Jacqueline Gratton: Examining issues of access and privilege in public libraries

By Samantha Stante

Jacqueline's hometown: Richmond Hill, Ontario

Jacqueline Gratton is in her second semester of the MLIS program at Western University and is interested in identifying and criticizing the structural barriers that libraries are founded upon.

Jacqueline Gratton never thought about pursuing a career in the Library and Information Science field when she joined The Writer’s Studio program at her local library. As an English literature graduate, Gratton attended the program for over a year because of her passion for reading and writing.

Jacqueline joined the program for her love of literature, but didn’t know that joining this group meant making new friends and gaining a different perspective of her career possibilities. She became friends with the librarian who facilitated the writing group and whose passion changed Jacqueline’s outlook on library studies. The librarian even gave Jacqueline an exclusive backstage tour of the library, which is where she became fascinated and thought of career possibilities that lie within library studies.

“It was kind of an eye-opening moment for me because I’ve used the library my whole life, but I never considered this could be a place where I could work,” Jacqueline explains.

She found Western University’s Master of Library and Information Science program and was drawn to the flexibility and co-op features the program offered. “I saw an overlap with my previous work experience when I applied… and since I enjoyed my work, I am loving the program so far,” she says. Jacqueline previously worked for a company where she was tasked with finding ways to organize information and learn how to retrieve information for a specific purpose.

Fun Fact

Gratton is an amateur astronomer and is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Her favourite observation was the Transit of Venus in 2012, which she witnessed at a star party hosted by the Ontario Science Centre.

Currently in her second semester of the MLIS program, Jacqueline is conducting a research proposal that dives into the information practices of polar travellers and how privilege affects a community’s information literacy and access to information. Having previously worked for a polar expeditions company, she is interested in the motivations of travellers to visit these harsh, inaccessible regions and the work that goes into preparing for such a trip.

More broadly, Jacqueline is interested in the barriers that prevent communities from accessing the information they need, whether those be virtual or physical barriers. Within society’s information infrastructure, she sees a system that operates without enough scrutiny – and one that needs to reflect more deeply on why certain groups can’t easily access what they need while other groups can.

Jacqueline is fascinated with more than just her work in the MLIS program, she’s also captivated by the stories and unique experiences of her classmates.

“I have never been in a program that’s so diverse in the fields where students have come from. What’s beautiful is that you start to realize that there is a connection through library studies from different fields.”

Jacqueline explains how her program promotes the opportunity to network—not just with people in the library field, but with the diverse pool of students and faculty within the Faculty of Information and Media Studies and in the broader Western community.

“I feel like early on in our academic careers, we are often told ‘here is the box that you belong to because that is the degree that you have so this is the only career path that you can go into’ but it’s a lot messier than that—in the best way.”

Jacqueline explains that diversity within students is what drives the creativity and innovation that wouldn’t exist if everyone came from the same degrees, backgrounds and had the same experiences.

Although Jacqueline had never thought that she’d be interested in pursuing a career in the Library and Information Science field, she now knows how to intertwine her passion for literature and her passion for diversity and accessibility to make the most out of her future.

Profiles in the Meet Our Students section are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.