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!