What Did I Do on My Sabbatical in 2012?

When I tell my non-university friends and acquaintances that I’m on sabbatical, almost always the first question is “Where are you going? France? Italy? Somewhere south?” Apparently it is widely believed that faculty on sabbatical are simply chilling out on some nice south sea island or at an old world villa.

This idea that a sabbatical = vacation is not good. Or true.

So, what did I do?

Warning: This post is terribly self-indulgent.
Stop reading now if this sort of thing turns your stomach.
I don’t blame you.

I didn’t head to the south of France (well, actually I did, but that’s another story). Instead I told people what I really did: I went to the basement in our home, sometimes our dog joined me (mostly not), to read, write, prepare for presentations, and to work on a variety of projects.

Not being on campus was very strange at first; so was not seeing many people. It was very important I got out of the basement regularly (or travelled periodically to meet with colleagues). But the gifts, the real gifts, of any sabbatical are the time and energy to think and reflect, and to engage with new colleagues and peers.

In my previous role as CIO and Chief Librarian I was often reacting. It was exciting and wonderfully stimulating but too often it was like bouncing across the surface of ideas rather than digging into them deeply. Administrative jobs are like that; try as we might the “urgent and unimportant” frequently push out the “important but not urgent.”

So, what did I do?

This post is both an attempt to be publicly accountable for the time I spent last year on sabbatical and to prep the report I know the Provost will be wanting sometime soon.


Sabbatical January – December 2012

The tl;dr Version

  • wrote and published an online, participatory e-book experiment (co-published by ACRL and OLA);
  • taught a graduate course at the Faculty of information, University of Toronto;
  • wrote and submitted a book chapter (January 2013 publication date);
  • took 4 more courses towards a Master of Education (MEd);
  • published 2 journal articles and 4 editorials;
  • gave 4 keynote addresses and 10 other presentations at various conferences;
    facilitated 2 workshops, served on a graduate committee, participated in 2 public debates, chaired an external review, was a panelist numerous times, and attended a variety of conferences and academic talks;
  • served on a number of governance committees and Boards;
  • completed 2 professional consulting jobs.

The Other (Much Longer) Version

Teaching Activities

Instructor, Special Topics in Information: Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future (INF2301H). Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. (Fall 2012)

Graduate Education

Completed four more courses towards a Master of Education (MEd) from OISE at the University of Toronto (Critical Analysis of Research; Human Resource and Diversity Issues; Economics of Education; Student Development).


Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future. A digital book and community dialogue. Sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Ontario Library Association (OLA). October 2012.

Book Chapter

“Culture, Values, and Change: Observations from Three Consortia in Canada.” in Collaboration in Libraries and Learning Environments. Edited by Maxine Melling and Margaret Weaver. London, UK: Facet Publishing; the publishing arm of CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. (forthcoming January 2013).

Journal Articles

“Mao and Me: Academic Libraries in China.” Access. Winter 2012.

Maas, Bruce, Brian Paige, Michael Ridley, Theresa Rowe, Bo Wandschneider, and Melissa Woo. “Filling the IT Leadership Pipeline.” EDUCAUSE Review 47(January/February 2012). Peer Reviewed.

Keynote Addresses

“The Crisis in Academic Librarianship. And Why This is Such a Good Thing.” Ontario Council of University and College Libraries (OCULA) and Western New York Ontario Chapter (WNYO), Association of Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL). Spring Conference. Jordan, Ontario. April 27, 2012.

“The Internet is Making Us Stupid. Not!” Ontario Association of Library Technicians (OALT). Seneca College. May 3, 2012.

“Bring It On: Why the Crisis in Academic Librarianship is the Best Thing Ever and What We Should Do About It.” BC Research Libraries Group Lecture Series. Vancouver and Victoria. September 6 & 7, 2012.

“The Crisis in Academic Libraries. And Why This is Such a Good Thing.” Library of the Future. Mohawk College. Hamilton. November 9, 2012.


“Information Technology at the University of Guelph: Looking Back at the Past 6 Years and Looking Forward to Opportunities for the Future.” University of Guelph Board of Governors. January 18, 2012.

Ridley, Michael and John Miedema. “Beyond Literacy: Reading and Writing are Doomed. A Debate.” Ontario Library Association. SuperConference. February 4, 2012.

“Library as Learning Platform.” Ensuring Student Success. Annual Conference. Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). Toronto. January 20-21, 2012.

