PLG Summer 2018 – July Update

A quick update before the end of semester:

  • Our Prison Library bookdrive went amazingly thanks to the many donors who filled up 2 bins completely in June, which were picked up by the prison librarian! She is currently working with the FIMS GRC about a possible visit in Fall, so please keep an eye out for any postings related to that.
  • Some PLG members and executives co-wrote a zine for Sex Work Awareness, with all profits from the sale of the zine going to Safe Space London. One of our Chairs from this semester especially had a role in posting the zines for sale in some locations around London – thank you Jill for your leadership!
  • Our guild meetings have continued with a variety of topics discussed, including de-centering whiteness in library spaces, educational needs, and the presence of police in libraries.

Our current plans are to participate in Pride with other people from UWO marching, and we are starting as an exec team to look forward to and prepare for the Fall 2018 semester. Thanks so much for reading!

Sarah, Communications Exec, Summer 2018


Winter 2018 Updates

Hello, all visitors to this page!

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to update, but here is a post to document some of the things PLG has been up to since Fall.

  • We’ve continued in our weekly meetings and discussion groups, going over topics relevant to progressive librarianship every Wednesday!
  • We put up a super cool display for Freedom to Read Week at the end of February, which had been designed and developed by our current comptroller:
  • One of our co-chairs has been liaising over a long period of time with the librarian of London’s local correctional centers to plan this project, and we are about to embark on a 3-week book drive until the end of semester! We’ll be collecting books at FIMS based on the following list:

Prison Library List

If you would like to know more about projects like this one, where you can send donations of your own (especially if you live outside London), please check out this PEN Canada Prisoner’s Right to Read article.

It’s been a very busy, rewarding, challenging semester but we’re still around and kicking! We look forward to the book drive and to summer semester.

– PLG London Chapter
(posted by Sarah, co-communications executive, Winter 2018)

Welcome Fall Cohort of 2017!

We are so excited to welcome the incoming student cohort for the fall semester! Our first meeting is tomorrow at 5 in the boardroom within the Grad Lounge. If you haven’t met any of the PLG executive committee for the fall semester yet, please see the attached documents for some fast facts. We have A TON of stuff planned for this semester and are very excited to meet with you all tomorrow!


Our First Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

Did you know that according to a 2011 Wikipedia Editors Survey, less than 10% of Wikipedia editors identify as female?

Edit-a-Thon Welcome

This under-representation of women editors translates to a dearth of Wikipedia content by and about women. To help counter this, on Thursday, July 27, PLG London hosted what we hope was the first of many Art+Feminism themed Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons at FIMS.


MLIS students working on Wikipedia stub articles about Canadian women artists

Over the course of the afternoon, we trained new editors and collaborated on 10 Wikipedia stub articles about Canadian women artists and their work!

Thank you to all of our participants, and please stay tuned for our next Edit-a-Thon.

PLG and GRC present… Human Library at FIMS

PLG and GRC present the first ever FIMS Human Library!

The Human Library will take place on Monday, November 21 from 12noon – 1:20pm. this event will offer multiple sessions focusing on the topic of Information dilemmas, ethics, and challenges.

What is a Human Library?

A human library provides a structure for a community to come together and talk to one another. The idea is that we benefit from sharing stories, and specifically that our stories needn’t rely on asynchronous media such as books and PDFs. The focus is on stories that don’t necessarily fit conventional models of knowledge dissemination, such as publishing. This focus includes stories that stem from personal experience; incomplete or preliminary studies; or, professional practice. In this way, a human library celebrates diversity, the role of people as knowledge producers, and the wealth of personal experience/perspective that people bring to their research.

Our human books will lead five short sessions (15 mins each). Each session will be limited to 4 attendees. Human books will start each session with a brief  overview of their topic and perspective, and then take questions and lead discussion for the rest of the session.

To register, you may sign up at the GRC. You will be able to sign for 5 sessions total – each one with a different book.

