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Full CAPAL18 program now available!



Community, Diversity, and Education: Academic Librarianship
in Challenging Times

Held in conjunction with
Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2018
University of Regina; Regina, Saskatchewan

May 28, 2018 (Pre-Conference Workshop)
May 29-31, 2018 (Conference)

CAPAL18 provides an opportunity for academic librarians to critically examine and discuss the ways in which collaboration, respect for differences, and professionalism empower us at a time when the values of our profession are in danger of being eroded, both within our universities and within the wider world.  It is time to consider the role of academic librarianship in a changing world and the ways in which academic librarians can challenge the corporatization of our universities and libraries, institutional inequities, and the attempts to deprofessionalize academic librarians.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Pre-Conference Workshop: Ally-ship in Libraries in an Era of Reconciliation

Convenor:  Deborah Lee (University of Saskatchewan)
Time: 1:30PM– 4:30PM
Location: First Nations Room FN2002

This interactive session will draw upon anti-racist theory to explore the history of racialized inequality between Indigenous peoples and white settler society in Canada. The official policy of multiculturalism has been an effective practice for minimizing the need for analyzing racism in Canada. More recently the national apology for residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have also worked to perpetuate an assumption that Canada has made retribution. Anti-racist education seeks to challenge these national discourses of benevolence. Racialized discourses were integral to colonization and imperialism and continue to provide a foundation for understanding current socio-political and educational conditions. Racism is effective in normalizing and naturalizing a system of inequality and injustice. For centuries, Indigenous people have asserted their right and fought for justice and restitution, despite colonial policies and practices that have been imposed on them by Canadians and which continue rampantly to this day. In this current state of racial and colonial inequality, developing an historical understanding of the race concept and its utility in enforcing a social hierarchy of human worth remains necessary.

This workshop will assist in building anti-racist knowledge and literacy. We will provide both historical and current examples of how similar processes of racialization continue in the everyday discourse and practices of Canadians in institutions such as health care, universities and libraries. Racialization plays out in hiring practices, committee work, teaching and learning situations, and more. What can and should reconciliation mean in this context? We will examine the possibilities for solidarity work across racial differences and discuss how the professional development and ethical practices of library staff can lead to examples of ally-ship.  Central to anti-racist and justice work is the need for on-going self-reflection, which this workshop seeks to both start and support for your own journey.


Dr. Verna St. Denis is a Professor of Education at the University of Saskatchewan where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in integrated anti-racist education in the Department of Educational Foundations. She identifies as both Cree and Metis and is a member of the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation. Her doctoral research explored the impact of functional anthropology and cultural theory on problematizing the education policy and practice in educating Indigenous students. So basically, exploring how colonialism used cultural theory to depoliticize the education of Indigenous students, and to further pathologize Indigenous people. Her research has also involved exploring the knowledge and experience of Indigenous teachers, particularly in public schools. And a third area of scholarship and teaching is in promoting the necessity of anti-racist education and how we offer this education to white identified teacher education students and in-service teachers and administrators. So basically seeking to understand the emotional and political investments white settlers subjects have in rejecting an anti-colonial and anti-racist analysis.

Sheelah McLean has a PhD in Anti-Racist education from the University of Saskatchewan. Sheelah has been a high school teacher for 25 years in the Saskatoon Public School Division, and currently teaches in adult education. As an educator, scholar and organizer in the Idle No More movement, Sheelah's work has focused on research projects and actions that address inequality, particularly focusing on the legacy of oppression experienced by Indigenous Peoples within a white settler society. Sheelah has received many honors for her work in social justice including the University of Saskatchewan's Alumni of Influence Award (2013), the Council of Canadians Activist of the Year Award (2014) and the Carol Gellar Human Rights Award (2015).

Registration is available only through the Congress registration portal (  Register there for the CAPAL conference and find the workshop under "Banquet/Other Fees". The cost of the workshop is $55.

NOTE: If you plan to attend the workshop you must add it when registering for Congress and CAPAL. You cannot add it later without having to cancel your entire registration. Contact Congress for assistance:

Day 1 – Tuesday, May 29, 2018

8:00am-9:00am: Registration (FIRST NATIONS FN 2000)

Please note that you will first need to register with the Congress to receive your Congress badge and nametag. After doing so, please proceed to the CAPAL Registration table in the First Nations University Building to register with us and join the conference.


Important Last-minute Housekeeping Items


The current version of the CAPAL Bylaws is at:

Our apologies that some links sent out previously were to earlier versions of the Bylaws.

The correct URL for the Dine-Arounds is:

Jeannine Berroteran and Emily Drabinski were scheduled to present in sessions 1B and 3B, but are unable to be here. The sessions will still take place as scheduled, with the remaining presenters.


Convenor: Lorna E. Rourke,
St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, Ontario

Jane Schmidt

Jane Schmidt has been a librarian at Ryerson University in the Dish With One Spoon territory since 2003. Her career has been varied and has included acquisitions, collection development, middle management, and liaison in various subject areas. Currently, she is the liaison librarian for Child and Youth Care, Early Childhood Studies and Engineering. She has published on topics ranging from demand driven acquisitions, collection analysis, approval plans, and Little Free Libraries. Her current interests are community-led service, examining literary philanthropy through an anti-colonial lens and re-discovering the simple pleasure of working with students. She blogs intermittently, tweets prodigiously and would love to show you pictures of her son and her cats.

Innovate this! Bullshit in academic libraries and what we can do about it

Academic libraries produce and perpetuate their fair share of management speak - or, bullshit.  We create checklists of core competencies to actualize our value propositions. We revere the Thought Leaders in the Innovative Library of the 21st Century. We create synergistic space to incubate the next big game changers. We create and administer committees and task forces that in turn generate a never ending cycle of emails to nail down agendas and meeting minutes. I will reflect on how this proliferation of empty language affects our collective psyche, and what we might do to shovel our way out and focus on meaningful work that provides resonance through all stages of our careers.





Third Party Intervention in Collective Bargaining Disputes Jennifer Dekker (University of Ottawa)

Negotiation is “the basic means of getting what you want from others,” but is often fraught with conflict when parties with opposing interests engage in collective bargaining (Fisher, Ury & Patton 2011, xxvii). Collective bargaining is a negotiation between employees (usually represented by union officers) and their employer regarding each party’s rights and the working conditions of employees. These can include salaries, hours of work, extended health benefits, pensions, grievance procedures, task definition, physical environment, equipment, etc.… Conflicts can escalate to strikes or lockouts with serious consequences for workers, students, colleges and universities and unions, especially in an economic climate of austerity and a political environment where strikes are less and less visible. This paper will discuss third-party intervention, focusing on facilitation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration, including negotiating librarian issues when they are embedded in a professor-dominated round of bargaining.

Has third-party intervention been helpful in managing conflict so that collective bargaining negotiations can be reasonably successful (meaning that not only do the parties achieve agreement, but they also obtain a reasonable level of satisfaction from the process and the outcome)? When should bargaining teams engage a third party? How does an association select a third party? What should participants in collective bargaining be aware of when engaging the assistance of a third party? These are the main questions that this paper will address.

