Contact Us

Send CAPAL a message! Please include your email address so that we can respond.

Contactez nous

Envoyer un message à l'ACBAP! S'il vous plaît inscrire votre adresse courriel pour nous permettre de répondre.



123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.



Foundations & Futures: Critical Reflections on the Pasts, Presents, and

Possibilities of Academic Librarianship

Held in conjunction with

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2017

Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario

May 29, 2017 (Pre-Conference Workshop)

May 30–June 1, 2017 (Conference)

CAPAL17 provides an opportunity for the academic library community to critically examine and discuss together the ways in which our profession is influenced by its social, political, and economic environments. By considering academic librarianship within its historical contexts, its presents, and its possible futures, and by situating it within evolving cultural frameworks and structures of power, we can better understand the ways in which academic librarianship may reflect, reinforce, or challenge these contexts both positively and negatively.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Pre-Conference Workshop: Exploring Critical Theory in Research & Scholarship

Convenors:  Eva Revitt (MacEwan University) & Mary Kandiuk (York University)

Time: 1:00 – 4:30pm.

Location: LIB: Library 405

Facilitator: Dr. Tami Oliphant, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta


Time: 5:00-7:00pm

Location: Mattamy Athletic Centre, Maple Leaf Gardens

Day 1 – May 30, 2017


Please note that you will first need to register with the Congress to receive your Congress badge, name-tag, and program. After doing so, please proceed to the CAPAL Registration table in the Kerr West building to register with us and join the conference.



Presented in collaboration with

The Canadian Sociological Association / La Société canadienne de sociologie

Convenor: Courtney Waugh (University of Western Ontario)

Harsha Walia

How Can Sites and Spaces of Institutional Knowledge Act in the Service of Social Movements?

Harsha Walia is a South Asian activist formally trained in the law and author of the award-winning book Undoing Border Imperialism. For the past two decades, she has been involved in grassroots community organizing including No One Is Illegal, Anti-Capitalist Convergence, Defenders of the Land, and February 14th Women's Memorial March Committee. Harsha has made numerous presentations on race, gender, and poverty to the United Nations and across campuses and media outlets in North America and Europe. She also sits on the editorial boards of Abolition Journal, Radical Desi, and Feminist Wire. Harsha is a recipient of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives’ Power of Youth Award as well as Westender's Best of the City in Activism Award, and has been named one of the most influential South Asians in BC by the Vancouver Sun and "one of Canada's most brilliant and effective organizers" by Naomi Klein.



Concurrent Session 1A:  Academic Library Futures

Location: KHW: Kerr West 269

Convenor: Lenard Lawless (Carleton University)

Seeing the Forest for the Trees on Mars: Rethinking the Ideology of the ‘Library of the Future’

Michael Dudley (University of Winnipeg)

For many decades now, library practitioners have been generating a vast literature concerned with the “library of the future.” While much of this literature may be classified according to its imperatives for radical versus incremental change, what is largely absent from these articles is a theoretical understanding of the underlying ideological bases of their arguments, as well as extrinsic or transdisciplinary perspectives. Reconsidering these prescriptions for the future of the library through the lens of futures studies has the potential to afford us critical perspectives on their ideological foundations. Hal Niedzviecki’s 2015 book Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future is analyzed to locate the ideological tensions in LIS literature between chasing the future on the one hand and cherishing the security of tradition on the other, and to caution against a neoliberal “future-first” imperative of “owning” the future of libraries at the expense of enduring values.

Predictions of the Future of the Academic Library from Within and Without

John Bolan (University of Toronto Libraries)

 Concern with the future occupies a central role in librarianship. Not surprisingly, librarians, particularly academic librarians, have produced a significant body of literature on the future of the library and, in particular, the academic research library in North America. A significant body of writing on the topic by “non-librarians” also exists.  This paper critically reflects on differences between the writings of librarians and non-librarians on this topic, in particular the underlying differences in attitude, conception of the mission of the library, and core values.  The paper attempts to discern what impact those differences have had, and may continue to have, on the status, mission, and form of the academic library.

Maintaining a Future: A Theory Toward Present Action and Future Thinking

Joel Burkholder (Penn State, York); Jeremy McGinniss (Clarks Summit University)

This presentation proposes an understanding of maintenance as standing in opposition to the concepts and language of “disruption” and “innovation.” These terms, and the actions they foster, consistently disqualify history and existing processes, ignoring long term engagement and development.  The future, however, cannot be attained and sustained without consideration as to how systems, infrastructures, people, and resources are supported, developed, and cultivated. This is particularly true of libraries in times of upheaval, change, and technological shift. This presentation seeks to reframe maintenance from a progress-adverse concept to an actively critical approach. To this end, a schema for maintenance is proposed, engaging participants in seeing and practicing maintenance, challenging invisible and unquestioned aspects of library practice in the present toward an engaged future.

Concurrent Session 1B: Critical Empirical Methods in Dialogue

Location: OAK: Oakham 223

Convenor: Yayo Umetsubo (Cape Breton University)

Understanding Ourselves as Researchers: Critical Reflections on a National Survey

Selinda Berg (University of Windsor); Kristin Hoffmann (University of Western Ontario); Denise Koufogiannakis (University of Alberta)

Academic librarians’ role as researchers is evolving and increasingly becoming a norm across Canada. In order to bring to light how librarians’ own attitudes, practices, and identities contribute to research success, we distributed a national survey of research productivity to 1,683 Canadian academic librarians at 75 institutions. Notably, this study included individual and community factors that can affect research output; most of the library research to date has focused on institutional-based supports for librarian-researchers. This presentation will critically reflect on the survey results—what they reveal about librarians’ research productivity and related factors—to help foster a greater understanding of ourselves as researchers, and provide insight about how we might act within institutional structures to contribute to our own and others’ research success. This presentation will examine the intersection between critical inquiry and empirical study, and emphasize the complementary nature of these two approaches.

Measure Once, Analyze Twice:  Putting Quantitative and Qualitative Data in Dialogue

Carol Leibiger (University of South Dakota) & Alan W. Aldrich (University of South Dakota)

 The University of South Dakota’s library instructional team developed and deployed a hybrid evaluation and assessment instrument that elicits quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data suggested high satisfaction with instruction. However, open-ended evaluation responses indicated that there was room for improvement in instruction. The skewed results might be due to “Midwestern Nice” (MWN), a disinclination to provide negative responses.

The researchers managed MWN by exploiting the instrument’s hybrid structure, which also afforded Freirean dialogue with students. Putting the data in dialogue allowed for a much more nuanced analysis than would have been achieved by analyzing them separately. Participants will learn how to use hybrid evaluation and assessment to manage expectations of the neoliberal workplace and create space for transformational dialogue about teaching and learning. They will discuss using dialogic analysis to uncover meaningful results in the presence of cultural norms like hyper-politeness that can skew evaluation efforts.

The Story of Us: Putting the Who in the Canadian Academic Librarian

Eva Revitt (MacEwan University) & Amy Kaufman (Queen’s University)

Who are Canada’s academic librarians? Between June and September 2016, CAPAL conducted a census of Canadian academic librarians. The census garnered 904 responses and provides, for the first time, a glimpse into the socio-demographic make-up of our profession. Drawing on over 23,000 data points, this presentation will identify key findings from the initiative. Such baseline data is important for the study of feminized professions, exploration of work-life balance issues, investigation of social and workplace justice matters, and for the identification of trends. This presentation is an opportunity to share and reflect on what we have learned so far about the people in this profession, as well as to consider future iterations of the census initiative. Understanding who we are as professional academic librarians is arguably the foundation on which a praxis of critical reflection can be developed.  The goal of this presentation, therefore, is not to critically reflect on the academic librarian’s identity but to begin the process of constructing it.



Concurrent Session 2B: the changing nature of lis education

LOCATION: OAK: Oakham 223

Convenor: Cecile Farnum (Ryerson University)

Academic Librarians and the PhD

Michael Ridley (University of Guelph)

Should the PhD be a requirement for academic librarians? While faculty status is not universal across Canada, it is a hard-won recognition (and obligation) for many academic librarians. As “scholar-practitioners”, we have a valued tradition of service (practitioner) but increasingly we also teach full-time and undertake extensive research (scholar)—exactly the model of our faculty colleagues. And yet the “terminal degree” in our field remains the Master’s degree. Are we fully prepared for the new roles academic librarians are encouraged to undertake? Is the PhD credential less an “academic ticket” and more essential training? While not all disciplines within the university require a PhD, the LIS field is more closely aligned with those that do. Drawing from the literature and the outcomes of a forum at the 2017 Ontario Library Association SuperConference, a case will be made for the PhD as the terminal degree for academic librarians.

From ‘Library’ to ‘Information’ Science: The Challenge within Our Profession with Accreditation

Brad Eden (Valparaiso University)

This paper will focus on an imminent crisis in the library profession:  a movement from within the library and information science (LIS) education community to take “library” out of the curriculum.  This movement is exemplified by a recent editorial by Dr. Ed Cortez in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science (v. 57, no. 3, July 2016) titled “Teaching for the future, not the past.”  In this editorial, Dr. Cortez indicates that ALA accreditation and indeed the library profession is outdated and of little interest to LIS educators.  The future, according to Dr. Cortez, has nothing to do with our profession’s core values of intellectual and academic freedom, access to information, and privacy of information, but with topics such as cybersecurity, digital humanities, bibliometrics, various types of information mining, and data science, among others.  The presenter is currently serving a four-year term on the ALA Committee on Accreditation.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: An Examination of Soft Skills in Academic Librarianship

Miriam Matteson (Kent State University)

Soft skills take up significant space in our internal understanding of library work, but are largely ignored in training and education, and are undiscussed in the workplace. As academic librarians embrace a critical perspective considering how issues of privilege and social justice influence library practices and services, that work is also fueled by soft skills such as critical thinking, empathy, and communication sensitivity. This research study examines interview data from 24 academic librarians’ self-reported soft skills and how they employ those skills in the workplace. Initial findings indicate participants felt strongly that soft skills were essential to succeeding at work, but struggled to name discrete skills. Participants believed that soft skills were valued by their organizations, but in only a few cases could they point to direct evidence of that belief. This suggests a disconnect between explicit and tacit job expectations which should be addressed in library workplaces.

Concurrent Session 2B:  Academic Librarianship in the Corporate U

LOCATION: KHW: Kerr West 269

Convenor: David James Hudson (University of Guelph)

Consultants in Academic Libraries: Challenging, Renewing, and Extending the Dialogue

Marni Harrington (University of Western Ontario); Ania Dymarz (Simon Fraser University)

In this research, we provide historical and linguistic analyses of consultants in academic libraries using a critical framework to discuss issues that librarians may not have been able to previously fit into library practice dialogue. The historical perspective along with a targeted review of library and information science resources is used to guide two lines of linguistic analyses. The first provides a critique of the core tenets that are used to define and characterize library consultants, namely, the claim that consultants are unbiased professionals who bring “expertise” and “fresh” ideas to libraries. The second analysis investigates the rhetorical strategies used in existing texts about consultants: polarizing language, figurative and indirect language, and strawman reasoning. The implications of these linguistic strategies are unpacked further by reflecting on what is missing from these texts, and the introduction of elements of knowledge and power seen in times of neoliberal deliverables.

Critical Reflections: Exploring Narratives of Librarianship in the Corporate Research-Intensive University in Canada

Karen Nicholson (University of Guelph)

While numerous studies examine the impact of the corporatization of higher education on faculty, only a handful explore librarians’ experiences. My doctoral research seeks to address this gap by expanding librarians’ shared understanding of how the logics and practices of the neoliberal university produce the material practices—the space and time—of our work. Data for this study was gathered through semi-structured interviews with twenty-four information literacy or liaison librarians—with years of professional experience ranging from less than one to more than thirty, all working in Canadian U15 universities—and analyzed using constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014). Themes emerging from a sample of the data, which I will explore in this presentation, include: librarians’ perceptions of the values and practices of the corporate university; and tensions between professional, personal, and institutional values.

