Reading Connections at the Faculty of Information

September 23, 2011, 9:00AM – 5:00PM

140 St. George St., Toronto (Bissell Building)

9:00am – 9:10am: Opening Remarks – Room 205

9:20am – 10:50am

10:50am – 11:20am: Coffee Break – Lobby, 2nd (Ground) Floor

11:20am – 12:20pm

12:20pm – 1:30pm: Lunch – Lobby, 1st Floor

1:30pm – 2:30pm

Authors Read Aloud: Room 205

  • Two reader’s histories in the form of creatively written short stories presented and read by Andrea Lau and Kevin Risk

Facilitator: Keren Dali

2:30pm – 3:30pm: Exhibits- The Inforum, 4th floor

3:30pm – Closing Reception: The Inforum, 5th floor (enter from the 4th floor)

9:20am – 10:50am

Session 1: Room 224/225

Fanfiction: Transformative Writing as Insight into Reading Passions

Amanda Brooks

Abstract: Fanfiction, also referred to as fanfic, is new texts whose characters and situations draw upon recognized artistic and literary works, such as books, movies, video games, and television shows. As a counterpoint to fears that reading is being killed off by visual and interactive media, participants in fanfiction communities demonstrate a love of narrative which transcends a specific medium. Fanfiction pre-dates the World Wide Web; however, the ability of the Internet to provide a shared and collaborative space for many people from across the world based on their common interests has allowed it to grow exponentially. Countering the image of the reader as a solitary and/or passive figure, fanfiction unravels reading as a complex and multi-stage process and demonstrates an infallible connection between reading and writing. Writers are readers who find support through comments and communication from other readers. Fanfiction communities develop their own language to describe their activities and establish norms for social interaction within the group. This paper analyzes the participatory experience of fanfiction through the lens of selected reader response criticism. Drawing on Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation (2006), I argue that interest in fanfiction derives from a desire to pay tribute to the source text while simultaneously expressing a personal reaction to it. Fanfiction requires continual return to the source text in order to bring new interpretations or reconfigurations upon it. A fanfiction reader’s/writer’s own experience and personality affects these reading choices but so do the conversations which occur in the larger fanfiction community. The focus of my paper will move back and forth between the discussion of the global pool of fanfiction readers and the exploration of an individual reader.

Redefining Literacy: Adolescents Reading and Writing Fanfiction

Erin Kent

Abstract: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, fanfiction is “fiction, usually fantasy or science fiction, written by a fan rather than a professional author, especially that based on already-existing characters from a television series, book, film, etc.” It is immensely popular with young adults, yet often overlooked by educators and librarians working to improve and promote youth literacy and learning. Most educators and librarians either ignore the fanfiction trend or actively denigrate it, believing it has a negative effect on young people’s literacy. They instead focus on imposing texts and ways of interpreting them, which have been established by academia. However, this pedagogical tradition is outdated and losing its relevancy for today’s teens. This paper seeks to investigate the new types of literacies and new skills that are required in the digital age, and the contribution of fanfiction to the development of these skills. It also seeks to establish fanfiction as an international phenomenon by citing examples outside of the North American setting. Fanfiction is a global pastime that involves youth around the world, enabling them to learn from each other and broadening their understanding of literature, culture, themselves, and others in unprecedented ways.

The Times They Are A Changin’: Reading in the Digital Age

Mary Jane Kearns-Padgett

Abstract: Reading in our digital age seems to be in the process of change: rather than reading the newspaper, we download the latest news and read it on our devices as we ride transit to work; rather than buying textbooks for our courses we upload articles and read the PDFs on our laptops; rather than reading magazines on current affairs, we read the thoughts of friends, celebrities and strangers on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. What is the effect of this change and this constant barrage of information, this exposure to the ever-present flotsam and jetsam of words? Is the information we process changed – and changing – to accommodate the medium of digital texts? Are subtle changes occurring in the way we process information? Are we consequently “becoming stupid” as the Atlantic Monthly suggested in a recent article? Is the effect of digital texts on what and how we read another reminder of Marshal McLuhan’s adage that “the medium is the massage”? Can answers be found through current theories on how we find meaning in what we read? This presentation will explore such questions, with the aim of promoting discussion. An underlying focus will be the effects of such changes on the 21st century library.