The methodology consists of a compilation and analysis of desk research and personal experiences. I have participated in three consecutive negotiations on behalf of my union, the Association of Professors of University of Ottawa and have served as its President, from 2015-2017, when the Association engaged in various forms of mediation and negotiations. This discussion will be most useful for participants with an understanding of and some experience with collective bargaining, but will also be suitable for participants more generally interested in collective bargaining in our academic institutions.

Fisher, R., Ury, W. & Patton, B. (2011). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. 3rd ed. New York: Penguin Books.

Labour in Solidarity: Librarians in Unions in Colleges and Technical Institutes  Shannon Moist (Douglas College); Chloe Riley (Simon Fraser University)

As recent labour disputes and collective action in academic institutions across Canada have made clear, unions continue to play a vital role in protecting the rights of academic librarians in the workplace. In these challenging times, unions strive to regulate the working conditions and defend the professionalism of academic librarians, from standardizing wages and providing benefits, to protecting academic freedom, and ensuring research and teaching provisions. Exploring the prevalence of unions in Canadian postsecondary institutions and the protections of various collective agreements will shed light on the value we place on labour, professionalism, and academic status within academic libraries.

Previous research on the topic of unions in academic libraries has focused on universities and large research libraries, leaving a noticeable gap regarding the status of academic librarians in smaller institutions. By collecting and analyzing the status of academic librarians in colleges and technical institutes across Canada, we will provide some much-needed data on the prevalence of unions in smaller institutions. In addition, we will explore the extent of protections in these unionized environments, highlight the unique labour and organizing challenges faced in these institutions, and look at the tensions that can arise between librarians and teaching faculty within the faculty association. We will also address the social justice role unions hold within academic libraries, including combating prejudice and inequality in library workplaces.

We invite delegates to join us in this session to explore issues of labour, professionalism, collective action, and social justice across libraries of all sizes.



Decolonizing Academic Libraries: Critical Information Literacy and Truth and Reconciliation Donna Langille (McGill University) (Recipient of the CAPAL Bursary for Student Conference Attendance)

The Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) formed a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 2016 and delivered their Report and Recommendations in 2017. One of their goals was to identify how libraries, archives and cultural heritage institutions can implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action. This presentation hopes to expand on the CFLA’s recommendations by identifying and exploring how critical information literacy instruction can support reconciliation in academic libraries.

The last ten years has seen a surge in research focusing on critical information literacy in library and information studies. Critical information literacy looks beyond developing students’ library literacy skills, such as the ability to find relevant sources and use the library catalog, and aims to encourage students’ agency in the process of seeking, retrieving and evaluating information. Critical information literacy also encourages the examination of the social and political power structures within the context of information.

This presentation looks at the history of libraries as colonial institutions and draws on the scholarship in critical information literacy, critical pedagogy theory, as well as literature on settler colonial reconciliation from Indigenous perspectives. This presentation proposes that critical information literacy, that intentionally applies an anti-colonial lens, and which acknowledges and addresses the disparities of social power between settlers and Indigenous communities, can support reconciliation by encouraging students to question concepts of authority and the privileging of the written word in higher education, as well as to acknowledge and respect Indigenous knowledge systems.
The goal of this presentation is to evaluate the ways in which academic librarians can adopt critical pedagogical praxis as a way to resist and challenge colonial power within the university.  In this presentation, I hope to build upon the work done by the CFLA Truth and Reconciliation Committee and to advocate, from an allied perspective, for the importance of academic librarians’ participation in Reconciliation.

Indigenization and Reconciliation at University of Waterloo Libraries Jessica Blackwell (University of Waterloo); Chris Read (University of Waterloo)

Following the publication of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 2015, a number of Canadian post-secondary institutions implemented both campus-wide and library centered Indigenization strategies. The University of Waterloo is aiming to implement a campus-wide Indigenization strategy, following the recommendations made by a steering committee, and will commence campus initiatives in summer 2018. The steering committee is made up of a number of working groups. Jessica Blackwell sits on the Curriculum and Academic Programming working group, and Chris Read sits on the Research working group. The remaining three groups are Community Engagement, Policy and Procedures, and Student Experience.

Our paper will reflect our experiences from serving on these working groups, and communicate our thoughts on the Indigenization strategy steering group, including the recommendations made and the process of getting to them. We intend to highlight areas where we think academic libraries have opportunities, and can take leadership roles, in developing meaningful Truth and Reconciliation and Indigenization strategies. Specifically, we plan on discussing the recommendations we made to the University of Waterloo Library following our involvement with our respective working groups.
The CAPAL18 theme, ‘Community, Diversity and Education: Academic Librarianship in Challenging Times’, is a very good fit with the content of our presentation. We think that working to implement an Indigenization strategy at the University of Waterloo is a critically important step in engaging with our community. The University of Waterloo is geographically in a unique position, being situated on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples, on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. In our community, this fact has long been overlooked and until very recently, gone unacknowledged by the University. An important role libraries can take in communities is in education and meaningfully serving our diverse communities. We hope that our experience working with the steering committee can lead us to offering CAPAL members useful and specific content on best practices for Indigenization in a library setting and how libraries can support Indigenous students.



Theory as Material Force: Marxism and the Challenge of Academic Librarianship Sam Popowich (University of Alberta)

The theme of “Community, Diversity, and Education” is a timely one. In addition to the obvious areas in which the field of academic librarianship falls short of adequate diversity - primarily around gender and race - it also lacks diversity in the area of theoretical approaches. This is especially problematic at the current moment because without rigorous theoretical positions, we often find it difficult to challenge processes that are occurring around us (such as the corporatization of the university, or the dangers of technology), or to justify our own aspirations and positions.

The ideas and work of Karl Marx have been informing pro-labour, egalitarian, community-focused practice for over 150 years, and continues to challenge the dominant socio-economic policies that drive our institutions, including academic libraries. My current research explores the intersection of Marxist political, social, and economic theory with librarianship and technology. In this presentation I will explore some aspects of Marx’s thought which can, and should, be used to bolster academic librarianship in a changing world. Far from being an obsolete or defunct theory, Marx’s thought can give us a rigorous foundation for supporting collaboration, differences, and professionalism, while providing a broader socio-economic context in which to ground our professional practice.

I will structure this paper around a few concrete examples of current professional debates and show how Marx’s concepts can help us understand and negotiate our positions within these debates. First, I will talk about academic freedom, tenure, and the deskilling/professionalization question. Marx’s materialist conception of history, and his insistence on the unity of the political and the economic are important here. Then I will discuss issues of algorithmic bias and technological change using Marx’s conception of innovation under capitalism and the economic function of technology. Finally, I will discuss the corporatization of the neoliberal university, looking not only at Marx, but at more recent Marxist theorists such as the Italian autonomists, and their ideas of immaterial labour and cognitive capitalism.
By providing an overview of the value of a Marxist approach, I hope to make the case for more theoretical diversity within librarianship, and to show how sociological, political, and economic theory is a requirement for understanding and engaging with academic librarianship in a changing world.

