Nalini K. Singh

Librarian, Reference Services Coordinator

Nalini K. Singh

Librarian, Reference Services Coordinator
  • Office: 408

As Reference Services Coordinator, I work with students to answer their reference and research questions.  I help them to articulate their information needs, identify the best research sources for their papers and assignments, formulate good search strategies, and become an effective and efficient user of research databases.  I teach various iSchool workshops in the iSchool Instructional Series.  I assist faculty members with their research questions and literature searches.  I coordinate the Personal Librarian Program, which had its pilot year in 2013-2014. I am also the web coordinator of the Inforum website, and manage the Inforum’s records.

I came to librarianship as a second career in the mid-1990’s.   After I graduated from what was then the Faculty of Information Studies (FIS) in 1998, I worked as a subject cataloguer for the Iter project,  and also as a contract p/t reference librarian for the Inforum.  In 2002, a permanent, status-stream position opened up, and I have never looked back.

My interests lie in the area of reference services, naturally, and also:  information design; information literacy; records management; and, education for the information professions.   I spent four years on a longitudinal research project with iSchool professors, J. Cherry and W. Duff, examining the perceptions of our students on their graduate education in information studies, and their perceptions about the information professions. On a recent one-year research leave (2017/2018), I began to write the history of this Faculty’s library, from 1928 – 2008, drawing on both archival records, and interviews with retired personnel. I will be continuing to work on this project for some years to come.

I love categories, classificatory activities, and making up systems to organize things — my original plan was to become a cataloguer.  While at FIS, I took every single course to do with classification and cataloguing, and worked as a research assistant to Prof. Clare Beghtol, a renowned classification theorist.  A few years after graduation, I developed debilitating repetitive strain injuries, which effectively ended my career as a cataloguer.

Over my years at FIS/iSchool, I have been Reference & Instructional Services Coordinator (2002-2007), Reference & Public Services Coordinator (2007-June 2011), and Reference Services & iSchool Web Content Coordinator (June 2011-March 2013).  I think myself extremely lucky to be a librarian in a faculty that educates information professionals, and am honoured to work with the students and faculty here, and with my fabulous colleagues at the iSchool, and throughout the UTL system.

Before becoming a librarian, I spent 8 years working in the women’s shelter movement, mostly in a feminist collective called Nellie’s, with homeless / abused / and mentally ill women, and sometimes, their children.  I also ran a small library in a feminist advocacy organization called METRAC, in the area of violence against women and children.  I have also worked in the area of feminist publishing in the 90s (Sister Vision: Black Women & Women of Colour Press;  Fireweed: A Feminist Quarterly) and the 80s (OtherWise: A Feminist Newspaper at U of T).

My other interests are writing (I write poetry, and publish from time to time), making stuff, cycling, gardening (I partnered with the Toronto Seed Library to have a seed library branch in the Inforum), and my wonderful dog Kita.   I am a big fan of: narratives of all kinds; colour; nature, especially trees; sounds, especially music; and wordplay, especially puns.

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