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OCULA Lightning Strikes Winner

by Jordan Pedersen

What do artificial intelligence, library social media preservation, Indigenous knowledge bases, and embedded librarianship have in common? They were the topics of the four lightning talks in the 2018 OCULA Lightning Strikes Competition (oh, and they’re also pretty huge topics to fit into a 10 minute presentation).

The hour long competition absolutely flew by, with one sharp presentation after another. Danica Pawlick Potts presented a compelling case for the necessity of algorithm literacy, especially with the ubiquity of machine learning algorithms in the digital environments we navigate daily. Glyneva Bradley-Ridout showed that academic libraries have a responsibility to preserve their social media with a well-developed preservation plan, amongst many reasons because of social media’s value as a record of our institutional identity. Ciara O’Kelly and Dandi Feng’s wit was apparent in the title of their talk, “Librarians embed with students”, which introduced the idea of embedded librarians in extra-curricular student groups, and left the audience musing about its potential.

I spoke about the necessity of consulting Indigenous People regarding the best course of action to take with the Traditional Knowledge in our academic library collections (when most of it is unrightfully there). I gave examples of how Indigenous knowledge bases can meet the needs that are currently being expressed globally, and how these knowledge bases may work in a Canadian context.

While varied in subject matter, I found it interesting that all of our lightning talks exhibited a deep engagement with ethics and the responsibility to serve others, which align so well with the values of OLA and OCULA. This shared commitment makes me incredibly optimistic about the future of the profession and my place in it.

Of course, giving our lightning talks was only a part of our conference experience, as we also had the pleasure of attending the full OLA conference for the day, followed by the OCULA AGM and awards ceremony. During this time I had the opportunity to socialize with my fellow presenters and members of OCULA, where I continued to learn more about the profession, the great friendships that develop here, and the general curiosity and love of learning that so many OCULA members have.

On that note, I believe I can speak for my fellow presenters as well when I say that I feel exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to present my research to such a receptive, interested audience at OLA. For some presenters this was the culmination of major research papers, for others like myself it was simply research that we felt was so important it needed to be done now. Either way, as many of you may be aware, the opportunities for students to speak about their research outside of academia are somewhat rare, and as such they become even more coveted and special when we get them. So thank you OCULA for making this possible, thank you to everyone who volunteered their time, and thank you to the other speakers for teaching me so much, this really was an amazing experience.

You can view all of the inspiring Lightning Strikes talks on YouTube.

Jordan Pedersen is a First Year Master of Information student at the University of Toronto. She works, as part of the TALint internship program, in e-Resources and Metadata department at the University of Toronto Libraries. You can contact her through linkedin at

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