Heather Cunningham

Heather Cunningham
Assistant Director, Research and Innovation Services (on leave till April 2024)

Gerstein Science Information Centre
9 King's College Circle, Toronto, ON

I am actively engaged in developing a suite of services and resources to support faculty and student research, innovation, and information in the health and life sciences.

I am also interested in and have engaged in research in sustainability/green practices within libraries as well as usage of the physical spaces within libraries.

Published works

Systematic & Scoping Reviews

Grudniewicz A, Nelson M, Kuluski K, Lui V, Cunningham H. Nie JX, Colquhoun H, Wodchis WP, Taylor S, Loganathan M, and Upshur RE.  Treatment goal setting for complex patients: protocol for a scoping review . BMJ Open 2016;6:e011869. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011869

Petkovic J, Welch V, Jacob MH, Yoganathan M, Ayala AP, Cunningham, H, Tugwell P. The effectiveness of evidence summaries on health policymakers and health system managers use of evidence from systematic reviews: a systematic review. Implementation Science 2016 11:162. DOI 10.1186/s13012-016-0530-3

Web Development

Cunningham, H. and J. Robertson. 2013. Crazy Egg. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association, 34(02): 123-126, DOI: 10.5596/c13-023

Cunningham, H. 2005. Designing a Web site for one imaginary persona that reflects the needs of many. Computers in Libraries 25 (9):15-19

Atkinson, E.E. and H.V. Cunningham. 2005. Ineffective bibliographic search engines? BioScience 55(11): 924.

Library as Place

Cunningham, H. & Tabur, S. (2012).  Learning space attributes: reflections on academic library design and its use. Journal of learning spaces 1(2). Retrieved from http://libjournal.uncg.edu/ojs/index.php/jls/article/view/392/287

Sustainability & Green Library Practices

Cunningham, H. 2012. Partnering for paper reduction. Feliciter 58(1):18.

Cunningham, H., Feder, E. & I. Muise, I. 2010. Paper cuts don’t hurt at the Gerstein Library. Computers in Libraries 30(2): 6-10.

Reference Source

Cunningham, H. "Biology.” In Thompson, L. L., ed. The Medical Library Association's Master Guide to Authoritative Information Resources in the Health Sciences. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011.

Leadership & Management

Cunningham, H. and Kuszelewski, D. Evolving Public Services and Staffing to Meet the Needs of Academic Communities. IFLA World Library and Information Congress Satellite Meeting for Management and Marketing. August 10-11, 2016, Toronto, ON.

Cunningham, H., Lenton, E. Ayala, P., and Lui, V. Collaborating to navigate the sea of change in science and health science librarianship. International Association of Technical University Libraries (IATUL) Conference, Halifax, NS, Canada, June 5-9, 2016.

Systematic Reviews & Teaching Search Skills

Cunningham, H., Lenton, E., Ayala, P. and Kirtley, S. Librarians! Let’s Leverage our Role to raise the Quality of Biomedical Research.   Lightning Round Talk, Medical Library Association (MLA) Conference, May 13-18, 2016, Toronto, ON.

Ayala, P., Lenton, E. and Cunningham, H. Responding to Researchers' Needs with the Knowledge Synthesis Service: What, Why and How.  TRY Conference, Toronto, ON, May 3, 2016.

Hagstrom, C., S. Kendall and H. Cunningham. Googling for grey: using Google and DuckDuckGo to find grey literature.  Cochrane Colloquium, Vienna, Austria. October 3-7, 2015

Hagstrom, C. and Cunningham, H. Teaching Searching from the Inside Out: Reducing Cognitive Load. Canadian Health Libraries Association (CHLA) Conference. June 19-22, 2015. Vancouver, BC.

Hagstrom, C. and Cunningham, H. Teaching searching from the inside out: not your grandmother’s recipe for PIE. IFLA Information Literacy Satellite Meeting - Facing the Future: Librarians and Information Literacy in a Changing Landscape. Limerick, Ireland, August 14-15, 2014.

Cunningham, H. and C. Hagstrom.  Systematic search strategies as a rubric for researchers.  Accepted poster. Ontario Library Association Super Conference, January 30, 2014. Toronto, ON.   

Hagstrom, C. and  H. Cunningham.  Filtering for findability in systematic review search strategies. 21st Cochrane Colloquium, September 19-21, 2013, Quebec City, Quebec 

Hagstrom, C. and  H. Cunningham. 2013. No rock stars involved:  Capturing the interest of first-year medical students in a health information literacy session.  Teachmeet Paper. March 26, 2013, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Cunningham, H. 2012. Discovering the hard to find: new media in traditional journals. Access Conference. October 19, 2012, Montreal, Quebec.