Marketing Sharing Mania: What Libraries Can Learn from the Collaborative Consumption Craze

Céline Gareau-Brennan (University of Alberta)

This paper examines collaborative consumption in the context of librarianship. While there has been much research about applying traditional business models to libraries, little academic work has been completed on using disruptive business practices such as the sharing economy model of product services and systems in libraries. The question “Should academic librarians apply disruptive business models such as ‘collaborative consumption’ to their work? Why or why not?” is explored via a systematic review and analysis. Specifically, this paper examines key success factors in the sharing economy (e.g., car sharing, Airbnb, and community gardens) and discusses how this model could be applied to advocate for and to market academic library services. Collaborative consumption models provide academic librarians with the opportunity to critically examine business models and economic forces that shape librarianship.

Concurrent Session 2C: Critical Librarianship in Practice 1

LOCATION: ARC: Architecture 300 A/B/C/D

Convenor: Michael Dudley (University of Winnipeg)

Critical Librarianship in Practice: A Case for Media and Information Literacy Instruction

Spencer Brayton (Blackburn College); Natasha Casey (Blackburn College)

As Marcus Leaning has noted, “. . . the experience of being a user of information resources and a consumer of media is so similar that the two cannot be separated”. Leaning goes further by characterizing the silos in education as “pedagogically wasteful”. Information literacy was, and still is to an extent, taught as a set of skills that must be attained. Some media literacy camps take a similar approach, technological “gee whizzers” as Renee Hobbs calls them. We reject these approaches and instead advocate for information literacy and media literacy instruction that is cross-disciplinary and incorporates critical components (i.e., themes of social justice and production of knowledge, etc.).[1] As Tewell notes, “Critical information literacy considers in what ways librarians may encourage students to engage with and act upon power structures underpinning information’s production and dissemination”.[2] We will share the theoretical argument for why critical media and information literacy should be allied including examples from our course.

[1] “CML [critical media literacy] is a pedagogy that guides teachers and students to think critically about the world around them; it empowers them to act as responsible citizens with the skills and social consciousness to challenge injustice. The development of CML highlights core concepts from cultural studies, critical theory, and new digital literacies”. ‘Critical Media Literacy as Transformative Pedagogy’, Steven Funk, Douglas Kellner and Jeff Share. Handbook of Research on Media Literacy in the Digital Age. Melda N. Yildiz and Jared Keengwep (editors) 2016,  IGI Global, Pennsylvania. 2

[2] Tewell, Eamon. “A Decade of Critical Information Literacy.” Communications in Information Literacy, 2015, Vol. 9 (1), 24-42.

Jump Start: Rethinking the Role of Academic Librarianship in Graduate Writing

Martha Attridge Bufton (Carleton University); Aleksandra Blake (Carleton University); Susan Tudin (Carleton University)

Traditionally, many academic librarians have not seen themselves as teachers of writing-related skills—whether this is critical thinking and reflection on the writing process or a methodology for writing. Instead, we have limited our teaching roles to bibliographic or information literacy instruction and left writing to others—our status as teachers going underdeveloped in part, perhaps, because we are part of a profession that has been constrained by occupational roles that are highly gendered. We will discuss the traditionally gendered role of librarians as instructors, not teachers, how this role can be re-envisioned within a framework of critical librarianship, and how this reflection can be used to develop supports for graduate students that also expand our teaching role. Within this context, we will describe a new teaching program we have developed for graduate students that includes the teaching of a particular genre of academic writing, the literature review.

When You’re Digging Up Data, How Dirty Do You Get Your Hands?

Elizabeth Hill (University of Western Ontario) & Vince Gray (University of Western Ontario)

Data librarians face the issue of providing access to data, though local services or shared services (e.g., or What role does or should the librarian have in vetting the quality of the data, the quality of the results obtained by users of those data, or in recommending methods of using those data? To what extent does this extend to other resources (e.g., data tables, reports, or statistics found on the web)? Do the specific concerns of data librarians extend to other specialists? The talk will draw specific examples from working with Statistics Canada’s Postal Code Conversion File Plus (PCCF+), which is used by researchers to match socio-economic information to respondents based on respondents’ postal code.




Concurrent Session 3A: On Neutrality / Questioning Neutrality

location: OAK: Oakham 223

Convenor: Michael Dudley (University of Winnipeg)

The Enchanted Academic Library: A Critique of the Neutral, Secular Library

Natasha Gerolami (Huntington University)

As academic librarians assess the influence of the social and political environment on our profession, attention should be paid to the presumption that our social sphere is secular and neutral.  In this paper, I demonstrate the ways in which academic librarianship, its values and goals, regularly presume that we are functioning within a secular framework. I focus on the principle of neutrality and demonstrate how this particular principle imposes secularism on librarians.  Neutrality is a secular ideal and the principle reinforces the idea that religion should remain private.  Those who champion the principle of neutrality work from the assumption that there is a space we can occupy without God, spirituality, or enchantment.  That position is at odds with many religious viewpoints and it is, therefore, not neutral.  Critical librarianship has challenged library neutrality. We can extend the critique of neutrality to include a critique of secularism in order to protect religious pluralism and challenge discriminatory legislation and policies. 

Towards an Ethics of Difference: The Pluralist Library

Jacob Vangeest (University of British Columbia)

This presentation advances an ethical alternative to the dichotomy of neutrality and censorship in librarianship. I begin with an attempt to elucidate a clear definition of neutrality by examining the historical circumstances of LIS and logical positivism within the university in order to develop an understanding of how neutrality developed as an ethical system within the discipline. I then explore the value laden nature of neutrality in order to develop an understanding of how neutrality functions as a hidden, yet hegemonic force, within LIS. Out of this exploration, I turn to feminist scholarship in order to provide a critique of neutrality as a hegemonic force (rather than as an ethical position). I argue that, in order to develop a more egalitarian framework, librarians should turn to a variety of ethical formations, rather than promoting a single, universal position of neutrality.