In Search of Shifting and Emergent Librarian Identities Sara Klein (University of Calgary); Bartlomiej Lenart (University of Calgary)

Shifts in librarian identity and praxis have occurred throughout the profession’s long history. For example, in the ancient world, scholars engaged in the precursors of the modern practices of cataloguing, indexing, classification, fact checking, and source verification (Sandys, 2010; Gray, 2012). In the Middle Ages, monastic libraries added collection development and management (Hessel, 1950; Gray, 2012) to the librarian’s repertoire. More recently, S. R. Ranganathan’s (1931) focus on resource usefulness yet again shifted how librarians viewed both the library and their roles within it.

In recent years, the library profession has once more undergone significant changes in response to technological innovations, user needs, and political and economic pressures. These changes have prompted attempts to reconceive librarian identity and librarian roles within the context of new and emerging engagement models. For example, according to Nelson & Irving (2014), while librarians conceived of their professional pre-internet roles as “masters of search,” the widespread adoption of the internet prompted a shift to a conception of librarianship as “teachers of search.” Librarian responsibilities, and even their very functions, however, are continually shifting and adapting as librarians assume new roles in “research services, digital humanities, teaching and learning, digital scholarship, user experience, and copyright and scholarly communication” (Jaguszewski & Williams, 2013, p. 16) within research institutions.

In a time when librarian roles are continually evolving, both due to emerging technologies as well as shifting social and institutional needs, in a direction that is not yet fully predictable, rethinking librarian identity is certainly quite timely. We argue, however, that rigidly defining or stubbornly adhering to a single, even if compound, conception of librarianship is restrictive, inhibiting, and can be counter-productive. Librarian identities, like other kinds of identities, are, we argue, context-sensitive and socially dependent; it is more desirable to allow an organic emergence of multiple shifting professional identities responsive to various needs rather than prematurely pre-defining generalized roles.

Librarians as Mothers: Stepping Outside the Stereotype Nicole Eva (University of Lethbridge)
Librarianship is rife with stereotypes, none more pervasive than the spinster librarian. I am interested in how this image creates conformity among female librarians in their self-selection of librarianship as a profession, particularly among academic librarians in North America. Are those who believe they fit the stereotype more likely to pursue this field? Are those who feel they don’t fit the stereotype likely to avoid the profession because they don’t think it will be a fit? When librarians DO choose to become mothers, is it seen as fitting with their profession, or at odds with it? And finally, why is it that so many women-academic-parent-librarians only have one child? This exploratory presentation will amalgamate the literature on the topic of motherhood and librarianship, will highlight some first person narratives of librarianship and motherhood at my own institution, and will discuss with the audience their experiences and impressions. Very little research has been done in this area to date; as a precursor to a full-blown research study, this session will engage the participants in a discussion about what it means to be an academic librarian, what it means to be a mother, and the ways in which those identities intersect and / or remain in opposition.

12:15PM-1:45PM: lunch (on your own)

12:15PM-1:45PM: capal committee meetings

1:55PM-3:10PM: SESSION #2


Convenors: CAPAL  Advocacy Committee: Eva Revitt, Mary Greenshields, Leona Jacobs

The MLIS Degree -- Really, Why Bother? – Part 1
Chris Nicol (University of Lethbridge), Tami Oliphant (SLIS University of Alberta), Toni Samek, (SLIS University of Alberta), Carol Shepstone (Ryerson University)

What exactly is the value of the MLIS degree in academe in the 21st century? Broadly defined, value refers to the realized and potential significance, relevance, scholarly contribution, and appropriateness of the degree to a rapidly-changing profession. As the necessity for hiring academic librarians is being more frequently challenged by university administrators, what can we say in defense of our profession’s terminal degree? What advantage, if any, does the MLIS degree grant a library professional in the academy? These questions shall be addressed in two sessions: a panel featuring invited speakers representing various perspectives on academic librarianship, and a subsequent roundtable open to conference participants. In the first session, our panelists will interrogate the foundations of the library profession, the profession’s relevance to academe, and whether present pedagogical approaches are commensurate with the demands of the academic workplace and emerging critical scholarship.




Convenors:  CAPAL  Advocacy Committee: Eva Revitt, Mary Greenshields, Leona Jacobs

The MLIS Degree -- Really, Why Bother? – Part 2
Moderated roundtable discussion will respond to and interrogate the themes, issues, and debates emerging from Session 2A.



Just How Open is Open Access? Exposing Problematic Elements in bepress’ Digital Commons Discipline Taxonomy for Institutional Repositories Emily Carlisle (University of Western Ontario); Roger Chabot (University of Western Ontario)

Emerging in the late twentieth century, the open access movement served as a response to the serials crisis. The rationale for open access was simple:            publicly-funded research ought to be a public good. Thus, institutional repositories (IRs) became one of the engines of this movement.  They would collect, preserve, and freely disseminate authors’ self-archived works at an institution. IRs were lauded as a means to increase access to scholarly knowledge, equitize knowledge sharing across the global academic community, and resist the corporatization of scholarly communications.

We argue, however, that IRs may not share knowledge as openly as once thought. Inspired by the CFLA’s 2017 Truth & Reconciliation Report & Recommendations and efforts at Western Libraries to document metadata representations of works by/about Indigenous peoples, we undertook a project to examine the ways in which Indigenous peoples are represented in Western Libraries’ Digital Commons (DC) IR. Our study later grew into a broader investigation of the problematic worldview perpetuated by the DC Three-Tiered Discipline Taxonomy—a taxonomy used to provide subject access to works in DC IRs. Our examination reveals that in our profession’s haste to manage the serials crisis, we have failed to properly examine the tools that we use to enact our “open” ideology.

Through four case studies—focused on the disciplinary classification of works by/about Indigenous peoples, religious communities, and racial and ethnic minorities in Western Libraries’ IR—we provide evidence of privilege and prejudice embedded in the DC Discipline Taxonomy. Like in other library classification schemes, historically criticized for privileging the Western male-dominated culture of their originators, Anglo-American centrism, imperialism, and racism feature in the DC Taxonomy. With more terminological accuracy given to dominant culture, marginalized groups are literally “othered” into obscurity. Works by/about these groups are thus rendered invisible to web crawlers responding to searches for specific topics. It would seem that DC IRs are working against the ideals of open, equitable knowledge sharing—the very ideals in which open access is rooted.

We conclude, therefore, that as academic librarians, we must confront barriers to diversity, namely the prejudices historically found in our classification systems. Now especially, rather than placing the onus on minority groups to write themselves into existence, academic librarians must leverage the almost limitless digital environment to give space to historically “othered” groups. Only by doing so can IRs be used both to resist capitalism and to further our profession’s “open,” equitable agenda.



DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2018


Please note that you will first need to register with the Congress to receive your Congress badge, nametag, and program. After doing so, please proceed to the CAPAL Registration table at the Luther College Auditorium to register with us and join the conference.

