Montreal Radical Reference Collective

The Montreal local collective is still active! If you want to get involved subscribe to our mailing list here.

More recent info is posted on our website.

Our new little group got a bit of early press attention in this article in the Montreal Mirror:
"Your guide to lefty data: Radical Reference librarians unlock treasure troves of information for social justice seekers" by Matt Jones:

Meeting notes
December 12, 2010
November 21, 2010
November 13, 2010

October 21, 2010

September 20, 2010

September 9, 2010

August 23, 2010

August 10, 2010

July 29, 2010

Aug 10th, meeting minutes

Meeting Minutes

August 10th, 2010

In attendance – Robin, Megan, Andrea

Agenda: Mandate
Articles (knowledge share)
Action Plan

The mission on the RR flyer is good, we could use it as our mandate with a couple of small changes
Radical Reference is a collective of library workers and students who
believe in social justice and equality. We support activist communities,
progressive organizations and independent journalists by providing
experienced research support, education and access to information.

-changes: take out the part about library workers, add something about having a local Montreal focus
-Robin will make a google doc with the proposed mandate so people can make comments, suggestions, changes, whatever

We talked about the articles really briefly, they give a history of RR and briefly explain how RR works

Action Plan
-We should build a website using wordpress so that people from the mtl community can come directly to our chapter
-stuff that will go on the website: About Us
Virtual reference shelf (subject guides)
Blog (news about events, street reference, ect)
Question page (for people to submit reference q’s)
Projects section (develop info lit sessions, brainstorm, etc.)
Links to alternative libraries catalogue, the PIRGS, CURE, info shops, ect.
-Robin (?) will start the wordpress site so people can start adding content
-we will continue to post stuff on the RR website
-we will need to get money if we want to do street ref (to print stuff)
-Fundraise? Become a working group?
-Andrea will look into becoming a QPIRG-C working group
-Robin will look into becoming a QPIRG-M working group
-we should start preparing a general demo package based on the ones that have been used in other places ( with Quebec/Montreal specific info (legal stuff, maps, ect)
-Andrea will create a google doc so people can start contributing

Other Stuff
-another aspect of having a mtl chapter of RR is so that we can support each other in our work (should this go into the mandate somehow?)
-we could do reference at other events, like film screening, panels, bookfairs, etc.
-Andrea will send out the link for the A-librarians listserve
-we need some francophone’s to help make this project bilingual!

Next Meeting – Monday August 23rd, 5:30pm at Atwater Library

Aug 23rd 2010 meeting minutes

Rad Ref Aug 23rd Meeting Minutes

People at the meeting – Caroline, Megan, Andrea, Marie Michelle
Agenda – General reference kit
Working groups
Other stuff
Mandate action plan

Next Meeting – Thursday Sept. 9th, 6:15 at McGill, I booked a pod in the cybertech

• Is there a google doc?
• M&M will translate it

• We can’t log in because it’s set to private, can you change it to public Robin?
• Ppl will need to be able to ask q’s (once that page is ready) without logging in
• The about us page will have info for people who want to volunteer
• We should create all the content in google docs first and then put the info on the webpage (is that what we said?)
• Once we have info on the site we will send another call out to library types to see if other ppl want to help out
• Not sure how best to make the info accessible in both French and English, it’ll be super hard to translate everything into both languages but we need to have at a minimum all the important stuff in both (ex. Submit a q page, navigation, mandate, ect…) also, all questions will be answered in the language they are asked.
• We should send out info about events on the listserve incase people join to get the info that way

General Ready Reference Kit:
• Each section will be bottom lined by a different person
o Legal – Megan
o Travel – Caroline
o Medical – Andrea
• Ppl can add info to any of the sections
• We should use slideshare or scribd so that the info is presentable and easy to print

Working Groups:
• QPIRG-C – Jaggi will send out the application sometime in sept.