Disassembling Neutrality: The Need for ‘The Explicit’

Scott R. Cowan (University of Windsor)

During LIS education, students are taught about the importance and significance of neutrality in our profession, yet by allowing the ideal of neutrality to infiltrate our institutions, we have neglected many groups living in fear and uncertainty, including our LGBTQ+ students. There have been modest attempts to address specific needs of the LGBTQ+ communities, including the addition of pulp fiction collections or building a “special collection”; however, policies that exclude “explicit” material in an attempt to be neutral can deny access to important materials for the LGBTQ+ community. Using the Sam Steward collection as an example, this talk will discuss how library policies are in conflict with our ethical responsibility to the LGBTQ+ community and how such collections are broken apart into “appropriate” pieces.  While some library users may find the images, stories, and ephemera found in the Sam Steward Collection offensive, others may find them comforting and allow them a much-needed connection to their community. As academic units committed to academic freedom, librarians cannot let the ideal of neutrality pervade our collections as a means to limit LGBTQ+ material to that which is deemed “appropriate.”

Concurrent Session 3B (PANEL): Open Access and Non-Traditional Forms of Digital Scholarly Publication

LOCATION: Lib: Library 405

Convenor: Susan Brown (University of Guelph)

Presented in collaboration with the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities.

Panelists: Joanne Paterson (Western University Libraries), Amy Buckland (University of Guelph), Lisa Quinn (Wilfrid Laurier University), Peter Midgley (University of Alberta Press), Michael Sinatra (Université de Montréal), Ann Ludbrook (Ryerson University)

This interdisciplinary session aims to bring librarians and academic publishers into dialogue with scholars about the role librarians and publishers can and should play in the full life-cycle of digital scholarship, starting from research ideation and design. Each panelist will present a brief (5 min) presentation on their thoughts regarding OA in the humanities. These talks will be followed by questions from the chair and then opening up the discussion to the audience.


Join colleagues in a no-host, cash-bar reception and take in our first CAPAL/ACBAP Student Poster Session.  Appetizers will be served.

Student Posters:
The Role of Academic Librarians in Current Social Movements
Glyneva Bradley-Ridout (University of Toronto)

Leveraging KM in Designing Academic Libraries
Lily Yuxi Ren (University of Toronto)

The Protection of Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights
Melissa Seelye (University of Western Ontario)


Day 2 – Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Please note that you will first need to register with the Congress to receive your Congress badge, name-tag, and program. After doing so, please proceed to the CAPAL Registration table in the Kerr West building to register with us and join the conference.


Concurrent Session 4A (PANEL): Collaboratory Visioning: Creating Opportunities in the Academic Library

LOCATION: KHW: Kerr West 269

Convenor: yayo umetsubo (cape breton university)

Panelists: Ann Ludbrook (Ryerson University); Fangmin Wang (Ryerson University); Sally Wilson (Ryerson University)

Capitalizing on collaboration opportunities can often be challenging for librarians who may be unaware of or excluded from their institution’s new and emerging initiatives. How do librarians make sure that they are in touch with their communities’ needs? How do librarians build capacity to support partnerships and make librarian expertise an integral part of collaborative project planning? Three Ryerson librarians will discuss and illustrate how Ryerson University Library has taken advantage of changes in the higher education landscape and seized opportunities to support teaching, course reading support, digital humanities partnerships, emerging technology solutions, and Open Educational Resource support. Our presentation will focus on the changing role of the academic library as libraries move from being repositories of print materials to becoming collaboratories enabling digital scholarship, curricular change, and creative endeavors.  We will discuss why libraries and librarians are well-positioned to be the connectors, educators, and advocates in emerging areas.

Concurrent Session 4B (PANEL): The Politics of Space: Critical Geography and the Library

location: EPH: Eric Palin 201

Convenor: Colleen Burgess (Huron University College)

Building a Critical Anti-Poverty Reference Centre?

Kate Adler (Metropolitan College of New York)

Expanding on a project first workshopped at the Critical Librarianship & Pedagogy Symposium, this paper will explore theoretical questions raised in the collection development of Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) Library’s proposed South Bronx Community Reference & Anti-Poverty Research Center.  At the heart of the MCNY Library’s mission is the vision of a library as a collaborative space for intellectual inquiry. With the Reference Center project, this mission would be extended by providing an open, nimble, and collaborative community space, engaging students and the larger community in accessible, relevant scholarship.  Building on ideas of affective geography, I consider libraries as a third space and explore how reference collections/archives may be differently imagined in the context of historically underserved communities.  Close at hand will be the question: ‘What is the role of a critical reference practice in nurturing scholarly/community library space as tools for social justice?’

Changing Spaces: Spatial Reorganization and the Nexus of Power in the Academic Library

Ian Beilin (Columbia University)

This paper explores the ways that shifting power relations in academia are transforming library spaces. I examine the ways that power external to the library proper, both local (campus-based, administrative power), and global (corporate and state power), infiltrate and reorganize library spaces. Highlighting specific cases of library reorganization, I will show how such projects are often shaped by factors external to libraries, often resulting in a loss or diminution of internal library power or control (whether for library workers, users, or both). Modes of neoliberal reform justify such changes and most often are presented or masked as improvements or advancements of traditional library services, leaving unseen or unnoticed the outsourcing of services, information, metadata, and control.

Higher Education, Globalization, and the Academic Library: On the Possibilities of a Human/Critical Geography Approach to LIS

Karen Nicholson (University of Guelph)

As “the study of the interlinked temporality and spatiality of human activity,” human/critical geography affords LIS researchers a means to shift their focus away from abstract, atemporal things toward processes, practices, and relations unfolding across space and time (Downey, 2007, p. 685). Although there has been a renewed interest in time/temporality and space/spatiality within the humanities and social sciences since the 1980s, LIS has not taken up issues of space/time with the same enthusiasm—or the same degree of criticality—as other social science disciplines (Downey, 2007). Drawing on human geography’s central claim that space and time are dialectically produced through social practices, in this presentation I will explore some of ways that the logics and practices of an increasingly globalized higher education sector impact the work of academic librarians.