9:00am-10:15am: CONCURRENT SESSIONS #4



What is Diversity? A Conversation Maha Kumaran (University of Saskatchewan); Aditi Gupta (University of Victoria)

Despite many diversity mandates, the library profession has not made any meaningful commitment to foster diversity (Neely & Peterson, 2007; Subramaniam et al., 2012; Jaeger et al., 2014). The 8Rs Redux study (2015), the only most comprehensive report on academic librarians from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), highlights two major issues relevant to this project: insufficient efforts by the library profession to diversify, and inadequacies of internal candidates’ leadership abilities. Neither CARL nor the recently constituted Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) have diversity statements or policies. The Canadian academic library governance model does not have a structure or processes in place to foster and practice diversity. Very few Canadian studies in the last two decades have focused on different dimensions of diversity in academic libraries (Dali & Nadia, 2017; De Long, 2013; Kumaran, 2012; Kumaran & Cai, 2015, Lee & Kumaran, 2014; Lee, 2011). Research and anecdotal evidence urge Canadian libraries to recruit more minority, Aboriginal and disabled librarians (Ingles et al 2005; Delong, Sorensen, & Williamson, 2015; Kumaran, 2012; Kumaran & Cai, 2015) and address the diversity gap in libraries. However, diversifying efforts often stop at staff, librarian, collection, and service levels. To be truly diverse, Canadian academic librarianship needs to have more conversations and a systematic effort towards initiating, fostering, and practicing diversity.

We invite all interested librarians to participate in our philosophical panel discussion and to engage in meaningful conversations about diversity. First diversity means many things to many people. We encourage the idea of inclusive diversity – diversity in many different ways (gender, sexual orientation, age, and ethnicity), and diversity in many areas associated with librarianship (collections, services, recruitment, and leadership), so we will start with a broad question:

“What is diversity?”
Led by Kumaran and Gupta, other ensuing discussions may focus on why diversity is important (what it will do for librarianship or how it will enhance academic librarianship), how can academic librarianship can go about achieving diversity (a systematic process), and finally, how to practice diversity (operationalizing).



Consultants in Academic Libraries: library literature meets the voices on the ground  Marni Harrington (University of Western Ontario); Ania Dymarz (Simon Fraser University)

The pervasive use of consultants in libraries can be understood as one of many indicators that neoliberalism is shaping our workplaces. To what extent, however, do library workers view the practice of hiring consultants as one that significantly impacts their labour and their workplaces? This paper will present the preliminary results of a survey looking at consultant use and report on the perceptions and experiences of academic library workers in Canada. A synthesis of survey results will draw out key themes in the perceptions of various library worker groups looking not just on the practice itself but on the impact of the practice on work and workplace.

The survey results will be presented in parallel with the results of a critical discourse analysis of existing literature to highlight some of the resonance and dissonance between the two lines of analysis. While the discourse analysis reveals the need for developing a more critically informed understanding of the practice in our scholarship, survey results indicate that by and large respondents are not directly critiquing the practice itself. Many respondents, however, demonstrated a keen awareness of the intricacies of the knowledge and power dynamics that play out in consultant interventions. These dynamics were understood by participants to be highly problematic but also at times to be enabling and empowering. Unpacking the varied perceptions of respondents, this research aims to cultivate an understanding of the practice that can be shaped by critical theory while also being informed by the on the ground perspectives of library workers. The framework of critical realism will be used to pull together the results of our discourse analysis with the survey data allowing for an exploration of agency, mechanisms, and structures that will better explain the phenomenon in question.

Reflecting on how the practice of hiring consultants in academic libraries is informed by the workplace norms of our institution, our profession, and the sociopolitical realities of our time, attendees will be encouraged to think critically about how work is defined, enabled, or constrained in the library. Explicitly naming the ways in which our workplaces are defined by normative practices can help us better understand the shape of our work, the effects of these practices on our workplace, and the ways in which we actively perpetuate or resist the dominant values of our times.

Liturgies of Leadership: Examining the Conference Site as House of Worship Patti Ryan (York University Libraries)

Neoliberalism has introduced a new lexicon in libraries. Where we once simply used our professional skills and experience, we now “leverage them for success.” Ideas are no longer simply explored or debated, but are “socialized through knowledge networks.” The widespread adoption of a market-driven rhetoric in libraries appears to have been accompanied by a growing emphasis on the importance of strategic leadership, and on the cultivation of leaders within the profession who can have the necessary expertise, experience and vocabulary to help operationalize the ideals of New Public Management.

Adopting the critical discourse analysis methodology pioneered by Fairclough (2003), I use over twenty years of Ontario Library Association Conference programs as a basis for examining the discursive construction of notions of leadership within the profession and the extent to which they are shaped by neoliberal imperatives. In particular, I consider how these discursive constructions of leadership are reified and animated through the content, practices and rituals of the conference site. I argue that these practices and rituals operate as secular, embodied liturgies that act on us, shaping our understanding of leadership, and cultivating a particular vision of how libraries in the 21st century must be governed. I argue for a collective reimagining of these liturgies, and explore ideas for creating alternative sites of worship, practices and rituals that would help to reanimate the core values of librarianship.





Jennifer Dekker (University of Ottawa); John Fink (McMaster University); Sam Popowich (University of Alberta)

Solidarity: “The fact or quality, on the part of communities, etc., of being perfectly united or at one in some respect, esp. in interests, sympathies, or aspirations; spec. with reference to the aspirations or actions of trade-union members.”
- "Solidarity, n.". OED Online. June 2017. Oxford University Press.

Academic librarians have working conditions and challenges that mirror those of wider society: outsourcing is routine, budgets are cut, transparency is lacking, decision-making is centralized, technology is uncritically adopted, work is often more specialized and individualized, precarious employment is common and support from unions (especially faculty unions) varies. How do we work with each other to build the networks and support systems that lead to solidarity? What are the benefits of doing so?

This panel will explore the challenges - institutional, cultural, and social - to building solidarity in academic libraries. What are the factors impeding academic librarians from building greater solidarity in our own workplaces, with colleagues in the same province, with librarians across Canada and possibly even building international solidarity? Are there examples of successful solidarity actions that we can share? We hope to engage audience participation to round out the discussion with your experiences, examples and potential solutions.

The panelists represent four different perspectives:
1.    A large research intensive university where librarians have been unionized
members of the professors association since the 1970’s;
2.    A large research intensive university where librarians unionized apart from
professors in 2010;
3.    A large research intensive university where librarians have recently unionized
alongside professors through government legislation after being long-time
members of a non-union academic association;
4.    A private university in New York, where librarians and library instructors have been involved in labour disputes with management over the last few years, including a lockout in the fall of 2016.

The different backgrounds, current situations, experiences, and perspectives of the panelists will uncover some of the challenges - and opportunities - for solidarity across academic librarianship. Moving the conversation forward is vital to achieving professional solidarity in times to come. The format of the panel will be question and answer with a moderator. As a result, the four panelists do not have individual abstracts, but will respond to the moderator’s questions (prepared by the panel in advance).


