Past Student Presentations

Student Presentations 2015

Many of the student presentations from 2015 are available for viewing on the University of Alberta institutional repository ERA .


The Information Seeking Behaviours of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Gooneshwaree Beesoon click here for slides

An increase in the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) motivated this investigation into the information seeking behaviours of parents of children with ASD in Edmonton, Alberta. A qualitative approach based on a non-random, purposive sampling method was used. Semi-structured interviews of five female participants using open-ended questions were carried out for this pilot study. This research not only surveyed the information needs and information sources used by parents, but also examined the criteria that parents used to evaluate them as well as barriers that parents faced in accessing relevant information. Though parents mostly needed information for medical/health purposes and for managing the symptoms and behaviours of their children, a number of peripheral information needs which included respite care, education, transportation and social services providing family support were also documented. Parents relied mostly on health professionals and the Internet for their information. Other information sources included not for profit organizations, government agencies, libraries, conferences and workshops, print materials and newly diagnosed parents’ meetings. However, findings point to increased reliance on a parent support system on social networking sites, such as Facebook, that allowed parents to connect and share useful information about caring for a child with ASD. Barriers that parents faced in accessing useful information included commodification of information, dispersal of information and information overload. While not-for-profit agencies were lauded for excellence in providing information, parents had mixed-feelings about government agencies. The study also indicated that parents need instruction in evaluating their sources of information on the Internet. Implications for information professionals are presented.

Library Services for Incarcerated Youth: Allowing for Literacy in a Marginalized Population

Celine Gareau-Brennan – click here for slides

Traditional library outreach and the more recent trend of community-led librarianship are significant ways public librarians serve the information needs of marginalized populations, paying special attention to the core library values of diversity, intellectual freedom, and social responsibility. This presentation examines contemporary interaction between public librarians and incarcerated youth in North American detention centres. It first addresses the status of interactions between public librarians and incarcerated youth, as represented in the professional and scholarly LIS (and related) literature. It then contextualizes the literature review with examples of related services delivered in Edmonton. This presentation will demonstrate the value of providing information services to incarcerated youth, as it has wider repercussions both on lived experience of youth behind bars and the role of the public library in a culturally diverse society.

Walking With the Archives: Mapping Newfoundland Identity through Ghost Stories and Folklore

Andrea Johnston

Guy Debord first articulated the term “psychogeography” in 1955 as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals” (para 2). Can psychogeography be applied to instances of ghost stories and folklore? Can these stories be mapped? Do we have a stronger sense of a place’s identity if we regard its folklore? My project examines the psychogeography of Newfoundland’s ghost stories — what I am calling “para-psychogeography” — to show the strong relationship between place, identity and stories. By building a geolocation app that maps the ghost stories and folklore — the para-psychogeography — of Ferryland, Newfoundland, users could navigate Ferryland and pull up artifacts from the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Folklore and Language Archives (which include newspaper and magazine articles, personal experience narratives, beliefs and practices, oral histories, and folk narratives and customs). Data is being collected from the archives, scanned, and partnered with the geolocation app. In reading the tales of those locations, users would begin to understand the strong relationship between place and identity, the phenomenon first articulated by Guy Debord. This project will also promote the wider dissemination of the remarkable resources housed in the Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Folklore and Language Archives which are currently un-digitized and therefore require a physical presence in order to have access to these materials. Consequently this project will not only bring the archives into the streets, it will also will facilitate an understanding of Newfoundland identity through the para-psychogeography of the town of Ferryland. Ghost stories and folklore are vital to the creation of a unique identity, and perhaps nowhere more so than Newfoundland.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Using New Media Applications to Reshape an Old Story

Kayla Lorenzen and Sara Kidd

This presentation will discuss the ways in which multimedia has been utilized by the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern YouTube adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in order to enhance  engagement with the story and, in turn, spark their interest in the original source material. We will begin with an introduction to the series itself, an overview of the way social media was used, and then briefly touch  upon the merchandise that was developed for the series. The presentation will also compare how the plot of the story has been altered from the original text in order to modernize it and allow it to better fit the new medium. Although many changes have been made, they are done in a logical manner that displays great respect for the original text, allowing the series to retain the essence of Pride and Prejudice. This presentation will detail the role that different technologies played in shaping the series as well as the significance that these various forms of social media had on the narrative as a whole. Finally, we will end with a discussion of how this series and its social media elements reflect our contemporary culture before discussing the significance of this series and adaptations which have been inspired by it in the world of information professionals.