Concurrent Session 4C:  Redefining Roles: Academic Librarianship in Transition

LOCATION: EPH: Eric Palin 204

Convenor: Lily Yuxi Ren (University of Toronto)

Reinventing Ourselves: Benchmarking the New Roles of Librarians Working in Canada’s Research-Intensive Universities

Ada Ducas (University of Manitoba); Nicole Michaud-Oystryk (University of Manitoba)

Changes in higher education, the shifting research and scholarly landscape, and advances in technology are transforming the academic library profession. New functions, such as data management, bibliometrics, digital preservation, online teaching, and user-centred design, are increasingly becoming part of the academic librarian’s duties. A survey, distributed to approximately 750 academic librarians working in Canada’s U15 university libraries, was conducted to explore their new and emerging roles. The study focused on research support, teaching and learning support, digital scholarship, user experience, and scholarly communication. The presentation will report on the scope and nature of the new roles that are being introduced in academic libraries and the skills required to provide the new services. Librarians’ job satisfaction and their perceived impact on the academic enterprise will also be discussed. The survey results have the potential of being of benefit to and of being applied by all Canadian post-secondary libraries.

Academic Librarians and Systematic Reviews: An Emerging Role in the Social Sciences

Sarah Brown (University of Waterloo) & Jackie Stapleton (University of Waterloo)

Systematic review support is expanding beyond health and medical librarianship. The rise of knowledge translation in the social sciences has resulted in a corresponding increase in the number and type of review studies conducted by researchers and supported by granting agencies such as SSHRC. Academic librarians in the social sciences are poised to position themselves as collaborators in the research process, providing guidance and bringing valuable expertise to the research team. Relating from personal experiences, the speakers will address three points related to systematic reviews in the social sciences: 1) Role of the librarian on a systematic review project; 2) Professional expectations including authorship and adherence to systematic search/reporting standards; 3) Specific challenges faced by the social sciences librarian.

Understanding Faculty Ambivalence to Alternative Scholarly Publishing

Calin Murgu (Western University)

This paper draws on scholarship in organizational behaviour to examine faculty ambivalence to “alternative” (open access, informal, or multimodal publishing) scholarly communications using Michael Stratton’s event-emotion-behaviour model of emotional ambivalence. In so doing, it situates scholars’ ambivalence to alternative publishing as an affective reaction to the changing contexts of the modern neoliberal university—including its increasing demands and technological imperatives. Ultimately, this paper will provide a framework for empirical studies in the area, and provide practicing librarians with strategies for overcoming ambivalence to alternative publishing initiatives that go beyond service-based solutions.


Remember to sign up before NOON for tonight's dine-around - more info here.


Concurrent Session 5A: Aesthetics and Material Culture Studies in LIS

LOCATION: EPH: Eric Palin 201

Convenor: Cecile Farnum (Ryerson University)

Material Culture Studies and Librarianship: Taking Objects Seriously

Lisa Levesque (Ryerson University)

This presentation will explore Material Culture Studies, particularly the work of Bruno Latour, in an attempt to critically examine object agency. Objects are ubiquitous in libraries: think of the amount of paper it takes to make a book, the heavy metals that make up a server, and the plastic moulded in air by a 3-D printer. These objects are essential partners in scholarly work. Despite this, librarians have a difficult relationship with objects, and we, like the world at large, rarely consider them with a critical eye. This presentation will address the difficulty of seeing objects clearly and the impact this has on professional identity, especially in relation to book history and culture, digitization, and the current budget crisis facing academic libraries. Despite the difficulties, librarians must take objects seriously; as the theory of Material Culture Studies shows, their agency is tied up with our own.

How Cute! Race, Gender, and Neutralization in LIS

Gina Schlesselman-Tarango (California State University, San Bernardino)

This presentation explores the ways in which feminization and a particular aestheticization thereof, is called upon to attempt to mitigate, veil, and neutralize whiteness in LIS. Drawing on the work of Natarajan, Espinal, Ngai, McIntyre, and others, I look specifically at cuteness, an aesthetic historically shaped by and deeply invested in hegemonic formulations of gender, race, and consumption. I also ask whether cuteness abets LIS’s aspirations of political neutrality by positioning itself as for all and against none. Indeed, this aesthetic, with its claims of innocence, utilizes a nostalgic white femininity to gesture to a romanticized yet fabricated past, subsequently precluding engagement with the present. I will also address the ways in which this aesthetic has surfaced in critical and progressive LIS spaces, and in doing so, draw attention to the power struggle cuteness enables and the ways in which it has been celebrated, subverted, and made politically productive.

Concurrent Session 5B: Tricky Trajectories - Careers in Academic Librarianship

LOCATION: KHW: Kerr West 269

Convenor: Lenard Lawless (Carleton University)

Impact of Career Mobility on Hiring Decisions for Academic Librarians

Marilia Antunez (University of Akron); Sean P. Kennedy (University of Akron)

Occupational mobility has become more of a norm for librarians in recent years due to leadership changes, retirement rates, high turnover, and constant reconfiguration of job duties. These new realities in the library field play a significant role in librarians seeking new positions. Although these factors contribute to librarians changing jobs, a librarian candidate’s employment history continues to influence the perception of the candidate’s suitability for open positions. This study investigates the effects of frequent job changes on the perception of academic librarians by library leaders during the hiring process.  Academic library leaders were surveyed regarding their opinions of candidates with frequent job changes. Participants were asked to consider multiple factors such as tenure status, gender, experience, etc. and asked how these factors influence their decisions about candidates. Preliminary results are mixed but lean towards a growing understanding of candidates with frequent job changes.

Leadership Development for Academic Librarians: Maintaining the Status Quo?

Samantha Schmel-Hines (Peninsula College)

Leadership development experiences within librarianship are immensely popular. However, informal critiques leveled at library leadership training opportunities claim that these opportunities only reinforce the status quo and that there is no real desire to address issues affecting our profession, particularly in terms of diversity. In order to critically determine the value of these professional opportunities, we must ask: what does library leadership training accomplish? Could library leadership training be done better, and if so, how? Data from library leadership training opportunities in the United States and Canada were gathered to address these questions. In addition, a survey was conducted of librarians about who attends these offerings, why, and whether the stated outcomes both met their needs and were addressed effectively.  This is followed by an analysis of recent literature regarding diversity, gender, and leadership within the library profession, which leads to some suggestions for library leadership development professional opportunities.

