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1. What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
I grew up on a small farm, and initially attended a one room school with a one-wall set of shelves serving as the library. The nearest towns had no libraries. I was a voracious reader, and once a year, the Manitoba government sent out 10-15 new books – a very exciting day in that little school. As soon as I left home for university, I got a library card. When it was time for a life change, a friend noted that I should go to “library school” since my children and I were regular users of the branch nearest to our home in London, Ontario. I had taught high school, but never worked in a library, and the way in which it all came together seemed intriguing and slightly mysterious to me. Discovering access to information as a core value in the LIS world sealed the deal.
2. Serving as President for the Canadian Library Association was one of several distinguished achievements in your career. What was the most rewarding outcome from your role as President?
That’s a tough question – it was a very busy 19 months, with the Association in transition to a new structure, a history of deficit budgets, and its services unchanged. A very proud moment was implementing a transitional funding model that saw Canada’s largest libraries agree to a pilot project to stabilize CLA’s membership revenue for two years – Canada has great and visionary library leaders! Two years with the Association recording small surpluses instead of deficits was very rewarding. But, then, so was the transition of CLA’s main serial publication, Feliciter, from being a print membership benefit to being open access and online. In the end, the best part of being President was working with members of the Canadian library community and the CLA staff, encouraging them to take on leadership roles in the new structure, and welcoming in-coming President Pilar Martinez to the CLA governance table. Her leadership has been such a great strength for the Association.
3. What do you believe to be one or two of the greatest challenges facing librarians and library staff today?
Change has always been part of the world of librarians and library staff, but it does seem to be accelerating as our clients find new ways of communicating. The need to get out from behind our desks and move to point of need is easy for some, and a challenge for others. We are also challenged by our own need to be lifelong learners in both collections and service work. We are all required to upskill continuously, as all of our jobs are changing continuously. No one can expect to be working in the same way or at all of the same tasks in 10 years.
4. Your commitment to the profession is remarkable. What advice can you share with other librarians that would motivate them to become active in organizations?
My whole career is the serendipitous result of early engagement with others involved in local library associations and CLA. The colleagues I have known through CLA have encouraged me, helped me find new and more interesting positions, and allowed me to mentor others. CLA has served as a bridge to organizations like ALA and IFLA. As a student of cataloguing, I had no idea that 15 years later I would be serving on the AACR Committee of Principals – CLA enabled that to happen!
5. What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
The most exciting times for me right now are hiring new graduates, and seeing the creativity and enthusiasm they bring to the workplace. They have so many ideas for new ways of working with our communities, and bring so many skills to the future of our work with information and people.