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The Dorothy Duncan Fonds

By Shannon Viola

As part of GLIS 641, Archival Description and Access, my peers and I have been tasked with creating finding aids for some of the fonds in McGill’s Rare Books and Archives. My partner, Aeron McHattie, and I have been spending hours in the ROAAr reading room poring over the love letters, typescripts, and scrapbooks of Dorothy Duncan. An American-born Canadian writer, Duncan won the Governor General’s Award for English-language non-fiction in 1946 for Partner in Three Worlds. As I flip through Duncan’s scrapbooks or read her agenda, I feel the presence of a talented, industrious writer who works for the work itself and not for fame—and her claim to fame is often that her husband was Hugh MacLennan, also a writer, and English professor at McGill.

Duncan wrote an article for Maclean’s Magazine in 1945 called “My Author Husband,” a title that seems to overshadow her own work in favor of her husband’s. Duncan writes about her husband’s writing habits, his twofold personality, his dynamism in their twelve years of marriage. She remembers how a newspaper interviewer, who had read neither of their books, wrote that Duncan’s only impetus to write was out of boredom, that she married MacLennan and had nothing else to do in Montreal. Her fonds, however, contains two unpublished novels, written before she married MacLennan. She filled a composition notebook of her favorite quotes and poems in newspapers while she was in high school. Her letters are not the ramblings of a housewife drowning in ennui during a Montreal winter; they are the work of a writer.

Love letters from MacLennan to Duncan, some penned while she was away for the weekend, detail his adoration of her intellect. Duncan’s papers tell the story of their reciprocal admiration and their literary partnership. From the story Duncan’s papers are telling, it is apparent that reading MacLennan is not possible without reading Duncan. In “My Author Husband,” Duncan writes, “It is true that we differ greatly in the nature of our work, but I have still to write a book in which he does not appear.” The love letters from MacLennan echo his wife’s sentiment. If Duncan is remembered as “the wife of Hugh MacLennan,” then it is just as fair for MacLennan to be “the husband of Dorothy Duncan.”

The Dorothy Duncan fonds is available for study in the ROAAr reading room. For opening hours, visit this link.

To read Duncan’s article in Maclean’s, visit this link.

A McGill library search for Duncan’s work can be found here.

Meet Your Student Associations!

Librarians Without Borders Fall Social 2017

This year many of you attended the annual involvement fair to find out more about the SIS student associations. I know from personal experience that it can be a bit overwhelming to remember what all those acronyms stand for and to try and decide which associations you’re interested in joining! With that in mind, here’s a quick summary of what’s out there:



Special Libraries Association (SLA)

The Special Libraries Association is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals in business, government, academic, and other specialized settings. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, networking, and community building initiatives.

SLA provides lots of networking opportunities that can help shape one’s career. They are one of 3 organizations that plan an annual conference for information professionals here in Montreal called the Congrès des professionels de l’information (CPI). As members, we have access to one full day, free of charge. SLA has a growing online community that is more than willing to help out when one’s in need. Also, being a member of SLA gives you potential access to webinars and resources in various domains, such as Taxonomy and Information Technology.

Last year, we saw success with the Ottawa trip organized with ABQLA. We also had fun organizing a Murder Mystery party with ABQLA. We ensure that our events are educational for students and fun!

This year, we’ve invited a Knowledge Management Content Specialist to come talk about the Canadian Association of Law Libraries and how it can help build a career. She will also talk about law librarianship and how to get into it. Because of last year’s success, we were also thinking of planning another Murder Mystery party.

Teresa, President

Contact Teresa at therese.mainville-celso@mail.mcgill.ca


Multilingual Children’s Library (MCL)

Interested in librarianship, children, or children’s librarianship? The Multilingual Children’s Library is a student-run library that does collection development, cataloguing, and storytimes around campus in partnership with SSMU and PGSS. It is the only SIS student group that deals with children’s/youth librarianship, so it is a great opportunity to explore a side of librarianship that’s not covered by the coursework.

MCL is starting fresh this year after a two-year hiatus, so it’s a great time to get involved and help cultivate a new club. This year, we are also hoping to host a social event and meetings with professionals in the field.

Zia, President

Contact Zia at ziazan.davidian@mail.mcgill.ca


Librarians Without Borders (LWB)

Librarians Without Borders is a non-profit organization that strives to improve access to information resources regardless of language, geography, or religion, by forming partnerships with community organizations in developing regions.

By joining LWB, students have the opportunity to not only help the local Montreal community through involvement with the Native Friendship Centre, but also contribute to the national Librarians Without Borders initiatives in Guatemala and Haiti. It has been rewarding to be apart of an international organization that focuses on literacy throughout the world.

The LWB Social at the beginning of the year is always a big success. We also held a bake sale on the second semester that was very successful. Finally, we finished cataloguing the small library of the Kativik school board, which had been an ongoing project for the past years.

The LWB Social is coming up at the end of September. The tentative date is Friday, Sept. 22nd. We are also working on creating a partnership with Cite Soleil in Haiti to assist with the development of a French and Creole book collection.

