Sessions & Speakers

Downloadable Schedule

→ 2022 ABQLA Conference Schedule

Opening Keynote

David A. Robertson

Two time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, DAVID A. ROBERTSON is a celebrated and prolific writer for audiences of all ages, and a sought after speaker and educator.


In 2021, he was awarded the Writers’ Union of Canada Freedom to Read Award as well as his second Governor General’s Literary Award for the picture book On The Trapline, illustrated by Julie Flett.  In 2017, his book When We Were Alone received the Governor General’s Literary Award, and was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.


His most recent work includes an acclaimed YA graphic novel series, The Reckoner, the first books in The Misewa Saga series for  Middle Grade readers, the picture book On The Trapline, and the memoire Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory, thanks to which his official bio features an inspiring list of awards and distinctions.


He is also the writer and host of the podcast Kíwew, winner of the 2021 RTDNA Prairie Region Award for Best Podcast.


He is a member of Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

Closing Keynote

Marie Grégoire
Présidente-directrice générale de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

Marie Grégoire a été nommée présidente-directrice générale de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec le 7 juillet 2021.  Gestionnaire et communicatrice d’expérience, elle a été cadre au sein de grandes entreprises des secteurs économique et social, en plus d’être associée fondatrice de TACT Intelligence-conseil. En 2002-2003, elle a siégé à l’Assemblée nationale à titre de députée de Berthier. Elle est présente dans le paysage médiatique québécois depuis 2004.


Blurring the Lines: The Post-Pandemic Library Technician
Lidia Kruk, Catherine Henderson & Melissa Tomecz

When COVID-19 forced the closure of libraries in early 2020, library staff were forced to adapt to
providing services remotely. One way that libraries met the challenges raised by the pandemic is
through collaboration. This involved blurring the lines between the tasks of librarians and library
technicians. Collaboration also took place between many libraries and John Abbott College’s
Information and Library Technologies program where students were able to contribute to several

Curiouser and Curiouser! How the Pandemic Has Impacted Reference Services
Winter Royce-Roll, Sarah Wood-Gagnon and Sandy Hervieux

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for academic libraries, it has also served as a catalyst to rethink user services. The closure of physical spaces only heightened the importance of online services and resources, and increased user’s expectations as to their availability. At the McGill University Library, the use of the virtual reference service saw an important increase in 2020-2021 while in-person reference services were not available. With the reopening of physical library spaces, many information professionals wonder if the preferences for online services brought on by the pandemic will remain, or if in-person services will come to the forefront.

This presentation will focus on the evaluation of the reference services available to users after the reopening of library spaces. It will also highlight the experience of 2 reference assistants and ways to increase virtual reference offerings.

On the day of the event, please visit our Expo Hall 
Building an Emergency Virtual Reference Service During Lockdown: a case study on service design and staff support through crisis
Laura Ivan

Pre-pandemic, Concordia University Library was one of the most visited academic libraries in the province, with a strong tradition of in-person student reference and research support. In March 2020, following the mandated campus lock-down to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, Concordia Library had to shift to delivering all its reference services remotely (using virtual chat, email and occasionally Zoom).

This presentation describes a pilot project of a new virtual reference service aimed at compensating for the loss of in-person reference interactions though the use of Zoom. I proposed, designed, and ran this project during Fall 2020/Winter 2021 as an emergency response to the lock-down. This emergency reference service was conceived not only to support the Library’s efforts to provide reference to our patrons but also to give our information professionals an opportunity to reconnect in a time of crisis, to help alleviate the increasing isolation experienced by many and allow members to collaborate and support each other in ways previously established at the reference desk.

The project was launched after extensive testing, feedback and training sessions, with protocols drafted to protect safety and privacy for patrons and staff. The response to the project was positive, evidenced by comments from patrons and staff members, return visits, and interaction length. This project also served as a model for a new University-wide student service. Although it emerged as an emergency response to a crisis, it demonstrated its potential to remove barriers to accessing library services and to bridge physical and psychological distances.

An Update on the Work of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA)
Christopher Carr, Alex Kohn, Richard Beaudry

An update from several members of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations.

Christopher Carr,
Alex Kohn
A Collection of Curiosities: The Lilly Toth Miniature Book Collection
Kristen C. Howard and Eddie Paul

Miniature books have long been items of curiosity and fascination. Defined as bound books less than 3” in length and width, miniature books have been created and collected for thousands of years. Lilly Toth (1925-2021), a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who made her home in Montreal, collected over 1,000 miniature books after departing Hungary following the Hungarian Revolution (1956). A regular volunteer for the Montreal Holocaust Museum, Lilly contributed her compelling life story to the Museum’s oral history collection, and donated her collection of miniature books to the Jewish Public Library where they are currently being processed.