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



1:55Pm-3:10pm:  CONCURRENT SESSIONS #6



Narrowing the Scope: Transitioning from general librarianship to specialized subject librarians  Paul Campbell (Ohio University); Heather Howard (Purdue University); Wendy Girven (University of New Hampshire)

One of the many challenges that academic librarianship faces is the dichotomy of working environments between librarians who at larger and smaller institutions. Larger academic institutions organize librarians by clearly segmented functions. Subject librarians are then charged with liaison responsibilities for a limited set of programs and disciplines. This, of course, is the complete opposite of academic librarians working in much smaller libraries where they support multiple academic programs in addition to multiple functions that support library operations.
Not all librarians begin their careers in subject liaison positions but, rather, some start in a broad position where they do a little of everything and are never able to truly delve deeply into a single area. This jack-of-all-trades librarianship calls into question the academic status of librarians because of the time it takes away from focusing on cultivating new relationships with teaching faculty and their disciplines. As their careers develop and transition into more specialized positions, new subject librarians can develop feelings of imposter syndrome, and, in effect, feel that they must “re-learn” librarianship. Freshly minted subject liaison librarians must learn a very specific set of skills and resources that go beyond standard or generalized librarianship. These subject specific positions require learning additional skills and developing new relationships to be successful in identifying and promoting relevant data, resources, collections, and other information needs.  
This panel will discuss the different journeys taken by three subject liaison librarians who started out in broad scoped librarianship and had to re-learn their craft in order to support their focused patrons. Librarians will discuss the strategies they employed in learning more about their subject specialty and shed some insight in how to successfully transition from a broad scoped to subject librarianship. Questions that panelists will address are: How do academic librarians adapt to the changes in going from a small to a large library?  What stigmas and barriers do librarians from smaller institutions face and how do they overcome them? For librarians who wish to make the transition, how can your experience be framed toward a subject librarian position in a larger library?



Surfacing Knowledge, Building Relationships: Indigenous Communities, ARL, and York University Libraries  Stacey Allison-Cassin (York University); Anna St. Onge (York University)

“Reconciliation and Social Justice in the LAM Community through Collaboration with Indigenous Communities in Wikimedia Projects” is a project sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries and led by York University Libraries. We are using a case study approach to model community collaboration in the creation of linked open data for archival and special collection materials related to Indigenous communities in North America.

In this talk we will discuss our goals to bring problematic aspects of library and archival professional practice into conversation with Wikimedia community practices to demonstrate how a more inclusive and community-engaged approach can more accurately tell stories about Indigenous communities’ notable accomplishments and impact in the world. We’ll also discuss our work to build relationships of mutual respect and trust with Indigenous communities though different aspects of the project.

Through this project we are working to create heightened awareness around the politics and ethics of metadata, and especially linked data and through Wikidata account for traditional knowledge structures as valid conceptual frameworks with a focus on provisions to respect and defend the agency and authority of individuals, families, and communities to exercise their right to not participate, or have their information used in linked data initiatives.

We’ll also discuss our initiatives to test how Wikipedia and Wikidata platforms enable community involvement with the support of research libraries and within the research library context such as workshops, meet-ups, and community events to foster trust, facilitate discussion and support training and reciprocal education.

The Academic Librarian's Role in Supporting Indigenous Research  Krista Robson (Red Deer College); Michelle Edwards Thomson (Red Deer College); Victoria Cardinal-Widmark (Red Deer College); Lloyd Desjarlais (Red Deer College)

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have brought attention to the urgent need to adjust the academic research paradigm to include an Indigenous research paradigm that exists alongside and in dialogue with it.  OCAP® is a set of principles created by the First Nations Information Governance Centre to address the historically problematic relationship between First Nations communities and researchers, academics, and other data collectors.  As a set of principles, OCAP® aims to secure community rights to and control of information, along with ensuring research conducted with First Nations communities maximizes benefits to the community while minimizing harms.

The presenters recently conducted a SSHRC-funded Knowledge Synthesis project to assess the state of knowledge on the role of institutional Research Ethics Boards in advising both Indigenous and non-Indigenous academic researchers as they walk together with Indigenous individuals and communities, particularly given differences in language and understanding about the concepts of research, ethics, and relationships.  The findings from the project are relevant to professional academic librarians, both in their own roles as researchers and in the work they do to support student and faculty researchers at their institutions:

  • Research supports need to be applied and implemented in Indigenous research long before a project starts and long after it has concluded.  Researchers need access to education on (local) Indigenous history, languages, and cultures; they need to know the protocols for doing research in the community, as well as the laws that have an impact on access to participants, access to data, privacy, and confidentiality.  
  • Researchers need to be supported as they advocate for the adoption of best practices and protocols within individual disciplines, including advocating for co-authorship of publications, shared grant holding, shared decision-making, and intellectual property protection.
  • More attention needs to be paid to ensure future, ongoing positive results of research dissemination and avoid negative impacts. Researchers and libraries will need to re-examine their conceptions of privacy, confidentiality, and acknowledgement, and consider new ways of doing things in order to properly accommodate individual and community protocols.

In this paper, presenters will provide an overview of the completed knowledge synthesis project, describe how the research paradigm is shifting, and outline some of the ways that libraries can support these changes.



Studying Library Studies Sarah Gorman (University of Toronto)

In this paper I discuss the terms used for ‘library studies’ to facilitate an exploration of the relationship between the library and the academy. I argue that ‘library science’ is an inadequate term because it embodies a positivist, rational, and empirical approach to libraries that is not characteristic of all library work. But if we move beyond ‘library science,’ the academic discipline that studies libraries can be rebranded in two ways: according to a new object of study or a new methodology. The former is already common, with the object of library studies changing from ‘library’ to ‘information.’ This encourages us to study the library as a nexus of data without boundaries. The discipline can alternatively be renamed according to the profession’s methodology – for example, referring to the study of libraries as ‘library philosophy’ instead of ‘library science.’ This encourages us to study the library according to its meaning for society, understood through the teaching and administrative principles of librarianship. These interpretations offer different possible futures for the status of the academic librarian and encourage us to think through what constitutes our profession.

Academic freedom and the Liberal Arts Librarian  Meghan Dowell ( Beloit College, Wisconsin )

There are many historical norms in librarianship; this paper will focus on two. One is surrounding neutrality in librarianship and the other is inconsistent categorization of academic librarians at their institutions. This case study will use Kandiuk and Sonne de Torrens' research as a guide to reproduce their work with a liberal arts lens and ask liberal arts librarians to pause to consider their role within academia. The aim of this case study is to investigate how academic librarians at liberal arts colleges in the United States define and understand academic freedom as it applies to their work within the library. The paper will first unpack historical changes around academic and intellectual freedom in librarianship and how the first amendment has been applied at various workplaces. Then data obtained through a combination of questionnaires and interviews with librarians at liberal arts colleges will be interrogated to fully understand how or if academic freedom applies to them, with regard to the number of years in the profession, their institutional employment classification, how they view their classroom and reference interactions, among others. 

Codifying Academic Freedom: An Examination of Collective Agreements for Librarian Specific Language Tim Ribaric (Brock University)

Academic Freedom is a foundational component of the modern University. The notion is brought to life and exercised through a very particular article of the collective agreement. This article almost always provides a well honed, lofty, and almost self-evident description of the protections to teaching, and research that need to be maintained. Challenging ideas in the classroom are shielded from the reluctant hang wringing of administrators. Research that pushes boundaries and challenges norms proceeds with a slow march for the betterment of all. Our traditional Faculty colleagues conduct their business with full confidence that their activities are well protected, yet what about us as Professional Librarians? In most cases we can rely on this same exact article to afford protections. This is of course due to the fact that we are in the same bargaining units as those traditional Faculty members and are bound to the language as well. Yet, when pressed, does this language really offer protections to Professional Librarians that are specific to the work they conduct? A judicious application of teaching and research for the traditional Faculty member is hard to parallel with certain core Librarian duties. Where does collection development fit? Collaborating on an in-depth research consultation that might unearth ideas contrary to what the institution holds as fundamental? In some cases the collective agreement is silent on these activities. While most would view these types of conduct allowable under the spirit of academic freedom it is possible that a strict interpretation would exclude these endeavours from established protections.