Antoine & Heather, Co-Presidents

Contact Antoine at antoine.fortin2@mail.mcgill.ca or Heather at heather.rogers2@mail.mcgill.ca

Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians (CAPAL)

Contact Katie at kathryn.burns@mail.mcgill.ca


Association des bibliothècaires de Quebec/Quebec Libraries Association (ABQLA)

ABQLA is about connecting students with the parent chapter and introducing them to the awesome libraries that are present in Quebec. Most specifically its public libraries, but the parent chapter also focuses on, but is not limited to, academic, school and research libraries.

It’s a great opportunity to network! While we don’t host any large colloquiums like ACA and AMIA, we do participate in the parent chapter activities, like the Fall Meet and Greet (Date TBA!) and tours that the chapter hosts. The ABQLA Student Chapter also helps organize the mentorship program which connects students with a professional working in the field who can answer questions or provide advice to the student regarding their career path. I mainly joined because it seemed like a good way to get involved and stay up to date on what was going on in the field.

The Mentorship program was a success! We hosted a Meet and Greet night for mentors and mentees to meet in a relaxed social setting. We had at least 40 people arrived at the SIS Mansion to partake in this evening 5 a 7. We also successfully co-hosted our second annual Murder Mystery Night with SLA in the winter semester. Students signed up and were assigned a fairytale character and had to figure out who had killed off Rose Red before the evening was over.

This year we are planning to continue the success of the mentorship program and murder mystery night but also hope to plan one or two tours to interesting libraries/information centres in the Montreal area. Notably, we are thinking about going over to the Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Centre to talk to them about their library and initiatives.

Rachel, Communications Officer

Contact Alina (President) at denise.ruiz@mail.mcgill.ca or Rachel at rachel.black@mail.mcgill.ca

ABQLA Student Chapter


Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA)

The McGill student chapter of the ACA aims to introduce student archivists to the profession by enhancing educational engagement. This is done by promoting communication between students, student members, regular members, and community professionals as well as by organizing activities and events designed for the development of knowledge and skills.

The ACA offers a ton of extra-curricular activities that help you gain skills, make network connections, or build up your CV! We will be hosting a series of activities and events this year, including tours (such as Artexte, which will be on September 23 @2pm) which we are hoping to host at least 4 of this year, and our annual student Colloquium in the winter. If you decide to also register with the parent chapter, they host a mentor-ship program that joins student archivist with working professionals.

Last winter we hosted our 10th Annual Student Colloquium titled “First People, First Records, First Voices”, which featured professional presenters from Michelle Smith a First Nation Film maker, Sonia Smith from The Truth and Reconciliation Library Committee, and Beth Greenhorn and Alexandra Haggert from Library and Archives Canada Project Naming.

We have a series of tours planned for this year at local Montreal Archives (Artexte on Sept 23 @ 2pm), for students to learn about different archives, and types of material holdings, as well as meet professionals and start developing their network connections. We will be hosting our 11th Annual Colloquium this year, and by becoming a member you can help us choose this year’s theme.

Kat, Co-President

Contact Kat at kathleen.barrette@mail.mcgill.ca or Karly (Co-President) at karly.leonard@mail.mcgill.ca


Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA)

The Association of Moving Image Archivists McGill Student chapter seeks to familiarize student members with the most urgent issues of conservation, preservation, and access for image, audio, and moving image archival holdings, while also helping them create connections and contacts with scholars, other students, and professionals.

AMIA offers a ton of extra-curricular activities that help you gain skills, make network connections, or build up your CV! We will be hosting tours this year to archives with image, audio, and moving image holdings. We will also be airing webinars on important topics hosted by our parent chapter, as well as setting up workshops to learn practical skills such as how to set up a reel-to-reel projector. We screen films and movies at our meetings, which can be a fun break from school work.

Our annual Symposium is held in the winter semester, and features student and professional speakers on topics related to archival practices of image, audio, and moving image. Our 2017 Symposium was a huge success! We had seven students present on a variety of topics from Digitizing Areal Photographs to Preserving Memes for Digital Folklore. An excellent professional panel was assembled and featured guests from McGill Library and Archives, Archive Montreal, Canada’s National History Society, and Radio Canada.

We are setting up tours to Cinemathique Canadienne, and the Audio Visual Archive at Marvin Duchow Music Library. We will be hosting a workshop on loading reel-to-reel projectors, as well as set up a group to volunteer at Family Movie Day hosted by Archive Montreal (ArcMtl), which is a day to air home movies for people who don’t own the playback equipment needed to watch on their own.

Kat, Co-President

Contact Kat at kathleen.barrette@mail.mcgill.ca or Elyse (Co-President) at elyse.fillion@mail.mcgill.ca

AMIA at the 2017 Involvement Fair



Our mandate is simply collaboration and learning centered around information technology

Students should join if they’re interested in tech in any way, regardless of experience or education. We’re looking to learn and teach together to become more comfortable and effective with how we use technology.

Last year, we had a few workshops or guest speakers, as well as movie bingo for the 1995 film “Hackers”.

We’re looking to do some coding workshops around Python and several members of MISTech will be directing the 617 tutorials. We’re hoping that potential events and projects will be generated by curious members and we’ll act as a support and learning network to help make those a reality.

Tyler, President

Contact Tyler at tyler.kolody@mail.mcgill.ca




InfoNexus is a conference organized by MISt students that gives the chance to students to hear about professionals in the field and about the various types of careers that our degree may lead to. It is an opportunity for students to ask questions to professionals that have been in our shoes.

Students should volunteer for InfoNexus because it offers many networking opportunities. It also gives students experience in management, grant writing, and web design.