Other Stuff:
• We should start doing stuff! Trial and error!
• Megan will look into what is involved in a fact checking workshop
• Andrea will try to get info about the oct 22nd demo
• Megan will make a google doc folder so that everything is together and easy to access
• Caroline will make a google doc for the virtual reference shelf
• Francois said he could look at the French translation of the flyer but it’s not clear whether we will use it to advertise…

Dec 12 meeting minutes

Rad Ref meeting, December 12, 2010

Present: Alanna, Andrea, Carolyn, Vince, Megan

Collaboration with CURE
Google alternatives
Sustainability resources projects
Wikileaks demostration
QPIRG testimonials
Other notes

1. Collaboration with CURE

Megan and Alanna met with the CURE coordinators at QPIRG-McGill and QPIRG-Concordia last week to discuss collaboration between Rad Ref and CURE. They are very much interested, and we came up with several ways to work together.

A. Research workshops for CURE students.

They would like us to give a workshop as part of their monthly social justice research series, probably on Tuesday, February 15th. The workshops are usually at 1 or 3 pm, but they would be open to having us later in the evening, too.

Questions to ask: Can we have the students submit questions/topics beforehand? Get examples of students’ projects. How many students are doing CURE projects? Have they already been working on them? What training have they already had? What resources have they already used?

Ideas for the workshop:
-Not just basic generic skills--students apparently usually have a fair amount of experience
-Focus on resources: government info, looking for bibliographies, theses & dissertations, Montreal resources, alternative libraries and other resources
-Possibly also searching skills
-Introduce evidence-based appraisal of research articles
-Guidelines for critical thinking

Action plan:
1. Write to CURE coordinators with questions above (Megan)
2. Andrea will contact Cleve Higgins, who has been organizing the other workshops in the series to find out what they’ve already done and how we can contribute
3. Draft an outline and see what they think.

B. Resource guides for CURE students.
-These would be like our familiar library subject guides with lists of resources related to CURE topics
-The idea is to compile guides in collaboration with CURE and they would provide access to the info on their website.
-We could assemble resources based on the project categories on the website. See (e.g., ableism, animal rights, anti-gentrification, etc. etc.).
-We can use a wiki to start compiling stuff.

-The CURE folks were also quite interested in support for alternative research methodologies (e.g., qualitative interviews with marginalized populations, participatory action research), such as resources for this, making contact with experts in these methodologies, finding examples of projects done using these methodologies. If anyone in our group has expertise in this, we could offer a workshop, but it seems that our role in this area will be more to help with compiling resources.

C. Referral service: most CURE students seem to have basic skills, but those who need extra help can be referred to Rad Ref members for additional support. Students sometimes encounter obstacles with these projects that they don’t face in their usual school assignments, so it’s important that the CURE coordinators make other supports available.


2. Google alternatives

We’ve been using Google Docs to store the collective’s documents, but it’s becoming unwieldy and not really meeting our needs at all. There is also concern about data security and privacy with Google, who is notorious for storing information about users. In addition, data stored on American servers is subject to the Patriot Act. This recent article in the Globe and Mail has more info about the relevant concerns: (Shared by Gen G.)

A wiki will probably be better to meet our needs for collaboration. It was decided that we really need something right away, even if we don’t end up using it forever. In particular, we need to have an accessible calendar for planning meetings, a place to compile resource guides, and a central place to list tasks (and who is meant to bottom line them).

Megan and Carolyn will set up an account in Pbwiki/Pbworks as an interim solution.

Everyone else can seek out other alternatives, preferably tools that support openness and are located outside the US. The idea of having our own server was discussed, but this is probably more than we need at this point. We also might try to find out if the QPIRGs have server space for working groups. When we meet again in January, we can weigh the various options and make a final selection.

-how is information archived, can it really be deleted?
-how easy is it to access
-does access outweigh security issues

3. Projects on sustainability

We received a message from Alexander at Concordia asking if we are interested in collaborating on two projects related to sustainability: 1). building a resource collection and 2). one about assessing the sustainability of a library beyond just its building and resource consumption (see the end of this message for more details).

Those present at the meeting are definitely interested in both projects, and we need to know lots more about them. Vince will contact Alexander to express our interest and find out more.


