project (2004 to 2008), libraries across the country continue to experiment with new ways to meet people where they are and to provide them with the tools necessary for social inclusion as well as individual and collective wellbeing.

This session will demonstrate that through ABCD, library staff can play an essential role in supporting community development if they are willing to suspend their role as “expert” and enter into a process that is truly research-based, participatory, and action oriented. Being able to listen, and to critically assess one’s own subjectivity (especially as it relates to race, class, and gender), and relinquish control, are attributes necessary for this work, which will also be explored.

Presenter: Katrina Nicholson, Library Assistant, CBRL

Often written off as an action-oriented niche genre for teens, manga is a graphic novel format that encompasses many different types of stories aimed at all different age groups. You might purchase a video game spinoff for children, an LGBTQIA+ memoir for teens, and a gritty western for adults. The story unfolds over a series of volumes, often in the 10-20 range but potentially as short as one or as long as a hundred.

Many manga titles have expanded beyond their Japanese origins and into English-speaking mainstream culture. Death Note is now a live action series on Netflix, you can buy Naruto t-shirts at Walmart, and Pokemon is just about everywhere. Manga-style stories are being written by authors in Korea, China, Europe, and North America, both in print and on the web.

Manga readers can be voracious, passionate, and internet savvy. If you can attract them to your library, they will borrow stacks of volumes at a time. Manga is easier to digest than prose, which also makes it more accessible to reluctant or struggling readers.

Library staff who have not read any manga can find it difficult to know which series to buy and how to manage their collections. This session will help get you started. We will talk about who reads manga, what defines manga as a format, what genres and age groups are most popular with readers, resources that will help you select series to fit your library’s budget, and tips for how to maintain a dynamic collection.


Presenters: Melanie Pauls, Community Technology Manager, PARL, and Melissa Marshall, Virtual Health Care Navigator, PARL.

In late 2021, the Pictou Antigonish Regional Library, the Aberdeen Health Foundation, Nova Scotia Health Authority and Communities Culture, Tourism and Heritage worked in partnership on a pilot project to create more inclusive access to digital health care. The Virtual Care @ Your Library pilot designed, implemented and evaluated a public library led, client-focused, technology training and support service to people in Pictou County invited to enroll in Virtual Care NS and those invited to a virtual care appointment via Zoom with their primary care practitioner.

Going into the second year, Melissa and Melanie will outline the success of the project, the challenges and future plans for the program within the Pictou Antigonish region.

Presenter: Suzie Dunn, Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law.

This presentation will discussion a brief overview of the ways in which inequalities and bias can occur through the use of artificial intelligence. It will provide an overview of examples of bias in policing, art, and large language models such as ChatGPT, along with some of the technical, educational, and legal solutions proposed to address this new form of technology.

Presenters: Erin Flynn, Librarian, CBRL, and Jonathan Manley, Library Assistant, CBRL.

Have you ever been told that an idea you had was ‘weird’? Have you ever thought in response: “What’s wrong with being weird?”

This seminar focuses on empowering staff and patrons to embrace the weird as a way of engaging with library resources while allowing space for unique perspectives. This includes: (1) being more inclusive of staff members’ diverse thinking patterns during the creative process of program development, and (2) reinterpreting our collections through programming that caters to the needs and interests of patrons.

With the broad spectrum of neurodiversity becoming more understood, we know these diverse ways of thinking all have unique challenges and strengths. Someone’s idea may not be feasible as initially presented, but there can be potential in their passion for it. Empowering staff to develop these ideas through brainstorming, collaboration, and positive and inclusive thinking can take an idea from unfeasible to doable, often in a way that provides new and unique ways for patrons to engage with the library.

How can we reframe our resources, especially collections like historical archives that can seem inaccessible to patrons, so they meet the interests of our communities? Historical and genealogical research is often daunting to begin, so many people do not start searching in the first place. Creating programs and partnerships based on unique materials in our collections gives people an entry point into those resources or subjects. Presenting the fun, interesting, or weird aspects of history can make it more accessible to patrons and provides an opportunity to showcase underrepresented perspectives. Celebrating unsung everyday heroes or interesting individuals can make it easier for people to connect with history through shared experiences, therefore helping patrons find new ways to connect with their library.

This session will encourage libraries to embrace the “weird” ideas by finding ways to channel passion for an idea into a workable project. To become more equitable, inclusive, and progressive in our programming, libraries must learn to work with and for everyone. Providing this accessible and adaptive library programming is an important step as we branch out and become increasingly visible as community leaders.

Presenters: Hansel Cook, Librarian – Archives, Special Collections, and Records, Saint Mary’s University, and Lesley Brann, Director, Adult Services, CEHPL.