Last year, we had a great turnout with over 70 attendees. In addition to McGill, we had students from John Abbott as well as from UdeM listen to the enthusiastic speakers from various domains. It was refreshing to see so many people participate and ask their burning questions.

This year, we intend on finding speakers who can introduce our students to job opportunities we wouldn’t necessarily think of. Information professionals can find jobs in many different areas, and it is for this reason that we intend on finding out what other career opportunities are out there.

Teresa, President

Contact Teresa at therese.mainville-celso@mail.mcgill.ca




Reflections on the Beginning of a New School Year by Devon Lemire

My name is Devon Lemire and I’m a first year MISt student that has been elected to run this blog! I hail originally from Edmonton, AB and I enjoy fat books, bike rides, baking and a good game of volleyball. Montreal and SIS are still very new for me, even though I’ve now been here for two months.  So here’s some thoughts about what I’ve learned so far about SIS:

  • That first semester classes are introductory in nature. Nobody has a bachelor’s degree in library or information studies and there are lots of basic concepts that just have to be learned before you can move on to more exciting things. On the other hand, it’s nice being in the same boat as everyone else and you have lots of potential study friends!
  • The coding class (617) is really not as bad as expected. I consider myself to be a competent computer user, but even I was a little hesitant about taking a coding class. It’s actually turned out to be a lot of fun and I enjoy exercising a different part of my brain!
  • Group projects happen all the time. I come from a history background where group projects are impractical at best when most of your assignments are 15 to 20 page essays. Pretty much everybody in the program is motivated to be here and willing to pull their own weight, so overall group projects have been fairly successful. The tradeoff is that it takes much more time to pull three people together than it does just yourself! I still don’t consider myself a fan of group projects, but I’m realizing that they could be a lot worse.
  • Everyone in the program is really friendly. Joining some student groups has been a really great way to meet new people and keep up with what’s going on in the community. I really enjoy just knowing what is going on in the school and meetings can be a lot of fun!
  • The sheer number of courses offered is pretty stressful for first year students. Most of us are taking a grad degree in part because we enjoy learning new stuff and the fact that there are way more interesting courses than there is time to take all of them is kind of overwhelming. Everyone points to courses which are important professionally, and add that to the number of courses that explore a range of subject material, it makes for some difficult decisions!
  • Thompson House is a great place to work on assignments with people. Tables, comfy chairs and food service means its ideal if you need to go over some coding exercises with some friends!
  • Study break is a lifesaver! You plan on doing lots of cool things in and around Montreal, but end up doing homework and catching up on sleep. The key seems to be to do all the cool things in September before life gets too busy!
  • Every single person I talked to from the second year of the program has mentioned winter and the fun that the hill is once it starts to snow. I’m from Edmonton, so I thought how bad could it be? I have yet to experience this for myself, but the message is clear: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HILL!

IMG_20151101_140917618 The last two months have been incredibly busy and exciting, with lots of new experiences. and I’m looking forward to what the next few months will bring. I suspect that two years at SIS will go by in a blink of an eye!

Characterizing a Collection: An Analysis of the McGill Library System

By Caitlin Bailey

Online library catalogues are not often regarded as sources for historical analysis. While they are designed and used for resource location, their consideration as a primary source document is infrequent. Extending the work of her doctoral thesis “ The Imprint of The Scholar: An Analysis of the Printed Books of McGill’s Raymond Klibansky Collection”, Dr. Jillian Tomm is now engaged in postdoctoral work, examining the character of the McGill Library’s historical collections. The primary source for her analysis? The library catalogue.

Dr. Tomm’s methodology builds on the mining of the library catalogue to build sets for data analysis. Using the results along with pre-existing knowledge of individual collections, she hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the McGill collections as a whole within the larger context of intellectual history and their relationships with each other. The project also aims to support the development of collections-level searching to help users identify individual special collections (as opposed to individual items) of likely value to their research based on their strengths, such as materials published in a particular country or time period or those rich in illustrated books.

J.Tomm, The Imprint of the Scholar. 2012.

For the moment, Dr. Tomm will be considering the 18th century as her primary area of interest, however she intends to expand to earlier periods. Additionally, Dr. Tomm notes that the project is only considering printed materials, however this may also serve as an expansion point in the future. The current timeline for the project is two years; to further her work after this period, Dr. Tomm has committed to documenting her project as completely as possible to facilitate further building on her work.


Guys! We made it through the year! Maybe we don’t have our grades yet, but we did attend a blow-out end-of-the-year party last week, so I think we’re pretty much capped off, checked out, splitzo, kaput, etc. for the year. Some of us forever!

I feel like I should apologize for dropping off the face of the… er blog-world this past semester. It was a rough one for me, and as an MLIS II student, making it through to graduation was my top priority. Sorry MLISSA, sorry everyone (ie. no one) who follows the blog regularly.

So! As this will likely be one of the last posts I write as MLISSA Publication Committee Chairperson I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read the blog. Special thanks to those who participated in the SIS Kids Questionnaires, and an EXTRA SPECIAL thanks to contributors (Jacob Siefring).

And I guess I also wanted to ask, What do you guys think should happen to the blog in coming years? Be honest. It’s a new baby. It’s just learning to walk. Sadly, no one was elected to become MLISSA Publication Committee Chairperson for the Fall 2012-Winter 2013 school year. If you’re an MLIS I (soon to be II) student, think about adopting it next September. You can’t be a worse parent than me.