Maas, Bruce, Brian Paige, Michael Ridley, Theresa Rowe, Bo Wandschneider, and Melissa Woo. “The Right Stuff: Insights for Next-Generation Technology Leaders and the CIOs Who Mentor Them.” Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Virtual Conference 2012. February 13, 2012.

Beyond Literacy: Why Reading and Writing are Doomed, and Why This is a Good Thing.” McLuhan Cafe, Conversation Circle. Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Oshawa. March 1, 2012.

“Aren’t Libraries Obsolete and Irrelevant?” Luncheon Presentation to the University of Guelph Community Partners. University of Guelph. April 11, 2012.

“The Information Age is Over.” Staff Development Day. Hamilton Public Library. May 16, 2012.

“The Crisis in Academic Librarianship.” Canadian Library Association. Annual Conference. Ottawa. May 31, 2012.

“New Directions in Academic Librarianship and Libraries.” Ex Libris Association Annual General Meeting. Northern Branch, Toronto Public Library. November 5, 2012.

“Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch: Thinking About Libraries as Organizations and Environments.” Leadership Institute. Calgary Public Library. December 4, 2012.


Facilitator. “Research Support in the 21st Century: Harnessing Networked Communications to Deliver World-Class User Services. Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) Summit. University of Toronto. February 1, 2012.

Facilitator. “Organizational Values.” Board of Directors. Ontario Library Association. March 2, 2012.

Other Academic Contributions

Editor-in-Chief of Access, the quarterly magazine of the Ontario Library Association. Published 4 issues and prepared January 2013 issue for press.

Committee Member. MSc. Advisory Committee for Barry Rooke, University of Guelph. 2011-0212.

Panelist. Perspectives on Leadership (with Vicki Whitmell, Juanita Richardson, Rebecca Jones). Professional Preparation Strategies Course. iSchool, University of Toronto. March 30, 2012

Debater, The Great Debate: “Be it resolved that the core values of modern librarianship are antiquated and obsolete.” Affirmative: Stephen Abram & Robin Thiessen Hepher. Negative: Michael Ridley & Andrea Siemens. Canadian Library Association Annual Conference. Ottawa. May 31, 2012.

Panelist. Conversations with Leaders: Future Strategies (with Ken Roberts, and Daniel Lee). Canadian Library Association. Annual Conference. Ottawa. June 1, 2012.

Panelist. Academic Libraries and Academic Librarianship (with Madeleine Lefebvre and Victoria Owen). Foundations of Library and Information Science (INF1300), Dr. Nadia Caidi. iSchool, University of Toronto. October 18, 2012.

External Review Member. Review of Information Services and Systems, University of New Brunswick (Saint John). October-November, 2012.

Conferences & Talks Attended

Ensuring Student Success. Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), Toronto: January 20-21.

Research Support in the 21st Century. Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL), Toronto: February 1.

SuperConference. Ontario Library Association (OLA), Toronto: February 2-4.

Three New Universities. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), Toronto: February 7.

TEDxGuelph. University of Guelph: February 12.

Interplay Symposium. Between Creativity and Information. York University: March 26.

Learning Outcomes Symposium. Council of Ontario Universities (COU), Toronto: April 12-13.

Joseph Janes, “Information Makes Us Human” iSchool, University of Toronto: April 12.

Think Conference. Optical Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION). Toronto: April 16.

McLuhan Seminar. University of Toronto: May 7.

OCULA Spring Lecture and Dinner. Ontario College and University Library Association. Ryerson University: May 10.

Donald Lenihan, “Enhancing Public Policy.” University of Guelph: May 15.

Canadian Library Association Annual Conference. Ottawa: May30-June 2.

Elizabeth Waterston, “Blitzkrieg and Jitterbugs.” University of Guelph: October 1.

Neil Turok, “The Universe Within.” Guelph: November 26.

Boards and Professional Committees

Member, Board of Governors. University of Guelph. 2012-2015. (Elected by the University of Guelph Senate). [In 2012, two meetings, an orientation meeting, and a Board retreat]

Member, Physical Resources and Property Committee (PRPC). Board of Governors, University of Guelph. 2012- . [In 2012: two meetings]

Member, Board of Directors. The Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION). 2011 – . [In 2012, four meetings and a Board retreat]

Member, Finance and Audit Committee. Board of Directors. The Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION). 2012 – . [In 2012, two meetings]

Member, Search Committee. Executive Director, Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN). 2012.

Member, Finance Committee. Canadian Library Association (CLA). 2011-2012. [In 2012, one meeting]

Professional Consulting

Review of the eServices unit of the Edmonton Public Library.

Strategic Directions planning for the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL).

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