Fortunately this is not always the case, and as time progresses breaks to this trend develop. A selection of collective agreements of Canadian universities now have specific provisions for the conduct of Professional Librarians under the overarching concept of Academic Freedom. This paper will attempt to present this landscape by examining text from collective agreements of Canadian institutions to see how (if at all) protections for Librarians are constructed.





Stepping forward together: Lessons from reconciliation projects at the University of Alberta Anne Carr-Wiggin (University of Alberta); Sheila Laroque (University of Alberta); Tanya Ball (University of Alberta); Lorisia MacLeod (University of Alberta); Kayla Lar-Son (University of Alberta); Gabrielle Lamontagne (University of Alberta); Sharon Farnel (University of Alberta)

Since before the release of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, The University of Alberta Libraries (UAL) has been dedicated to reconciliation efforts. Some of their major projects that stemmed from this forward thinking include the First Nations Information Connection (FNIC), the Decolonization Description Project (which focuses on updating the current metadata and ways we utilize classification schemes that are used to describe Indigenous materials), and the Indigenous Internship program. In promoting and facilitating these projects, it is clear that this is just the beginning of the reconciliation process and that there is still much to be done.

With this in mind, rather than honing in on current projects, the panelists would like to shed light on future prospects. Areas that will be highlighted are in response to the CFLA-FCAB’s Truth and Reconciliation Report, which divides the many aspects of librarianship into the four components of the medicine wheel: mental (white), physical (black/blue), emotional (yellow), and spiritual (red).

For the emotional (yellow) piece, the panelists will speak to their current projects and future prospects revolving around relationship development, communications, and collaboration. Relationship development itself is a large and substantial component to reconciliation.

For the mental (white) piece, panelists will reveal the work underway to survey and understand current practices for description and classification of Indigenous materials. In addition, they will be speaking to ways they are investigating how these can be revised or improved through community-based research and consultation.

For the physical (black/blue) piece, panelists will speak to the creation of Indigenous spaces within libraries. With community collaboration and creative use of space, and display curation Indigenous communities can see themselves reflected within libraries by decolonizing the physical space.

For the spiritual (red) piece, all presenters will offer advice on where they believe libraries can incorporate Indigenous knowledge and methodologies. This will be a crucial connection for participants as they can take these ideas and bring them back to their own libraries. Highlights for this section include (but are not limited to): relationship development and kinship; cultural protocol; metadata and classification schemes; exhibits, displays and space; staff training and development, etc.
It is hoped that by revealing some of these problems and potential solutions, that librarians will be inspired to move from conversations to reconcili-action!



We are all experts now: The academic library and "information users"  Tami Oliphant (University of Alberta)

In this session, I interrogate the challenges of post-truth, anti-science, and rising hostility towards experts as it relates to academic librarianship by examining two contrasting philosophies of academic libraries and librarianship, the sociotechnical power of automation, and the social psychology of disciplinary knowledge and expertise. In his book Indexing It All, Ronald Day outlines the transformation of people to “information users” by presenting two conceptualizations of documents, and in particular, books, from Paul Otlet and Martin Heidegger. Day argues that for Otlet, books are information containers that one consults in order to fulfill psychological information needs. For Heidegger, people and texts are bound to each other in an intimate relationship with the possibility of being understood. The prominence of Otlet’s vision has been enacted in academic librarianship and in the development of citation indexes, databases, and other forms of automation for at least the last 75 years. Since the end of World War II, attempts have been made to capture, organize, store, and provide access to the world’s knowledge through the development of citation indexes and databases. Furthermore, the realization and proliferation of the Internet, search engines, algorithms, and computer networks have extended the capabilities of containing the world’s knowledge beyond merely capturing, storing, organizing, and providing access to information, to shaping information needs, knowledge, and even our sense of reality. Day argues that these processes ultimately transform people’s experiences into “information” and people into “information users.”

The consequences of these shifts are felt by people in general and in the public’s perception of experts. In addition, conflicting approaches to knowledge production, research, and meaning of language among experts can serve to undermine the public’s perception of the authority and relevancy of expert contributions and post-secondary education more broadly as well as shifting student perceptions of the academic library. By examining the prominence of Otlet’s vision and understanding of the relationship between people and documents, the power of automation, and disciplinary knowledge production, we can then consider the current challenges to expertise, authority, science, research, and public discourse as it pertains to academic librarianship and the purpose of academic libraries and to consider potential strategies and approaches to counter these challenges. 

“Michelle Obama is a man”: Problematizing Authority in Today's Post-Truth, Post-Trust World  Carol A. Leibiger (University of South Dakota); Alan W. Aldrich (University of South Dakota)

We appear to live in a post-truth, post-trust world. Increasingly alienated from and distrustful of larger social structures, people often choose to congregate in smaller tribal groups with shared beliefs and values. Our society is increasingly skeptical of traditional authority, mainstream media, and scholarly experts and sources. Students seem to reflect this break with tradition. They do not appear to discriminate between opinion and scholarly discourse, or to separate personal beliefs from knowledge. Purveyors of fake news exploit this failure to discriminate.

Information-literacy (IL) instruction seeks to teach students to make the above distinctions as they navigate the information landscape. The Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education may inform this instruction. For instance, the Authority frame states that contexts and notions of authority differ while recognizing the legitimacy of personal or tribal beliefs within appropriate contexts. Information-literate people need to distinguish different kinds of authority within and across differing contexts, including citizenship, academic or professional communities, and media or consumer groups.

The Framework originated within the context of academic research and information use. As such, the frames display weaknesses when applied in nonacademic contexts. In their roles as citizens, consumers of information must navigate information resources that cannot be effectively evaluated using only academic IL criteria. Fake news demonstrates the—potentially dangerous—limitations of the Authority frame.

Fake news resembles gossip, in that both are often wielded with intent, which can be malicious. Purveyors of fake news belong to a select/elite group possessing knowledge not accepted by the mainstream. The speaker knows the “truth” of a given situation, which runs counter to establishment “facts.” Tribal knowledge and authority are validated over establishment knowledge and authority, thus creating and sustaining tribal affinity.

The Authority frame, anchored in the context of academic research, assumes the unexpressed motivations underlying the academic context (e.g., knowledge leads to truth). The Authority frame rightly calls for acknowledgement of bias. However, this is insufficient for understanding fake news, which is an intentional form of communication involving deliberate deception. Understanding senders’ motives, as well as recipients’ bias, is crucial to understanding and resisting fake news.