Nice knowin’ ya,

Emily Upper


Date: Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time: 7:00 pm- 10:00 pm

Place: Education 216

Showing: The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (starring hunky Noah Wyle)

#21 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Alex!

1. Name: Alex Amar

2. Year: MLIS II. Or 2011. Or 2012. It depends on what the question means…

3. Stream: Knowledge Management

4. Hometown: Boston. Or Montreal. Or Ottawa. It depends on what you mean by hometown…

5. What is your favourite book? I’m not sure, but I think I’ve memorized-by-osmosis The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark and Inherit The Wind.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? No, which is how I know they are.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Probably eating lunch. Oh, and I’d probably have pursued Communications into a MA… or gone to Law School… or drifted into some kind of media consultation/research or broadcasting in Ottawa.

8. What is your dream job? Pundit. Professor of film studies. Curator of a collection of pulp and B-movies. Something at LEGO. ALL AT ONCE.

… that said, I really like my current job, as a Library Assistant at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

9. What is your dream sandwich? Delicious and emotionally fulfilling. Also, it would probably feature garlic and Morbier.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? The sense of danger in the winter. The soft glow and smell of fresh-fallen snow. The weird little sub-cities.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? 2000 CHOM L’Esprit winners Pigeon-Hole, Patrick Stewart, my high school debating coaches, Dan Harmon, Grant Naylor, Nick Offerman, John Woo, Stan Lee, Allie Brosh, Nick Cave, Randall Munroe, and friends from SIS.

#19 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Katharine!

1. Name:
 Katherine van der Linden

2. Year: 

3. Stream: 

4. Hometown: Ottawa

5. What is your favourite book?
That’s a tough question…the one I read when I need to cheer up is Diana Wynne Jones’ book Conrad’s Fate. For the best book I’ve ever read, it’s a tie between  Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer,  A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracey Kidder and Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool?
 No, but I keep entering contests which offer one as a prize in the hopes that I will win eventually. I’m convinced that if I spend my own money to buy one I will lose or break it, so it’s safer to stick to paper.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Most likely I would be touching up my resume. There aren’t too many positions out there for recent graduates with an undergrad degree in international development…

8. What is your dream job? I wanted to be a Canada Parks Ranger up until the point where I realized I hate bugs (especially mosquitoes) and get cold every time the temperature dips below 15 degrees Celsius. My current dream is to be a librarian in a rural area in Canada or in the developing world or to work overseas.

9. What is your dream sandwich? I enjoy most sandwiches, but right now I’m craving a Panini BLT like the one I had at the Atwater Market a few weeks ago.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? The bike paths and the multiculturalism. I love counting the number of languages I hear while I’m out running errands.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? All my friends and most of my family, Rick Mercer, John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Terry Pratchett, and Matt Smith. It would make an amazingly funny party!

#18 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Marie-Eve!

1. Name:
 Marie-Eve Barrette

2. Year: 

3. Stream: 

4. Hometown: Châteauguay, QC

5. What is your favourite book?
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kayor Elisabeth Vonarburg’s Chronique du pays des mères if I get to choose a series and not just one book.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool?
 Nope. I love the feel and smell of used books too much

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Having a life. But most likely still doing laundry…

8. What is your dream job? 
In a middle of nowhere, collecting data on an endangered language and trying to get killed or arrested/banned from the country.

9. What is your dream sandwich?Ice cream!!!!

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? 
The parks and not needing a car to get everywhere.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? I seriously don’t know. But it would definitely include John Frusciante.

#17 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Meg!

1. Name: Meg Gray

2. Year: It’s currently 2011

3. Stream: KM with a side of librarianship

4. Hometown: Vacationland

5. What is your favourite book? Hmm…I don’t really have a favorite. Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye is the only book over 20 pages long that I’ve read three times. You can borrow it from me if you want.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool?  I don’t own an eReader, but I do have a Talk Boy in my Dad’s basement.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? I certainly wouldn’t be procrastinating on a Sunday afternoon. I’d probably be riding my bike and picking apples.

8. What is your dream job?  It changes from day to day, but I what I really want is to look forward to going to work in the morning (or at least not dread it) and feel like I’m doing good. Ideally, I would work in an urban environment Sept-May and then I would spend the summers on the Maine coast where I would have an art studio and an amazing garden. I would make beer and jam and have lots of outdoor dinner parties.

9. What is your dream sandwich? California BLT.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? Getting carded every time I try to buy alcohol. Oh, and I love the people, the food, the dramatic seasons and how casual the population is about their late night gravy consumption.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? (This is a weird question, Emily. How in the heck did you come up with this?) Alice Waters, Julia Child, John Waters, Ira Glass, my 11th grade English teacher, Dr. Fred Jones, Wayne and Garth.  We’d have a picnic and play duck, duck, goose.

#16 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Christine!

1. Name: Christine Smith

2. Year: MLIS I

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Connecticut

5. What is your favourite book? Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff; Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? I wish! Not that it would replace my books, but it would be a fun gadget to try out.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Studying and/or working.

8. What is your dream job? Something that allows me to use my knowledge and experience to help others, while learning from those I serve.  Something intellectually stimulating that combines technology and interpersonal skills. Something like…a librarian?

