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Infographic: How To Write Better Emails

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-23

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Summary of Meeting between CLA Executive Council and Library and Archive Canada Management

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-20

On Monday, September 29, 2014 CLA Executive Council had the pleasure of meeting with the new Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Dr. Guy Berthiaume, and several of Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) senior staff including:

  • Lucie Séguin, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Collaboration and Executive Secretariat
  • Cecilia Muir, Chief Operating Officer
  • Paul Wagner, Chief Innovation and Information Officer
  • Renee Harden, Director General, Communications
  • Christopher Kitzan, Chief of Staff
  • Hilary Morgan, Director, Stakeholder Relations and International Affairs

Dr. Berthiaume started the meeting by outlining the five priorities for LAC for the 2013-2016 Business Plan:

  1. Acquire information resources that represent Canadian society
  2. Improve documentary heritage preservation in analogue and digital formats
  3. Improve access to and distribution of content with digital technologies
  4. Adopt a more collaborative approach to carry out the mandate and support documentary heritage communities
  5. Develop the infrastructure and the new competencies required to ensure documentary heritage management in the 21st century

Dr. Berthiaume also outlined a series of four commitments that describe the way that LAC will go about delivering on the priorities. The commitments also communicate to library and archival stakeholders what they can expect from LAC,

  1. Serving clients. Whether those clients are researchers, faculty, donors, students or the general public, LAC wants to provide excellence in service.
  2. To be on the leading edge of archival and library science and new technology; this will be achieved by investing and believing in their staff (including their attendance at conferences and events where they can highlight their work).
  3. To be proactively engaged with national and international networks; Dr. Berthiaume believes that they don’t always have to chair committees, but that it is equally important for them to listen and respond with understanding.
  4. To become an institution with greater visibility, in particular to use the space at 395 Wellington for exhibits, meetings, conferences. They do not want to be Canada’s best kept secret.

He commented that LAC has had many visions in the past; moving forward, he seeks to bring stability. The floor was then opened up for questions from Executive Council. Among the topics we discussed were:

  • LAC’s plans for Canada 2017 were discussed, and it was noted that this work may provide opportunities for possible collaboration with the library and archival communities nationally. Travelling exhibitions are planned; Dr. Berthiaume indicated our involvement would be welcomed.
  • The status of the Trusted Digital Repository certification was discussed. Paul Wagner, CIO, reported that it is well underway and on track for the 2017 completion goal. He explained the phases of testing they were going through in order to scale up to full implementation.
  • Web-harvesting activities to capture born-digital material is an area of increased priority for the CIO. Mr. Wagner will be standing as President of the International Internet Preservation Consortium in 2015. This is promising in terms of delivering on the commitment to being on the leading edge of technology for Canada!
  • Asked about the status of central support for RDA implementation for English speaking Canada, Cecilia Muir was able to confirm that LAC has the capacity and ability to provide leadership in implementation, and that this was something to which they are committed. Ms. Muir also confirmed that the loans to institutions program, which was modelled on the Library of Congress Lender of Last Resort program, was implemented in the fall of 2013, and has been running successfully since that time with over 200 items being loaned so far.
  • Concerns regarding procurement of a new National Union Catalogue were aired, and noted. The process is still underway, and for this reason, there is little that LAC is able to discuss in detail, but understanding of the concerns regarding cost for access and ownership of records are fully acknowledged as important areas that will be given major consideration throughout the process. Once LAC is in a position to move onto further developing detailed functional requirements with the service provider, the library community will be consulted extensively.
  • Finally, discussion of federal government departmental library closures in the media took place. We learned about processes that were undertaken as a result of decisions to close or rationalize libraries after the 2012 budget reductions that affected all Government of Canada departments. Ms. Muir explained the regulatory instrument that is in force (e.g., Multi-institutional disposition authorities), and must be followed by all federal departments to ensure that all federal documents are responsibly managed during any federal library transition – including, transfer to LAC when appropriate. In addition to this authority, LAC has also issued guidance to federal libraries on managing library closures or reductions, and when warranted or asked, will go onsite to these departments.

All in all, the meeting was very positive and hopeful in tone. Dr. Berthiaume assured us that he intends to ensure that LAC staff and librarians play a key role in the CLA Conference in 2015. We look forward to providing a platform to share these exciting developments with the membership in a wider context. Truly, a renewed energy has arrived at LAC and we look forward to seeing the flavour of Dr. Berthiuame’s commitments contribute to LAC’s role in the everyday life of Canadians.