Some Love Lost: Access to Romance Fiction in Edmonton Regional Public Libraries

Nicole Loroff – click here for slides

Romance fiction remains one of the most read but least respected literary genres. Traditionally, public libraries have shunned romance fiction, either refusing to stock romance novels or purposefully limiting their collection. Nevertheless, the unwavering demand for romance fiction and the shift towards user-oriented services and acquisitions has solidified the genre’s place on contemporary public library shelves. This overall acceptance does not mean that romance fiction is always accessible to patrons, however. Professional library and information science (LIS) literature suggests that romance readers are routinely marginalized in public libraries due to the limited accessibility of romance novels, with cataloguing and classification being identified as one of the areas contributing to this issue. Vassiliki Veros (2012) argues that romance novels are treated as disposable literature and catalogued to a minimal standard or not at all. This makes romance novels difficult to search for and find in a library’s catalogue and on the shelf. However, little LIS research has been conducted on the topic of romance fiction and what studies are available do not focus on accessibility and cataloguing. This mix-method case study investigates the accessibility or romance fiction in three Edmonton regional public libraries and in their individual online catalogues. Data was collected in the form of in-person observations performed by the researcher, as well as through the evaluation of bibliographic records of a representational sample of romance novels. The results suggest that while the selected libraries treat romance fiction similarly to other genres in terms of organization and shelving, barriers still remain in making romance fiction visible in the library, especially in regard to hard and softcover books. It was also determined that efforts are being made to increase the accessibility of romance fiction in the libraries’ catalogues through the application of diverse subject-headings. However, this practice was not consistent across all three libraries. Ultimately, more needs to be done to ensure that romance fiction is easily available to romance reading patrons in order to ensure a positive library experience.

Information Seeking Practices of a Freelance Illustrator: A Case Study

Bethany Luther – click here for slides

Freelance professionals find jobs for themselves through self-promotion but little study has been done on how they find these jobs or learn how to self-promote. An interview was conducted with a freelance illustrator who is new to the job market and who has limited professional experience. Methods of finding potential employers were serendipitous in nature and relied a great deal on information encountering and information monitoring. Information sources included publications that use illustrations (generally magazines), publication websites, and a network of peers and other illustrators. Some self-promotion was achieved via social media but major social media sites such as Facebook were excluded for privacy reasons. Email was the preferred method of contact for potential employers but the slow processes of finding employers serendipitously has made the interviewee consider more professional options such as subscription to an ad agency. Information barriers include affective barriers (email seen as “safer” than the telephone), lack of time to research potential employers, and information scatter. Information aesthetics is also a factor since personalized emails have a greater chance of eliciting a response than a standard form email. Although currently ‘satisficed’ with this information-seeking behaviour, more professional and faster methods are being considered for the future in order to move into full-time illustration.

Librarian Stereotypes in Popular Culture

Jessica Marchinko and Jennifer Schell

Our presentation will deconstruct stereotypes of librarians through the demonstration of positive and negative representation in popular culture. The past few decades have demonstrated how libraries can be so much more than just books and reference: they have diversified into digital technology integration and play vital service rules within society. However, the profession is still dominated by stereotypes of the old “Shh-ing” librarian with a cat, cardigan sweater and tightly-wound bun,  the sexy librarian, or the hipster techno-geek. These stereotypes negatively impact librarians’ successful provision of services, and may even prevent those people we most need to reach from accessing library resources. Being aware of how these stereotypes impact the way the profession is perceived will allow us to take charge of promoting positive images of library professionals and contribute to removing barriers to access. Being aware of how we are perceived affects our ability to open new dialogues within the profession, giving us the opportunity to shape and re-shape our own image in order to provide diverse services to diverse societies. Our presentation will explore the ways that these stereotypes shape and limit both the services offered by librarians and also the perceptions of those services by the public.

Sex in the Stacks: Teenager Sex Education Information Seeking Behaviour and Barriers to the Use of Library Resources

Kyle Marshall – click here for slides

The proliferation of sex education information sources in the 21st century has left teenagers with a wealth of available sources on the topic. However, hegemonic narratives from classroom education alienate certain youth, while negative misinformation from unreliable sources has the power to instill harmful behaviours. At even greater risk are youth coping with traumatic experiences, particularly survivors of sexual assault and queer teens, or those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds that have limited Internet access. This qualitative study identifies the explicit and implicit choices teenagers make to seek and select specific information sources for sex education, and examines the factors that prevent teenagers from searching for such information from library resources. Oriented in Dervin’s sense-making theory, this study acknowledges that information is conceptualized as an internalized, subjective construction, and gaps in knowledge prompt seeking behaviour. Data was collected in the form of semi-structured, face-to-face interviews comprised of open-ended questions with four participants aged 14-17 years old. The results suggest that teenagers use a variety of sources to gather information about sex, including curricular instruction, the Internet, interpersonal, media and print sources. A wide range of factors attracted participants to use sources, such as ease, privacy, comfort, perceived experience, familiarity, openness and assured provenance. The teenagers also assessed source credibility in a more systematic manner for Internet or print sources than for interpersonal sources, which were generally approved based on experience or value-alignment with the seeker. None of the participants visited the library for sex education, and lack of awareness of collections as well as confidentiality concerns represented the main barriers to use. A more open, diverse approach to collections development and promotion that respects and communicates patron confidentiality, as proposed by Levine, would respond to these concerns and increase use of library sex education resources.

