BCLA Perspectives

Lower Mainland meetups bring information professionals ‘Out of the Stacks’

The seed for Out of the Stacks, a semi-regular meetup for information professionals, was planted at the University of British Columbia’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS) back in 2009, after a bunch of SLAIS students started meeting up for regular after-class drinks and calling themselves the Thirsty Librarians Club. On the surface, it was a fun way to decompress and let off steam, but it was also an intentional effort at building informal connections, relationships, and community. Some might call this an effort to increase social capital. Others might simply call it networking. Regardless of what we call it, there is no doubt that those relationships have continued to support our careers and personal lives to this day.

Kate Shuttleworth, Jorge Cardenas, Erin Watkins, and Amy Ashmore at the latest Out of the Stacks event at Central City Brewpub in Surrey January 7.

Kate Shuttleworth, Jorge Cardenas, Erin Watkins, and Amy Ashmore at the latest Out of the Stacks gathering in January.

Several years later, inspired by the Thirsty Librarian Club, the organizers of Out of the Stacks—Amy Ashmore, Jorge Cardenas, Heidi Schiller, Lindsay Tripp, and Erin Watkins—felt there was an opportunity to build more capacity for informal relationship building among the library and archive community in British Columbia. With an eye toward inclusivity and making connections across traditional borders of organization type and job specification, we intentionally decided to operate independently from any existing membership-based group. Thus, in April 2016 Out of the Stacks was born over beers at Vancouver’s Alibi Room—with a mission to foster connections and build community among BC information professionals of all ilks through fun social gatherings.

Since then, we have hosted three events: an after-work gathering at The Emerald in Vancouver, a weekend picnic at Trout Lake, and a wintry Saturday afternoon pub meet-up in Surrey. Attendance has been strong, with 60 showing up at the inaugural event at The Emerald, 40 at Trout Lake, and 25 in Surrey. Attendees have represented a wide range of affiliations, including those from small, one-employee special libraries and archives to staff from large public and academic systems, students, trustees, and job classifications of all levels.

The next event will likely occur around the BCLA conference in April, but we want to emphasize that membership of any organization is not required to attend this or future Out of the Stacks gatherings. We just ask that you identify as a member of the library and/or archive community. And that you like to have fun.

For more information about Out of the Stacks, visit our Facebook page or email Heidi Schiller at [email protected]. We hope to see you at our next event!

Heidi Schiller is the Manager of InfoAction at Vancouver Public Library. She is the co-chair of BCLA’s Public Libraries Interest group, the co-chair of BCLA’s 2017 Conference, and an organizer of Out of the Stacks, a social meet-up group for information workers.