Posted in Library and Archives Canada | Leave a Comment »

Tour for Students: Canadian War Museum’s Military History Research Centre

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-17

Tours for students from library science/studies programs in the National Capital Region:

October 30 – Tour of Canadian War Museum’s Military History Research Centre

The Canadian War Museum’s Military History Research Centre houses, in one convenient location, the George Metcalf Archival Collection and the Hartland Molson Library. These extensive national collections of primary and secondary research material document Canada’s military history from the pre-contact period to the present.

The hour-long tour will explore the library, archival, and photo collection, as well as a behind the scenes look at the storage vaults and facilities.

Note: Admission to the museum is free on Thursday from 4pm to 8pm.

Location: Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place
Date: Thursday, October 30 at 3:00 pm
RSVP: Please RSVP by October 28 at

For more information, please contact

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13 Questions With… Amanda Wakaruk

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-16

With Government Information Day taking place on October 16 in Ottawa, this week we are profiling members of the library and IM community who work with government information: 13 Questions + 3 bonus questions about government information.

Amanda Wakaruk

Government Information Librarian, University of Alberta Libraries

Photo of Amanda Wakaruk

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

She’d laugh at me for calling her a hero but Vivienne Monty has provided me with mentorship and inspiration multiple times over the course of my career. Her own career choices, service to the profession, and scholarship have reinforced the importance of government information practitioners and the pursuit of the profession and its values as a noble cause in its own right.

The first job you ever held and at what age?

Information Dissemination Agent (aka newspaper route delivery girl), age 10. Had to leave my part-time volunteer gig at the school library to take the job.

Your first position in the library and/or information services field?

Page (shelver) in a public library (not counting the volunteer gig in grade 4/5).

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

Framed copy of The Canadian Bill of Rights (with a University of Alberta Govt Docs acquisition stamp in the top right corner: August 2, 1961).

What is your guilty pleasure?

Roller coasters — the more kinetic energy they produce, the better.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Don’t be afraid to change employers if you are not achieving your goals in your current position. Life is too short and Canadian living standards are too high to spin your wheels for 35 hours or more a week. Take a risk!

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

I can dance the tandem Charleston without injuring myself or others.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

Receiving off-the-record gratitude from front line information professionals in government agencies and IGOs for my contributions to collaborative services like the CGI DPN, conference presentations, and writing about the current state of access to government information.

Academic government information librarians in tenured positions have a responsibility to use their academic freedom in ways that benefit the profession as a whole and, by extension, those who use government information in their work, personal lives, and scholarship. The nature of this work does not lend itself to typically sanctioned awards or accolades; recognition that this work is useful from those closest to the issues is a source of pride.

If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?

I wouldn’t spend it alone. Most of the day would be playing strategy-intensive board games with my partner and friends (new and old) in a board game cafe in one of the many cities around the globe that host these fabulous places. Evening hours would have to include short films and exceptionally good wine.

If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

Something that brings together planning, design, and creative output… architecture, urban planning, barista?

Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “

…See places. I was a Travel Club member and spent more hours driving my car than I did in class.

How do you stay current in your field?

Twitter, conferences, colleagues. Sadly, it’s a struggle to make time for all three.

What opportunities does the shift to digital-only government information present to the library community and to users?

It takes less financial capital investment to act as stewards for web-based government information and it is easier for curation to happen at arms’ length from the publishing agencies. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s free or simple. Acting on opportunities for collaboration is very important.

What should every information professional know about gov docs?

Four Government Information Precepts for Non-Government Information Librarians

1. Access to government information is the foundation of a functioning democracy and underpins informed citizen engagement.

Government information allows us to assess our governing bodies — a necessary requirement for a properly functioning democracy. Government records accessed through Freedom of Information legislation, Public Accounts, the Debates of the House of Commons and Senate, and court records, are just a few examples of government information, also called ‘government documents.’

Government agencies collect data during the provision of programs and services and produce publications providing citizens with an authoritative source of information about the society they live in. These are often referred to as ‘government publications.’

2. Government information has enduring value. Don’t waste precious time re-questioning this fact and do your librarianly duties.

Don’t confuse low present-value price tags with low value overall. This is a commerce-based construct of value that you should have learned to identify and interrogate in library school. It’s true that many government publications cost less than other containers of knowledge. This is, in part, because your tax dollars have funded, or at least subsidized, their production. It is not a reflection of their current or enduring value.