9. What is your dream sandwich? Unfortunately, I am not really a huge sandwich fan.  That being said, and after about a day of pondering, I am going to go with a hot lobster roll from Abott’s in Noank, CT (voted “Best in Connecticut!”).

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? It’s the first big city I’ve lived in! And, it’s bilingual!

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? I have a great interest in genealogy, so I would probably invite many relatives (living and dead). That way, I could learn all about their lives from their points of view.

#15 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Emma!

1. Name: Emma Lanza (yes my real name is Emily, you can call me that if you want but it would be weird as you are not my mother)

2. Year: MLIS part-timer year II

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Montreal

5. What is your favourite book? Tie between The Lord of the Rings and Pride & Prejudice (I represent two very distinct types of woman)

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? iPad. For. The. Win. (that being said I use it mainly for note-taking and scrabble playing, but the Vanity Fair subscription is pretty cool)

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Still working at McGill, but in my old job. Writing profusely grateful letters to rich people from the Principal.

8. What is your dream job? TONY Award winning Broadway star

9. What is your dream sandwich? I dislike cold food, so I would go with a nice grilled cheese with …… wait for it…… bacon.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? My family. (Awwwwwwwwwwwww)

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Jackman, Colin Firth AS Mr. Darcy, Jon Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Kristin Chenoweth and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

#14 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Kylie!

1. Name: Kylie Szymesko

2. Year: First

3. Stream: Knowledge Management

4. Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba

5. What is your favourite book? This generally changes every few years, but right now it’s a tight tie between ‘House of Leaves’ by Mark Z. Danielewski and ‘Come, Thou Tortoise’ by Jessica Grant. Both of which I believe everyone should read!

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool?  No, maybe someday. I just really love being able to show off my books on a shelf. Sadly, said books are back in Winnipeg.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW?  I would have stayed in the Winnipeg Public Library system and moved up the employment ladder until the point where I would no longer be promoted due to the lack of an MLIS. And traveling the world on the side.

8. What is your dream job?  Indiana Jones (or whatever his job title is). My Anthropology teachers told me not to aim to be an Anthropologist like him, so now I’m a librarian aiming to be like him.

Second choice; Pokemon Trainer.

9. What is your dream sandwich? Grill cheese and ham. Made from Monterey Jack cheese and bread and ham from my favourite grocery store in Winnipeg.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? That all the necessities are within walking distance!

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch?  Andrew Davies (screenwriter), Aaron Sorkin (screenwriter), and Oscar Wilde. We’d sit around and engage in terribly witty dialogue.

#13 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Caroline!

1. Name: Caroline Gerbaulet-Vanasse

2. Year: II

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Chicago, IL

5. What is your favourite book? “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? No, I do not. While I have no problems reading text from a screen, I much prefer reading “real” books.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Hard to say. Maybe I would have been accepted into a Museology program? Perhaps I would have continued to pursue Psychology? I might also have moved to Stockholm, Sweden to work there and assist my grandmother.

8. What is your dream job? Honestly, that’s a murky question for me these days. When I was little I would have listed out things like large-animal veterinarian, illustrator, author, anything with horses… I think… Speaking for myself right now, my dream would be to find a way to combine a few of my passions into one job. Like if there was a way to combine psychology, theatre, and librarianship.

9. What is your dream sandwich? I can’t think of just one. But right now I’m dreaming of a slice of really fresh bread (white or whole-grain), Nutella generously spread, topped with fresh raspberries and/or strawberries.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? The friends I have made here so far.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? First off, I’m relieved to see from earlier participants of this survey that I am not the first who has no idea what “potlatch” is. Thankfully I can follow the lead of earlier participants, and can tell you who I would like to invite: Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, all my favorite living actors and actresses (James McAvoy and Jim Sturgess would both be there, for example), cool animals like Flipper and Lassie and Black Beauty would come too, all my true friends since I was little (and their cute older brothers too), the Phantom (from Phantom of the Opera, poor guy just needs some friends!), and of course I’d like the characters from my favorite books, shows, and movies too. It would be a huge gathering, preferably held (with permission of course) at Rivendell. Book/film/theatre/TV-nerd, and proud of it!

From the brain of Tarquin Peter Steiner

Hey folks. So, this is my first Beyond the Shelf post, and I’m a bit nervous. So I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet. Bittersweet. Well, not too bitter. Listen, just hold your nose, okay? It’ll be over in a second.

We’re all getting wrapped up in the first of our group assignments, and I feel like the true weight of the readings is starting to sink in. We’ve all been told (I’ve been told) by quite a few second-years that the readings aren’t super useful, and often fall by the wayside when we’re performing workload triage. But I’m finding them to be rather integral to writing things like the second assignment in GLIS601 – it’s pretty clear from the way our courses are structured that our readings are designed to be our first sources of citation – though I’m willing to argue the point. To be blunt, the assignments themselves can’t possibly be incredibly informative re: our later lives as professional librarians – this is just the first semester. When going over the rubrics and assignment outlines, I wonder how interested our professors really are in the output of the MLIS Is, and whether or not these assignments are really just chits to prove we’ve done our homework.

