Tess Prendergast

I am a Lecturer at UBC iSchool, where I teach courses in the area of librarianship and children’s literature. Prior to joining the iSchool in 2019, I worked as a children’s librarian in a large urban public library for over two decades, where my work focused on early literacy support for diverse families, a majority of whom were newcomers to Canada. My doctoral research was a qualitative multiple-case study that explored the inclusion of children with disabilities in early learning opportunities in their homes and communities. I approach the study of people and libraries through a bioecological systems perspective and draw on other sociocultural theories to help frame the understanding of the social interactions that take place within libraries and other community spaces. Building on my doctoral study, I have a particular interest in exploring the ways in which children’s library workers are prepared to develop and deliver inclusive services and programs in diverse communities. Thus, I am currently collaborating on several projects that will culminate in open access materials intended to meet some of the information needs of those working with children and families in library settings.

Within children’s literature, I am mainly interested in picture books for young children. Having served on the Randolph Caldecott Award Committee (2016) and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Committee (2022-2023), I have a wealth of knowledge about the affordances of the picture book as a tool for supporting early learning as well how picture books can be evaluated as barometers of macro-cultural values. Firstly, I advocate for the critical examination of children’s literature through an anti-bias lens, with a particular focus on exploring ableism within texts written for young people of all abilities. Additionally, I have a strong interest in Indigenous children’s literature from colonized nations around the world, and I have been examining the ways that contemporary Indigenous children are represented in picture books. Finally, I am curious about the various ways that the child refugee experience is portrayed in children’s books from various perspectives, voices, and locations around the globe.

  • librarianship and children’s literature
  • children’s library services in diverse communities
  • the role of children’s librarians in the lives of children and families
  • portrayal of children with disabilities in literature
  • portrayal of contemporary Indigenous children’s lives and children’s refugee & immigrant experiences in literature

Selected Publications

Prendergast, T., & Sharkey, K. (2021). Theorizing early literacy in the public library. Library Trends, 70(2), 239-255

Campana, K., Mills, J.E., Haines, C., Prendergast, T., Martens, M. (2019). To tech or not to tech? The debate about technology, young children, and the library. Children and Libraries. 17(2).

Prendergast, T. (2016). Seeking early literacy for all: An investigation of children’s librarians and parents of young children with disabilities’ experiences at the public library. Library Trends, 65(1), 65-91.

Diamant-Cohen, B., & Prendergast, T. (2014). Investing in early childhood. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 12(4), 35-35.

Diamant-Cohen, B., Estrovitz, C., & Prendergast, T. (2013). Repeat after me! Repetition and early literacy development. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 11(2), 20-24.

Prendergast, T. (2013). Growing readers: A critical analysis of early literacy content for parents on Canadian public library websites. Journal of Library Administration, 53(4), 234-254.

Diamant-Cohen, B., Prendergast, T., Estrovitz, C., Banks, C., & van der Veen, K. (2012). We play here! Bringing the power of play into children’s libraries. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 10(1), 3-9.

Prendergast, T. (2012). Brick by brick: LEGO-inspired programs in the library. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 10(3), 20-23.

Prendergast, T. (2011). Beyond storytime: Children’s librarians collaborating in communities. Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 9(1), 20-26.

Selected Conference Presentations

Klipper, B., Michalatos, S., Niemchak, E. Prendergast, T., & Taggart, J. (June 23, 2019) Not a kid anymore: How and why to serve adults with disabilities in the adult department. Program presented at American Library Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

Prendergast, T. & Sharkey, K. (March 7, 2019) Theorizing early literacy in the public library. Paper presented at Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Literacies: An International Conference, Manchester, UK.

Diamant-Cohen, B., Estrovitz, C., Hamlin, P., McChesney, E., Franklin, N., Conner, M. & Prendergast, T. (June 25, 2018). Early literacy outreach to underserved and unserved families. Program presented at American Library Association Annual Conference, June 2018, New Orleans, LA.

Jones, K., Iannacone, J., Payne, R. & Prendergast, T. (June 25, 2017). Building bridges: Using research and partnerships to support early literacy in diverse communities. Program presented at American Library Association Annual Conference, Chicago IL.

Prendergast, T. (April 29, 2017). A day in the life: Child activity logs as snapshots of early learning. Paper presented at the SPARK: The Early Years: Supporting Practice, Advocacy, Research, and Knowledge, UBC, Vancouver, BC.

Prendergast, T. (April 19, 2017). Inclusive children’s libraries. Keynote presented at the BCLA Youth Services Institute, April 2017, Vancouver, BC.

Prendergast, T. (January 29, 2016). “He can’t attend without me paying double.”: Barriers to access in informal early learning for children with disabilities. Paper presented at Early Years Sp’e’qum: Nurturing Developmental Wellbeing – Strengthening Children and Families, Vancouver BC.

Prendergast, T. (January 7, 2016). Children’s librarians in the lives of children with disabilities: A Bioecological Perspective. Poster presented at Association of Library and Information Studies Educators, Boston MA.

Prendergast, T. (February 1, 2014). The intersection of multimodality and early literacy: A case study of two young children with disabilities in their homes and child care settings. Paper presented at the Early Years 2014 Shaping Childhood: Factors that Matter, Vancouver, BC.

Finley, A., Prendergast, T., Robin, R. (May 21, 2015) American Sign Language / English Bilingual Family Storytime. Program presented at British Columbia Library Conference, Richmond, BC.

Prendergast, T. (May 13, 2014) Triumphant children: An exploration of Sendak’s theme of childhood resilience. Paper presented at I will be myself: Graduate Student Children’s Literature Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.

Current Courses

Winter 2022
No LIBR course(s) were found for W2022 term.Winter 2022

LIBR527 Services for Children Sections

Winter 2022

LIBR506 Human-Information Interaction Sections

Winter 2022

LIBR576 Public Libraries Sections

Winter 2022

LIBR520 Survey of Literature and Other Materials for Children Sections