Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cantonese Worlds Workshop at UBC #ItsAboutTime

I recently presented at the Hong Kong-Canada Crosscurrents presents: Cantonese Worlds (May 14-15th, 2015).  Over the last 50 years, migrations between Hong Kong and Canada have transformed cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Significant changes in real estate, business, philanthropy, and education, as well as cultural transformations in language, popular media, and mass consumption have reshaped societies on both sides of the Pacific. Flows of people, goods, and ideas have been multidirectional--even as hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese became Canadian citizens, Canadians of both Chinese and non-Chinese heritage also migrated to Hong Kong for work and family. Counting the estimated 300,000 Canadian passport holders living in Hong Kong would rank it among the ten largest “Canadian” cities.

The Hong Kong-Canada Crosscurrents Project looks back on the last half century in order to understand how the migration of people, goods, and ideas across the Pacific has created a complex crosscurrent of dense and sometimes surprising connections, including the transformation and re-animation of a Cantonese Pacific world that had spanned the ocean for centuries.

Cantonese Worlds is a two-day workshop that aims to begin an important conversation about how to make sense of the transformations of the last 50 years. In gathering leading scholars and observers to lay out an initial set of workshop themes for discussion, this pilot process will help create guiding questions that will shape the next few years of research, outreach, and public education. Initial themes might include, for instance, the role of the Cantonese language historically in shaping linkages between Hong Kong and Canada, or how the resurgence of Cantonese popular culture and music has been a formative element in youth identities. We invite all those interested in examining the last half century of crosscurrents between Hong Kong and Canada to participate in this important undertaking.

In my presentation, Bringing Old Perspectives to New Audiences: a history of BC’s First Bilingual Newspaper, I look back at the last twenty years of a student-run publication called Perspectives Newspaper, which at one time, represented the voice of most Hong Kong students at UBC.  In 2009, this entire collection of newspapers was digitized and archived on UBC's institutional repository cIRcle as part of the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) project.  As I was once the Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper when I was a graduate student, I'm proud that I was able to offer insight into the evolution of the student movement and its context of academic libraries.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fraser Valley Regional Library, 1930's - 1945 #TBT

Yes, it's rare and it's kind of unsexy.  But it's #ThrowBackThursday.  So we must deal with it.  This brief historical footage is an experiment by the Government of British Columbia.  In 1930, the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded the province a grant of $100,000 to establish and maintain a rural library project for five years. After considering various regions of the province, the Commission selected the Fraser Valley as the site of "BC’s book experiment."

The library’s first director Dr. Helen Gordon Stewart successfully met this challenge. With enormous energy, Stewart went about organizing the district, selecting books, hiring staff and purchasing a truck suitable for use as a book van. She personally visited councils and public meetings, convincing residents and politicians of the value of cooperation and resource sharing that would lead to a viable library system.
At the end of the five years of operation, under its present auspices, it is the hope that the people of the Fraser Valley, whether they reside in large or small centres, or in the out-of-way places, will want the library so much that they will decided to take it over as their own, to be maintained as a municipal service. The success which has already attended the experiment indicates that the Fraser Valley library will become a permanent institution

It sure did. It's grown to become the largest public library system in British Columbia, spread over 24 community libraries serving nearly 680,000 people in its service area.  Stewart later went on to help establish another historic library system, the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) system.