I just reviewed what I wrote above, and I realize how pessimistic it sounds. But that’s how I’m feeling about all the make-work. There are broader concepts that students are exploring in their in-class – and out-of-class – groups that can’t be included in the scope of our assignments. And I get the impression that these are concepts that occur to each student, equally, as they pass through the introductory classes – certainly, I’ve talked to some of the upper-years and Ph.Ds about them.

I’m lucky enough to have two graduate students of philosophy in my section of 601 – ex-grads, I suppose. In conversation with Messrs. Tkach and Dinneen, a common theme has developed around our interpretations of models – of information, information-seeking, and information-retrieval, specifically. Namely, a sort of phenomenological gap: see diagram. We all remember examples of this from our high-school days – the octet rule vs. orbital hybridization (chemistry), or tendency to talk about D&D vs. # of friends (life). These are models developed to describe real things that happen in nature – and the models we discuss in class are supposed to describe real observations about information, or the way people interact with it.

Wherever there is an exceedingly complex entity, or something that is invisible, models are the way to study them. Much can be gained with the help of such models, yet models are not the final word in any science, from social to physical. They are only an intermediate step in the scientific process of investigation. But this is not a thought that is discussed in our courses.

In the hard sciences, there is an implicit understanding that your model is only a representation of a complex entity – and your true commitment, as a professional, is to truth. Thus, scientists tacitly understand that their life’s work will probably amount to the development of increasingly accurate – but never completely accurate – models. However, the flavor of our library sciences courses is much less abstract – and I think it misses that subtle tang of truth. The thesis of our courses, unspoken, is that we will be applying these models to our professional lives, eventually. But it seems clear that as professionals, we will constantly be reconsidering and attempting to refine our own stance on these concepts. Our course assignments ask us to use the models and ideas from our reading, but give us no time to address that central idea. I think that’s kind of a travesty, considering we’ll be devoting our lives to it.

With credit to the University of Oregon.

Okay! That was storytime, now for some details. In cooperation with some other students in the MLIS program, I’ve been running around collecting interviews from Alternative Library coordinators for CKUT’s literary segment. It airs at the asshole end of the morning – 7:30a.m on Mondays. And the segments we’ve been collecting run into the 0.5-1 hour range, whereas CKUT wants 5-10 minute segments. I’ve been getting some pretty incredible stuff out of people who have no previous library training, but are encountering the same problems that we’re being instructed about in our courses – and attacking those problems using DIY solutions that mirror the strategies we’re being taught. You can find the full uncut interviews here, and the first one here. I’m calling it “Behind the Stacks,” but I’d love it if someone could suggest a name that doesn’t sound so dirty. If you’re interested in helping, want to suggest changes to the format – or new places for Behind the Stacks to go once we’re finished with Alternative Library spaces – please leave a message after the beep (in the comments).

Something else that’s not very well addressed in our courses: research. I’ve been talking with a few kids in MLIS I who are a) interested in researching in library science and b) need money to do research. As such, we’ve started up a little research list-serv – a group designed to make us all feel competitive and motivated, as well as inform us of deadlines/calls for papers/grants and granting organizations. We’ve compiled a few megalists of those resources, so if you’re interested in research in archives or libraries (or the dreaded Knowledge Management) leave a comment with your email address, and I’ll add you to the list.

Finally, something fun: many of you know me from the weekly pubnights we’ve been having since the start of classes. We took a break last week to give people a chance to get their fill of POP, but we’re coming back with a vengeance: OUTDOOR VIDEOGAMES, BITCHES. If we get rained-out, we’ll be using a contingency room inside the Education Building, so I’d appreciate it if some experienced A/V nerds could volunteer to help us set up. I’ve run a couple of these events before, and they’re always pretty fun: see pictures below (note: you do not have to come dressed as a dude from Zelda. Please do not come dressed as a dude from Zelda).

#12 SIS Kids Are Doing If For Themselves: Meet Shanna!

1. Name: Shanna Shadoan

2. Year: First

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Choctaw, Oklahoma

5. What is your favourite book? The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (if I have to pick only one)

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool?  I had one, but never used it, so I gave it to my mom.  I like folding corners of pages, and underlining, and notes, and the tactile experience of reading.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW?  Well, my back-up plans were: llama farmer, hot air balloonist, or mermaid.

8. What is your dream job?  Seriously?  I always thought that being a flower-delivery girl would be awesome, because you get to bring these cheerful messages and make people feel better.  Except that I hate driving.  So, maybe bicycle-floral-delivery-girl?

But then, it’s not very practical, is it? And sometimes I’d have to deliver flowers to funerals, which would be heartbreaking.  So, I’d like to be a Youth Services Librarian, which is pretty much a good-news-sharer, too, right?  Only it’s books instead of flowers that one is sharing.

9. What is your dream sandwich? I love sandwiches! They are my favorite food!  It would be peanut butter with marshmallow fluff and pretzels.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal?  I love the bike paths and the beautiful parks and the million trillion places to eat and the GIANT McGill library and the fact that the school looks like a castle and all my new friends and my apartment with the colorful walls and the museums and the wide availability of Nutella.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch?  I had to look up potlatch. It’s a party, right? A giant, awesome party! Then I want eeeeeeveeeeeeryone there!  Everyone! All of my friends (I’m pretty homesick right now, even if Montreal is awesome) and then a bunch of second-wave feminists (especially Susan Bordo and Judith Butler and Julia Kristeva) and then Jonas Mekas (a filmmaker and champion for people being kind to each other), and Charlie Chaplin (especially him) and Jimmy Stewart, and all of the Muppets.  And lots of cake and a bouncy castle and go-karts. Because wouldn’t Charlie Chaplin and Judith Butler and The Count in a bouncy castle be the best thing ever?

