New digs

Last Friday marked my last day at the University of Toronto’s Map & Data Library, my second home for the last decade. I am delighted and honoured to announce that I’m the new Digital Repositories Librarian at the University of Waterloo, beginning July 9. I’m taking two weeks off to explore various places in southern Ontario by bike and by car, and hope to see my first oriole.

I am lucky as hell to have landed a full-time indefinite-term job within two hours of my home, though I know I was a top-notch candidate who brought a decade of relevant work and interest to the interview process. I couldn’t help but think through this entire process: what about the hundreds of MLIS graduates from UofT’s iSchool each year who don’t have ten years of academic library experience under their belt? My unpopular opinion: close down library schools, architecture schools, and most other professional faculties until there are legitimate labour shortages.

Before I received the topic for my candidate presentation, I hoped to run a free-form lecture about the most important lessons I have learned about library and archival work, and only mention QTBIPOC folks. It would have been incredibly hard to put that into 20 minutes, because there are so many who have framed the work I am bringing to digital repository work and scholarly communications. I was asked to present on my digital repository outreach strategy, which was a respectful, relevant, and totally doable question for a candidate to handle, but I noticed that by the end of the day, I was referring to the work of all the same people I wanted to talk about. I am going to get around to uploading my talk and slides here soon.

I am now, almost by accident, a scholarly communications librarian, and now I commit myself to helping develop technological approaches to “various shades of open”. If I trust my instincts and be kind I will do just fine.

All done

I finished my Master of Information coursework today! This semester taught me a lot about audiovisual research data management, library logistics systems, narratology, and writing for long stretches without getting up from my desk. I didn’t get to write any more about Deep Space Nine, but I did begin a paper with a Seinfeld quote. In any case, if you’re looking for a special collections cataloguing librarian – extra points if I get to work with film and video – please get in touch!

Library responses to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action: my little contribution

This was my third year presenting at the TRY+ Conference, after presenting the (to be resurrected!) Toronto Film Map and my thoughts on using linked open data in map classification in 2015 and 2016, respectively. This year, Jane and I finally got to share our Little Free Libraries® research to our colleagues together, which was the only thing I was planning on participating in, but I’m thankful that UofT librarian Sara McDowell urged me to reconsider. I gave a short talk on one of two panels dedicated to library responses (page 115) to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Here, I suggest how map cataloguers can better acknowledge Indigenous lands in our collections – a crucial duty for those of us working in libraries dedicated to territory – without placing additional burdens on our Indigenous colleagues. (I was so surprised to meet another map cataloguer right before I presented it, which made it extra important!)

If you work in an academic library and are reading this, please check out co-panelist Jamie Lee Morin’s incredible writing and research guides for Indigenous students at Ryerson University. THIS is what universities need to do – hire brilliant young Indigenous minds and fund their work to develop resources like these and keep them around.

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My week of firsts

A bunch of big things happened last week:

My first article!

My first peer-reviewed academic article is out, and it’s open-access for everyone to read!!!

Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange

In this article, we critique the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries® (LFL®), the non-profit organization dedicated to sharing books with one’s neighbours. Through our engagement with the discourses, narratives and geographies of the LFL® movement, we argue that the organization represents the corporatization of literary philanthropy, and is an active participant in the civic crowdfunding activities of the non-profit industrial complex. The visible positioning of these book exchanges, particularly on private property in gentrified urban landscapes, offers a materialization of these neoliberal politics at street level. Drawing primarily upon one of the author’s experiences as an LFL® steward, as well as critical discourse and GIS analysis, we offer constructive critiques of the organization and their mission, and suggest that the principles of community-led library practice can be more effectively employed to harness the enthusiasm of these self-described “literacy warriors.”