Library as Place

Lui, V. and Cunningham, H. Listening & learning from our users: exploring uncharted waters in library space redesign. International Association of Technical University Libraries (IATUL) Conference, Halifax, NS, Canada, June 5-9, 2016.

Cunningham, H. and S. Tabur.  2013. Library space and the ultimate experience. Ontario Library Association Super Conference. January 31, 2013, Toronto, Ontario.

Cunningham, H. and S. Tabur. 2010. Honouring heritage to inspire innovation at the Gerstein Science Information Centre. Canadian Health Libraries Association (CHLA) Conference. June 10, 2010. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.

Sustainability & Green Library Practices

Cunningham, H. and S. Langlands .2011. A greener future for the library. Ontario Library Association Super Conference. February 5, 2011, Toronto, Ontario.

Cunningham, H., E. Feder, C. Devion and L. Barber. Green initiatives within the University of Toronto Libraries. Toronto-Ryerson-York (TRY) Library Staff Conference. April 27, 2010.

Web Development

Cunningham, H. 2011. Evaluating your digital core. Ontario Library Association Super Conference. February 3, 2011, Toronto, Ontario.

Cunningham, H.  Web 2.0 for web design. Ontario Library Association (OLA) Conference,  February 26, 2010.

Cunningham, H. V. and Lalonde, M.  Helping students find articles: two paths to resource discovery. Ontario Library Association (OLA) Conference,  February 1, 2008.

Meikle, S., Cunningham, H. V. and Newman, J.  Redesigning the University of Toronto Libraries Web page: A Collaborative Effort . UTL Staff Conference, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, May 8, 2006. 

Meikle, S. and Cunningham, H. Designing a new library portal: a case study of user-centred design that informed implementation decisions for the University of Toronto Libraries’ new web portal. Carleton University, Ottawa, May 1, 2006.

Meikle, S. and Cunningham, H. Qualitative Research Case Study: User-driven web portal design: methods, costs, benefits. OCUL Scholars Portal Forum, Toronto, February 1, 2006.

Cunningham, H. V.  Using personas as a web design tool. UTL Staff Conference, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, May 9, 2005.

Teaching to Large Classes - Online Library Instruction Tutorials

Cunningham, H.V. and Devakos, R., Optimal information foraging and key resources for undergraduate biology students.  Special Libraries Association Conference, Los Angeles, California, June 8 - 13, 2002. 

Cunningham, H.V., Cunningham, M., Devakos, R. and Hahn, T. Comparing two different approaches to developing interactive tutorials." LOEX Clearinghouse for Library Instruction, Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 10-11, 2002. 

Devakos, R. and Cunningham, H.V. Using the web to humanize access to the scientific literature.” Canadian Health Libraries Association Annual Conference, Waterloo, Ontario, May 28 – June 1, 2002.

Devakos, R., Cunningham, H. and Meikle, S., Lessons learnt from using “My Library” technology to create “Our Library,  Medical Library Association Conference, Dallas, Texas,  May 17 - 23 2002. 


I have been involved in teaching and supporting courses (in-person and online)  with the Department of Physiology (faculty of Mediicne), Environment & Health courses (Centre for Environment), and sveral courses from the Department of Cell and Systems Biology (Faculty of Arts & Sciences).


Treatment goal setting and alignment with patients with complex needs: Scoping Review. Knowledge Synthesis Grant. Submitted January 2016. Agnes Grudniewicz, Michelle Nelson, Kerry Kuluski, Vincci Lui, Heather Cunningham, Jason Nie, Heather Colquhoun, Walter Wodchis, Susan Taylor, Mayura Loganathan, Ross Upshur

Stroke rehabilitation and patients with multimorbidity: a scoping review.  Knowledge Synthesis Grant 2013-04-02.    Allison Bell, Martin Fortin, Carla Hagstrom, Andrew McClure, Anita Menon, Sarah Munce, Deirdre Dawson,  Linda Kelloway, Kara Ronald, Michelle Nelson and Renee Lyons and Heather Cunningham.

Medical Library Association Research, Development and Demonstration Project Grant. 2013.

University of Toronto Instructional Technology Courseware Development Fund 2001-2002: Developed the BIO 150 Optimal Information Foraging Online Tutorial and the My Biology Desktop Library.

University of Toronto Instructional Technology Courseware Development Fund 2000-2001: Developed the online Web-based Library Instruction Tutorial for Undergraduate Science Classes.

McGill Major Fellowship. 1996- 1997.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Scholarship (NSERC) 1991 – 1993