Online and Electronic Reading: Life Goes On

Anna Mathew

Abstract: People are increasingly turning to online and electronic media to read books, scholarly material, news and periodicals, and other Web content. Debate abounds around the pros and cons of print versus electronic reading. Which format is more convenient and allows for more pleasurable reading and better comprehension? Why do some readers choose electronic sources over print? Moreover, why do readers choose electronic reading technologies only for specific types of material? Using print and electronic sources, as well as media reports, I will discuss online and electronic reading trends and motivations. Additional aspects I touch upon may include electronic annotations in social networking and research activities, the impact of multi-media documents and hypertext, shared reading and content creation, non-linear reading, and digital literacy.

9:20am – 10:50am

Session 2: Room 205

‘That which is different’ – An International Perspective on Romance Reading

Larissa Momryk

Abstract: Romance novels are the most popular genre fiction books in North America. At the same time, the romance is almost equally popular in other parts of the world. The popularity of romance reading in non-North American contexts has inspired some to wonder: what messages do readers in other countries receive from reading the romance? By examining romance reading in North America, India, Russia, and Africa, this paper reveals some interesting similarities and equally intriguing differences in the romance reading experience around the world. The most striking similarity is the common view by romance readers of these novels as instrumental in two specific ways. First, these novels are viewed as helpful for and informative of male-female interpersonal relationships. Second, they serve as a window into the lifestyle and mentality of ‘other’ people in ‘other’ locales. Paradoxically, this similarity highlights one of the major differences – while romance readers in North America, India, and Russia seek out novels set in ‘other’ places, for African romance readers the novels are part of the process of self-definition and self-awareness, as the stories speak to the local audience about their immediate concerns and experiences. This issue should be equally interesting for researchers involved with a comparative analysis of reading practices, and may be useful for practitioners who work in multicultural environments.

Corporate Women, Occupational Stress, and Bibliotherapy: Can Librarians Help?

Louise Donnelly

Abstract: For those who are drawn to the library profession, bibliotherapy or “healing with books” is a seductive concept. After all, those who are passionate about books and reading know through personal experience that books can change lives, help people with problem solving, and contribute to an overall sense of well-being. A review of scholarly literature reveals a great deal of interest in bibliotherapy among LIS professionals, particularly in the United Kingdom. However, research also demonstrates that bibliotherapy is a serious practice that carries not only benefits but also potential risks. While books can indeed help people to solve problems, they can also harm. Therefore, as a clinical practice, bibliotherapy must be conducted under the supervision of mental health professionals. However, so-called developmental bibliotherapy, suitable for healthy populations, can involve librarians who have the expertise in selecting and recommending appropriate reading materials. In this paper, I will provide a brief overview of bibliotherapy, its history and types. Then, I will focus on the possible roles and limitations of LIS professionals and some controversies regarding bibliotherapy in the LIS community. This will set a context for the main part of my paper, which will describe one example of a bibliotherapy program designed to support women in corporate management who are coping with occupational stress. A few examples of specific book titles, evaluated for their therapeutic quality, will be presented. This topic will be of interest to LIS researchers and practitioners and help them to recognize the potential and negative implications of bibliotherapy. It should also be instrumental for librarians who would like to develop bibliotherapeutic programs in various settings in collaboration with other trained professionals.

Women Reading Urban Fiction

Selane Codrington

Abstract: Urban fiction, a.k.a. Street Lit, is an emerging fiction genre. Under researched in scholarly literature but increasingly popular with readers, Street Lit is the focus of this presentation. The presentation aims to provide a better understanding of the genre: its history, appeals, and readerships. It also briefly discusses the controversy surrounding collections of Street Lit in public libraries. Particular attention is given to the significance of Street Lit for Black female readers, and a relevant exemplar of Street Lit is examined in-depth. The presentation stands to initiate a lively discussion among public and academic librarians about the place and value of Street Lit in our libraries.