Consider the following:

  • the work of countless academics and other experts is disseminated via government information
  • government publications and documents are used by most academics and social commentators in all areas of intellectual output, resulting in the production of  books, reports, speeches, etc., which have shaped our society and understanding of the world
    • scientists use government information to make assertions about nearly every subject  (environment, energy, meteorology, etc., e.g., Silent Spring was full of references to government information)
    • social scientists use government information to make informed observations and help shape policy discussions (including statistics compiled using methodology standardized by international governmental organizations like the United Nations)
    • legal scholars, lawyers, and judges need access to legislative and court documents to interpret and apply the law
    • journalists use government documents to inform the electorate about their governing bodies (insert most political scandals here)
  • government employees need long-term access to government information to develop, implement, and monitor policies, programs, and services (and it is not uncommon for them to contact academic libraries to obtain copies that are no longer available to them via other channels)

3. Government information is precarious and requires stewardship.

Two separate but related issues are at work here.

The first is that governments do not necessarily make collecting and preserving access to their own work a priority. The strongest system of stewardship for government information is one that operates in partnership with, and at arms-length of, author agencies. This kind of structure is equally important in both print and online environments. For generations, this task was the responsibility of depository libraries.

Secondly, please don’t be fooled by the call of the “it’s all online” brigade. Most government publishing moved online earlier than other types of publishing and has suffered from not having an a priori comprehensive digital preservation plan. “Born digital” content is also at a high risk for (intentional and unintentional) removal from open access environments. There are groups in both Canada (CGI DPN) and the United States (GODORT) that are starting to document these losses.

Not only is everything NOT available online, not everything born digital is made accessible and/or indexed by search engines like Google. Policies and procedures developed by the government in power determine what is distributed in an online environment and how it is preserved (or removed) for public access.

4. Government publications and documents are different than most books, journals, and content born on the Internet.

Get over any illusions of control that served you while working with other types of content. Government publications and documents are more challenging to acquire, organize, and provide access to.

The biggest differences between government information and other types of information products can be explained by why and how they were published. The agencies that produce government information are motivated by different factors than traditional publishers like Elsevier, HarcourtBrace, and the American Chemical Society. While many politicians appear to be obsessed with finances, they do not rely on publishing revenue to fund our military, repair our roads, or support re-election campaigns. Not only do few politicians or bureaucrats care if government documents or publications are read or cited, we often learn that efforts are made to obfuscate their purpose, delay their release, and even prevent their dissemination. This makes it more challenging to find, obtain, catalogue, and care for government documents and publications.

Government information is a lot like librarianship. It doesn’t fit into neat and tidy dissemination channels improved and simplified by years of customer feedback and the pursuit of higher profits. The very act of acquisition can feel like activism and inspire pugnacious outbursts from your government information librarians and implicated support staff. Government agencies and their priorities can change with the political winds and it is common for serial titles to start and stop, disappearing only to reappear under ever so slightly different titles or agency names.

Biggest surprise working in this subject area?

That even with recent changes in our global society some people still don’t understand the role and importance of access to government information in a democracy.

What would you like your headstone to read?

ATIP Request Number: A-20??-00009

Posted in 13 Questions, Government information, People | 1 Comment »

13 Questions With… Michelle Lake

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-15

With Government Information Day taking place on October 16 in Ottawa, this week we are profiling members of the library and IM community who work with government information: 13 Questions + 3 bonus questions about government information.

Michelle Lake

Government Publications Librarian, Concordia University Libraries

Photo of Michelle Lake

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

My career as a librarian was inspired by many people over the years, including lots of wonderful teachers, professors and librarians, but my biggest career influences and heroes would have to be my parents. There was always an emphasis on education and reading in our home, as a family we would go to the public library every week for new books. My parents always modelled loyalty, hard work and dedication and I strive to achieve those values in my own work.

The first job you ever held and at what age?

The first job I ever held was at Zeller’s, at age 16, in the Toy’s and Children’s wear departments.

Your first position in the library and/or information services field?

My first paid position in the library or information services field was as a student shelver at the University of Guelph Library, during my undergrad. I also located missing books, which was my favourite part of the job; tracking down elusive items is very satisfying. Previous to that, I volunteered in my elementary school library, helping sort and put books away.