4. WikiLeaks demonstration:
There will be a demo in support of Wikileaks and freedom of information on Saturday, December 19. Most of us seem to be busy, but it would be cool if some Rad Ref people could be there. See


5. QPIRG-McGill is asking working groups to write testimonials to be posted on their website, particularly in response to repeated attacks. Andrea will start drafting something for Rad Ref and everyone can contribute.


6. Other notes:
Vince made budget spreadsheet which will be put in Google Docs
Vince has contacted DESTA and COCo but there’s no particular interest yet.

Next meeting: January!

July 29 meeting notes

Next Meeting

Tuesday, August 10th - 5pm
Atwater Library (1200 Avenue Atwater)

July 29th, 2010 Meeting Minutes

Date: July 29 2010
Attended by: Andrea, Tania, Robin

Brainstorming Meeting!

What does the big Rad Ref do?

IL for community groups
Reference for the Rad Ref website
Demo specific ref services - what does this actually look like? Andrea will
follow up with NY folks

What are we most interested in?
-reference for mtl folks
-IL for mtl groups
-demo specific stuff!

If we made a mtl website what would it include?
-ref question page
-virtual reference shelf

-start working on one as a google doc, and then really hash it out in person at
the next meeting (where there will hopefully be more people)
-mandate will give us a framework by which we will focus what type of IL and
ref we work on (id. social justice focused)
-Robin to set up google doc, look into what the RR website says with regards to

Future thoughts and ideas
-once we've sorted ourselves out a little we should link to CURE website,
connect with dira, etc
- " " we could consider becoming a working group

Frequency of meetings and general knowledge building
-We need to learn more about what rad ref is and how it has been done before!!
- Each of us at the meeting (and whoever else wants to)will choose an article
from the RR website, read and prep a summary to share with the group
-we will meet every two weeks
-we want to generate more interest, Andrea is going to create a listserv for
folks who might be interested in getting involved

NEXT MEETING tbd. the week of the 9th of august 2010.

Nov 13 meeting notes

Radical Reference Montreal meeting
November 13, 2010

Alanna, Megan, Vince, Cassie

Rad Ref’s current mandate and preliminary projects were discussed. New people are joining since the Mirror article was published, and it’s great that new ideas are forming. To move forward, we’ll need to choose some concrete directions and go from there.

We also discussed that we are a consensus-based group; events or projects (or vetoes of decisions) must relate back to our mandate.

The question of decision-making via e-mail is still under discussion. At this point, members are expected to attend at least two meetings before organizing events, etc. These details need to be written up.

A few events of interest have been sent around to the mailing list. The Montreal Montreal Media Co-op invited us to a meeting/5 a 7 on November 25. Alanna plans to go. Some people are also planning to go to the next geek montreal meeting on Nov 20 (

Beyond the current initiatives around virtual reference, street reference, and skills training, lots of other potential project were discussed! We will set up Google documents for project planning, allowing us to form some concrete goals and strategies.

Here are some ideas:
-Indexing existing collections of radical materials that haven’t been catalogued or documented. E.g., CKUT materials and the Dominion (
-Creating some way of searching across or bringing together existing collections that are now only accessible separately
-Collecting a directory of social justice groups in Montreal. This would include contact information and profiles. Another step might be to collect/document their flyers and other materials
-Research the histories of local radical groups: written documentation and oral histories. The sharing of oral histories could maybe be done with student radio stations. This topic could also be approached by looking at histories of movements more broadly and examining in what ways they were successful.

A key undertaking at this point is to really form contacts and find out what needs there are in the activist communities. It’s not about what we want to do as much as finding out about them and contributing where we can.

We will continue to build the Google doc with groups to contact that either have an affinity with our work or who we could. This list could form the basis of a comprehensive directory later on. One group brought up was Coco Montreal ( Vince will contact.

Along with the project documents, we also would like to start having meetings that focus on particular projects so that we can start to move forward with concrete plans. Perhaps one or two people can volunteer to bottom-line certain projects and look after their progress.

Megan will set up a doodle poll for the next meeting with a mix of days/times.

