Posts Tagged ‘University of Toronto’

Good news everybody!

I’ve been invited by the Librarians Without Borders (LWB) executive to speak at an upcoming event in Ottawa.  Since its inception in 2005, the LWB has worked to increase fair and equitable access to information, regardless of geography, politics or religion.  Both the LWB executive and its student groups have forged relationships with community organizations and individuals interested in promoting literacy in developing regions.

The event will showcase the accomplishments of our student chapters from the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto and McGill University.  Together, we’ve sent students to Guatemala and Costa Rica, hosted guests from Tanzania and raised funds for worthy local causes.  I urge anyone interested in learning more about information access in developing countries to come out and share our experiences.

Below is the official invite from the LWB website:

Event in Ottawa: Putting Information in the Hands of the World

Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Over the last year, Librarians Without Borders‘ Student Committees have been  involved in a number of local and international information access projects. LWB has undertaken these projects in order to improve access to information for the people in these communities. Specifically, LWB students have been engaged in a number of projects to build libraries in Canada, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

To celebrate the accomplishments of our students,  Librarians Without Borders is pleased to partner with   CLA-CASLIS to offer an evening program in Ottawa, where representatives of various student committees will be talking about their work.

Please join us! Come learn about their amazing projects and hear how MLIS students are helping to put information in the hands of the world!


LWB-McGill Committee: Valli Fraser-Celin and Carolyn Doi

LWB-University of Toronto Committee: Mark Gelsomino

LWB-University of Western Ontario Committee: Erin Walker, Aubrey Kirkpatrick, and Kris Meen

When: Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Where: Ottawa Public Library Auditorium (120 Metcalfe St)
Admission: By donation (suggested amount: $5 – $10).

Donors will have the chance to win a copy of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson!

All proceeds from this event will go to Librarians Without Borders
Register at <>
For more information, contact or

Further Reading:

Check out these links to find out what our student groups have been up to and to learn more about the groups and individuals we’ve partnered with.

The event is being graciously hosted by the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Systems (CASLIS).

Here’s the Librarians Without Borders main site.

Paul Francescutti, a television producer/director, has produced Remote Access, a documentary chronicling his travels to remote libraries in Kenya and Peru.

One of the several worthy causes we’ve raised money for.  The Children’s Book Bank operates out of the ethnically diverse Toronto neighborhood of Parkdale and supplies books, literacy support and programming to children in need.

Read about the LWB McGill chapter’s trip to Guatemala…

…and the LWB Western chapter’s trip to Costa Rica!

Many thanks to Jessica, who recommended me to the people organizing the event.  Check out her library blog here:


Ahhhh… just spoke at my second academic conference in as many weeks.  This time I flew up to Thunder Bay to speak at the Reading in First Nations conference.  I might add that it’s been some time since I’ve flown.  For some unfathomable reason I decided it would be a good idea to pack at least two of everything airlines don’t want you to carry onboard.  Sort of a Noah’s Ark of prohibited items.

Conference topics included improving literacy in the communities of Ontario’s Far North and a keynote address by Ojibwa author Drew Hayden Taylor.  In spite of suffering through a pretty bad cold, Taylor proved a compelling speaker.  He showed a very different side of Native life than the one we often see portrayed in the media.  His lightheartedness and an easygoing humour set the perfect tone for what was essentially a relationship building exercise between urban library professionals and our First Nations partners.

As opposed to most other conferences, few of the participants shared the same geographic space.  The isolated nature of Far North communities makes it extremely difficult for First Nations groups to meet in person.  About ten years ago,  the Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) bands pioneered the use of tele-conferencing technology to build bridges between their remote communities.  The conference involved approximately sixty people and was spread over a half a dozen sites across Ontario.

One of the primary reasons for the conference was the unveiling of the On-Demand Book Service (ODBS).  The project is the brainchild of Prof. Nadia Caidi and several members of the KO community, including Brian Walmark and Brian Beaton.  Essentially, the ODBS is an e-book web portal/printing/bookbinding system.  Given the difficulties of transporting physical books to Far North communities, it’s our hope that this system will allow them to print and bind their own books without having to rely on the whims of book vendors.