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

My favourite item is a stuffed owl (who wears glasses and is reading a book), that sits on top of my filing cabinet. He was a gift I received when I graduated from my MLIS and is my office mascot.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t really believe in the “guilty pleasure”, I think that if there is a hobby or form of entertainment that adds something to your life, you should feel free to enjoy it.

My guilt free entertainment recommendation? Sleepy Hollow (the tv series), is completely bananas and I love it, if you’re looking for something fun and not at all historically accurate, try it out.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Say yes. This is especially important at the beginning of your career, but is true throughout. You likely won’t end up in the exact job you pictured as your ideal when you started your MLIS, but that isn’t a bad thing. Our profession has so many different facets to it, and as a result, an incredible amount of opportunity.

On the practical side, I mean apply to all jobs that you are interested in, consider contracts, or consider moving to a new city; try to get as much experience doing different things as you can. I have worked in public and academic libraries, covering a wide range of social science and humanities subjects and those experiences have all helped inform my current position and skill set.

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

I possess a large amount of pop culture knowledge. I’m great with movie and TV trivia, which can be useful in a trivia team situation and/or those ‘quizzes’ they show before movies at the theatre.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

My proudest moments are usually from the interactions I have with students. I’ve had the privilege of working with some really great undergrad and graduate students and offering assistance with their library research. Hearing back from students that I have helped about their successful projects and research is a great reward.

If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?

Sleeping in, drinking tea & eating pastries from my favourite local patisserie, perhaps a little spa time, having a meal + dessert with my friends and a walk in the autumn leaves.

If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

I would likely still be in the education field; I would probably be a teacher. I really like working with students and helping people access and understand information. My sister is a teacher, and is also a continual source of inspiration to me.

Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “

I honestly am not sure. It’s funny though, when I run into someone from those years or I catch up with old friends, their first reaction to my telling them I’m a librarian is a kind of knowing nod. I really love what I do, and I think it is definitely the right profession for me.

How do you stay current in your field?

I subscribe to a number of government information related listservs: CLAGIN, GOVINFO, INFODep, GODORT which are great for information sharing and keeping up-to-date with developments in the field.

I’m also a member of several library associations, and I regularly attend conferences and take webinars.

Twitter is also a really great tool for keeping current, there are so many interesting and dynamic librarians tweeting about our profession. I’m social media editor for ABQLA which has really added to my awareness of library news.

What opportunities does the shift to digital-only government information present to the library community and to users?

The shift to digital-only government information provides libraries and librarians with the opportunity to collaborate on digitization projects, initiatives and shared collections. I think it also provides us all with the opportunity and incentive to make our online portals to information more robust, and accessible, while providing the challenge (which the government information community is taking on quickly and efficiently) to be creative in our delivery of this information to the public.

Biggest surprise working in this subject area?

It’s not so much a surprise as a happy confirmation, that the government information community is very supportive and is thriving in a very challenging time. The partnerships, collaboration and resource sharing across all types of government information librarians and libraries is truly impressive and I am enthusiastic to see what the future brings.

What should every information professional know about gov docs?

That there are government information librarians!

Seriously though, the government information community is engaged and providing access to all manner of publications in many innovative ways.

There are excellent government information webpages and subject guides at academic libraries across Canada, there are custom google searches to uncover electronic documents and a wide variety of digitization projects across jurisdictions.

Find a government information librarian and/or their resources and use their expertise, it is useful in so many disciplines and for so many communities.

What would you like your headstone to read?

If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. – M. McFly

Posted in 13 Questions, Government information, People | Leave a Comment »

Libraries Inspire – Who inspires you?

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-14

Canadian Library Month 2014 banner

The theme of Canadian Library Month this year is “Libraries Inspire” – they help to inspire Canadians to celebrate our culture, to advance universal and equitable access to information, to support lifelong learning and to document and preserve our heritage for generations to come.

If libraries inspire Canadians, who inspires members of the Canadian library and information management community? Where they get their inspiration from?

To get the conversation started, we invited some members of the community to share their thoughts:

Jane Dysart
Senior Partner, Dysart & Jones Associates / Conference Program Designer

As the program designer for many events, some of which have to be planned 8 months in advance, I am always looking for inspiration! Doing something new and different to get people’s attention is important to what I do. I look to many different fields, especially business and technology, for inspiration. I follow many leaders from those fields on Twitter, Facebook, and through their blogs. I also have a large network of speakers I have worked with and am always watching what they are up to and saying. Some of those colleagues also make suggestions to me about topics and speaker. A recent example: Michael Edson who works in the office of the CIO at the Smithsonian suggested Michael Lydon, Principal of The Street Plans Collaborative and author, Tactical Urbanism. Lydon talked about hacking library spaces and helped our text focused profession visualize and see things differently! I find there are so many things in other fields that apply to information professionals, and we can really learn from different thinking and ways to handle things.