Concurrent Session 5C: Professional Practice and Values 1: Philosophical Explorations

LOCATION: EPH: Eric Palin 204

Convenor: marni harrington (university of western ontario)

Reading Libraries: Past Perspective Informs Future Practice in Humanities Libraries

Kathleen Kasten (Stony Brook University Libraries)

The history of the book is an interdisciplinary mode of enquiry that has enriched the understanding of reading practices from the Middle Ages to the modern era, providing valuable insight into the material, epistemological, and cultural implications of texts as vehicles for information in the West as well as their crucial influence on the development of institutions, ideas, and people.  For librarians, this scholarly paradigm illuminates the information-seeking behaviour of readers as a series of priorities, practices, and preferences.  Similarly, the history of libraries and the library profession have occupied scholars interested in questions of access, of what to collect, and of where and how it should be housed.  This emphasis on the past sheds valuable light on the present and future by proposing origins for key concepts, as well as a larger context in which to understand ongoing debates about format, space, and researcher priorities.  

In Search of Library Philosophy

Sandra Cowan (University of Lethbridge)

Libraries—even academic ones—tend to be oriented to practice, perhaps at the expense of theoretical bases. However, there has been a small but ongoing side conversation about library philosophy.  A philosophy of librarianship raises the essential questions around the library’s reason for being, which are often overlooked in what feels like a mad scramble to keep up, to champion efficiency, to demonstrate the value of libraries in a quantifiable way, and to be all things to all user groups, that characterize librarianship in the 21st century.  As we move into the future, philosophical inquiry may help us examine our assumptions, establish priorities, inform future directions and decisions, and communicate our value in society.  This presentation will be an exploration of philosophical inquiry around librarianship, albeit by a non-philosopher, with a view to tracing our philosophical roots and repositioning important questions in our profession’s thought and discourse.



** Lunch is provided for those CAPAL/ACBAP Members attending the AGM. **


Concurrent Session 6A: Critical Librarianship in Practice 2

LOCATION:  EPH: Eric Palin 201

Convenor: Ali Versluis (University of Guelph)

Sociopolitical Barriers to Information and Community Well Being: Implications for Librarian Teaching Practice

Jeff Lilburn (Mount Allison University)

Librarian teaching practice often focuses on information that can be discovered and accessed through effective querying of catalogues, databases, and other information systems.  But what if information a student or researcher needs has been suppressed or problematically modified?  How does our teaching practice help students and communities contend with circumstances in which political or corporate power tarnishes the integrity of available information or creates conditions where reliable information is not made available?  This paper examines these questions by considering the 2015 firing of New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the fate of her investigation into public health implications of the aerial spraying of a controversial herbicide throughout the province.  It examines the implications that missing information and evidence can have on public knowledge about important health issues and considers the role librarians can play in contesting sociopolitical barriers to information. 

Challenging University Hierarchies by Partnering with Student-Driven Journals: A Grassroots Approach

Michael David Miller (McGill University) & Urooj Nizami (McGill University)

This paper reports on innovative pedagogical approaches to information literacy engagement with undergraduate students being piloted at McGill University. Several liaison librarians have partnered with student-driven journals in order to offer alternatives to the traditional, hierarchical model of information literacy instruction. There is well established research suggesting that pedagogical approaches to information literacy should de-emphasize specific skill acquisition and focus on broader, socioculturally mediated conversations that resonate with students. Partnering with undergraduate student-driven journals offers librarians a unique site to facilitate conversations with students on issues of Open Access, copyright, and information privilege. In addition to addressing scholarly communication issues and related concepts with students, this model offers librarians at McGill University and other academic libraries a way of establishing direct and personal ties with undergraduate students and their associations to create a more critically conscious student body.

Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going? A Review of Four and a Half Decades of Library Instruction Literature

Andrea Stanfield (University of West Georgia)

This literature review expands on a paper presented at the 2016 Council of Media Organizations in Athens, GA titled Defining Ourselves: What Makes a Librarian Professional? by exploring how library instruction has evolved over the past forty-five years. The paper will address the following research questions: How have librarians viewed their role in relation to instruction in the past? What were key drivers in the growth of instructional services? Were current models of instruction, particularly the one-shot, developed as a reaction to outside forces or uncertainty about the future of academic librarianship? What role does neoliberalism play in current trends in library instruction? Are there any lessons learned that would allow academic librarians to move forward in defining our professional roles with intention while being mindful of the social and political forces that affect us?

Concurrent Session 6B: Professional Practice and Values 2: Information Access & Intellectual Freedom

LOCATION: EPH: Eric Palin 204

Convenor: Kelly Dermody (Ryerson University)

Classification Bias: Channeling Sandy Berman

F. Tim Knight (York University)

As libraries explore new avenues of information access, the need for a critical evaluation of our bibliographic tools is more important than ever. With the potential of the emerging semantic web and the promise of linked data, how will systems originally designed to organize closed physical collections translate to an increasingly fragmented digital information space? How will deep-seated cultural biases affect access to a cross-cultural information environment? This paper will review the work of Sandy Berman’s Prejudices and Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People aiming to explore a critical framework to evaluate the cultural interoperability of library classification and subject heading systems in a broader information landscape.

Libraries and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples: Missed Connections?

Mary Greenshields (University of Alberta)

Library engagement and library and information science (LIS) education are key areas where powerful change may be enacted in terms of social responsibility and intellectual freedom as they pertain to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples (FNMI) in North America.  However, the research indicates, especially in regards to LIS education, that FNMI individuals are underrepresented in the field.  This study, a review of current research, literature, materials, and policy regarding FNMI peoples, libraries, and education, troubles the relationship by asking why the disproportionate representation exists and how libraries and educational institutions may position themselves to correct this inconsistency. The intention of this study is to provide suggestions and resources gleaned in the research that may illuminate a way forward for future investigation into the topic and ideas to promote change in the relationship between the field of LIS and FNMI individuals.

