Lynne C. Howarth is a former Dean and current Professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. Professor Howarth completed her Ph.D. in 1990 and was appointed to the Faculty of Information Studies the same year, becoming Dean in 1996. She served in that position until 2003. She was Associate Dean, Research from July 2010 to June 2013, and Interim Director of the Museum Studies Program from September 2008 to December 2009. In June 2014 she received the University of Toronto 25-Year Service Award.
Between 2011 and 2013 Professor Howarth completed a two-year affiliation as Distinguished Researcher in Information Organization at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee iSchool. She was honoured with the Distinguished Scholar Lectio Magistralis in Biblioteconomia, Florence University, Italy, in 2011, and presented with the prestigious 2015 ALISE Service Award in recognition of her contributions to the Association and to LIS education. She continues to serve on international standards committees for metadata, Semantic Web, and linked data applications. She teaches in the areas of knowledge organization, metadata standards, and the provision of information to marginalized populations. In January 2017 she will receive the ALISE / Connie Van Fleet Award for Research Excellence in Public Library Services to Adults. She has twice (2013-2014; 2014-2015) been nominated for the Teaching Award given annually by the Master of Information Student Council. Professor Howarth happily professes her sincere passion for all three legs of the academic stool – research, teaching, and service.
Professor Howarth has recently completed two studies relating to objects, memory, and storytelling and funded by the Social Science and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The first, “Enhancing Pathways to Memory” (2008-2012) explored how individuals with early stage Alzheimer’s disease use tangible mementos to recall life stories. The second study, “Memory, Meaning-Making, and Collections” (2013-2015), conducted with Professors Cara Krmpotich and Heather Howard (MSU) involved object handling and storytelling sessions with a group of seniors associated with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto (NCCT). Participants engaged with a unique collection of community artefacts, including moccasins, bead work, tamarack geese, wood carvings, quill boxes, and other objects, to explore indigenous identity and maker-culture.
Professor Howarth is currently working on a three-year SSHRC-funded project entitled “Show, Tell, Bridge: The Affordance of Objects in Negotiating Individual and Group Identity” (2015-2018), exploring what objects and their stories say about an individual and the ways that mementos serve to forge bonds within groups. Professor Howarth and the team are developing object-storytelling programs for establishing rapport, finding commonality, and building community, particularly in settings where people may feel alienated or excluded. For individuals who are marginalized by language, culture, physical or cognitive ability, status of mental or physical wellbeing, country of origin, race, ethnicity, age, or otherwise labeled, making an “instant connection” with others, and giving voice to their memories is both validating and empowering.
Professor Howarth is also working with Professors Eileen Abels (Simmons), and Linda Smith (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) on an Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded project, “Envisioning our Information Future and How to Educate for It” (2014-2017), which offers a unique opportunity to reflect on and build progressive, future-focused pedagogy within the Information discipline in North America.