Oprah’s Book Club

Mary Teresa Iaizzo

Abstract: Since its inception, Oprah’s Book Club has been constantly criticized, especially by the literary elite. Their main attacks centre around the book club’s perceived lack of literary/cultural merit and its commodification of books. However, there are a growing number of academics who now argue that Oprah’s Book Club is indeed a cultural institution and should be regarded as such. By getting millions of Americans to read in a more inclusive manner, Oprah has created a reading revolution. It is through her efforts that the practice of reading has once again become central to the lives of many Americans. Therefore, it is time that Oprah’s Book Club be given the respect that it deserves.

11:20am – 12:20pm

Session 3: Room 224/225

Getting Lost: Books, Television and Integrated Advisory

Andrea Lau

Abstract: On the mysterious island where survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are stranded after their plane crashed, there is a shortage of hotels and answers, but not of books. The characters of the television serial Lost are seen reading all sorts of titles, which leads to the formation of online “Lost Book Clubs.” Using the show as a case study, this paper examines the relationship between reading and TV viewing, which is not as antagonistic as expected. In addition, the connection to integrated advisory is discussed, and the pleasant possibility of getting Lost in both books and TV.

Readers’ Advisory and Academic Success

Kevin Risk

Abstract: University education has traditionally relied on a solid body of subject-specific and interdisciplinary scholarship. Although some instructors add non-scholarly readings to their reading lists, including examples of fiction and nonfiction, this practice remains rare. Leisure reading, and specifically the reading of fiction and imaginative literature, is seldom emphasized as a method of gaining or reinforcing knowledge, nor is it often encouraged as a means of achieving academic success. This paper argues that leisure reading can greatly contribute to a student’s academic development and improve his/her overall experience with post-secondary education. Reintroducing readers’ advisory (RA) services to academic libraries is spotlighted. The paper begins with a brief survey of RA in academic libraries: its goals, history, and contemporary state. It proceeds to analyze the positive effects of leisure reading, including but not limited to expanding the context of learned material; reinforcing insight through the narrative experience; developing empathy and the ‘insider’s view’; enhancing the skill of observation, reflection, and logical thinking; igniting creativity; and improving awareness of language and style that can be beneficial in essay writing. Leisure reading is also presented as an effective strategy in reducing stress and coping with the challenge of university education. Suggestions for incorporating readers’ advisory sessions into academic programs are made, and a few sample titles are reviewed for their suitability for RA in academic libraries.

Reading Maps: An Innovative Approach to Readers’ Advisory

Elizabeth Coates

Abstract: Readers’ advisory has traditionally focused on recommending books based on appeal factors (i.e., tone, setting, pacing etc.). This approach, however, has certain limitations and cannot necessarily meet the needs of all readers. For example, it is often limited to fiction. However, nonfiction, periodicals, films, and social networking sites can all be part of the reading experience. Reading maps are visual webs that take a more holistic approach to readers advisory. They extend the reading experience past read-alikes and focus on themes related to a book. Videos, music, fan-sites, movies, and links to articles can all be included in the reading map. Maps are different from reading paths, which take a more linear approach, and traditional bibliography-style reading guides. One of the most important aspects of reading maps is their visual appeal. They are, in effect, “knowledge maps”, a concept referring to a graphic form that displays cognitive relationships for the purpose of decision making, especially useful for collaboration. Reading maps take readers’ advisory to this level and have great potential for expanding the reading experience. Typically reading maps have been presented in more of a list/website format. However, improved technological tools, such as Spicy Nodes (free software, for the creation of reading maps), allow for producing new-generation state-of-the-art reading maps. In this paper, I will discuss some theoretical underpinnings of reading maps; compare and evaluate a few software packages that can be used for their creation; and show several reading maps that I developed based on popular books.