Nov 21 meeting notes

Radical Reference Montreal meeting notes
November 21, 2010

Present: Alanna, Andrea, Cassie, Megan, Vince

We reported on the successful workshop on internet skills with Re-Con last week. It went well and we hope to have similar opportunities in the future. The group was also very interested in getting help on some research questions, so we should hear from them in the future.

1. There will probably be a Geek Out meeting in December

2. We should think about a film to show during the QPIRG film screenings in the spring. Any ideas?

3. Andrea shared an email request from QPIRG-McGill about their media strategy. They are looking for supporters to write responses to attacks that are published in the campus newspapers. Supporters can also contribute testimonies to the website:

4. The alternative libraries take requests for purchase: we can send some suggestions

Administrative stuff:
Megan has contacted QPIRG-Concordia about key list training...still waiting to hear back.

We briefly discussed the membership guidelines posted on the website: Everything looks ok for now.

We discussed how to keep track of our budget and expenses. Vince will create a basic Google spreadsheet for recording purchases. Robin, as QPIRG liaison, will probably need to handle submitting requests for reimbursements. Megan and Alanna need to file their receipts. In the future it might be worthwhile to find a professional translator (either for free or paid from our budget).

Following recommendations from the meeting, Megan updated the Google document for the Virtual Reference Shelf. This is a work in progress, so please add your suggestions. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has been added.

We should look into whether other Rad Ref collectives have policies related to confidentiality and so on when they’re working with other groups. It would also be cool to send a shout out to the NYC collective since they’re nearby...we could meet up if anyone ever comes to Montreal or vice versa.

We talked a bit about the logistics of answering reference questions received by email. Robin is currently checking the email, so if a question is received, she will post it to the mailing list. Anyone who wants to answer it can send a message to the list claiming it. Of course, it’s always fine to ask for help! Robin can then give the answerer the password for the email account so that they can reply directly. Megan or someone else with editing rights can then post the question and answer to the website. This is definitely a clunky system, but we can reconsider if we start getting a lot of questions.

We plan to have another meeting before the end of the year to brainstorm preliminary outlines for fact-checking and research workshops. Megan will send a Doodle poll.

Making contacts and reaching out
Cassie will print out some more of the small flyers to leave around Concordia and the 2110 Centre For Gender Advocacy. She will also start a draft of a new larger poster using Robin’s image from the poster conference and some basic text.

Our key in making more contacts is to identify other groups’ needs and go from there in supporting their work. We’re going to start with groups that we’re already affiliated with or know. Megan will contact CURE. Andrea will contact the resource libraries. Robin and Andrea can contact QPIRG-McGill and QPIRG-Concordia (respectively) to get advice on how to reach the various working groups. Alanna will get in contact with various alternative media groups. Cassie will contact 2110. Vince will contact COCo Montreal. The goal of contacting these groups is to figure out how we might be able to help them and let them know what we can do. We can also try to get a link to our website from their pages. The relevant text about our group can be found on our flyers and other documents. We can track the responses received on the “groups to contact” Google doc.

Oct 21 meeting notes

Radical Reference Montreal meeting October 21, 2010


CBC interview
October 23 march: what needs to be done?
-info package?
Group decision making, esp re: interviews
QPIRG meeting report

1. We decided that it didn’t make sense for us to do the CBC radio interview at this time, and we informed the people who had contacted us.

2. Group decision-making. QPIRG working groups are supposed to function on consensus-based, non-hierarchical decision-making. Although we don’t have to work like this necessarily, we want to.

Can decisions made by e-mail?
If so, how?
-For small things, it’s ok (i.e., not affecting the group as whole)
-Defining time frames is essential
-If someone objects to an idea, a discussion will be required
-Phoning is ok!

A suggestion: Alanna will send out a message on the listserv saying that we would like to start defining membership in the group and how decisions are made. The next meeting will be dedicated to this topic, so everyone who is interested in having input on decisionmaking will need to attend (Doodle poll to be sent out by Alanna).

