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 from Western University. My research aims to examine systemic racism in public libraries and its impacts on racialized youth in Canada. Principally, I am concerned with the untenable position of library policy being both neutral and diverse. My work suggests that failing to account for race and redress systemic power relationships denies historical imbalances of power and further entrenches systemic racism.  Thus, 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.  

 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. 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.

Refereed Research 

Matthews, A. (2020). Racialized Youth in the Public Library: Systemic Racism Through a Critical Theory LensPartnership15(1), 1–17. (This article was invited for republication in the September 2020 issue of Directions Journal published by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.) 

Matthews, A., Bennett, G., Joian, M., & Brancatella, J. (2019). Indigenous Young Adult LiteratureEmerging Library & Information Perspectives2(1), 165-179. (Lead author) 

 Other Refereed Contributions

Matthews, A. (2020, September). Diversity is not the answer: towards anti-racist praxis in LISPaper presented at the 2020 Canadian Association for Information Science Conference. Virtual Conference. 

Matthews, A. (2020, June). Surveillance in the Non-Profit Sector: The Case for Information as Property Law. Paper presented at the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research Conference. Virtual Conference. 

Invited Talks 

Matthews, A. (2020). Advancing anti-racism in public libraries. Invited talk at the "Make Good Trouble" Now; Teach-In for Racial Equity. University of Buffalo. Buffalo, NY. 

Guest Lectures

Matthews, A. (2020) “Advancing Anti-Racism in LIS.” Invited guest lecture (INFO 5500 Information in Society). School of Information Management, Dalhousie University.

Matthews, A. (2020) “Critical Approaches to Race in Library Scholarship.” Invited guest lecture (INF 1324 Critical Infrastructures). Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.


Matthews, A. (2020, September 9). Part III: Antiracism in practice. Theory in practice: Moving from systemic racism to anti-racism in Ontario public libraries. Open Shelf: Magazine of the Ontario Library Association (OLA)

Matthews, A. (2020, June 4). Part II: Addressing systemic racism. Theory in practice: Moving from systemic racism to anti-racism in Ontario public libraries. Open Shelf: Magazine of the OLA.   

Matthews, A. (2020, April 6). Part I: Systemic racism in public libraries: Theory in practice: Moving from systemic racism to anti-racism in Ontario public libraries. Open Shelf: Magazine of the OLA. 

Other Contributions 

Matthews, A. (2020, January). Critical Approaches to Engagement with Racialized Youth in the Public Library. Paper presented in Mediations Lecture Series. Western University. London, ON. 

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

Matthews, A. (2019, March). Racialized Youth and the Public Library: A Critical Race Theory Approach to Program Utilization and Effectiveness. Poster presented at FIMULAW Interdisciplinary Conference. Western University. London, ON.