11:20am – 12:20pm

Session 4: Room 205

The Shelf as Reflection of the Self: Understanding the Home Library

Kathryn Tippell

Abstract: Home book collections can reveal a great deal not only about the reading preferences but also about the personality of their owners. That personal book collections are often referred to, endearingly, as home libraries elucidates the importance accorded to collected items. These are not just shelves with books or elements of décor; they are reflections of the self and integral pieces of one’s identity. Through the centuries, the face of book collecting has changed to become an increasingly personal pursuit, motivated by different needs and goals. Recognizing two different categories of collectors—professional book collectors/bibliophiles, for whom book collecting is the main driving force behind their daily activities, and amateur book collectors—this paper focuses on the latter. The amateur book collectors are, likely, you and me: those who collect books they love and cherish in their homes, seemingly, with no particular system and purpose; and, definitely, with no profit in mind. The paper examines the relationship between amateur book collectors and their home libraries; their motivation for collecting and displaying books; the meaning of individual collected items; the significance of the act of buying; the tension between ‘reading’ a book and ‘owning’ a book; and the role of home libraries in one’s identity construction.

Book Theft: A Crime That is Tolerated

Ana Malespin

Abstract: Book theft is a serious and costly crime faced by libraries. The financial losses of library materials due to book theft can amount to thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Preventing book theft is everyone’s responsibility; but book thieves can be difficult to identify and catch. In order to protect library resources and, most importantly, not to become unwitting collaborators to book theft, librarians need to become familiar with the psychology of book thieves. The many motives for book theft, ranging from a false sense of ownership of library resources to bibliokleptomania, provide insight into how this crime is perpetrated and why it is tolerated. This paper proposes that an understanding of book theft as a pathological side-effect of reading and a careful examination of the existing typologies of book thieves is one effective way to increase librarians’ awareness of the true nature of book theft.

Readers’ Advisory for Leisure Readers of Nonfiction

Keeley Cochrane

Abstract: This paper explores the leisure reading of nonfiction and considers the library’s role in the support of this activity. The leisure reading of information has been growing rapidly in recent years. This accounts for concomitant increase in demand for nonfiction readers’ advisory (RA) in public libraries and the expanding body of literature on nonfiction RA in scholarly and professional publications. It analyzes information leisure readers, their reading needs and motivation for reading, and the appeal factors held by leisure reading for information. The paper concludes with specific recommendations for public libraries on the possible ways to support leisure reading for information and to improve RA services for informational readers.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

Session 5: Room 224/225

French as a Second Language (FSL) Storytimes

Alexandra (Lexi) Black Sensicle

Abstract: Canada is a unique country with two official languages. While the majority of Canadian children are brought up in the Anglophone school system, they are still taught French at school in the form of core French classes, French immersion, or extended French programs. Storytimes at the public library have a time-honoured tradition of introducing children to books, developing early literacy skills, and fostering a life-long love of reading. Combining research on the positive role of storytimes in the development of a child’s reading proficiency and success at school with literature on second language instruction, such as French immersion programs, the author explores the value of FSL storytimes in public libraries. FSL storytimes emerge as a tool for introducing children to the French language through fun activities, including stories, songs, rhymes, and games. The author discusses early observations based on the experience of running an FSL storytime program on a trial basis in a small public library in Ontario. The author hopes that it will benefit other library practitioners seeking to create educational and entertaining reading programs and activities for their youngest clients.

