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Alberta Letts Award Winners Discuss Conference Presentations

Posted by SIM on August 16, 2017 in News, Research

Each year, SIM awards up to two $500 prizes to current MLIS students to fund conference travel. The Alberta Letts Conference Travel award is named for past Provincial Librarian, and Past President of CLA (1957/1958), Alberta Letts. Ms. Letts was a strong supporter of the foundation of the School and was very engaged during its early years. After her untimely death in 1973, Dalhousie University established this award to recognize Ms Letts’ contribution.

Our most recent recipients are Alison Brown and Diana Castillo. Read on to learn more about their conference presentations:

Alison Brown

The threads of shared reading between caregiver and child are woven tightly to reinforce a foundation of literacy and family connection. Each year, 25,000 Canadian children experience the unraveling of those threads as their mothers are sent to prison. Emerging research identifies the impact of separation during maternal incarceration: disruption of the attachment bond, financial and food insecurity, physical and mental health problems, and isolation resulting from community stigma. To mitigate some of these effects, various programs have been designed to enable imprisoned mothers to maintain contact with their children. Shared reading programs are among them. My thesis explores the value and impact of one of those programs from the perspective of former participants and reveals what elements of the program strengthen relationships, build family literacy, foster empowerment, and ease community re-entry.

The Canadian Association for Information Science (CAIS) 2017 conference theme (“The Warp & Weft of Knowledge: Information Threads Connecting Disciplines, Identities and Perspectives”) encouraged us to explore how our field of information science – like information itself – spans disciplinary boundaries, connects multiple and varying identities, illuminates different perspectives, and inspires innovative ideas. I welcomed the opportunity to share with conference participants the preliminary findings of my research that urges academics, practitioners, and policy-makers to co-construct information and knowledge that informs more meaningful policies and programs. As a recipient of the Alberta Letts Conference Travel Award, I was supported to amplify the voices and expertise of those too often silenced.

Diana Castillo

This past spring, my paper abstract was accepted by the Pop Culture Association of Canada for their annual conference. The paper, originally written for “INFO 5500: Information in Society”, examined how information and knowledge management has been used in tie-in fiction and focused applying concepts we learned into the popular culture sphere. The conference, held in Niagara Falls this year, serves as a forum for academics analyzing all aspects of popular culture, from TV shows to media coverage of elections to the role of women in sports media. I was part of a panel that examined how fandom was organized, bringing an information management perspective to media canon and how it’s managed.

One of the core tenants of the School of Information Management is emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the MLIS degree. Presenting at this conference, meeting scholars of popular culture, and discussing what role information management can play in this field all tie into this. By participating in this conference, I was not only the only representing Dalhousie University, but I was also demonstrating how diverse and flexible the field of information management can be. Popular culture studies may be not what first comes to mind when thinking of information management, but my participation in this conference and the interest attendees had about my presentation demonstrated that this is an flexible field that can adapt to different disciplines.