Reduced Barrier Library Cards

Kyle Marshall and Caitlin Ottenbreit – click here for slides

Library cards evoke a sense of membership in the “club of the library” that goes beyond access to collections and members-only services. Many libraries have policies that require proof of address or identification in order to qualify for a library card, restrictions that inhibit members of marginalized populations from obtaining library cards, and effectively prevent access to library services for these individuals. This is particularly impactful for the 200,000 Canadians who are unsheltered or emergency sheltered in any year. While North American library associations have issued persuasive official policy statements regarding poverty and homelessness, including the American Library Association’s Library Services to the Poor policy statement and the Canadian Library Association’s Position Statement on Diversity and Inclusion, their directives are not compulsory for individual libraries within their jurisdictions. In response to these identified barriers, some urban Canadian library systems have created reduced barrier library cards in order to extend the reach of their services to all segments of society. These cards typically have no residential address requirement, alongside other specialized modifications including reduced borrowing privileges and a limited application of late fines to balance increased access against increased risks for the library. A comparison of reduced barrier library card policies in four Canadian library systems – Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Edmonton and Toronto – permits for an understanding of the diverse approaches taken to address this issue. Managerial considerations for development and implementation of reduced barrier cards, such as financial and collection risks, use by other populations, staff training and buy-in are also considered within the context of public librarian professionals’ complex employment environments.

The Wonderful World of Disney Fan Art: Character Reinterpretation and Identity Creation

Caitlin Ottenbreit and Emily Paulsen

In our research we focus on fan art distributed through the social media site, Tumblr. Fan art is created by those artists not affiliated with the creation of the original text. While there is often a straightforward interpretation of a story through this art, fan art can also subvert or skew the material by artists who do not see themselves reflected in the originals. This process can affirm or deny identity; accept or resist hegemonic ideologies; or express other motives. Disney princesses, from Snow White to Elsa, are extremely popular to reinterpret, perhaps because of their popularity and their dominance in media made for children. The visual retellings of Disney princesses include numerous categories which are not mutually exclusive, such as ‘racebending’ in which princesses are ascribed less often seen physical and cultural attributes. As well there are LGBTQ reinterpretations, which can include gender reversals and crossovers. These reinterpretations are indications to creators, and library professionals, of needs that are currently not being met. It is also an important example of play in the phase space, encouraging literacy and identity formation and development.

Alice in the Bedroom: X-Rated Adaptations for Patrons

Ken Sawdon – click here for script

This presentation is a one-act play about erotic adaptations of Alice in Wonderland, and other children’s stories. The play takes place in a branch library, a setting where deep discussions, obscure knowledge, and comedy collide. The library staff are working on a new library exhibit, and have to figure out what materials would be interesting and appropriate for their community. There is a discussion of pornographic adaptations of fairy tales in general, exploring the purposes and implications of sexualizing children’s literature. The characters then focus on adaptations of Dodgeson/Carroll’s Alice stories, especially Lost Girls (2006) and Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy (1976). They outline some of the major themes and plots of these works, as well as their value as adaptations.The characters frequently quote from and discuss scholarly resources. The play will be read, not staged, by a cast of SLIS students.

Openness, Collaboration, and Technology: Library and Information Studies and Humanities Computing as a Combined Study

Zachary Schoenberger

This discussion explores some of the topical intersections between humanities computing and librarianship.The Master of Arts in Humanities Computing (HuCo) and the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) combined program at the University of Alberta offers a rare opportunity; elsewhere in North America, few institutions can match the extensive coverage provided by this partnership. Library students who discover this professional and academic route can apply their education and skills in a diverse labour market. Libraries that embrace humanities computing (alternatively termed “digital humanities”) can lead in progressive and competitive areas of research. Humanities computing is positioned to affect makerspaces, open-access, digital asset and data management, humanities research, digital scholarship, spatial (GIS) research, and digital preservation and curation. The increasing presence of digital humanities in the library is reflected in the establishment of digital humanities centres and liaison roles throughout North America (Nowviskie, 2014, “Asking for It”). Librarians and digital humanities scholars share common principles and ideals; as such, the two masters programs at the University of Alberta explore various overlapping topics. Students in the combined program benefit from their complementary, yet divergent approaches. Both faculties, however, promote a common vision of openness, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the progressive application of technology.


