Publication: What I Learned from ‘What I Wish I Knew Five Years Ago’

SLA Toronto‘s The Courier has just published a submission of mine.

Click here to read about my experience and what I learned at their ‘What I Wish I Knew Five Years Ago’ event.

I would like to thank the editors, Catherine MacGregor and Katie Thomas, for their assistance in editing the piece.

Review: Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany


Massaquoi, Hans J. (1999). Destined to witness: Growing up black in Nazi Germany. New York: W. Morrow.

  • ISBN: 0688171559
  • 384 pages
  • Includes illustrations

Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi provides a unique autobiographical account growing up as a biracial child under the Nazi regime in Hamburg, Germany. Though Massaquoi discusses his travels to Liberia and immigration to the United States, the majority of the book is situated within Massaquoi’s youth. He recounts his life within a regime that treats him as a second-class citizen and struggles with understanding his own identity. Massaquoi also provides anecdotes of everyday Germans who not only experience the rise and fall of the Nazis, but defend him against the racist regime. Massaquoi’s narrates his childhood in an honest and direct manner, such as providing personal anecdotes where he faced job discrimination. Major historical events, such as the 1936 Olympics, are explained and Massaquoi recounts his personal experience during those times. The author also retroactively provides historical details he was unaware of in his youth, such as the fate of the Rhineland Bastards. Destined to Witness supplements its account by adding photographs of Massaquoi throughout his life, including family, friends and historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., whom he met while working for Ebony.

No other autobiography to this extent about the life of a Black German in Nazi Germany exists. Most Black Germans at the time would have lived by the French border or in other cities, such as Berlin. Destined to Witness, by no exaggeration, is a one-of-a-kind account of a person of colour growing up under the Nazis.

Readers seeking first-person accounts of living under a fascist government will appreciate Destined to Witness as a satisfying addition to their library. Public and academic libraries can add value to their collection by having such an autobiography. Not only is this work unique, but Massaquoi’s autobiography was intended to remind Germany of its past and current racial issues, teach empathy and to avoid repeating history.

It’s time for Fair Ebook Prices

I want to bring to your attention the Fair Ebook Pricing movement public libraries across Canada have started. The demand for ebooks have risen, and so has their prices for libraries. This is within a context of declining library budgets.

To get a sense of the price libraries have to pay versus the individual buyer, click the link above.

I support the public libraries’ call for fair pricing of ebooks. This will also assist in increasing access to more titles for patrons.

Follow the conversation on Twitter.

CLA Statement on Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015

Lisa C. Chen:

The CLA has issued a statement regarding Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act. This is definitely worth a read.

Originally posted on Government Library & IM Professionals Network:

The safety and security of Canadians is an important responsibility of the Government of Canada. Given the deplorable events in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu last October, the government’s desire to protect citizens more effectively is understandable. The Canadian Library Association (CLA), however, has serious concerns about Bill C-51 (the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015) in relation to the risks that it poses for the privacy of Canadians and for their freedom of expression, both of which are essential to a free and democratic society. We are especially concerned that this bill is proceeding through the parliamentary process much too quickly for it to be fully analyzed and debated in terms of its implications for these important Canadian values.

The CLA therefore urges the government, with respect to Bill C-51, to:

  • Incorporate considerably greater restrictions and independent oversight into the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act provisions.
  • Limit and clarify the kinds of…

View original 863 more words

OLA Super Conference 2015

I attended this year’s OLA Super Conference, held in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I attended the conference on Thursday and Friday. I will be summarizing my experience and provide advice for future attendees.

Speed Networking

I could not skip the opportunity to network. It was a great way to meet professionals from the information studies field in quick succession. I had the opportunity to exchange business cards and ask them about their position and the path they went through.

Though I myself am introverted, I found that simply saying “hello” and then starting a conversation sprung organically as we talked about ourselves and our interests.

I would recommend registering for the event, as it is exclusive. If you cannot register in time, you will be put on the waiting list. Regardless, go to the event early and see if you can participate, as some people make last minute cancellations. Do not overlook talking to students/new professionals too, as they are your peers. Ask if the professionals are a part of any associations and if they are looking for anyone to participate.

As you will rotate with professionals very quickly, I recommend against bringing a writing instrument or paper, but I do recommend water, as you’ll be talking a lot. They have refreshments provided.

Don’t be afraid to follow up with the professionals; if they have a LinkedIn profile, connect with them. If they have any volunteer opportunities in their organization, ask them.

After the official event, there is a mingling, where you will have the opportunity to speak to the other professionals and to the students.


1) So NOT Boring: Social Media Policy for Libraries by Anne Marie Watson and Mary Medinsky

This panel discussed the importance of defining your organization’s social media platform.

Some of their recommendations involved knowing your audience so you can post meaningful content and asking others to review potential posts before publishing them.

They also recommend to have a proactive approach. For example, following followers or potential ones can garner exposure to your accounts. Use a contest to promote yourself.

They also highlighted resources for analytics:

Social Biblio
Twitter Audit

2) Supporting Multi-Campus Instruction through E-Learning by Afra Bolefski and Joanne Oud

Whilst being an instructional librarian at a university with multiple campuses, there are issues with traveling and instructing between them. Therefore, the presenters recommended various video tools that can be used for teaching.

Programs such as Skype do not suffice for instruction. They recommended tools such as Adobe Connect and Cisco Jabber. The presenters laid out the programs’
various pros and cons.

For etiquette, they suggested to test the software beforehand, dress appropriately, clean your office (as students can see it), create learning outcomes, be interactive and receive feedback.

3) #WeNeedDiverseBooks: Discussing Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Susan Chau, Dayna Debenedet, Feather Maracle Luke and Margie Wolfe

Inspired by, but not affiliated with the official #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, various authors, publishers and librarians gathered to discuss the lack of diversity in books and the publishing industry.

One of the interesting points made was that if we want more diverse books published, we (librarians) must begin to promote such books with displays, activities, etc.

We have the purchasing power to send a message to publishers. We need to provide more opportunities for diverse writers and advocate for their books. Seek out local publishers who aren’t one of the Big Four.


The Expo is where publishers, schools and vendors have tables set up to talk to visitors. This is an opportunity to see the latest technology available for libraries and publications available.

Though as a student, I was not making business with the vendors, it was a great way to connect with them and see the products they offer, as you may be ordering from them in the future.

During book signings, they will actually be handing out free copies of books and advanced copies. Take advantage of it!

FIMS Alumni Reception

After I completed my volunteer shift, I attended the reception, right across the Metro Centre. I was able to meet classmates, both those working in Toronto and studying in London. It was a great way to reconnect with friends and network with Alumni.

Overall, the Super Conference was a great way to meet new people and learn about the developments in the field. Volunteering was simple and straightforward. I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned now and apply it for next year’s edition.