Meet the Human Books

Ajit Pyati


Role: Associate Professor

Personal Bio: A first generation Indian-American and native of Los Angeles, Ajit joined FIMS in July 2007 after finishing his PhD in Information Studies at UCLA.  His research interests include critical information studies, international library development, and immigrant information behaviour.  Most recently, he is becoming interested in the intersections between contemplative education and information/media studies.  Ajit is also a certified yoga teacher (meditation teacher certification in progress) and a proud father of a 2 year-old son.

Title: “Re-Envisioning Contemplation in an Age of Overload”

Abstract:  Most of us are aware from our own personal experience about the reality of information overload, increasing levels of stress, and burnout.  In fact, the widespread reality of these phenomena has led the Korean-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han to say that we live in a “burnout society.”  Given this reality, what are ways we can cope or perhaps even push back?  What might be the role of contemplative practices (both traditional and modernized) to deal with these issues?  Could these practices actually draw us further into our own “bubbles,” or might they help better inform our actions to create social change?

Eleonore Shaffer


Role: MLIS Candidate

Personal bio: Based in Vancouver, Eleonore received her B.A. in anthropology from Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB. She is attending the MLIS program at FIMS while on a leave from her position at the Vancouver Public Library. Her interests include travel, crafts, contemporary art, social responsibility, and pop culture. She is currently working as a reference assistant at Huron University College.

Title: Information issues in caring for someone with dementia

Abstract: Becoming a caregiver for a family member can happen very unexpectedly. How do you find the information you need for this new role? How do you manage decision-making for someone with dementia? Over the past three years Eleonore has become a caregiver for her father, who has both Parkinson’s disease and dementia. She will discuss some of the challenges she has encountered in navigating her new role as a caregiver, including patient advocacy, navigating the healthcare system, information sharing between caregivers, and ethical and legal dilemmas.

Heather Brinkman


Role: MLIS Candidate

Personal bio: Formerly a professional volleyball player, Heather is interested in how young children learn about gender stereotypes and how those stereotypes can encourage an/or discourage behaviours, and influence perceptions about limitations with regard to socia norms, career choices, and behavioural expectations. Heather is in her last semester of the MLIS program, she is the mother of three children, and is an assistant coach with the Western women’s volleyball team.
Title: Gender in Children’s pictures books (and other media)
Abstract: During a time where gender and media issues are taking a front seat (think the US presidential election), one wonders where and how ideas about gender norms and stereotypes are formed. Shockingly enough, by the age of five, children have formed fairly rigid ideas about what’s right and wrong for girls and boys, and their ideas about gender are often so strong that they misremember information to conform to gender schemes. A look at the most encouraged form of media for the youngest set – books – shows that children’s picture books are still filled with characters that fit the norm rather than challenge it. Why? Let’s talk about it and take a look.

datejie cheko green, MES


Role: MS PhD candidate

Personal bio: datejie has two decades of combined, international expertise in research, teaching, media production and community advocacy. Her praxis intersects equity, labour, and media through embodied knowledge production and pedagogy. At FIMS datejie is a researcher with the Digital Labour Group and co-organizer of the March 2017 Organizing Equality International Conference. As 2015-16 Asper Fellow in Media, she produced the public event series, “Dialogues with Solidarity Conscious Knowledge Workers.” After receiving such a warm reception at FIMS, she has taken up PhD studies. Her topic is, “Valuing Black people at the future of news-media: toward a praxis of solidarity conscious relations.”

Title: The Case for Radical Attribution

Abstract: We have complicated our lives. Almost all our information and communications are mediated by technologies. We mobilize devices and texts to serve human needs and wants. Yet all senders and receivers, doers and makers are people with bodies, hearts and minds, existing and relating in time and space. Digital or analog, the efforts we make, meanings we seek, integrity of our intentions and dignity of our bodies all come alive in our social relations. But how are we relating? I will reflect on this and make the case for radical attribution as an antidote for our times.

Toluwase V. Asubiaro


Role: LIS PhD candidate

Personal bio: Toluwase had a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Information Science. He worked with African Languages Technology Initiative (ALT-I) for a year as a volunteer research assistant. He is currently a medical librarian at E. Latunde Odeku Medical Library, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a father, husband, researcher, violinist, computer programmer, mathematician and a library and information scientist.

Title: Taking the Library to the Users: Sailing the Storm during Library Renovation

Abstract: Renovations usually disrupts the activities of the inhabitants of the renovated building especially if alternative shelter is not provided. E. Latunde Odeku Medical Library (ELOML) was due for rehabilitation and alternative building was not provided. This talk describes the practical approach to delivering advanced information literacy programme and other library services to the library user during the renovation which spanned more than two years.

Davin Helkenberg, MLIS


Role: Doctoral Student, Teaching Assistant and Previous Sessional Instructor

Personal bio: Davin Helkenberg is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Library and Information Science program here at FIMS. Her doctoral research examines fictional narratives of sexuality in Young Adult Literature and explores, through in-depth interviews, how these narratives have informed the sexual lives of young women readers. She also taught LIS9364-Young Adult Materials in Summer 2015.

Title: Youth Need (More) Sexually-Explicit Novels

Abstract: Young Adult fiction that contains sex has a contentious presence in public libraries. A long and continuing history of challenges to these books has led to systemic issues of censorship and limited access to materials for young users. These limitations inhibit the potential for Young Adult fiction to be utilized as a way of introducing contemporary understandings of sexuality into the lives of youth. Through my interviews with young readers on this topic, I am learning that fiction can be greatly informative to how readers construct and perform their sexual identities, their relationships, and their sexual fantasies.

Jacquie Burkell

Role:  Assistant Dean, Research; Professor

Personal bio: coming soon

Title: coming soon

Abstract: coming soon


GRC Presents… Student Research Panel

We are delighted to announce that we are partnering with the Graduate Resource Center at FIMS to present a panel of MLIS Student Research!

Doing research during the MLIS at Western isn’t always easy as there is no thesis option, and the opportunities to present one’s findings are few and far between. Our panel is giving 5 students a chance to present their research projects, and our audience will be able to learn more about research at FIMS and what it might look like both content and structure wise.research-panel

Here is a preview of our panelists and some of the great topics that will be discussed.

Siu Hong Yu

Study Title: Just curious… Can academic libraries use curiosity to promote science literacy?

Advisors: Paulette RothBauer and Marni Harrington

Abstract: Most one-shot information literacy workshops offered by academic libraries aim at improving the research skills of participants on using a variety of databases. Rather than concentrating on the research tools, however, can one-shot information literacy programs within the science disciplines be more student-centered and curiosity-driven?

About Siu: Siu is currently on his last semester at FIMS. He is interested in academic librarianship and using his science background to promote science literacy via libraries.

Lindsay Bontje

Working Title: Improving cataloging of maps of countries that don’t exist

Advisor: Victoria Rubin

Working abstract: Currently researching how maps of countries that “don’t exist”, either because they used to exist but no longer do or because they are not politically recognized as independent, are currently cataloged. The goal of this research is to  recommend better cataloguing practices in order to improve discoverability and user access.

About Lindsay: Lindsay completed her undergraduate degree in anthropology at Western 2014.  She completed her co-op at Western Libraries split between the Map and Data Centre and Library Information Resources Management, the technical services department. This is her last semester.

Heather Zella Brinkman

Title: Physically active girls in children’s picture books: the power of exclusion, inclusion and depiction

Advisors: Lynne McKechnie

Abstract: This study expands on a 2013 analysis of how girls and women are depicted in picture books that feature girls and/or women engaged in sport or physical activity. A qualitative analysis of 24 picture books was conducted – with several expected and unexpected findings with regards to indexing and subject access, inconsistency in collection development tools (titles), the variety and nature of sports books available, depiction of athletes (girls and boys), and more.

About Heather: Former professional volleyball player turned librarian and coach who is interested in how young children learn about gender stereotypes and how those stereotypes can encourage and/or discourage behaviours (such as involvement/engagement in sport and physical activity) and influence perceptions about limitations with regard to social norms, career choices and behavioural expectations. Heather is in her last semester of the MLIS program, is the mother of three children, and is an assistant coach with the Western women’s volleyball team.

Emma Kristensen

Title: Adventure, aggression, and nurturing: Gender stereotyping in award-winning Canadian middle grade children’s books.

Advisors: Paulette Rothbauer and Lynne McKechnie

Abstract: What is the extent of gender stereotyping in Canadian award-winning children’s books? This study examined 23 Silver Birch award- and CLA Book of the Year award-winning novels from 2003 to 2015 in terms of character depiction and response to social context. The results showed that protagonists were progressive, but villains and parents were widely stereotyped.

About Emma: Emma Kristensen is a Master of Information and Library Science student at Western. She has a background in design and communication. She currently works at Huron College, and has previously worked at the University of Waterloo. Emma’s areas of interest in research are youth, gender, and reading.

Natasha Smith

Title: Learning in the library: A critical pedagogical approach to adult public library programming.

Advisors: Paulette Rothbauer and Heather Hill

Abstract: Based on data collected through field observations at two public libraries, Natasha Smith analyzed the educational value of programming, and suggested that the adoption of critical pedagogy in programming could further public libraries’ goals of being democratic spaces for serving the community.

About Natasha: I am a second-year PhD student in LIS at Western. My research interests are in social media and nationalism, the history of information practices, and public library history.

Lynne E. F. McKechnie

Dr. McKechnie is our faculty panelist. She will offer her perspective, as someone who has supervised many research projects.

Lynne McKechnie is a Professor at the Faculty of Information & Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. She worked as a children’s librarian for twenty years. Recently Dr. McKechnie has taught children’s materials and research methods. Her research focuses on the intersection between children, public libraries and reading, emphasizing the perceptions and experiences of children themselves. She is co-author of Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals About Libraries, Reading and Community, (Libraries Unlimited 2006; second edition under contract and underway) and was a keynote speaker at the Researching the Reading Experience international conference (Oslo 2013). Dr. McKechnie has supervised more than 125 Individual Study and  Guided Research Projects at FIMS.

PLG London stands with Newfoundland and Labrador

Dear Mr. Dale Kirby, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development,

The London, Ontario, chapter of the Progressive Librarians’ Guild strongly condemns the decision to no longer provide funding for 54 public libraries within the province. PLG also stands in solidarity with all citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador opposing the proposed austerity budget.

In times of economic recession, public libraries are a symbol of hope and resilience for individuals whose access to services are being cut back. Furthermore, statistics show that library use rises when regional economies decline. PLG London feels that these cuts are counter-productive to solving the economic crisis, and will only place more stress on the public. During this unprecedented economic decline, the people and communities of Newfoundland and Labrador would be better served by the government investing in their success and development, not by a scaling back of their service provisions.

PLG London also opposes the unequal targeting of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as a result of these cuts. Rural library users experience significant benefit from access to public libraries, particularly in terms of economic opportunity and literacy levels. We feel these cuts, along with the government’s proposed tax increase on books, represent a significant threat to literacy levels in the rural areas of the province. Additionally, many of these communities have expressed that they were unable to continue to support their libraries without provincial funds, leaving their residents without access to library services. Finally, the government’s insistence that 85% of residents remain within a 35 minute drive of a public library is questionable and discounts the number of residents who do not have access to personal transportation.

Finally, this decision also poses a threat to the librarian profession in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Without appropriate funding, many libraries will not be able to operate on a full-time basis, and, therefore, available full-time positions for new librarians will decline. Professionally trained librarians are equipped with skills and knowledge that allow them to best serve their communities and without this kind of staff expertise, the ability of a library to provide optimal services to its patrons is significantly decreased.

We ask that you immediately retract your decision, and would advise that you enter into a series of discussions with library staff, administrators, patrons, and other stakeholders, to determine how Newfoundland and Labrador’s public libraries can be better funded and equipped to serve their communities going forward.

Sincerely, Progressive Librarians’ Guild – London, Ontario, Chapter