As a result of this presentation, participants will understand that motive both underlies and influences communication. Additionally, they will learn to identify and question motives inherent in fake news. Finally, they will consider possible revisions to the Authority frame to better understand non-academic communication like fake news.

Reception: Federation of the Humanities & Social Sciences PRESIDENT’S RECEPTION

Time: 5:00pm-7:00pm
Location:  Centre for Kinesiology - CK 122

7:00pm: Dinner on your own

Day 3 – Thursday, May 31, 2018


Please note that you will first need to register with the Congress to receive your Congress badge, nametag, and program. After doing so, please proceed to the CAPAL Registration table at the Luther College Auditorium to register with us and join the conference.




Obtaining the Unobtainable: Researcher and Librarian Collaborations for Enhancing Access to Unconventional Information Resources  Jonathan A. Allan (Brandon University); Heather E. Tornblom (Brandon University)

This paper is a co-authored project between Jonathan A. Allan, Canada Research Chair in Queer Theory, and Heather Tornblom, Supervisor of Interlibrary Loans at Brandon University. We begin with the premise that too often the relationship between the researcher and the librarian is eschewed. The researcher gets the credit for the work, but the efforts of the librarian are often hidden away and the partnership between researcher and librarian is largely unrecognized. In this paper, the researcher, Allan, begins by framing his research agenda, which involves grey literature, popular literature, and pornography. In his research, he studies men’s bodies and sexualities. His recent book is a cultural study of the foreskin and his project draws on newspapers, pregnancy manuals, sex manuals, books about puberty, safer-sex pamphlets, and pornography, all of which are not often collected by scholarly libraries. In his section of the paper, Allan outlines some of the challenges he has faced, and some of the successes of working closely with Tornblom. In the second part of the paper, Tornblom discusses the role of the academic librarian in facilitating access to research materials. She details some of the difficulties librarians face in obtaining grey literature, popular magazines, pornography, consumer health information, and other specialized publications on behalf of researchers, and outlines some of the variables that influence the collection and retention of these items in libraries. She also considers the importance of a strong working relationship between librarians and researchers as a key factor in improving access to information and supporting research activities. Together, they finish the paper by offering suggestions on how to move forward in the spirit of collaboration.

Academic Status of Librarians and its Impact on Salaries  Yanli Li (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Academic status of librarians is recognition that their duties are integral to the academic mission of an institution. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has conducted a biennial Librarian Salary and Academic Status Survey (LSASS). Sixty-seven (67) universities and twenty-eight (28) colleges report in the 2014 LSASS which provides the best summary of academic status of librarians available. Academic status is described in terms of librarians’ trade union status and structures of representation, collective agreement language, and terms of employment and teaching activities. A detailed analysis of the 2014 LSASS identifies three aspects of the academic status in which a relatively lower percentage of institutions report that they put it into practice. Specifically, 59% of the institutions report that their librarians participate on Board of Governors. Comparisons of contract language for librarians with that for teaching faculty show that half of the institutions indicate that they use “same or similar” contract language on scholarly publishing. As regards the terms of employment, 65% of the institutions have scholarly activities included in the terms of employment. This paper is intended to examine if academic status of librarians has significant impacts on librarians’ salaries and provide implications on how to improve academic status of librarians in Canada.

Using the institutional data from LSASS for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, the author conducts a multivariable regression analysis and the findings are as follows: Librarians participation on Board of Governors is proved positively related with librarians’ salaries. Using similar collective agreement language on scholarly publishing as for faculty and inclusion of scholar activities in the terms of employment both increase librarian salaries, which however is not statistically significant. This means that in institutions where librarians are expected to be engaged in scholarship their average salaries are not necessarily higher than those of their peers in other institutions. This may partly explain why some librarians show less interest in research and scholarship. In addition, years of experience as an academic librarian and geographic regions of the institution also have significant effects on librarian salaries.

This study provides some implications on how to improve the academic status of librarians across Canada. Specifically, more institutions should strive to have librarians serve on the top level university governance body. Institutions may encourage librarians to conduct research by adopting a more rewarding scheme, for instance, increasing the base salary of a librarian who has an outstanding performance in research and scholarship.

The Polytechnic Librarian: A Minority Voice in Academic Librarianship  Jennifer Shrubsole (Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Moose Jaw Campus)

Within academic librarianship there is a wide diversity of voices. Work roles create a variety in the profession. Different disciplines and specializations lead to a multiplicity of viewpoints and concerns. Personal differences add another layer to diversity. Some voices are often heard more frequently than others, and there is one group that not often heard: librarians at polytechnics. This paper will discuss the key similarities and differences between polytechnics, universities, and technical institutes. It will examine some of the unique challenges that librarians at polytechnics face, including how these can lead to the marginalization of polytechnic librarians within academic librarianship.



Creating and sustaining a library journal club in a French-language university  Monique Clar (Université de Montréal); Assia Mourid (Université de Montréal); Marie-Ève Ménard (Université de Montréal)

A library journal club was initiated at Université de Montréal (UdeM), a French-language university in the province of Quebec, with the objectives of improving librarians’ critical appraisal skills, integrating evidence into participants’ practice and creating a space for discussion and collaboration. An initial workshop session on critical appraisal was offered and five one-hour meetings were held during the 2016-17 academic year. Librarians working at the UdeM libraries have no faculty status and they are not required to keep current on published research nor engage in research and publication. Therefore, it was considered a success that there were at least 6 participants at each meeting and that the initial workshop was attended by 15 librarians. After one year of activities, a survey was sent to all UdeM’s librarians to measure the participants’ satisfaction and to determine how to improve the attendance at journal club meetings. Results of the survey, facilitators and barriers to the journal club success and impact of implemented changes during the second year will be presented.

Cold Emailing as a Research Tool Adam Bielka (University of British Columbia)

Reference librarians could improve patron service by developing a policy of integrating global expertise by encouraging patrons to make cold emails to external experts.  

In the digital age, numerous professionals, academics, and entrepreneurs post their contact information online for a variety of reasons. Behind these publically listed emails and telephone numbers are billions of man-hours of study and experience. And yet often so little of this expertise is utilized by outsiders.
At the same time reference librarians are flooded with many complex, specific questions from patrons that the librarians (lacking omniscience) are often ill-equipped to answer, or even point to the appropriate resources. Big universities and other well financed organizations often are able to employ specialized subject librarians, which is somewhat helpful. However, libraries in small rural communities and/or developing countries usually have no such luxury, and have even greater need of subject expertise.

That is why I am proposing that reference librarians develop internal policies and templates to facilitate their patrons’ accessing of external experts.  Librarians can help patrons answer more complex questions by helping them identify appropriate experts, helping them format cold emails in manner to maximize response rate, and equipping them to repeat the process in the future on their own.

This will empower disadvantaged communities, save expensive librarian labour from exhaustive searches, and allow patrons to access a free and dynamic information network that provides articulate answers.

