Balancing Intellectual Freedom and Medical Disinformation in Canadian Libraries

About this project

This one-year academic and independent research study aims to understand the experiences of Canadian libraries in responding to situations related to medical disinformation on health topics such as vaccines, COVID-19, and youth gender identity development. The project aims to:

  1. Understand the struggles experienced in attempting to balance intellectual freedom with limiting harm due to disinformation.
  2. Theorize the various ways libraries in different contexts have responded to such difficulties.
  3. Provide guidance and considerations for libraries dealing with these questions in the future.

The study is led by UBC iSchool alumni and faculty and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Devon Greyson (PhD, MLIS), Assistant Professor at the School of Population and Public Health and UBC iSchool alum, with Dr. Julia Bullard, Assistant Professor at the UBC iSchool, as a Co-Investigator. The project will be conducted in partnership with the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA).

The study will be recruiting adult library workers of all types to participate in an online interview and share their experiences and perspectives in collections management, reference and instruction, programming and rentals, or other library services for adults, youth, and children.

If you have experience negotiating intellectual freedom issues related to medical disinformation in a Canadian institution, your perspective is valuable and may help researchers develop a guide for libraries thinking through considerations in their unique contexts when faced with similar challenges.

Read the project summary to learn more details about this study


How to participate

The research team invites Canadian library workers to participate in an online interview and share their experiences. Interviews will take place online (via Zoom) or by phone. The team is expecting to interview approximately 20-30 participants for this study. You can take part in this study if you:

  • Reside in Canada;
  • Are 19 years of age or older;
  • Work or have worked in a Canadian library;
  • Have experienced challenges related to intellectual freedom and/or medical disinformation in their role or job with a Canadian library;
  • Speak and understand spoken English.
Participation in this study is strictly confidential. Neither individuals nor institutions/employers will be identified in any reporting. All data collected during the interviews will be kept securely at UBC and de-identified before analysis. Personal information will be kept private to ensure participants are able to speak freely about their opinions and experiences.


Interested in participating?

If you wish to volunteer for an interview or would like more information about the study, please contact the research team via email ( or by phone at 604-822-5305.

Review the Participant Information and Consent



Research Team

Dr. Devon Greyson

Principal Investigator | PhD, MLIS
Assistant Professor, School of Population and Public Health, UBC

Devon Greyson’s research focuses on public health communication and the use of information by publics, clinicians, and health systems. Devon has a special interest in perinatal and pediatric health decision-making and experiences. Current work focuses on vaccine decision-making, use of cannabis during pregnancy and lactation, and mitigating the impacts of medical disinformation. Devon is a UBC iSchool alum (MLIS), and holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from UBC.


Dr. Julia Bullard

Co-Investigator | PhD, MLIS
Assistant Professor, UBC School of Information

Julia Bullard’s research looks at the way that knowledge organization systems are designed, implemented, revised, broken or fixed. Julia is interested in the design of organization systems and how these systems might align with the values and activities of their communities. Julia holds an MLIS from UBC iSchool and a PhD from the Information School at the University of Texas at Austin.


Caroline Mniszak

Research Coordinator
University of British Columbia