Monday, June 20, 2011

2011-2012 CITL Vice President Candidate: Gal Gross

Below is what Gal wrote for his campaign. He has given me permission to post it on my blog. :)

Good evening everyone!

My name is Gal Gross and I’m a Mathematics and Computer Science major at U of T.

I’ve been a member of the Youth Advisory Group at North York Central Library for over two years now, and ever since I started, I’ve been lobbying for a chess club at NYCL, but to no avail. Things only started to get going when Yuanling and Chess in the Library offered to start a program there. Backed up with positive feedback from other librarians, suddenly the chess club seemed like a possibility. But that possibility still lay in the future. Room booking at NYCL is done 15 months in advance. At least six different departments compete for space, and getting a spot is very hard to do – getting a regular one almost impossible. After many months of patient prodding, we finally got our chance and I’ve been with CITL ever since.

North York Central, being the largest library in the city (excepting maybe the Reference Library), was and remain the ideal candidate for the hosting of CITL Annual Festival. I’ve had the pleasure to help out with this event both this year and last one–when an article I’ve wrote about it was published in the August 2010 issue of Canadian Chess News (see attached). Unfortunately I cannot attach the document; however, if you are a CFC member, do check out the August 2010 issue of the CFC e-magazine!

Since I joined, we voted in a wonderful and dedicated group of individuals in our first elections. Thanks to their efforts our organization has flourished and we can now boast over 20 locations in Toronto, and several locations throughout Canada. Chess in the Library is an organization I’m very proud to be part of.

While being wildly successful, we remain fragmented. We each volunteer in our own clubs, largely without feedback or support from other members. I think the stage is set and the time is ripe to advance CITL to the next level. The challenge we are facing is building a strong community.

There is power in numbers – we all know that. People are forever looking to connect with other people; banding together for a common cause or a shared interest. In Chess in the Library our mission is to promote the majestic game of Chess across Canada, but how? What is the best, most efficient and self-sustaining way to promote it? Look around in the countries where Chess is a much more popular pastime – look around and you will found a strong community of players.

The Annual Chess in the Library Festival is the only opportunity we had so far to get together, and it has proved to be a wonderful experience, showing us the potential of the chess-playing community. Why won’t libraries in the same region do field-trips to one another’s clubs? Send representatives to hold regional tournaments, sanctioned by CITL? Why not bring chess into the open, and have family picnics and chess-related activities while the weather permits? Why not hold workshops, and give chess lessons to promising players? Why not have more collaboration between club leaders, exchanging ideas about how to make our clubs bigger, better, more well managed?

Amidst all of these events, we should also have a reliable and easy way of communication. The forum on our website is not so much dead as never even having had the chance of being alive. And while we have a beautiful website, it is largely out of date factually, which means that people visiting it are not likely to return or get helpful information. Our website is our front, the face we show to the world. It should be a hub, buzzing with activities. We should have news; forge electronic alliances with other major chess organization in Canada – and with our sponsors! We should display the latest updates from executive’s blogs, have banner for events. We could also create a Facebook and Twitter groups. Most importantly, we have to do it together.

These simple ideas can help us grow into a movement, when we think big we’ll grow big too. Word will travel, people will get interested in activities, and we’ll promote our organization and everything it stands for while having fun.

I think I can help us grow in this direction, but I know you can. While I’m running for the role of Vice President, and I see everything I’ve described as part of the mission, no single person can build a community or grow a movement. Whether you’re running for a role in the current election or not, I know you have something to contribute. Maybe you’re an expert Facebook user and could manage a CITL page; maybe you’re a person of the great outdoors and know the perfect spot for a chess-related activity; maybe you have experience as a tournament director and would like to help with those regional tournaments; maybe your just enjoy writing in an online forum and can help us make ours more lively; and maybe you have some other brilliant idea that could really make things that much better. Whatever you think you can do, do it! Let’s make CITL into a nation-wide movement!

Yours Faithfully,

Gal Gross

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