Nalini K. Singh

Contact Information
nalini [dot] singhatutoronto [dot] ca
BL 408
Nalini K. Singh
Librarian, Reference Services Coordinator

MISt, Library & Information Science stream
Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, 1996-1998

BSc, Double major in Women's Studies & Physiology
University of Toronto, 1981-1985

Administrative responsibilities: 
  • Executive Committee, member
  • Recruitment & Admissions Committee, member
  • UTL Reference Services Committee, member
Past responsibilities: 
  • Information Services Committee, member
  • Programs Committee, member
  • Committee on Standing, member
  • Awards Committee, member
  • UTL Reference Services Committee, Chair (2003-2004; 2004-2005)
  • UTL Instruction in Library Use Committee, member (2002-2008)
  • UTL Web Advisory Group (2010-2013)
  • Life & Times Committee, member; Chair (2014-2015)

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, and maintain the faculty's course syllabi repository.

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. 

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.   Here's a resource on how to avoid RSI.   It is a serious occupational hazard for info professionals.   I could then devote all my interests towards reference work.

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.

Honours & awards: 

Northern Exposure for Leadership Institute (NELI) (2005)
Kathleen Reeves Award, Special Library Association (1998)
Dean's List, Faculty of Information Studies (1998)

Selected publications: 

Singh, Nalini K.  (2011 December).  University of Toronto Libraries' Web Style Guide.  University of Toronto Libraries.

Cherry, J .M., Duff, W. M., Singh, N., Freund, L. (2011). Student perceptions of the information professions and their master's program in information studies. Library & Information Science Research 33 (2): 120-131. [LIRT Top 20 article]

Singh, Nalini K. (2011). soon she will travel to the east. Hart House Review 2011.

Cherry, J., Duff, W. , Singh, N., Freund, L. (2008).  One degree, three streams: Three populations?
ASIST 2008: 71st  ASIST Annual Meeting: People Transforming Information - Information Transforming People. ASIST: Columbus, OH

Singh, Nalini K. (2008 Summer).  walking glassy-eyed in the don valley at twilight.  Descant. Volume 141: Excavations.

Duff, W. M., Cherry, J. M., Singh, N.  (2006). Perceptions of the information professions: A study of students in the Master of Information Studies program at a Canadian university. Archival Science 6 (2): 171-192.

Contributor to:  Piece of My Heart: A Lesbian of Colour Anthology (Toronto: Sister Vision, 1991) -; and Dykewords: An Anthology of Lesbian Writings (Toronto: Women's Press, 1990) -

Year joined the iSchool: