The Alma College Memory Project is now LIVE!


Well, it’s been quite the bumpy ride these past few weeks. I’m finishing off the last course of my MLIS (online) while working part-time at Chatham-Kent Public Library as a Library Assistant II. I was thrilled to be offered this position after finishing my internship there.

To those who know me, it’s no secret that I loved working there and became close friends with many colleagues. They have been so supportive as I embark on my professional life and I can’t find the right words to thank them enough.

Anyways, between all that, I was able to finish building the website for the Alma College Memory Project. This has been a big project of mine. I interviewed ladies who attended the school, recorded their stories and shared them there.

I chose to use WordPress and to customize the templates myself. I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were looking before. I loathed the Dreamweaver version I made, which was a great way to learn HTML, but ended up looking like something from 1999. I wanted the memory project to be like a time capsule, but not in a bad way!!!

Well, it’s been a huge hit. Over 5,600 hits since the project launched about a month ago! It’s gone semi-viral on social media thanks to some really savvy history lovers!

Without further ado, here it is:

The Alma College Memory Project

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OLA SuperConference 2015




Think it. Do it.” This was the theme for this year’s Ontario Library Association SuperConference!

That reminds me of a commercial for sporting gear.

But the conference was actually really great. Last year I didn’t get to go to sessions because I was busy volunteering at the MakerKids 3D printing area. My hotel was also a fair walk away. This year it was connected to the conference center by a tunnel. WIN! Toronto is so clever… Cheating winter with their eleborate system of indoor paths!!!

Anyway, on Thursday morning, I spoke about Makerspaces, 3D Printers and Intellectual Property with Professors Sam Trosow and Michael McNally. They are experts in the field of IP, and I assisted with the technical understanding of 3D Design and Printing.

There was really positive feedback on the session. One person said it was the most useful panel he’d been to that week! Sure, I may have half tripped down the stairs of the stage after, but c’est la vie. All in all, a great experience.

I really enjoyed hearing about Toronto Public Library and Innisfil Library’s makerspaces. Another favourite session was to do with a new library branch in Wilberforce, ON. It was built using sustainable building practices by Fleming College students, and has straw bale insulation. It also has a green roof, with the shoots of plants poking up sporadically off the top of the building. But far be it from me to dislike that, as I’m pretty sure I should’ve been born a Hobbit of the Shire.

Other than that, though, it just looks like a lovely, modern building. And it’s 100% accessible, which it certainly wasn’t in the old building (which is now a food bank).

All in all, a great experience. I came home so inspired that I’ve been working extra hard all week! My internship is ending in late March, and I’m eager to complete my projects for the staff and patrons of CKPL. Really going to miss it there.


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These past four months I’ve been marvelously busy with my internship as a makerspace librarian at Chatham-Kent Public Library.

I have learned so much about public librarianship with the support of the excellent staff here, and have had the opportunity to contribute to a variety of interesting projects.

Youth have been receptive and eager to participate in the programs. It’s a great working environment with a strong sense of community. Ultimately, I have discovered that supporting creative inquiry and collaboration among youth is incredibly rewarding.

Here a couple pictures of things I’ve gotten up to!

A Dickens Village collaborative craft we did one evening with recycled cardboard!

A Dickens Village collaborative craft we did one evening with recycled cardboard!


part of my "Chill with a Craft" passive programming display in the YA Area. It has been well used!

part of my “Chill with a Craft” passive programming display in the YA Area. It has been well used!

Helping with deconstruction at a Toy Hacking event

Helping with deconstruction at a Toy Hacking event








Some of the kids' hacked toys!

Some of the kids’ hacked toys!



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Amethyst Dragon

Amethyst Dragon

Some may know that I am into creating digital art. I drew this funny dragon in Photoshop with my little Bamboo drawing tablet!

Click on him to check out my digital arts portfolio on Carbonmade.

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June 14th: the Alma College Alumnae Reunion

Just a quick update- I’ve received an invitation to attend the Alma College Alumnae reunion on June 14th, 2014. I’m so looking forward to being there, and to meeting many of you!

If you are an alumnae and cannot attend the reunion, but would still like to be a part of the Alma College Memory Project, we can always speak by phone or meet at the St. Thomas Public Library. Feel free to contact me through here or e-mail me at mausti22 (at) uwo (dot) ca.


Alma College in 1891 (c/o Elgin County Archives)

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Open Access. What’s in it for you?


Imagine if I was trying to charge you a fee to read this blog.

I know, I know. You’re all just scrambling to pull out your wallets quickly enough!

But the sad truth is that a lot of really important information is hard, if not impossible, for the average person to get at. That’s because it’s blocked from you by a barrier of some sort, like a pay-wall, a bad internet connection, or a lack of being listed in the top 3 of your Google search results.

Anyways, Open-access (OA) content can be defined as author consenting, digital, free-of-charge/license restricted information.

It is closely tied to the notion of lessening the “digital divide”. I like to picture this as a big, dark chasm that only the strongest of the informations can soar over. Except, on the other side of the chasm are locked doors to which only a few of the exhausted survivors possess keys.