Liane Belway
Librarian, Holland College

Trying to choose only one inspiring person, idea, or service in our profession just brings out the librarian list maker in me. (Can we say list makers inspire us? Or is that just perpetuating the stereotype?)  But when I think about what inspires me here in my own library, one area where our people and programs make a real difference is in supporting literacy.

When I worked in public libraries, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth (you know, the ones who went extinct because they didn’t read), I got the chance to with literacy collections and services, matching people with the best resources for information, learning, and pleasure. This was an amazing experience, and not “just about books”: videos, CDs, picture books, language acquisition software, and mixed media all helped add value and enjoyment to an often challenging process. When I moved to college libraries several years ago, I had a similar opportunity to build services to support literacy for all ages (with some updated media formats, of course!). Past and present librarians, students, and teachers have some incredible success stories, and the dedicated teachers who make this process possible always inspire me with their energy and engagement. They are some of the strongest supporters of the library and the work we do, and I’m always on the lookout to make the journey towards literacy a bit easier and a bit more fun.

Lisa Gauthier
Document Coordinator, Office of Advancement, University of Alberta

Sometimes I take for granted how amazing and diverse this profession is. Then, I reflect on what inspires and motivates me. I am fortunate to have had amazing mentors who pushed me to do better, and to go out and seek different opportunities. Mentors who taught me that it is an important responsibility to support new professionals and to pass down knowledge in order for the field to grow and prosper.

I am proud to have friends and colleagues who are emerging trailblazers in academic and public librarianship, in the federal and provincial public service, in archives, and in information and records management. Their ambition and passion for the information field continues to grow stronger; they inspire me every day.

I am in awe of community public librarians who not only ardently work to provide literacy skills but give hope and support to all of their patrons. Their service and dedication is imperative to society.

Finally, I am inspired by library and information advocates and organizations that fervently canvass and fundraise to support our field. They publish both on social and traditional media platforms calling for people to act. They make noise, they protest and they educate the public on the survival of libraries and archives. They inform the public on information and privacy rights that should be protected and free from influence and corruption. These advocates fight the good fight and our profession is better for it.

It’s your turn!

Who inspires you as an information professional? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Leave your comments here or join the conversation on the CLA Facebook group.

Posted in Canadian Library Month | Leave a Comment »

13 Questions With… Catherine McGoveran

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-13

With Government Information Day taking place on October 16 in Ottawa, this week we are profiling members of the library and IM community who work with government information: 13 Questions + 3 bonus questions about government information.

Catherine McGoveran

Government Information Librarian, University of Ottawa
Co-Moderator, CLA Government Information Network (GIN)

Photo of Catherine McGoveran

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

To be honest, I’m inspired every day by a lot of people around me and even many I don’t know personally. I find inspiration from those that aren’t afraid to experiment, fail, and challenge themselves.

The first job you ever held and at what age?

My first job was as a Page, shelving books, at the Unionville Public Library in Markham when I was 15.

Your first position in the library and/or information services field?

My position as a Page was my first in libraries. I got started in libraries quite early, but didn’t know at that time that it would be a lasting trend.

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

Figurine of Finn from Adventure Time + pennant banner made from old maps of Canada.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Probably that I love Coronation Street, but I don’t feel very guilty about that.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Get as much relevant experience and meet as many people as you can, any way you can – working, volunteering, job shadowing, informal coffee, etc – and keep in touch with the professionals you meet.

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

Is there such a thing as a useless skill? Everything serves a purpose.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

When people ask me what I do for a living, I now get to respond by saying “I’m a librarian”. It’s a great feeling, particularly as a recent graduate.

If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?

Making deluxe sandwiches, cycling, and playing all the board games (with friends and family, of course). That can be done in one day, right?

If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

If I worked totally outside the information industry, there a few other, wildly varying options I’d explore: pastry chef, locomotive engineer, or front-end developer.

Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “

I think I was actually voted the person most likely to “help others”. Yes, that’s the broadest category ever, but I’d say that librarianship definitely falls within this.

How do you stay current in your field?