Boys and Reading from the Perspective of the School Librarian

Ellen Buckley

Abstract: In this paper, I would like to explore the issue of boys and reading from the perspective of a school librarian. While some scholars argue that many boys are non-readers, I agree with those who describe boys as ‘non-readers of novels.’ Boys are likely to engage with other types of reading materials, such as video game manuals, graphic novels, and picture-based nonfiction books on war. How do we maintain their current reading interests and channel them further? How can we capitalize on their unique reading interests in order to foster a lifelong love of reading and to support boys’ academic success? The school library is ideally positioned to address these issues. After a brief theoretical discussion, I will review a few possible practical solutions that can be implemented to help boys develop as readers. How do we, as librarians, account for developmental and reading differences between boys and girls? How do we create programs that actively engage boys with stories and narratives? Is there a place for combining drama and reading? How effective are book talks and reading buddies programs? Building on boys’ naturally emerging reading preferences, how can we link, for example, historical fiction to the study of the World Wars, and the reading of graphic novels to the study of Shakespeare’s plays? By combining theory and practice, I hope to engage school and public librarians in finding creative solutions to helping boys become life-long readers.

Truth Seekers: Readers’ Advisory for the Reader of History

Eric Chor (TBC)

Abstract: This paper focuses on readers’ advisory for readers of history, both fiction and nonfiction. It explores the typical reading audience of historical works, the motivation of history readers, and the appeal factors of the genre. It interrogates the tension between historical fiction and nonfiction, highlighting the similarities and differences of both. It aims to show that both types of historical writing can contribute to igniting the reader’s interest in glorious depictions of the past and to creating a complete and versatile reading experience. Examining a few historical fiction and nonfiction titles, I will show how readers’ advisors can capitalize on the strengths of both types of historical literature in order to better respond to the needs of the patrons who seek historical reading in the library.

1:30pm – 2:30pm

Session 6: Room 205

Authors Read Aloud: Room TBA

Two authors, Andrea Lau and Kevin Risk, read the short stories they wrote for their Reader’s History assignment in INF2309H: “Reading: Theories, Practices, and International Perspectives.” One of the possible formats for this assignment was ‘academically informed creative writing.’ The stories unfold the histories of two readers and include reading recommendations given to these readers in a specific life situation. Accompanying material distributed to the session attendees will include academic and popular sources that informed and supported creative writing.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Lobby, the Inforum, 4th Floor


Not Your Average Space Western

Ahlya Fountain

Space Westerns, as I define the genre, is the application of the familiar to the unfamiliar. The Western is a genre that traditionally deals with exploration, the tension between the indigenous and the colonial, and the theme of survival. I question, though, whether Westerns must necessarily be set in the American West. Can the genre of Westerns have a broader definition and encompass other types of literary works? Using a more inclusive definition, I show that not only Star Wars but also Homer’s Odyssey can be considered examples of Space Westerns. I hope it encourages librarians to push the limits of the genre and think about genre-blending for the benefit of their readers. The exhibition will include a book display and a handout for distribution.

12 Things to Read Before 2012: A Reader’s (Survival) Guide to the Apocalypse

Andrea Lau

Oceans boiling, volcanoes erupting, California crumbling into the sea – this is what the end of the world looks like in the disaster movie 2012. Any muddled references to pseudo-science and Mayan prophecy are quickly abandoned when things start exploding in clouds of CGI, as usually happens in Hollywood blockbusters. After the credits rolled, viewers were left with no actual explanations about the significance of 2012. What does it mean for us when the mysterious calendar of the ancient Maya abruptly ends on December 21 next year? Will Los Angeles really slide into the Pacific? Before you start building a bunker or dismissing all Mayan ideas as mumbo-jumbo, you should check out some of the literature on the topic, conveniently packaged into this annotated reader’s guide to the 2012 phenomenon.

Alternative Comics: A Reading Guide

Brandon Weigel

“Graphic novels” like Maus, Watchmen, and Persepolis are widely known for elevating comics to high art and literature. But serious comics for adults have a much longer history that is overlooked by a culture that had to invent a new term before it could take comics seriously. Around the 1960s, “alternative” or “underground comix” rebelled against the formulaic, superhero-dominated, kid-friendly mainstream comics industry whose Comics Code Authority prohibited adult themes and ambiguous morals. Alternative comics experimented artistically, questioned social norms, and explored everything the Code avoided. They are the forerunners to more complex stories in modern superhero comics, and the high-art graphic novels that proliferate today. This collection chooses from the history of comics the most culturally influential, artistically inspiring, and controversial works from North America and around the world. It provides a counter to the dominance of superheroes that still exists on library shelves, and offers readers a broader understanding of the comics world—and a whole new world of stories to explore.