#11 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Katarina!

1. Name: Katarina Daniels

2. Year: II

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Montreal

5. What is your favourite book? Pride & Prejudice (I < 3 < 3 < 3 Jane Austen). PS P&P Keira Knightly adaptation = epic fail.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? No, I can’t look at a screen for that long. And I prefer holding books. I’m always worried I’ll drop the eReader because it’s too light/ flimsy.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Law school, if I had gotten my application in on time (though I plan on getting to that soon!) or working at my parents’ travel agency (which I still do, PT)

8. What is your dream job? Working in the McGill Law Library (I think?) or at the McCord Museum. Slash or the Museum of Civilisation if it was in Montreal (< 3 Montreal)! Though I also enjoy working in the travel industry, and getting to take groups around the world 🙂

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? Hockey season GOHABSGO

9. What is your dream sandwich? Grilled peppers & eggplant with goat cheese. Om nom nom.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Is it bad that I had to Google “potlatch”? Get ready for a super random potlatch: James Dean, Jane Austen, Eleanor Roosevelt, Grace Kelly, John A. Macdonald, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Jean Beliveau…  did I have a limit?

#10 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Nina!

1. Name: Nina Thurlow

2. Year: II

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

5. What is your favourite book? World Without End – Ken Follett

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? Yes, I have a Sony e-reader and it’s probably the best gift anyone has ever given to me (THANKS MOM!) I find that I read way more because it’s much more portable than a book and I don’t have to worry about wrecking the pages or anything and I can get the books with very little effort 🙂

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? I would have just completed a history master’s and would likely be considering library school because I can’t get a job with a history master’s, while bartending.

8. What is your dream job? Liaison Librarian of either History or Special Collections. 6 weeks vacation. No set hours. Weekends OFF!

9. What is your dream sandwich? Reuben.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? Food and shopping.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? My dad.

#9 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Jacob!

1. Name: Jacob Siefring

2. Year: First

3. Stream: KM

4. Hometown: Beavercreek, Ohio (outside of Dayton)

5. What is your favourite book? Lookout Cartridge (Joseph McElroy) is wonderfully weird, though hard to get through; otherwise, Sebald, Gaddis, Barthelme, Gass (In the Heart of the Heart of the Country) – these authors top my list.

6. Do you own an eReader?  Not yet, but I’m excited about making full use of my extensive list of Project Gutenberg bookmarks (soon). I’ll probably start with Rem Kolhaas by Kleist.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW?  Teaching, or working on another degree, or obsessively reading; or writing.

8. What is your dream job? Knowledge/content manager; or librarian.

9. What is your dream sandwich? Cucumber – tomato – hummus – falafel.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? Urban decay, architecture, our little mountain.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Molière, Apollinaire, Jacques Brel, Gaston Miron.

#8 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet David!

1. Name: David Tkach

2. Year: One

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Winnipeg

5. What is your favourite book? It’s changed several times over the years. Age of 10: Books Of Blood, Clive Barker. Age of 15: my subscription to Thrasher. Age of 20: For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway. Age of 25: War And Peace, Leo Tolstoy. Age of 30: Complete Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges. Honourable Mentions: The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Leguin, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, Italo Calvino, and Watership Down, Richard Adams. I still adore all of them (especially the stack of Thrashers). We’ll see what 35 will bring. AACR2? I should also add the book which I have banged my head against for more than a decade and only now have the faintest inkling of understanding (so perhaps ‘favourite’ doesn’t apply): Being And Time, Martin Heidegger.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? No, although I’m looking into purchasing one right now. I have quite a few philosophy books in .pdf format that I’ve avoided reading due to potential back-lit eye strain, so it seems necessary.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Probably teaching philosophy part-time, attempting to conduct research in order to try to secure one of the dwindling handful of positions available in Canada, and simultaneously loving and regretting every minute of it. Hopefully still in Montreal, I might add.

8. What is your dream job? Something that is intellectually stimulating, something that contributes to the promotion and democratic dissemination of human knowledge, and something that permits me to enjoy the occasional pint on the terrasse at Vices et versa.

9. What is your dream sandwich? It exists: the BLT on chiapati at Aux vivres! Or something that gave you super powers.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? The summers, the winters (I know it sounds absurd, but it’s so mild compared to Winnipeg!), the fruitful and dynamic tension between Quebec and the ROC, learning French mostly through cultural osmosis, the music scene, especially the punk and hardcore scene which I finally connected with after years of living here, biking all over and realizing how small the island really is, walking down Parc on a Sunday and seeing a half-dozen friends enjoying coffees at various cafes, watching around 80% of Habs games at the same semi-terrible bar on St-Zotique year after year. See also: responses to 8 and 9.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Carl Sagan, Socrates, Leo Strauss, Martin Heidegger, Blake Schwarzenbach, Ian Mackaye, and Bruce Dickinson. Not sure how well the group conversation would go, but I’d corner each of them in the kitchen in turn.

#7 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Sarah!

1. Name: Sarah Macintyre

2. Year:  Second

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: Greenfield Park (South Shore!!)