Lilly’s collection is diverse and eclectic, with items in more than a half dozen languages and spanning a multitude of sizes and themes with a clear focus on minis produced in Hungary, a country prized for its high-quality miniature production in the twentieth century. Lilly cherished her collection, displaying the books on a variety of custom-built bookshelves that lined her bedroom, allowing her to admire them daily. Highlights include a leather-bound Yiddish-English dictionary; complete sets of Shakespeare’s plays; and an ultra-microminiature prayer book measuring in at less than 5 mm that requires a powerful magnifying glass to read its tiny text. Taken as a whole, the collection reflects Lilly’s personal history and that of her homeland, as well as a keen mind and quirky sense of humor. A new online exhibit features thirty of the collection’s unique items and offers an entry point into the curious world of miniature books.

This presentation will illuminate the production and collection of miniature books through an
examination of highlights from the Toth Collection, and consider the JPL’s future plans for
community engagement with this unique and captivating collection.

Looking At Libraries Through A Marxist Lens
John Pateman and Joe Pateman

This presentation is based on ‘Public Libraries & Marxism’ by John & Joe Pateman published by Routledge in 2021.We wrote this book during the pandemic and as a response to the challenges that the pandemic posed to libraries then and in the future.We propose a set of guiding principles for public libraries to adopt as they navigate through and beyond the pandemic.

Accessibility in Canadian Public Libraries
Lindsay Tyler & Co-Presenters

While public libraries in Canada strive to offer services to disadvantaged and marginalized populations, accessibility for readers with print disabilities is often not considered in the development and offering of the mainstream services of the library, and accessible content and systems are often only available in a separate service or repository. With support from the Canada Book Fund, NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) and CELA (Centre for Equitable Library Access) are co-leading the Public Libraries Accessibility Resource Centre (PLARC) project, to engage with library staff to develop awareness and training in accessibility in all areas of the library, and help ensure the availability, procurement and delivery of accessible books and resources across Canada. This panel discussion will include an overview of the PLARC project, a user perspective on accessibility within public libraries, and library staff perspectives in the areas of collections, metadata, IT and public services. This session will also provide an overview of the complicated landscape of accessibility, which will help librarians and library staff better serve their diversity of readers.

 Les langues officielles dans les bibliothèques au Canada et au Québec : un aperçu
Alain Roy

Les bibliothèques sont certainement parmi les institutions les plus présentes dans nos diverses communautés canadiennes et québécoises. Pourtant, en ce qui a trait aux communautés de langue officielle en situation minoritaire (CLOSM), le commissaire aux langues officielles Raymond Théberge soulignait en mai 2021 que si « nos attentes envers les ressources et les services que les bibliothèques offrent évoluent », « les aspects du patrimoine et des bibliothèques comme indices de vitalité n’ont pas été considérés au même titre que les indices démographiques et géographiques, par exemple. » C’est afin de combler cette carence que le Réseau des bibliothèques des CLOSM de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (BAC) a identifié comme priorité d’examiner comment les enjeux de langues officielles en bibliothèque étaient abordés à travers le
Canada. Fort de cet appui, BAC a lancé un chantier de recherche dans le respect des juridictions existantes mais avec l’espoir de favoriser une émulation pour de meilleures pratiques à travers le pays. Le rapport qui en résulte, rendu public récemment, présente un portait de la situation et propose des pistes de réflexion stimulantes. Au cours de cette présentation, nous reviendrons sur les principales composantes de ce rapport et sur les constats qui en découlent, puis reviendrons sur quelques observations relatives à la situation au Québec.

 But What Can I Do? A Science Librarian Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
John Dupuis

Science librarians have skills that are perfectly aligned with what society needs in a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Our roles in our institutions are also aligned with facilitating the kinds of information sharing and discovery that can make a real difference in a resilient pandemic response. With perspectives arising from science advocacy from the Harper era to the present, this presentation will focus on how science librarians can adapt to a rapidly shifting information environment and leverage their skills in information literacy, collections development and scholarly communications to counter misinformation and advocate for evidence-based decision making both at their own institutions and within society as a whole. Some aspects of pandemic response will include advocating for moving beyond performative hygiene theatre and recognizing that COVID-19 is airborne, encouraging better masking protocols, enhanced air filtration and ventilation, and using wastewater monitoring to detect the spread of the virus.

Introducing the Canadian School Libraries Collection Diversity Toolkit
Anita Brooks Kirkland, BMus, BEd, MM, MLIS, OCT

Upheaval and change. Over the past few years and as the pandemic raged in the background,  Canadians have witnessed the dramatic uncovering of the colonial brutality of Canada’s  residential school system, and the ongoing realities of systemic racism. Add onto that populist  backlash, with the current epidemic of book challenges and censorship south of the border. Against this tumultuous backdrop, we, as school librarians, feel the urgency to effect positive change for equity, diversity, and representation, starting with our collections.


Who is represented in our collections? Can students see themselves reflected in what they read? Are the cultural practices of Canada’s Indigenous peoples represented as historical anachronisms, or as part of lived, contemporary culture? Why is weeding an important part of developing and maintaining diverse collections? How do selection and reconsideration procedures provide library professionals with confidence to develop diverse collections? What does an equity-informed library collection look like?


The CSL Collection Diversity Toolkit provides a framework for building vibrant collections
through an equity lens. Join us as we tackle the tough questions, and explore the toolkit’s
comprehensive and practical suggestions for making sure that school library collections meet all
of our students’ needs, representing the full diversity of Canadian society.