While Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the many past achievements of Black people, ViMLoC would like to spend each week highlighting some of the current Black library professionals in our network.
This week, meet Norda Bell, Associate Librarian at York University.
Tell us one thing about yourself that others in the profession (or colleagues) may not know about you
I completed Seneca’s Library and Information Technician (Accelerated) program before pursuing my library degree at the University of Toronto. This was a great introduction to how libraries worked and the various roles library technicians and librarians played and contributed to library functions. Having that background also helped during my graduate program at U of T (especially the cataloguing courses). I am currently a part-time instructor for Seneca’s LIT program, and enjoy teaching the next generation of library technicians immensely!
Why did you choose to become a librarian?
I have always loved libraries and worked in them, it feels, all my life. The Toronto Public Library bookmobile was a place of refuge for me as a child. They would come every other Saturday and I would check out about 20 books each trip! It was such a lifeline for me growing up. Later, I was able to visit a proper branch library in high school and I started working at my local branch as a page. My primary motivation for becoming a librarian was to work in libraries and to help others. I have a strong public service orientation and love having conversations about ideas with patrons. But really interacting with other librarians who encouraged me to pursue this profession is why I am a librarian. I feel being a librarian makes a difference.
What are your thoughts on current EDI work in Canadian librarianship or academia?
I am very encouraged that there is more interest in EDI work in Canadian librarianship. I like to see more critical approaches to EDI work and I think that there is definitely more room for scholarship in this area, especially from voices that have been historically excluded from the conversation. I would like to hear more from library workers with a disability as well as diversity from the intersections of age, race, gender, social class, gender identity, and other dimensions of diversity. Aboriginal and Visible Minority Librarians: Oral Histories from Canada (edited by Deborah Lee and ViMLoC’s founder Maha Kumaran) is the only anthology I know of, of its kind from a Canadian perspective. I think it is time for more publications around ED from Canadian librarians from various dimensions of diversity.