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.

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