FIMS Profile

Amber Matthews

  • About Me

  • Publications & Contributions

I am a Library and Information Science (LIS) doctoral student and hold a master’s degree in LIS. My research interests include examining the presence and force of race and systemic racism in public libraries and its impacts on racialized youth. My work is grounded in a Critical Race Theory framework to decentre whiteness in libraries and librarianship and support the development of relevant programs and services for non-dominant groups. Prior to returning to scholarly research, I had a nine year career in community and youth engagement. I worked for several large charities including hospital foundations, children’s and youth rehabilitation and treatment centres, and a shelter for abused women and children. With increasingly senior roles and responsibilities, I worked with communities to raise over $70 million in program and capital funding and made tangible improvements to non-profit organizations and community services in Canada and abroad.

My work stems from a mix of personal experience and a desire to make tangible improvements in areas that I live and work. Since early childhood, I have understood that life isn’t fair. Some kids like me are born to a young mom and lose their father at eight months old. Others have a body that society tells them is less valuable or live in communities that limit their opportunities to thrive. For kids facing these uncertainties and challenges, the public library can be a reprieve from adult worries and a chance to learn and grow. What I did not know until adulthood was that not all kids felt nurtured in the library or saw themselves in the books or librarian. My work is centered on improving services to those that don’t feel the same sense of hope and belonging in the library that sustained me through my young adult years. I employ anti-oppression frameworks to understand how white privilege functions in libraries in ways that can be detrimental to racialized youth. I aim to turn the gaze back on public libraries and challenge them to dismantle institutional and systemic barriers to engagement and create anti-oppressive spaces and practices that support all Canadian youth. 

Refereed Research 

Matthews, Amber and Gavin Bennett, Maneja G. Joian and Jenna Brancatella. 2019. "Indigenous Young Adult Literature: Scholarly and Professional Resources for Librarians”. Emerging Library & Information Perspectives, 2(1): 165-179.

Non-Refereed Contributions

Matthews, Amber. 2019. Racialized Youth and the Public Library: Towards Equity in Public Library Practice. Public Lecture. September 25, 2019. Western University. London, ON. 

Matthews, Amber. 2019. Racialized Youth and the Public Library: A Critical Race Theory Approach to Program Utilization and Effectiveness. Poster presented at FIMULAW Interdisciplinary Conference March 22, 2019. Western University. London, ON.
Matthews, Amber. 2018. Prospect Research: Information and Surveillance in the Non-Profit Sector. Public Lecture. June 8, 2018. Western University. London, ON.

Forthcoming Contributions

Matthews, Amber. Critical Approaches to Engagement with Racialized Youth in the Public Library. Paper Presentation. Mediations Lecture Series. January 16, 2020. Western University. London, ON.  
Matthews, Amber. 2019. “Racialized Youth in the Public Library: Systemic Racism through a Critical Theory Lens”. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 15(2).