Please note: video recordings of conference presentations are linked throughout the article. All video recordings can be found on Vimeo by clicking here. Recordings are not available for all sessions.
The 2021 CRKN Virtual Conference, held from October 13 to 21, 2021, was CRKN’s second virtual conference in a row, leveraging the experience, tools, and learning gained at the 2020 Conference. With a condensed scope to maximize engagement for participants, the conference attracted a total of 498 attendees and featured 37 speakers presenting at 18 sessions.
The theme for this year’s conference, Shifting the Future, was selected by the 2021 Conference Planning Committee to highlight our ability to shape the future: as librarians, archivists, researchers, heritage professionals, and knowledge workers, we can make the research ecosystem in Canada more sustainable, equitable, and grounded in the principles of Truth and Reconciliation.
With this theme in mind, the 2021 CRKN Conference began on October 7 with the annual pre-conference Intro to CRKN session. Staff presented an overview of CRKN’s activities, including segments from Georgia Ashworth, Heritage Projects and Partnerships Coordinator and John Aspler, Manager, Canadian Persistent Identifier Community, who presented on the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS) Secretariat and the ORCID-CA and DataCite Canada consortia, respectively.
The conference officially kicked off on October 13 with a keynote address from Manitok Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC). In a moving and powerful address, Ms. Thompson described her youth in Nunavut and the difficulty of growing up within an Inuit culture and an English Canadian culture simultaneously. She also described her career and her current role at the IBC, where she is overseeing the digitization and preservation of thousands of video recordings of Inuit life. Along with the attendees of this special keynote address, CRKN thanks Ms. Thompson for sharing her vision for renewing and preserving Inuit culture and language.
Following the keynote, conference attendees enjoyed a session from Vancouver Island University on recommendations for vendors regarding representations of Indigenous peoples in their products. The day concluded with a double session from Library and Archives Canada and Université Laval, during which staff from each institution described their work to date on updating Indigenous subject headings in Canada.
On October 14, the conference opened with a session from Ry Moran, Associate University Librarian – Reconciliation at the University of Victoria, who described the work underway to create transformative change and decolonization within UVic Libraries. Further sessions included a presentation on the development of the Digital Tamil Studies program at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and a presentation from Natalie Vielfaure at the University of Manitoba on the preservation of early digital acquisitions. The day ended with two sessions focusing on licensing and collections initiatives: the development of an Indigenous Health Collection by staff at McMaster University and a method to estimate institutional spend on article processing charges (APCs) by Roger Reka at the University of Windsor.
The final day of conference thematic sessions began with an update from the National Heritage Digitization Strategy (NHDS), in which Jonathan Bengtson, Chair of the NHDS Executive Committee and Carole Urbain, Chair of the NHDS Advisory Committee reported on the results of their recent community consultations, done in preparation for NHDS strategic planning. Next, a session from the Archives of Ontario outlined initiatives designed to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in their archival practices, and Métis librarians Rachel Chong of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Ashley Edwards of Simon Fraser University presented an engaging session on Indigenizing research for the future. The day closed with a session from the University of Toronto on how their library is re-investing savings from CRKN’s 2021 Elsevier deal to fund projects that contribute to a more diverse library collection.
The thematic sessions of the conference and their focus on Indigenization and diversity were an ideal lead into CRKN’s business sessions, which began on October 20 with a day of heritage updates. The Preservation and Access Committee Update covered CRKN’s work this year to enhance and improve our heritage services, with a focus on partnerships and collaborations, Canadiana’s researcher impact, and upholding CRKN’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. CRKN staff were then joined by Roger Schonfeld and Oya Y. Rieger of Ithaka S+R, who reported on the outcomes of the Heritage Market Assessment they conducted on behalf of CRKN this year (video available in members-only section). Finally, Clare Appavoo and members of the Board of Directors facilitated a discussion on CRKN’s vision for a CFI-funded heritage discovery platform. Participants reconvened a short time later for the 2021 Ron MacDonald Award Ceremony, celebrating this year’s recipient, Jonathan Bengtson.
The final day of the conference launched with the Content Strategy Committee and Licensing Update, which was, as always, a highly engaging session that included segments presented by the Knowledge Base Entitlements Sub-Committee on their Perpetual Access Tracking Project, the Open Access Sub-Group, and the eBook Sub-Group. Immediately following, attendees gathered for the annual Meeting of the Members. Members received reports from the Chair of the Board and Executive Director, as well as from the Vice-Chairs of the Content Strategy and Preservation and Access Committees, and Finance and Audit Committee Chair and Treasurer, Denis Cossette. The membership completed its business ahead of schedule, leaving attendees to enjoy a beautiful October afternoon.
With two years of planning and attending virtual conferences under our belts, we have seen the lasting impact that these events can have. We are pleased to hear from CRKN Conference attendees that virtual conferences mean they have been able to attend a CRKN Conference for the first time, whether due to reduced cost, removing the need to travel, or the work-life flexibility that virtual conferences provide. While it is our hope to see members again in person for next year’s hybrid event, CRKN will continue to make conference sessions, and other events, available virtually.
Mark your calendars for the 2022 CRKN Conference, which is scheduled for October 12-14 (virtual thematic sessions) and October 18-20 (CRKN business sessions, tentatively in-person). We hope to see you there! In the meantime, CRKN wishes all attendees, speakers, and facilitators a wonderful year.