You may have noticed that I used information as a noun there! And while maybe it made you twitch or cringe, it’s true. Michael Buckland’s pivotal article on “Information as Thing” explains that information must manifest physically in some way, as a “signal, text or communication”, in order to be shared.

One important take away from all this is that telepathy would be cool.

The “digital divide” in developing countries

Since the United Nation’s declaration of their Millennium Development Goals in 2002, libraries have recognized a growing awareness within social policy that they are well positioned to act as “agents of socio-economic change” in developing countries (Holmner 140). It is vital that these nations have access to an environment in which they can create, transfer, access and apply knowledge (139-40).

The digital divide can be found in many different places. The ever-increasing cost of journals has been driven both by the commoditization of information, and by the commercial ownership of scholarly publications (Buschman 86).

And that, my friends, is why open access matters.

If the cost of People magazine had risen as fast as academic periodicals since 1990, it would currently cost $182 for a year-long subscription.

The paid subscription-based database, Journal Storage (JSTOR), denies over 150 million attempts to virtually access their articles and other primary information every single year. That is 150 million denied attempts to learn something about this world!

So, say you want to publish your work so that it’s freely accessible. You have a few options…

Choosing Open Access for Your Work- GREEN VS GOLD

Gold OA- This involves fully publishing your work in a fully accessible journal or website. You do not profit financially from granting open access to your work. Sometimes it is expensive to produce but this is often covered by a research grant or institutional fund.

Green OA– Self-produced. May enable you to share your work more widely across the internet. Considered risky, approach with caution!

It’s like choose your own adventure. You can go down the green path, or the gold path.

This is just a very basic introduction to open access principles. I have included a list of some further reading,  in case you are interested in learning more.



Some Further Reading

– The American Library Association. “Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries Reference Book”. 2012. Accessed October 6 2013.

– Braman, S. “Defining Information: An Approach for Policymakers.” Telecommunications Policy 13(1991): 233-42.

– Buckland, M. “Information as Thing.” Journal of the American Society of Information Science” 42(1991):351-360.

– Buschman, J. (2003). Dismantling the public sphere: Situating and sustaining librarianship in the age of the new public philosophy. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (GRC Reserve) Read Introduction (pp. 3-13) and the public sphere: Rounding out the context of librarianship (pp. 37-53).

– Holmner, Marlene. “The Road to Information and Knowledge Society: Indigenous Knowledge and the Millennium Development Goals.” Mousaion 29, no. 2 (2011):139-57.

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Alma College Memory Project

The Alma College Memory Project

Please also see the Letter of Information for more details:


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Social(ly aware) Networking


You may recall that I posted a couple weeks ago about Caitlin Seida and her experience with a personal image of her going viral. I wrote that her story serves as a lesson to all of us who maintain presences online.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. I do make a concerted effort to actively manage my privacy settings online. And beyond this, I truly believe in the importance of not posting anything online that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with everyone seeing.

That said, I think that many who are social online have been scared to the point of silence. That fear of being judged, or even bullied, can be extremely oppressive. And it’s not easy to put yourself “out there”. But in my opinion, social networking should be based on sharing and communicating, rather than fear. I think that access to the Internet and to community websites and services should allow us to connect to one another on a more personal level, if we so choose. As such, I am an advocate for socially-aware networking.

In my opinion, many of the same rules apply online as in real life regarding privacy, safety and acceptable behaviour. It seems almost natural to feel a sense of invincibility or displacement while sitting behind a screen. But the people who access this information are real, and their responses can have consequences.

As Bilbo Baggins once said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

One way or another, if we interact on a daily basis, we will learn some surprising things about each other. So in the spirit of this, I’ve compiled a picture list of 5 (potentially nerdy) things I like to do that you might not know about if we have yet to meet.


I draw in my spare time.


I cosplay. Here I am dressed as Quistis Trepe from the game Final Fantasy VII at a local charity event.


I collect cameos. I like how each face is different and has its own expression and personality.


I think I have the largest My Little Pony collection in Ontario. I’ve been collecting since I was two. I deal 1980s toys on eBay as a side project.


I made some home-made bath products and loved how they turned out. I want to learn how to make more things like this.

I am an artistic type, who is reasonably self-aware and a mild extrovert. I enjoy sharing and posting online and I value others’ perspectives. And while I do believe in maintaining privacy settings online for the purposes of safety, I am not afraid to link to my Facebook address publicly. I would not post content there, or anywhere else online, that I would consider private knowledge. In a world where terms of service and privacy settings change like fashion trends, this seems like the only method that consistently works.

But as for my home address, well, that’s another story.
If you would like to connect with me on Facebook, I can be found here:

Book Review: the da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Turning to the first page of the Da Vinci Code, I saw these words in bold italics: “FACT: all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”

One of the most commercially successful novels of all time, Dan Brown’s mystery-thriller has been translated into 42 languages and has sold over 40 million copies worldwide. The novel has been marketed to society as one of the most controversial texts concerning art and religion of all time- despite the fact that it is a work of fiction.