My current go-to tool for staying up to date is Twitter. I back this up with blogs, articles, news stories, etc. I’d also define “my field” as quite broad, as I’m interested in exploring how we can take the trends or strategies used in other fields and apply them to librarianship.

What opportunities does the shift to digital-only government information present to the library community and to users?

For many groups, though not all, the shift to digital represents an increase in access to government information. As the same time, however, we must be increasingly cognoscente of the fact that digital information can be quick to change / disappear. Access and preservation must go hand-in-hand in this respect.

Biggest surprise working in this subject area?

This wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but being a new (gov info) librarian I was quite happy to be able to connect and get involved with the Canadian government information community. It’s been great to work with so many different colleagues on a wide variety of projects. There is lots of activity around government information in Canada and I’m thrilled to be working in this subject area.

What should every information professional know about gov docs?

The field of government information is quite complex. There are always new things to learn, new information to find, and a variety of challenges when finding and working with government information.

What would you like your headstone to read?


Posted in 13 Questions, Government information, People | Leave a Comment »

Obituary: Erik John Spicer, C.M., C.D. Parliamentary Librarian Emeritus

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-10-04

Died in Ottawa on September 27, 2014.

Born in Ottawa on April 9, 1926, son of the late Violet Manhart (nee Gundersen) and Clifford SPICER, Erik is survived by Helen, his beloved wife of 61 years; daughter Erika Scott (Andrew) of Vancouver, B. C.; son John (Patricia Trott) of Toronto, Ont.; his beloved granddaughters Elizabeth, Katherine (Bradley Boehringer) and Caroline Scott, and Gabriella Spicer; brother Clifford (Barbara) of Olds, Alta., and sister Samantha Wallace (Keith) of Fairfield, IA.

A proud student of the Model School, Lisgar Collegiate, Ottawa, and graduate of Kenmore (NY) Sr. H.S.; Victoria Univ., Univ. of Toronto (B.A.); Univ. of Toronto Library School (B.L.S. 1949, Distinguished Graduate Medal, Faculty of Library & Information Sciences, 1989); School of Graduate Studies, Univ. of Toronto (1949-50); and Univ. of Michigan (M.A.L.S. 1959, Distinguished Alumnus Award 1979).

Erik began his career as a librarian at the public libraries of Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, and the university libraries of Victoria and Michigan before becoming Assistant Librarian and Deputy Librarian at the Library of the City of Ottawa, continuing there until his appointment as Parliamentary Librarian of Canada by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1960 – the first professionally trained librarian to hold the position. Erik remained Parliamentary Librarian until his retirement in 1994, at which time he was honoured, in recognition for his long and distinguished service, by being named Parliamentary Librarian Emeritus and Honorary Officer of both Houses by resolution of the Senate and the House of Commons. He had the distinction of being Canada’s longest continually serving Parliamentary official with the rank of Deputy Minister, serving under eight Prime Ministers and reporting to twelve Speakers of the Senate and ten Speakers of the House of Commons.

He often said that he had the best job in the world. Indeed, it provided him the opportunity to lead, build, teach – and serve his country – and he enthusiastically embraced the challenges put before him (including determinedly working to learn French). Not only was the work engaging, but Erik also saw himself as the chief custodian and advocate of the beautiful and iconic Library of Parliament building itself. He loved it deeply and reveled in showing it off to visitors – from school children to royalty and heads of state – and telling the story of its history, most particularly how it was saved from the great fire of 1916. For 34 years he happily occupied what had to be one of the finest government offices in Ottawa, with a panoramic view of the Ottawa River, Gatineau, Quebec, and the hills beyond; and with an entrance leading from the Gothic splendor of the main reading room.

Erik was a passionate proponent of the modern research library, and received numerous honours from home and abroad for his accomplishments and contributions to the field and his service to Canada, including appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada (1994). He was a life member of the Canadian Library Association (Pres. 1979-80) and Ontario Library Association (Pres. 1962-63).

Erik was member of the Governor General’s Foot Guards in Ottawa, retiring in 1962 with the rank of Major. He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration for this and his wartime service with the Royal Canadian Air Force and with the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps.

Erik and Helen enjoyed a very busy calendar of social, official and diplomatic functions, and over the years made many friends across Canada and around the world. Erik was an enthusiastic cottager, gardener, skier, and a fan of all things chocolate. He also enjoyed the arts, supporting the work of local painters, sculptors and ceramists, and attending performances at the National Arts Centre.