Access to Information and the Advancement of Knowledge: Reflections on the 250th Anniversary of Freedom of Information Legislation

Mark Weiler (Wilfrid Laurier University)

December 2, 2016 marked the 250th anniversary of the world’s first access to information law in Sweden. Limited to northern Europe for 200 years, in the last 30 years freedom of information (FOI) laws have spread around the globe at a startling rate, resulting in numerous initiatives to support their use. This paper will highlight some of these major developments. Drawing on the author’s experience as a FOI user and as an academic librarian, this paper provides a framework for thinking about the use of access laws, challenges common misconceptions about using them, and demonstrates how members of university communities are using FOI laws. Practical ideas about how librarians can support usage are described.

Concurrent Session 6C: Neoliberalism and Issues of Identity

KHM: Kerr West 269

Convenor: Jennifer Soutter (University of Windsor)

Between Neoliberalism and Identity: Academic Librarianship and November 9, 2016

John Buschman (Seton Hall University)

CAPAL17 featured a heavy emphasis on identity in its call for papers, and this has been much questioned recently.  Neoliberalism – ascendant for decades – is missing from the discussions.  Politically it’s now combined with proposals to massively borrow to invest in infrastructure (bolstering the working class), strong moves against immigration (thought to bolster the working class labour market), and against the depredations of free trade agreements.  This paper won’t resolve these contradictions but a deeper look at the political operation of neoliberalism – and how it has been “sold” – sheds some light on the political success of neoliberalism which foreshadowed an unmoored “whitelash” response – and the postmodern methods deployed in neoliberal right-wing politics which promoted the atmosphere of a fact-free, policy-free, and truth-free election.  This cuts to the heart of academic librarianship and the critiques of identity politics in turn help shed some light on where progressive politics have fallen down.

On Cultural Competence in the Library World: Situating Anti-Racist Self Work as Neoliberal Racial Politics

David James Hudson (University of Guelph)

Cultural competence occupies a central space within the library world’s broader anti-racist discourse of diversity. With a focus on realizing inclusion through staff cultivation of awareness, attitudes, and behaviours around dynamics of (racialized) difference, cultural competence has come to represent one of the field’s chief anti-racist strategies, achieving formal prominence in the academic library world in particular through the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Diversity Standards (2012). Extending existing work that details the deep limitations of the individualized racial politics of the concept (and of diversity more broadly), this presentation explores cultural competence as a specifically neoliberal anti-racist formulation, situating it historically and examining the ways in which its centering of a racial politics of self-work operates in concert with key logics underpinning neoliberal political and economic arrangements and thus with the (racialized) violence such logics obscure.

“I’m Not Sure if I Count”: Academic Librarians with Disabilities in the Neoliberal Workplace

Joanne Oud (Wilfrid Laurier University)

The Canadian academic library is under tension between the increasing neoliberal pressures to be more efficient and do more with less and the traditional values of libraries and librarianship which emphasize helping, caring, and a focus on individual needs.  This tension is especially problematic for librarians with disabilities, since the ideal, “able” worker in neoliberal terms is defined as efficient and productive, and people with disabilities are seen in our culture as limited and less productive.  This presentation aims to bring academic librarians with disabilities into clearer view. It discusses their experiences as workers in the current neoliberal academic library workplace, based on a Canada-wide survey and in-depth interviews done in fall 2016.  Topics include positive and negative work experiences encountered by librarians with disabilities, the barriers that they face in the workplace, and the strategies they use to overcome those barriers and create positive professional identities.



Concurrent Session 7A: Pedagogy in Political Context: Fake News, Post Truth, and Populism

LOCATION: Eric Palin 201)

Convenor: Carol A. Leibiger (University of South Dakota)

Information and Reactionary Populism

Pascal Lupien (University of Guelph) & Lorna Rourke (St. Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo)

The failure of the neoliberal economic project to deliver promised benefits to large segments of the population has produced a social and economic crisis. The resulting anxiety provides fertile ground for the emergence of a reactionary populism characterized by xenophobia, authoritarianism, and hostility toward democratic institutions, diversity, and human rights. Many people lack the information literacy skills to filter, analyze, and critique information about politics, making them susceptible to manipulation. Information literacy must play a far more significant role than helping students find sources for their assignments; it may very well be the key to promoting a richer and more inclusive democracy. We argue that in the current sociopolitical context, librarians need to begin thinking about moving beyond the confines of academic libraries and exploring the role that they can play in the development of information literacy skills beyond the university.

Fake News: Evaluating the News When We Can’t Even Agree on Reality

Jeff Knapp (Penn State University)

Fake News! In the wake of the latest U.S. presidential election, there has been heightened concern about misinformation and its effect on domestic policy and security. This can be an incredible opportunity for librarians involved with information literacy, as there is finally a very tangible example of what information literacy is about. But what makes news fake? “Fake News” is now breezily tossed around in the media as an epithet. Teaching students about how to evaluate news sources requires a focused definition of terms to describe the various perils we can encounter in consuming news content. This paper will unpack the terminology and help us discuss this issue from a politically neutral perspective.

News Literacy & Relativism in “Post-Truth” Moments: Emerging Pedagogical Strategies for Teaching about Contextual Authority

Andrea Baer (University of West Georgia)

As news literacy initiatives challenge the increased prevalence of “post-truths,” they also complicate the concept of contextual authority, which is emphasized in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy description of “Authority as Constructed and Contextual.” If authority is determined by a given community and thus varies from one context to another, what does this suggest about evaluating information and its credibility? Does teaching about the concept “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual” problematically reinforce absolute relativist perspectives? Alternatively, can this concept be understood through the lens of a “weak” relativism and thereby encourage students to exercise cultural sensitivity and to explore productive tensions between absolute empiricism and absolute relativism? Taking into consideration the present sociopolitical moment and the opportunities and challenges it presents to literacy education, the presenter, an academic librarian, will explore approaches to teaching about contextual authority that address the tensions between “post-truth” reasoning, social constructivism, and absolute empiricism.

