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Pam Bjornson

Congratulations to Pam!

1. What inspired you to work with libraries?
It was a fortunate accident really.  I had spoken at library conferences in Saskatchewan and also developed a partnership with the two university libraries there for Saskatchewan author access to their collections.  When I moved to Ottawa, Ernie Ingles (now AVP University of Alberta)  suggeted I consider the post of Executive Director of an organization devoted to preserving all pre-1920 published Canadiana.   To my surprise, they hired me, and I had the wonderful experience of working with a consortium of historians, university librarians from across Canada, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, and the National Library of Canada.  With support from the Mellon Foundation and a number of Canadian agencies and foundations, we made the transition to digital and the Early Canadiana Online collection was born.  I am very proud of the work that has done and continues to do.  

2. Serving as Chair for Research Data Canada is one of several distinguished achievements in your career.  What has been the most rewarding outcome from your role as Chair? 
The Canadian Research Data Summit was definitely a highlight.  Having 160 people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds (university, government, granting councils, NGOs) come together and discuss a national strategy for research data was very exciting.  And since then, we have started to see progress on a number of fronts.

3. What do you believe to be one or two of the greatest challenges facing librarians and library staff today?
Library funding reductions are a challenge, especially when new services are needed and there are continually rising costs. Reductions tend to be cyclical, but an extended period of this, as has been seen recently, forces us to develop new solutions.

Another challenge is that in any organization or profession there is a bias towards doing things as they have always been done. Some of the transactional things we did in the past can be done differently now, and the challenge is to see that this opens up exciting new opportunities for library staff to deliver new services.

4. What advice can you share with other librarians that would motivate them to become active in organizations?
For me, being part of an organization like CARL has broadened my knowledge of issues, and I appreciate the perspectives, expertise and support of my colleagues. Organizations are also a way to discover and pursue collaborations, which as a colleague said recently “allow us to take risks as a group that we might not be able take as individual institutions”.

5. What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
Overall, I find that the skills and training of librarians position them to do so many different things.  In my own organization I am always amazed by the variety of roles that professional librarians occupy.  From core collections, technology and metadata roles to supporting partnerships to delivering in-depth information and analysis about disciplinary issues, markets or patents, their work is moving ever closer to their clients.  There is also a growing realization that libraries and librarians bring essential skills to data management and can partner with research units and others to support robust solutions.

And, both a challenge and an opportunity – the way we work now to deliver service is often in teams.  Librarians have a core value of client service,  so the values and skills of collaboration, teamwork and leadership will continue to grow in importance, building on the foundation that is already there.

25 Jun 2013 | Posted by Christine Goetz

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