I was dropped off in Thunder Bay to visit the KO Research Institute, while fellow University of Toronto students Margaret Lam and Mighty Marta Chudolinska carried on to Sioux Lookout and Keewaywin, respectively.  We were accompanied by Daniel Reetz from the University of North Dakota.  Between us, we demonstrated Marta’s do-it-yourself book binding press, Daniel’s homemade book scanner and the ODBS equipment itself.  The day was capped off by an open forum chat between Prof. Caidi’s colleagues at U of T and members of the Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout and Keewaywin communities.

Further References:

For a full run down of the ODBS project check out our website (kindly hosted by the KNET people):

Drew Hayden Taylor is a remarkably prolific author.  While he’s primarily known as a playwright and humourist, he’s also writen novels, short stories and scripts for milestone Canadian television shows such as The Beachcombers and North of 60.  Check out his personal website here:

Margaret, Marta and Daniels’ personal websites & blogs:

*Poster design by Graham Huber

I’m pleased to report that this Friday, March 19th I’ll be speaking at my first academic conference.  Myself, along with 15 colleagues, will present on a vastly divergent set of topics concerning the state librarianship, archives and information access.

I’m particularly pleased to be presenting on one of my pet topics, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.  For the uninitiated, the Zapatista are a Marxist (and largely Indigenous Mayan) revolutionary group from the impoverished state of Chiapas, Mexico.  For decades Chiapans have lived in abject poverty while the Mexican government extracted vast amounts of wealth from their traditional lands.  In 1994, lead by the Che Guevara-like Subcommandante Marcos, the group launched a revolution against the Mexican government.

Their revolution was significant in one very special way.  Decrying the often brutal and injurious tactics of their guerilla predecessors, the Zapatista opted for a policy of non-violence.  Gone were the violent hallmarks of traditional Marxist revolutionaries.   Instead, the Zapatista’s weapon of choice became the then fledgling Internet.  They used the Internet to bypass traditional media gatekeepers and create a trans-national solidarity network of human rights groups.  The media spectacle they created forced the Mexican government to negotiate with Zapatista communities over land rights and Indigenous political autonomy.

The quick communication facilities of the Internet allowed the group to speak directly with other like-minded organizations.  It also allowed them to agitate in the mainstream media to realise their political goals.  For perhaps the first time in history, violence had become obsolete when combatting oppressive governments.

As much as I’d love to be the centre of attention, there are plenty of other compelling speakers with whom I share the stage.  Here are some of the highlights (apologies in advance to anyone I’ve missed!).

Rebecka Sheffield:There’s a Gay Archives?”: Outreach and Advocacy at the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Archives.

  • My understanding from Rebecka is that this will be something of a show & tell session, featuring the history and mission of a one of a kind archived collection.

Erin Anderson & Jennifer Andreae: Re-conceptualizing Access: The New Role of Information Literacy in Post-secondary Education.

  • Erin and Jennifer have created their own original model of info access.  Information literacy plays a key role in realising the full potential of and engagement with academic resources.

Marta Chudolinska: Information Access to Zine Libraries and Archives.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as zine-obsessed as my friend Marta.  My attempts to introduce her to graphic novels she hasn’t already read have consistently met with failure.  Anyone with an interest in zines/comics/graphic novels really ought to check this one out.

Some of the other presentations to keep an eye on include Brad Koegler speaking about the linguistic digital divide, Ryan Nelson examines public domain and Judith Cooperman shares her experiences in a small Canadian press.

The conference will also feature the keynote address of Dr. Joseph Janes.  Janes is a professor at University of Washington and one of the most sought after speakers in the Information Studies world.

Here’s the official invite from the organizers:

“You are invited to the 2nd Annual University of Toronto iSchool Student Conference, Information Access: Commons, Control, Controversy (IA3C), to be held at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, on March 19th and 20th, 2010. The conference will feature 16 student presentations on diverse topics, a keynote address by Dr. Joseph Janes of the University of Washington, a cross discipline round table discussion moderated by Dr. Wendy Duff, and a wine and cheese event. This conference is entirely student organized, and organizers hope it will be a wonderful opportunity to bring students and professionals together. The schedule for the conference is available at:, or you can keep up on conference news on our facebook group.”

IA3C Conference Details
When: Friday March 19th, 2010 and Saturday March 20th, 2010
Where: 7th Floor, Bissell Building, 140 St. George Street, Toronto.
Cost: Free for current iSchool students, $5 for students from outside the iSchool, $10 for faculty and professionals.

*Poster design by Patricia Ayala