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Around The Province

Libraries and the future of higher education: OCULA Fall Conference

Staff at libraries around the province engaged with each other virtually during OCULA’s Nov. 23 fall conference focusing on “The Next Transformation: Libraries and the Future of Higher Education”. Two speakers were featured during the online event: Alec Couros, Associate Professor of Information and Communication Technologies at the University of Regina, and Louise McGillis, Associate University Librarian at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Couros gave a general tour of some of the ways the Internet is changing education, identity and our perception of the world around us. While he did not explicitly draw lines towards the role of libraries, he highlighted potentially problematic areas deserving attention, such as filter bubbles facilitated by social media, critical thinking skills in a post-truth era, privacy in the time of pervasive surveillance, and the value of virtually unlimited “content” that can be accessed more and more readily without gatekeepers.

McGillis approached the conference theme by highlighting how an increased focus on collaboration and user engagement is an important strategy for libraries. She argued that leadership in these areas can come from any part of the organization and that encouraging cross-departmental communication is key, while resisting tendencies towards vertically networked “silos”. One of the highly memorable examples of innovative engagement that she used was guinea pig therapy.

Keep an eye out for the next OCULA conference in spring 2017!

Michel Castagné is the Web Initiatives Librarian at the University of Ottawa, and Junior Editor of InsideOCULA. He can be reached at Michel.Castagne[at]

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