Concurrent Session 7B (PANEL): Climbing the Mountain to Reconciliation in Academic Libraries: One Step at a Time

LOCATION: KHW: Kerr West 269

Convenor: Patricia Serafini (University of Toronto)

Panelists:  Deborah Lee (Nehiyaw, Haudenosaunee, Métis; University of Saskatchewan); Sara McDowell (University of Toronto Libraries); Darlene Ficher (University of Saskatchewan)

Indigenous academic circles are abuzz with critical analyses of Canada 150 “celebrations”, given the mountain of work we face to build a decolonized academy and country. However, we also see hope for solutions in the strong participation shown by university administrators and faculty at recent Building Reconciliation National Forums held in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Consequently, academic libraries across Canada will need to learn about, think about, and act on Reconciliation initiatives to move forward and keep pace within their academic environments. Accordingly, these three librarians will examine some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and how they can be implemented to correct the oppression that Indigenous peoples have faced when entering academic libraries and using their services.  Participants are encouraged to bring one Call to Action to explore during the participatory component of this session. Panelists will also share their experiences of decolonizing and reconciling in the workplace through a social justice framework.



Day 3 – Thursday, June 1, 2017


Please note that you will first need to register with the Congress to receive your Congress badge, name-tag, and program. After doing so, please proceed to the CAPAL Registration table in the Kerr West building to register with us and join the conference.


Concurrent Session 8A: Critical Approaches to Information Literacy

LOCATION: EPH: Eric Palin 201

Convenor: sandra cowan (university of lethbridge) 

Using Social Epistemology to Understand Critical Information Literacy

Martin Nord (University of Western Ontario)

This paper argues that social epistemology—the study of the ways in which society understands in relationship to its environment—is well suited to strengthen the critical practice of information literacy. Critical theory has engaged with what was originally an LIS concept. As the core social epistemological questions continue to move into broader interdisciplinary investigations, these questions consequently become a way for LIS to critically examine both the environment in which information literacy occurs—its social context— and the means through which it is facilitated—new models of interaction between students and librarians. A review of the critical theoretical trend in LIS literature and a critique of that literature alert us to ways the library profession may improve on already valuable critical information literacy efforts. This paper suggests that future progress will be tied to better understanding the social context of knowledge.

“Practice before You Preach”: A Critical Reflection Model for Teaching Academic Librarians

Silvia Vong (University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto)

Critical reflection is an important skill that instills lifelong information literate skills in students.  In order to effectively teach students this skill, it is vital that teaching librarians adopt some form of critical reflective practice.  This session introduces participants to Brookfield’s four lenses of critical reflection in teaching and Fook and Gardner’s research on developing a critical reflection model for professionals.  Moreover, this session provides resources on assessing critical reflections and identifying strengths and weaknesses in one’s own reflection.  Overall, this session aims to introduce tools and methods of critical reflection practices to librarians who teach.          

How Do You Pronounce Pedagogy? The Evolution of Critical Pedagogy and Praxis in Library Instruction

Carrie Wade (Graceland University)

The discourse surrounding library instruction pedagogy has shifted radically in the last six to twelve years towards approaches that encourage engagement with critical theory and liberating praxis in the classroom.  This paper traces the evolution of that discourse starting in the mid twentieth century when librarians began to grapple with the question of what library instruction should be and follows the literature into the present where librarians explore the possibilities of instruction as a liberating enterprise.  This paper contextualizes the factors that have shaped this nascent discourse thus far and attempts to imagine a way forward as critical pedagogies gain prevalence in mainstream librarianship.

Concurrent Session 8B (PANEL): Critical Library Practice and Higher Education: Locating Spaces of Agency and Resistance  

LOCATION: KHW: Kerr West 269

Convenor: Courtney Waugh (University of Western Ontario)

Programming and Displays

Sofia Leung (MIT Libraries)

Collection Development

 Vani Natarajan (Barnard College)


Eamon Tewell (Long Island University Brooklyn)

Academic libraries are plausibly environments where socially-conscious practices might easily be explored. Yet librarians engaged in these efforts often struggle to bring a critical perspective to bear upon their work within the confines of larger institutional cultures. Our liminal status can sometimes work to our advantage by allowing us to “fly under the radar,” while other times it leaves us stuck in the margins, lacking the agency necessary to create lasting change.

This panel will speak to the challenges and opportunities encountered by librarians who engage in critical practices within higher education, offering reflections on our agency across three sites: collection development, reference services, and event programming and displays. After having heard the panelists’ approaches to locating critical spaces, a facilitated Q&A will encourage attendees to voice their concerns and hopes for socially-conscious library work within environments that are sometimes agreeable to these aims, sometimes hostile, but never neutral.

Concurrent Session 8C (PANEL): Transitions into Librarianship

LOCATION: EPH: Eric Palin 204

Convenor: Ali Versluis (University of Guelph)

Panelists:  Mandissa Arlain (Ryerson University); Lisa Levesque (Ryerson University); Alison Skyrme (Ryerson University)

Academic librarians follow many different paths to their career positions. Varied experience, previous careers, and long periods of successive contract work pose unique challenges for early-career librarians, while imparting valuable skills. Three new librarians will take a critical look at what early-career professionals look like now, through their own lived experience, sharing their strategies for overcoming difficulties, and highlighting some of the challenges that may not be self-evident for a new librarian or the administration team. The panel will address some of the particular challenges that arise for new librarians, including changing relationships with colleagues and technical staff, and issues around precarious labour and race, and the effect it has on new librarians. Discussion with the audience around these shared experiences will be encouraged.



Convenor: Lisa Richmond (Wheaton College)

Lisa Sloniowski

Affective Resistance and the Academic Librarian

Lisa Sloniowski is an Associate Librarian at York University where she is the liaison to the Department of English Literature. She is also a PhD student in the interdisciplinary Social and Political Thought program at York. Her research interests all relate to different ways of theorizing the contributions of libraries and archives to scholarly and cultural knowledge production from a feminist perspective, and as such her work ranges from examinations of labour issues to the cataloging of special collections to critical information literacy to the so-called semantic web. Lisa recently co-organized a two-day workshop for academic librarians interested in critical librarianship, co-edited a special issue of Open Shelf on academic librarians and the PhD, and is the co-investigator on the SSHRC-funded Feminist Porn Archive and Research Project. In 2016, Lisa won the Library Juice Annual Paper contest for her article "Affective Labour, Resistance, and the Academic Librarian" which was published in the journal Library Trends. She is currently working on her dissertation, provisionally entitled "Vexing Collections: Librarians and Disorder" and no, you may not ask how it's going.