For the future, we should flesh out what “consensus-based” means. How is this actualized? What does it mean to be a member? The word “staffed” is not really an accurate description of us. Andrea will look into this. We can also talk about assigning particular tasks/roles/responsibilities.

3. Flyers for October 23. We now have French and English! Megan will fix the formatting with the logos and add the QPIRG logo (Robin will send it to her). We can do four per page (English on one side, French on the other). We will print out 100 sheets (2 sided). Robin and Alanna will take care of printing.

Robin will make patches for demo.

We will print out a few copies of the October 22 info as well as our “know your rights” info for our reference (Megan will print from Know Your Rights manual from the Canadian Civil Liberties Union). For the info pack: we need to have info about all the cases being remembered specifically--Alanna will add this.

Alanna, Robin, and Megan will all be at the demo. If we can’t answer questions right away, we’ll write them down. We’ll also informally record questions.

We have a few documents about the group that aren’t electronic--e.g., working group orientation packet. Robin will donate a binder to store them.

For discussion at next meeting: where do we want to post the URL for our website?

4. Poster:
Robin to finish graphics
Carolyn to finish formatting
Megan to print on October 29
Megan to set up on November 3. Megan or Alanna to tear down November 5, 4 pm.
We need to add the QPIRG logo as well.

5. QPIRG meeting report
One consideration: participating in film screening
Rights and responsibilities were discussed as well as facilities.
We will need to provide a written and oral report of our activities at the end of the year (AGM).
Advise QPIRG about events to be publicized on mailing list.
Provide flyers, etc. to be posted
Support the group-i.e., through fact-checking workshops
Financial policy: we need to spend the entire budget. Details about reimbursement are in full document.
We also discussed the current situation of attacks on QPIRG. We need to talk about how we can support QPIRG through our site. We need to add a note about being a working group on the site and add a logo.

Sept 20 meeting notes

Meeting notes September 20, 2010

Present: Andrea, Megan, Lydia from Open Door Books

1. Collaboration with ODB

We discussed how Rad Ref and ODB can coordinate to help with research requests received by ODB.(

At this point, requests are few (2-3 per month). However, it’s expected that more would be received if the service was promoted more. For now, Lydia will pass along requests to Rad Ref that can’t immediately be handled by ODB. They will be sent to Andrea, who will post them to the email list for Rad Ref members to claim. We will need to notify ODB if the request can be handled. In most cases, answers can then be compiled and sent back electronically to Lydia to be printed and mailed. ODB has a budget for sending materials. If Rad Ref gets funding, we can assess whether any of our budget can go to requests received through ODB.

There is also a possibility that more students will get involved, and perhaps as a CURE project. If this is the case, Rad Ref members can give an information-finding workshop.

One concern might be the parameters around requests and if there are any types of information that won’t be sent. ODB already has guidelines on this, but Rad Ref might need to discuss this if issues arise. ODB could send on requests that fall outside their mandate to Rad Ref for consideration.

Andrea will send Lydia the Rad Ref mandate, and vice versa.

ODB mandate:
Open Door Books is a volunteer run collective which functions on consensus decision making
basis. We seek to provide free reading material to prisoners throughout Canada. From a
standpoint of prison abolition, ODB seeks to support and work in solidarity with incarcerated
communities. We believe that prisons and the (in)justice system act as institutions of social
control and oppression, further targeting marginalized communities as a result of patriarchy,
racism, homophobia/transphobia, classism, ableism and an ongoing history of colonization.

ODB research policy:
-a research request will not be filled if it falls outside of our mandate
-we don’t give out personal contact info though will give out public ones (lawyer’s offices, etc)
-we don’t contact individuals on behalf of those who send us requests

2. Street ref kit

Megan attended the planning meeting on September 18 for the vigil and march to commemorate victims of police brutality. There will be a vigil on October 22 and a march on October 23 at 12:30/1 pm beginning at the Guy/Concordia metro and going to the police headquarters at Saint Urbain and de Maisonneuve. They hope to stop at significant spots along the route. There is a big emphasis on it being a family friendly event. We didn’t get very far into discussing Rad Ref’s involvement, but they were glad that we’re interested.