5. What is your favourite book? Mister God, this is Anna

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? Not yet, but someday… someday…

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Perhaps doing a different master’s degree?

8. What is your dream job? Working a 10am – 4pm day (with an hour for lunch). That’s my goal.

9. What is your dream sandwich? Bocconcini, tomato and pesto – Yum!!

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? We have awesome festivals all year long.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? The Spice Girls circa 1997.

#6 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Bruno!

1. Name: Bruno Therrien

2. Year: MLIS II

3. Stream: Knowledge Management

4. Hometown: Quebec City

5. What is your favourite book? Fiction: Pretty much anything by Philip K. Dick; Non-fiction: Books about anything that needs fixing in the house. Recently a lot of military histories and biographies about little known units or the other side’s story (Rhodesia, South Africa, Vietnam (Giap), JTF2, US Navy SEALs). But for bathroom reading

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? I did, it was a PanDigital Novel and it was cool for what it was supposed to do. Unfortunately it kept crashing so I returned it. I did set up my old tiltable flat-screen to read the newspaper and stuff on Books 24×7 and ProQuest Safari Online, now that was cool but not really portable (much to the dismay of my wife).

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Preparing 400 pages of year-end reports and haggling with other managers for bonuses for my staff…

8. What is your dream job? With so many options in LIS, I’m currently working on it.

9. What is your dream sandwich? Well, my preferred sandwich is the Reuben’s smoked meat sandwich (at Reuben’s corner Peel and Ste-Catherine). Yes, Rueben’s is my favourite smoked meat place, even better than (gasp!) Schwartz’s (ha, ha, no flaming on a survey!).

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? Where I live (Little Italy), my little family, my kids get to go to bilingual schools, just about everything, else.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Because you can’t just talk to yourself: Steve Martin, Leslie Nielsen, Philipp K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Laura Calder (and a couple of other chefs from the FoodNetwork but especially her because, you know…). Because you obviously need music: AC / DC, the Cult, The Tragically Hip, Alice in Chains, Guns’n’Roses, Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin (the original crew), The Eagles, Sting, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Because you need drinks: the barmaid at the Asiatik who makes the killer martinis.

#5 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Laura!

1. Name: Laura Thérèse Markiewicz (mar-kyAY-vich)

2. Year: MLIS II

3. Stream: KM

4. Hometown: Walpole, New Hampshire.

5. What is your favourite book? Oh dear, just one!? I’m the kind of person who brings all her books with her when she moves so she can have close, familiar friends at hand.

Growing up I loved the Indian in the Cupboard and Ramona books (and looking at the pictures in knitting and cookbooks at the library). Then I discovered historical fiction and devoured Quest for a Maid and Quo Vadis, as well as books like The Penguin Atlas of Diasporas.

And now due to college and grad school, I find myself rejecting books of a serious nature and just going for humour – Erma Bombeck, David Sedaris, Dave Barry and the Yarn Harlot are my favourite authors.

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? No, I don’t.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Still working in customer service at YBP Library Services in Contoocook, NH.

8. What is your dream job? Never leaving academia.

9. What is your dream sandwich? Liverwurst and provolone on a kaiser roll, with pickles on the side.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? The fact that it is located in Canada.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Everyone. The OCD side of me is probably what drove me to into knowledge management in the first place: I’m going to get ALL the information out of EVERYONE so NOTHING is lost, EVER!

#4 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Tarquin/Peter!

1. Name: Tarquin Peter Steiner

2. Year: One.

4. Hometown: Louisville.

3. Stream: Archival Studies.

5. What is your favorite book?Let’s Kill Uncle” made me obsessed with making friends with a cougar until I was 15.

6. Do you own an eReader? I do, and it’s great. Completely eliminates book clutter and weight. I once had to pack a trunk full of books onto a pontoon plane headed to Pelican, Alaska, between a garbage bag full of salmon jerky and an unknown squishy plastic thing. Never again.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? Probably fishing for halibut in Pelican, Alaska.

8. What is your dream job? Anything where I routinely get to yell “for SCIENCE” shortly before a large explosion.

9. What is your dream sandwich? I once had this sandwich somewhere on the 91 in Vermont that was a whole trucker’s breakfast baked into a Chinese sweet-bun, toast and bacon included.

10. What is your favorite thing about living in Montréal? Nobody judges me when I work in my underwear.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Doc Emmet Brown, Vincent Price, Guitar Wolf, and Ron Swanson.

#3 SIS Kids Are Doing It For Themselves: Meet Laurel!

1. Name: Laurel Stokes

2. Year: Two

3. Stream: Librarianship

4. Hometown: South Kingstown, Rhode Island

5. What is your favourite book? Pride & Prejudice

6. Do you own an eReader? If so, is it cool? Nope. I keep telling myself that I prefer musty smelling books with dog-eared pages.

7. If you weren’t in library school, what would you be doing RIGHT NOW? I would be writing the next bestselling memoir.

8. What is your dream job? Travel writer.

9. What is your dream sandwich? A grilled sandwich with aged cheddar cheese, tomato, avocado and a lemon basil mayo on rye bread.

10. What is your favourite thing about living in Montreal? 24-hour stores.

11. Living or dead, who would be at your imaginary potlatch? Ernie, Bert & Joseph Gordon Levitt—We’d eat pie.

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