An Exploratory Study of the Knowledge Needs of Student Groups

Bethany Luther and Kyera Landry – click here for poster

Student groups share many characteristics with small non-profit organizations, however little study has been done on the knowledge needs of these groups. An exploratory study was conducted on a student group at a large university in Alberta, Canada to ascertain what knowledge needs the groups has and what knowledge management solutions could meet these needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of the group to conduct a knowledge audit which mapped the flow of knowledge within and outside the group as well as what gaps and sinks exist. The group makes use of online technologies like Google Drive to store their created knowledge but much tacit and experiential knowledge is lost as group members leave after a one or two year period. Communication issues also exist between senior and junior members with changes in the organizational culture which are dependent on the culture of the current senior cohort of students. The group also has little recorded history, including lists of prior members, and would benefit from formalized procedures for preserving their achievements. Suggestions include formalized knowledge capturing via transition reports from each position as well as the creation of a manual for new and current members to refer to in order to avoid knowledge duplication and to record best practices.

Exploring Knowledge Needs in a Non-Profit Student Group – Discussing the Knowledge Sources, Pathways, and Users in a Newspaper Setting

Heather Martin and Pamela Fong – click here for poster

The purpose of this poster is to study the knowledge needs of non-profit student newspaper editors and offer Knowledge Management (KM) recommendations on existing systems. This poster is original research that explores non-profit student newspaper groups. The methodology used for this study was a knowledge audit using selectively transcribed semi-structured interviews, consultation of organizational website, and the framework of knowledge representations by Rathi, Forcier, and Givens (2014). Through the audit, the researchers discovered a Community of Practice (CoP) between editors, high usage of technology, and technology literacy,  and functional expertise of different individuals (Rathi, Forcier & Givens, 2014). One research limitation was that the researchers had no connection to the organization prior to the study. As well, not all editors from the organization were interviewed due to time restrictions. While the organization had a good foundation in KM, recommendations of fostering the existing CoP, have a stronger focus on training, capturing and customizing the existing knowledge of experts, and reflecting on the outcome of changes are suggested. Delving further, the population of editors were Millennials, who are digital natives and there is a habitus in the way they approached work. Moreover, there is limited information available on KM in a newspaper setting and no literature with a focus on editors. Unique, as well, is the situation in which yearly staff turnover is expected.

Rural Public Library Services for Children

Carlene Slobodian – click here for poster

A literature search was conducted on rural library services for children, both in North American as well as global contexts. We found that there are few recent publications on services in North America specifically addressing the needs of rural children. There is a global trend to use mobile libraries as a way to reach many isolated communities and ensure that children in these areas are receiving literacy support in a non-academic context. We discuss definitions of rural libraries, policies in place at various levels to support services for rural children, ideal service requirements for rural children, as well as some implications for further research. Adapted from a project conducted in partnership with Amanda Brace.

Comparing Indigenous and Western Approaches to Autism

Anna Wilson – click here for poster

This poster challenges the dominant narrative in Western society’s medical model that views autism as a ‘disease’ by defending the empowering Navajo view of autism as a ‘difference’ in Indigenous Research Methodologies (IRM). This envisions people with autism as a source of social capital instead of a social burden. The healing Indigenous people experience through community sharing can also help non-indigenous people with autism heal in their communities. The healing stories of people with autism provide a wealth of experience to the Library and Information Studies Field. The World Health Organization (WHO) values librarians’ inclusion of people with autism through developing informative autism web sites and sharing their valuable experiences through digital stories (Servili, & Saxena, 2013).  Librarians can challenge societies’ stereotypes of autism through promoting appropriate autism websites and critiquing inaccurate websites. This poster examines how five autism organization websites challenge the Western medical view of autism as a disease through alternative Indigenous methods of coping with autism. These refreshing stories of people with autism reveal how nourishing their strengths enables them to flourish creatively as authors of their own destiny.


Student Presentations 2014

One student presentations from 2014 is available for viewing on the University of Alberta institutional repository ERA.


Infrastructures and platforms: data curation in the digital humanities

Lydia Zvyagintseva – click here for slides

How an International Trade Deal Could Change Everything: The Potential Implications of the TPP

Cari Lynn Postnikoff – click here for Youtube video