Teaching Humorous Accounts of Fake News - And Why They’re Not So Funny  Lane Glisson (Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY)

Using humorous false news stories that go viral on the web as a focus, I teach community college students in New York City to assess the credibility of information, by analyzing authorship, responsible organizations, and academic credentials. My experiments pre-date the 2016 election, with its fake news mills, bots, and false Facebook identities. Four years earlier, I observed that it wasn’t effective to merely tell students that they must use credible sources in their college writing. They also needed to understand and identify the characteristics of factual reporting, scholarly writing, and opinion. Our students, coming from a segregated and unequal education system, are frequently not trained in high school to use libraries. Instead, Google conditions them to search haphazardly, online. Many students get their information from non-traditional sources, such as Facebook or YouTube. They have difficulty analyzing the credibility of online sources and are not familiar with long-form investigative writing, newspapers of record, or the scholarly books and articles that they will need to complete their research papers successfully. To address this, I began collecting funny-but-sad news reports to encourage students to read critically.

As the 2016 US presidential campaign heated up, followed by its disconcerting denouement, the information ecosystem was further complicated by the verifiable disruption of credible reporting by political entities and a resulting attitude of “fake news” cynicism. I created a short slide show to jumpstart a discussion among my students, asking them to analyze the language of headlines and articles and discover the ethical underpinnings of good journalism and peer-reviewed academic writing. Post-election, I discovered that students were wearied by the lack of civil public discourse on television and online, and open to finding richer, more nuanced research for their writing. I found that pairing humor with academic materials was a good strategy for deepening the students’ engagement and understanding. This paper builds on and cites the work of scholars who study online technology’s role in changing the way we read in an increasingly complicated information environment and a political climate that distrusts experts. The presentation will be illustrated by images that I use in my class.



Convenor: Laura Koltutsky, University of Calgary

Maha Kumaran

Ms. Kumaran is an Associate Librarian at the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. She graduated from the University of British Columbia. Prior to and since earning her professional degree in librarianship, she has worked at various libraries from Nova Scotia to Vancouver.  Currently on sabbatical, Maha was responsible for the College of Nursing and the Division of Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan.

For her research program, she focuses on various aspects of visible minorities and librarianship in Canada. Some of these aspects include leadership, succession planning, and information literacy. She established and co-founded (with 9 other librarians) the Visible Minority Librarians of Canada (ViMLoC) Network and is currently serving as the co-chair for the network. She still actively recruits members to join this network so librarians interested in visible minorities can engage and collaborate with each other, share ideas and publish their work.

The Banyan tree and Diversity - An Analogy

   Photograph by Maha Kumaran

Photograph by Maha Kumaran

Have you seen a banyan tree? It is a tropical plant found in many parts of Asia and other temperate regions closer to us such as Maui and Hawaii. As an epiphyte, it depends on other trees for its growth, and once it finds the support it needs, it develops and survives for centuries.  A banyan tree lasts for centuries because as it expands too wide its branches turn downwards and grow into prop roots to support the main trunk, thus forming a labyrinth of branches that look like new trees.  Due to this, a single tree resembles a forest. However, this “forest” stands united by the main trunk. The tree (at least in most parts of Asia) has religious and cultural significance - it lasted for centuries, provided edible fruits, had medicinal values, and its canopy offered shade and served as place to gather, relax and belong. Like the branches of the banyan tree, diversity is vast and growing. With librarianship as the grand trunk uniting   the tangents of diversity and allowing multiple aspects of it to root and grow, I am optimistic that our profession will be shaped to thrive and advance for centuries.


keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote - Jane Schmidt


Jane Schmidt has been a librarian at Ryerson University in the Dish With One Spoon territory since 2003. Her career has been varied and has included acquisitions, collection development, middle management, and liaison in various subject areas. Currently, she is the liaison librarian for Child and Youth Care, Early Childhood Studies and Engineering. She has published on topics ranging from demand driven acquisitions, collection analysis, approval plans, and Little Free Libraries. Her current interests are community-led service, examining literary philanthropy through an anti-colonial lens and re-discovering the simple pleasure of working with students. She blogs intermittently, tweets prodigiously and would love to show you pictures of her son and her cats.




Closing Keynote – Maha Kumaran

Ms. Kumaran is an Associate Librarian at the Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. She graduated from the University of British Columbia. Prior to and since earning her professional degree in librarianship, she has worked at various libraries from Nova Scotia to Vancouver. Currently on sabbatical, Maha was responsible for the College of Nursing and the Division of Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan.  She works closely with all levels of students and faculty to provide research help and many formats of instruction. 

For her research program, she focuses on various aspects of visible minorities and librarianship in Canada. Some of these aspects include leadership, succession planning, and information literacy. She established and co-founded (with 9 other librarians) the Visible Minority Librarians of Canada (ViMLoC) Network and is currently serving as the co-chair for the network. She still actively recruits members to join this network so librarians interested in visible minorities can engage and collaborate with each other, share ideas and publish their work.

Call for Papers (closed january 5, 2018)


Community, Diversity, and Education:

 Academic Librarianship in Challenging Times

will be held in conjunction with

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2018

University of Regina, Saskatchewan

May 29–31, 2018

(Pre-Conference 28 May, 2018)

CAPAL18 provides an opportunity for academic librarians to critically examine and discuss the ways in which collaboration, respect for differences, and professionalism empower us at a time when the values of our profession are in danger of being eroded, both within our universities and within the wider world.  It is time to consider the role of academic librarianship in a changing world and the ways in which academic librarians can challenge the corporatization of our universities and libraries, institutional inequities, and the attempts to deprofessionalize academic librarians.

Papers presented might relate to aspects of the following themes (though they need not be limited to them):

  • Challenges to academic status for librarians
  • The identity of academic librarians in uncertain times
  • Challenging racism in Canadian universities
  • The role of academic librarians in the changing academic library environment and culture
  • The ways in which professionalism intersects with race and gender, and how it may reinforce institutional power dynamics
  • Challenges to academic freedom and intellectual freedom
  • Challenges to academic integrity in a “fake news” and anti-science world
  • The roles and responsibilities of academic librarians in Reconciliation
  • Resisting the corporatization of universities and academic libraries
  • Confronting barriers to diversity in academic libraries

The Program Committee invites proposals for individual papers as well as proposals for panel submissions of three papers. Proposed papers must be original and not have been published elsewhere.

  • Individual papers are typically 20 minutes in length. For individual papers, please submit an abstract of no more than 400 words and a presentation title, with a brief biographical statement and your contact information.
  • For complete panels, please submit a panel abstract of no more than 400 words as well as a list of all participants and brief biographical statements, and a separate abstract of no more than 400 words for each presenter. Please provide contact information for all participants.
  • Incomplete proposals or proposals that exceed the requested word count will not be considered.

Please feel free to contact the Program Committee to discuss a topic for a paper, panel, or other session format. Proposals should be emailed as an attachment as a .doc or .docx file, using the following filename conventions:

  • Lastname_Keywordoftopic.docx

Proposals and questions should be directed to the Program Chairs, Lorna Rourke and Laura Koltutsky, at


Further information about CAPAL 2018 and Congress 2018 is available at: &

Please note:  The University of Regina is pleased to offer the Congress 2018 Graduate Student Travel Awards (, funded by the President’s Planning Committee for Congress 2018. Fully-qualified graduate students and recent PhD graduates will be able to apply for a subsidy of up to $500 towards accommodation, meal, & bookstore credits to facilitate participation at Congress 2018.