Andrea will ask Jaggi when the next meeting will be, and a Rad Ref member can try to attend.

Goal: have as much done as possible on the street ref kit before October 22, especially legal, medical, and travel info. Maps would also help.

3. Robin reported by e-mail:

-riseup email- started to do this, but there were a couple questions it asked while i was going through the steps (namely how much $ we plan to donate and how often) which i thought we should discuss as a group. i recommend doing the signing up process together at today's meeting.

Megan and Andrea discussed this. The Rise Up website lists guidelines for donating: We were thinking that we could sign up without donating, but if we get funding, we could choose an amount to contribute. What do others think?

-qpirg mcgill application- sent it off!

-recon - wrote to them, things are looking good!

4. QPIRG Concordia application is due September 29. Megan started pasting in info from the McGill application, but a bit more work is needed. It would be great if everyone could read it over. The questions that are highlighted in yellow especially need work.

Megan and Andrea agreed to be listed as the contact people, but if anyone else wants to be, please speak up!!!

Andrea will bottom-line the application to make sure that it’s submitted before the deadline.

Sept 9 meeting notes

Radical Reference Montreal chapter
Thursday, September 9, 2010

Attended by: Andrea, Megan, Robin


1. IL workshop with ReCon
Proposal to work with ReCon on an ongoing basis doing IL workshops approved.
Robin will contact ReCon to set up a meeting and let them know that we’d like to take this project on.

2. Open Door Books
Update from Andrea - she will follow up with ODB and CURE(through ODB) regarding doing research requests.

3. QPIRG McGill application
Completed QPIRG McGill Working Group Application- PLEASE everyone have a read over it for final suggestions! Robin will submit the application as of September 17th.

4. Information packages

6. Poster proposal?
Approved idea of submitting a poster proposal for the joint library association conference in November 3-5, 2010 in Montreal. The proposal form is online at:
Megan will do a first draft and others can comment. The form is due September 17.

7. Blog
Continue to pick at it. Consider getting together to work on the site outside meeting time (ie for snacks too). If anyone is interested send an email to the list with a proposed date!

Task check out:
Robin- contact ReCon re taking on the workshop
Robin- sign up for Rise Up email account
Robin- send QPIRG W.G application on September 17
Andrea- follow up with ODB
Megan- begin poster proposal
Everyone- review QPIRG W.G application and poster proposal

Next meeting: proposed for Wed. Sept. 22nd after 5 some time??

Poster proposal for Congrès des milieux documentaires du Québec

Poster proposal for Congrès des milieux documentaires du Québec (November 2010):

Author's biographical notes:
Radical Reference is a collective that supports activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing experienced research support, education, and access to information. We work in a collaborative setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society. The Montreal chapter of Radical Reference focuses on social justice and equality in our own community. Services include online reference, workshops and training, and street reference.

Title of the poster:
Radical Reference: answering questions from those who question authority

Abstract for the poster proposal:
Access to information is a human right, and information literacy is a basic skill needed to survive in society. This poster presents the initiatives of the Montreal chapter of Radical Reference, an international group that supports activist communities, progressive organizations, independent journalists, and underserved members of the public by providing experienced research support, education, and access to information.

Radical Reference is staffed by librarians and other interested volunteers. Our goal is to provide reference service and information literacy training to those whose access to information is limited or are looking for answers that they don’t readily find in mainstream media. We work in a collaborative setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society.

Our activities currently include:
Information retrieval and fact-checking workshops for organizations that wish to strengthen the media and web literacy of their members or communities
“Street reference” for demonstrations and other activist events
Virtual reference and research services
Online guides to information of interest to our target groups, particularly emphasizing free and open source resources
Information packages for demonstrations and protests
Support for students and professionals who are interested in social responsibility and radicalism

By highlighting our current initiatives and partnerships, the poster will demonstrate how librarians can use their expertise in information literacy and information retrieval to reach out to underserved populations in Montreal and further the goal of social justice.