See the accompanying brochure.

The Images of Immigration in Literature

Elizabeth Coates and Rustam Dow

This Readers’ Advisory session, designed for an undergraduate university course on immigration and ethnic relations in Canada, aims to deepen students’ understanding of the immigration experience through the reading of selected works of fiction and nonfiction. We will explain the rationale for incorporating non-scholarly works into the course readings; present a display of novels and (auto)biographies, accompanied by a brochure with an annotated list of 15 titles (portable format); and book-talk two chosen titles of interest. This exhibit will be of interest to academic librarians who would like to promote leisure reading and foster the enriched learning experience on campus, as well as for public and school librarians who may be required to put together readers’ advisory sessions for specific courses or special groups of readers.

The Māori: A Reading Guide

Larissa Momryk

The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand who have a rich cultural and artistic tradition. Indeed, Māori language and arts have enjoyed a renaissance since the 1980s, and are now rather prominent in New Zealand, especially in the fields of tourism and culture. For example, the movie Boy, a coming-of-age comedy-drama set in a rural Māori community, was released in 2010 and became the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time, in addition to drawing critical acclaim at several international film festivals, including Toronto’s The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. The reading guide and exhibit of Māori-related nonfiction, literature, and film, will be of interest to anyone curious about the history and culture of indigenous people, particularly in a post-colonial context.

Bibliographic Analysis of Potential Bias in the Newbery and Caldecott Medals

Jackie Flowers

The Newbery Medal (“the Newbery”) and the Caldecott Medal (“the Caldecott”) are bestowed on two “most distinguished” American children’s books each year. This phrase, which is derived from the mission statement of the awards, contains both idealism and risk. The bibliographic research to be presented in the exhibit will highlight two major findings identified in the titles awarded the Medals (and runner-up “Honors”) over the past 25 years (1986-2011). The first finding relates to the size of the publisher (large media conglomerates versus small/independent houses). The second relates to a history of book reviews in major review sources prior to the award announcements: Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. Exhibit visitors will be offered a handout summarizing the Newbery and Caldecott titles, publisher size and review history, and research conclusions.

“Readers’ Advisory in the University Classroom: Exploring Book History and Print Culture through Fiction”

Manny Arroz and Kim Parry

This exhibit will demonstrate the successes and challenges of fiction readers’ advisory in university classrooms. We reviewed and annotated a number of fiction titles for Book History and Print Culture. The purpose of this project was to invite students to use fiction from the university libraries to explore the course material in a different, creative, and non-traditional way. We highlighted books that were set outside of North America to enrich the learning experience and expand the knowledge of print culture with international perspectives. The exhibit will include a book display, a portable brochure with annotated titles, and promotional bookmarks with memorable quotes from the selected novels.

Readers’ Advisory for Social Work Students: “Walking in their shoes: Fiction as an Immersive Experience.”

Alexandra Hall and Lindsay Timmins

Our Readers’ Advisory (RA) session for a graduate seminar at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, was guided by the notion that reading fiction is an activity that may hone skills vital to identifying with and relating to others. People in the care-giving professions, such as nurses, social workers, and psychologists, comprise a particular group of readers. Their work is predominantly based on interpersonal relationships. They must often choose the best way to identify themselves with the individuals in their care. Fiction may serve as a vehicle for such identification. Indeed, fiction’s strength is that it is an immersive experience. We enter the skin of protagonists, walk in their shoes, come to understand their intentions, and feel their happiness and sorrow. It is a transformative experience of getting out of our heads and into the head of “the other.” The exhibit will include a book display and a portable brochure with annotated titles.

Please proceed to the 5th floor of the Inforum to the Closing Reception!

Recent Posts