An Interview with new Innis College Librarian, Kate Johnson

Innis College welcomed a new Librarian on February 1, 2017. Kate comes to Innis with extensive experience within the University of Toronto Library system, including positions at the Engineering and Computer Science Library, the D.G. Ivey Library at New College, and the UTSC Library. She received her Masters of Information Studies at the University of Toronto in 2010 and received a Cressy Student Leadership Award during her time as a graduate student.

We asked Kate to tell us a bit about herself.

Kate Johnson
What's your background in cinema and libraries? What are your areas of specialization, and what drew you to those areas?

My background in libraries is quite diverse. I got my first taste of academic librarianship as a Graduate Library Assistant while completing my Masters of Information at the UofT’s iSchool across the street. This experience led me to librarian positions at UofT campuses and in each role, I fielded questions from students, faculty and visitors across a huge range of topics (e.g., Equity Studies, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Mining) using online and print resources. I have a talent for helping people find the information they need even if I’m unfamiliar with the subject. If you’re not sure where to start to look for any of your assignments, I’m always happy to connect you with the best resources available at UofT or other institutions.

My background in cinema stems from a personal love of films. I grew up in a family that focused far more on the Oscars than the Olympics and I’m overjoyed to be delving into the academic study of films to continue to grow Innis College Library’s rich collection of books and highlight online resources to support Cinema Studies’ research and assignments. My own academic degrees are in art history, education, and information studies, so I’m looking forward to developing my own niches within cinema studies - currently I’m drawn to the historical and technological aspects of this discipline. I am attending the upcoming Film Studies Association of Canada (FSAC)’s Conference and look forward to building connections with Cinema Studies librarians, both locally and globally.

My areas of specialization include:

  • Instruction: Before libraries, I was a teacher, and I’m looking forward to developing online resources that students & faculty will be able to access from anywhere and workshops that will provide practical skills and strategies for searching and assessing quality resources.
  • Online resources: I have lots of tips and tricks to narrow down or broaden search results using library databases or Google and tools to help organize or showcase your own research (e.g., citation managers to format your bibliographies and in-text citations, infographics, conference posters, etc.).
  • Collaboration and Engagement: I enjoy connecting people with the information that they need and that means that they have to know they can ask me questions. You will definitely be seeing me out and about at cinema studies events across Innis College, UofT campus, and Toronto.
    What are your top three favourite films of all time? Why?

    It’s hard to pick just three favourite films since it can really depend on one’s mood and whether you want to escape, challenge your understanding of a topic, laugh until your stomach hurts, or delve into nostalgia.

    At this moment in time, the following are a few of my favourites:

  • Au Revoir les Enfants (1987, Louis Malle): I first saw this film with my parents in the theatre and still remember being overwhelmed by my emotions. It led us to have a conversation about choices and secrets that I still think about to this day.
  • Coraline (2009, Henry Selick): This stop-motion wonder by Laika Entertainment is based on Neil Gaiman’s book and I can spend hours examining the detail and beauty in every shot of this movie. I’m awed by the patience and skill involved in creating such an elaborate visual story at the pace of one frame at a time.
  • Desk Set (1957, Walter Lang): I can’t pass up the opportunity to highlight a movie about librarians. Based in the fictional Federal Broadcasting Network, Katharine Hepburn heads up a reference library that answers any question on almost any topic, but she also has to deal with the arrival of Spencer Tracy, a computer engineer who is overseeing the arrival of “electronic brains” or computers to increase efficiency in the research department. The topic of technology replacing librarianship is revisited all the time, but my viewpoint is that technology enhances the expertise of a librarian and more importantly, I can share that expertise with anyone.
    What plans do you have for Innis College Library?

    The lnnis College Library is located on the 2nd floor of Innis College’s East Wing (above the Registrar’s Office) and we are striving for regular operation hours (10am-5pm) from Monday to Friday. The library has an amazing collection of cinema studies books, computers connected to the Student Printer Station, and a few spots for quiet study.

    Changes are definitely coming to the library’s physical and online spaces to help users discover more easily the amazing range of resources available in print and electronic format.

  • New website: The Library website is in the midst of being updated to a new platform that will include sections highlighting cinema studies resources, faculty research, search tips for primary and secondary sources, and open access resources.
  • Improved signage and wayfinding tools: I’m developing signage on shelving, paper guides to help visitors find the materials or browse the books by topic.
  • Potential updates for study spaces and computers: To increase use of print and electronic resources, it’s important to provide the space to access them, so I’m investigating options for more study spaces in the library and updates to the technology in our computer lab on the 3rd Floor.
  • Innis College Library will be developing new workshops, highlighting tools (see below for more details on citation managers in Library Takeaway), and seeking opportunities to collaborate with other libraries and organizations (e.g., CINSSU, Innis College Writing Centre, UofT Media Commons, TIFF Film Reference Library).

    I’m always on the search for suggestions and new ideas so please, feel free to suggest book titles, topics, websites, or ideas for workshops and events ideas via email, or in person. Looking forward to seeing you at the library and future Cinema Studies events!

    Library Takeaway

    Format bibliographies easily with Citation Managers:

    There are amazing tools available to help you track, organize and format citations for your in-text references and bibliography.

  • I am happy to help you identify and set up the citation manager that can format your references in MLA, Chicago or other citation styles. Email to set up an one-on-one appointment or keep an eye out for workshops.
  • Or explore the options on your own and email me with questions:

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