In the story, a prominent curator of the Louvre is found murdered, and a respected professor of “religious symbology”, Robert Langdon, is called in to solve the mystery of the curator’s death. The narrative, though written in third person, is cast mainly from Robert Langdon’s perspective. Thus, the reader is capitulated into a highly controlled, believable theoretical space, and their ability to negotiate their own reading of the art is lessened. The intended hegemonic reading of this book is that the protagonist’s interpretation of art is the only credible or plausible one.

Robert Langdon is apparently a professor of “religious symbology” at Harvard University… But wait. A quick search reveals that Harvard offers no class by such a name! Ahem… anyway. In the book, Robert is described as a “veritable Harrison Ford in tweed” (Page 9). In fact, much like Indiana Jones, Robert is a talented academic who just so happens to be able to execute epic action sequences. It’s like his PhD enables him to dodge bullets at close range while simultaneously solving intricate cryptograms. 

The only people who challenge Robert Langdon’s scholarly authority on Leonardo da Vinci’s art are religious fanatics. The most diabolical of them is Silas, an albino, and a monk of the conservative Catholic Group Opus Dei. He is a tragic character who suffered in poverty and exile until being welcomed into the extremist Catholic cult. His unwavering devotion to the cult, combined with his poor eyesight, signify blindness to the reader. This extends to his inability to see the hidden messages in Leonardo’s art. Just as Langdon’s taste classifies him as a connoisseur, Silas’ lack of regard for art classifies him as barbaric and completely ignorant to the world around him.

Image There seem to be two main theories in this book that engage with Leonardo’s art. The first is that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of Leonardo in drag. As cool as that would be, this idea has been widely refuted by scholars, as the painting has been attributed to a woman of the time. But this emphasizes how Brown has re-appropriated Leonardo, as both a historical person and an artist, to suit his thematic agenda. Referring to Leonardo as a “flamboyant homosexual” (page 45) is just plain derogatory. Regardless of the artist’s sexual orientation, this orientation-based stereotyping and lack of historical basis is pretty unfortunate.


The second claim made is that the character to Jesus’ right in the Last Supper is not the Apostle John, but rather, Mary Magdalene. He claims that the lack of a chalice on the table and the feminine features of the character signify that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually married. Anyone with some knowledge of Renaissance art can tell you that a frequent way of depicting John was to show him as a beardless youth.

Imagethe Last Supper by Franciabigio (1514).

Also, why does the mass market book provide no images of the artwork? It interrupts the natural flow of the work of fiction to pause and search images online or in other books. The book is suspiciously set up so that we have to rely wholly on Brown’s “facts”.

One of the most abundant items of support for this book is that it is a splendid page-turner. And I agree. It reads like an action movie. There are 454 pages, and 101 chapters. That’s about 4.5 pages, on average, per chapter! I was ten chapters in before I finished my first cup of tea.

Stephen King once called this novel the “intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese”. That pretty much sums it up for me. It is almost universally digestible, is quick, convenient and enjoyable. It pre-supposes (maybe relies on?) the average reader having a limited grasp of art history. Too bad for me, I studied it for four years in university.

Perhaps this novel represents a good opportunity for us to begin to understand the value of a more active, negotiated reading.

And maybe it’s time we started eating more fettuccine alfredo.

Rating: 2.5/5 (It passes because it passes the time).

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Cheers to Caitlin Seida

Caitlin Seida is one brave woman. If you don’t know of her, you really should.

On October 23rd of this year, I came across a great article written by her: “My Embarrassing Picture Went Viral.”

Quick recap- This unflattering image of this beautiful lady had gone viral after she posted it to her own Facebook page:
ImageBut rather than bear the shaming, ridiculing and cruelty of many strangers in silence, Caitlin fought back.

Not only did she speak out, but she did so with an eloquence and grace that I both admire and aspire to. In the face of being called a “fridge raider” by complete strangers, to whom she owed nothing (at best), her response was patient, articulate and pro-active.

She was having a great time that night dressed up as powerful female action hero Lara Croft. Caitlin also has medical conditions which prevent her from maintaining a healthy weight.

So how exactly did Caitlin control the damage done by her image going viral?

  • She examined and restricted her Facebook sharing settings
  • She searched through Facebook’s “like” function to discover who was sharing the images. Interestingly, she was able to attach real names on some of the most offensive commentators. When she confronted these people, the response was generally surprise. Most were shocked that a stranger could see their activities on public pages and track them down, regardless of privacy settings.
  • She issued hundreds of copyright violation notices to have the image removed. She writes that “it was tedious, like pulling weeds out of the planet’s largest garden”.
  • She accepted that this image has spread so much that it will never truly go away, which in part was why she decided to post an article on about her experience. In doing so, she re-claimed the image and shared it on her own terms.
  • She now speaks out against mocking viral images.
  • She did a pin-up photo shoot with a photographer friend (she looks stellar in it, by the way).

Caitin’s story serves as a lesson to all of us who maintain a presence online, and also to those who repost and share viral images.

Three cheers for Caitlin. I hope she continues to write and cosplay for years to come.

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