In the fall of 2022, Lesley Brann, Director of Adult Services with CEHPL, began a discussion with Hansel Cook, librarian responsible for archives at Saint Mary’s University, to promote an important archival collection housed at SMU but with close ties to the Truro community. Dr. Lynn Jones, a community historian and local knowledge keeper from Truro, donated a major collection of archival resources to the University in 2016, and has continued to be active in promoting the collection. In a unique partnership between a public library, a university archives, and a community historian, the three worked to organize a public event in Truro to celebrate the links between the collection and the community, and undertook an ongoing initiative to have permanent resources from the collection made available at the Library. In this session Hansel will also discuss the growing recognition of the importance of preserving African Nova Scotian archival materials while Lesley will touch on a challenge laid down by Dr. Jones that should resonate with all libraries.

Presenter: Thekla Altmann, Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library

The Beta Reader Spot at the Trenton Library is – to our knowledge – the first program of its kind in Atlantic Canada. The Beta Reader Spot is a manuscript exchange hub where writers can test out what they have written on an audience that goes beyond their immediate family and friends, and readers can get involved in the development of a book by simply taking it out with their library card and leaving comments and impressions right there on the page, thus helping the author in their editing process.

The program supports all genres and age groups. We’ve had anything from queer graphic novels written by teenagers to trauma poetry to steamy senior’s romances, and I can only hope that this trend continues. Since its launch last November, there have been a number of fascinated readers for manuscripts of all kinds of different genres, as well as some very pleased writers, some of which have by now taken their manuscripts back home to work in revisions based on the feedback they received.

Trenton is the smallest branch in our library system. I am the only person working here and proud to have a lively and busy spot, which has become a haven for writers. Our weekly writers’ get-together and a monthly workshop feeds a need that has existed in the area for some time, and all this builds support and community in a rural area that often feels like there’s not much there. For me, this is the grassroots necessity of community resilience and solidarity. While I don’t always have the capacity to specifically make programs for youth, immigrants, or LGBTQ+ folks, I go out of my way their voices are not just heard but appreciated. The Beta Reader Spot is a program where I can actively encourage otherwise underrepresented people.

Presenters: Carolyn Sloan, Provincial Lead – Education and Training (Interim), Canadian Mental Health Association Nova Scotia Division, and Sarah Frizzell, Trustee, Project H.O.P.E.

Public libraries are on the frontlines of mental health our communities, offering free, inclusive places for individuals to seek connection, information, and support. As such, the workforce operating Nova Scotia’s public libraries is tasked with developing and maintaining spaces of safety, both for its own staff and for public visitors.

This session offers tips and techniques to help library employees manage stress, build resilience, and develop a culture of psychological safety for their teams and for the community as a whole. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, but it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way.


Presenters: Jo-Ann Potter, Library Technician, NSCC, Pam Eakin, NSCC, Kristel Fleuren-Hunter, Children’s Services Librarian & Antigonish Branch Librarian, PARL, and Charmaine Borden, Campus Librarian, NSCC

According to CCPA (2023), at 9.8%, Nova Scotia has the highest poverty rate in the country. To support our diverse communities, we offer programs that work to elevate the stress individuals experience in securing essential food and products.

Food Security Initiatives

Food Security is when individuals have access to enough safe and nutritious food options. According to Feed Nova Scotia, 22% of Nova Scotians (213,000 people) were living in food-insecure households in 2022. This is an increase of 5% from 2021 and higher than the 2019 pre-pandemic numbers. Food prices have increased, going up 10.3% in Nova Scotia in 2022 and they are continuing to climb.  There is no easy answer to food insecurity that does not involve policy changes at all levels of government. While community initiatives like food pantries are band-aid solutions applied to a huge societal problem, they are desperately needed as policy development takes time and people are still hungry.

In this session Jo-Ann Potter and Pam Eakin will discuss food security initiatives at the NSCC Cumberland and Akerley campuses, including the campus breakfast program, the Farm Fridge, the Lunch Basket, Food Smarts, and gardening initiatives. Jo-Ann will speak about the Library & Learning Commons ability to help fight food scarcity, as well as the program’s success, campus and community partners and funding opportunities. From a public library perspective, Kristel Fleuren-Hunter will highlight the Community Fridge and Pantry in the Antigonish Library as well as community gardening initiatives and local partnerships.

The Hygiene Kit Program
Hygiene poverty is defined as an inability to afford everyday hygiene products, such as shampoo, toilet paper, grooming products, dish soap, laundry soap, etc. Hygiene poverty can have life-long effect on a person’s self-worth and self-respect. Access to hygiene products can help entire households improve their quality of life. Charmaine Borden will speak about the Library & Learning Commons role in supporting the program’s success, campus and community partners and funding opportunities.

Friday Evening Schedule

NSLA Board of Directors Meeting 4:30-6:00pm

LBANS Executive Meeting 4:30-6:00pm

Welcome Reception at the Truro Library 6:30-8:30pm

Saturday Evening Schedule

Pre-Dinner Meet & Greet 6:00-6:30pm

Dinner and NSLA Awards Banquet 6:30-8:30pm

Rocky Horror Show Screening 10:00pm-12:00am