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OCAD U Library 2017 Winter: Staff Profiles

Who's that working in the Library?

Meet our Cataloguing Librarian Sarah Butterill!

Sarah has been with the library since 2013, first as a Reference Intern and then as a part time librarian. She started working full time last year. Read on to find out about Sarah's art practice and what she does in the library...

About Sarah

Tell us about what you do in the library?

I am the Cataloguing Librarian, so the main part of my job is creating and maintaining the library catalogue records. These records are what you see when you search for a book or resource, telling you all the information about it such as title, date of publication, subjects, table of contents, etc. I also decide on the call number for books in the collection, which indicates where in the library the book is located, organized by subject. You might also see me on the reference desk in the library, where I help students and faculty with their research and with navigating the library’s resources.

Why is cataloguing important?

Cataloguing is super important because it makes books and other resources discoverable. Without cataloguing the library would be just a pile of books in no particular order, with no system to find anything! This would obviously make research quite difficult. Cataloguing allows you to search the collection and also organizes how books are arranged on the shelf. It also uses systems, such as the Library of Congress subject headings and classification system, which group books together by subject, making it easier to find resources on particular topics. For example, if you wanted to find books about artists who explore memory as a theme, you could search the subject heading “Memory in art” and find books on this topic grouped together.

You organized the Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons that have been held at the library. Can you tell us about the Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon?

The Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon began on February 1st, 2014. It was organized by a group of activists in New York City, but groups around the world participated in the event that day. It continues yearly as a worldwide event, as well as in smaller local events around the world. The main goal is to address the gender imbalance on Wikipedia, which is disproportionately written and edited by men, by encouraging people in the arts to create and expand on Wikipedia articles about women artists. After the initial Toronto event, which took place at Art Metropole, I was asked by the organizers if they could use the OCAD U Library as a venue for future events. This led to me organizing a series of Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons at the OCAD U Library in 2014. We accomplished a lot at the events (read more in C Magazine or Site-Specific blog) and since then the Edit-a-Thons have moved to the AGO, where they continue regularly as Wikipedia Wednesdays. The next event is on January 11th, 2017 and focuses on Black Canadian art and art history.

More about Sarah...


You studied at OCAD U before you became a librarian. Can you tell us about your studies and your art practice?

I began my studies at OCAD U as a Drawing and Painting student and then transferred to Criticism and Curatorial Practice. One of the things I liked best about CRCP was that I could take classes in both art and design faculties. So I took a range of electives including graphic design, animation, and web art, while also continuing to study art history and painting. My art practice is varied and in recent years has veered away from drawing and painting into performance and installation work. One common theme is that it tends to draw on my studies in CRCP. One such project, that is sort of a mix between a curatorial project and an art project, and also relates to my work as a librarian, is a mix tape library that I began in 2010 and which now lives permanently at Xpace Cultural Centre alongside their zine library and curated library. The collection consists of mix tapes created by artists and musicians, alongside walkmans that visitors can use to listen to the cassettes. It is like a tiny museum dedicated to this obsolescent way of communicating with each other. It has not been updated in a while but if you would like to contribute a tape please get in touch!