While Erik worked successfully to introduce computer technology at the library, he was not personally adept with electronic devices. However, he kept well-occupied with bookstore browsing and wrangling an ever-growing collection of books, periodicals and clippings (for which he was endlessly inventive in finding places to store) in the pursuit of his intense interest in military history and politics.

Erik was proud of his Danish heritage through his grandmother Besta, his mother, his aunt Anna and their siblings, and the cousins with whom he grew up and spent summers at Constance Bay and Long Lake, Quebec. He was a devoted caregiver to his mother and Anna in their later years.

Erik enjoyed a full and distinguished life, passing on his passion for life-long learning and generous dedication to family, community and country.

For those wishing to do so, donations in Erik’s memory may be made to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation at, or by mail to 737 Parkdale Avenue, 1st Floor, Ottawa, ON K1Y 1J8. (‘In Memory’ donations for Erik Spicer will be directed to the Erik and Helen Spicer Legacy Endowment Fund.)

A service and celebration of Erik’s life will be held at The Guards Chapel, The Church of St. Bartholomew, 125 MacKay Street, Ottawa ( on Saturday, 18 October at 2:00 p.m. Condolences may be offered at

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Freshly Minted – Stephanie Pegg

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-09-23

Stephanie Pegg

LIT Student, Algonquin College

Photo of Stephanie PeggWhich information studies program are you attending?

I am in my second year of the Library and Information Technician program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

What are your current classes like? Which is your favorite so far, and why?

My classes are very hands on and practical. There is so much information out there that is relevant to the discipline. My program does a very good job of covering all the bases, and trying to meet the needs of a diverse group of students. There is a lot of flexibility when doing assignments, so you can choose to explore topics that interest you most.

I really enjoy our cataloguing classes. We have been learning how to catalogue using both ISBD and RDA standards. It is very interesting to be learning both the “old” and “new” standards while the profession is in the midst of changes—changes that my generation may be spearheading, as many libraries have yet to implement RDA. It is also eye-opening to learn the controversies that surround professional cataloguing as outsourcing becomes more common in libraries.

I also like our Basics of Library Management class. I know I want to manage others one day in my career so I am particularly interested in this. In my experience, one of the most challenging and interesting aspects of the professional world is working beside and beneath others. The task-based nature of a work assignment is only part of the job. I have a feeling I will be jumping from one position to another throughout my career, and being able to recognize and adjust to different management styles will play a large role in my success.

Is there one aspect of the profession that surprises you that you were not expecting when you started the program? What is it?

There have been so many surprises, it is hard to choose. The biggest surprise was how far-reaching the profession is. I did not realize that you can do so much within the information field. I went into the program scared of either not being able to land a job, or of landing a one-dimensional job and feeling stuck afterwards. Neither of these are true at all.

I was also surprised to learn how connected libraries are to the social work field. Before deciding on the LIT program, I considered pursuing a degree in social work. Now I feel like I am hitting both bases because libraries play such a large role in educating communities. For instance, the library plays a role in bridging the digital divide for citizens who cannot access internet or technology. Providing this access is so important for healthy, active communities, especially in a country where government publications are going digital.

What was it that initially drove you to librarianship?

I was one of those young dreamers who liked the atmosphere of libraries from when I was a girl. My mom used to bring me to the library and these moments really stuck with me. I always felt like I was in a safe, healthy place where good things happened. In high school I became fascinated by the idea of the book as a tool for self-discovery, and this is when I began to think about becoming a librarian. I did change my mind a few times between then and now, but low and behold, here I am, and I know that I am in the right place.

If you could work anywhere, and do anything with information, what would your dream job look like?

I would be managing a library in a low income community giving people the tools they need for a successful and healthy education (no matter what that education looks like). I would focus library programs on reducing crime, and increasing education, safe communities, and political involvement. I would also run mental health awareness programs through the library.

If someone were considering going to library school, what would you advise them about?

Two things.

First, I would say make your education your own. Complete every assignment in a way that builds on your personal career interests. If you feel you cannot do this within classes and assignments, look to volunteer outside of class to personalize the experience.

Second, view your classmates as your community, not as your competitors.

What do you think is the most important aspect of being an information professional today?

Imparting information literacy skills to young generations. This is how libraries will beat Google!

Posted in Freshly Minted, People | Leave a Comment »

Learn at Work Week

Posted by CLA Govt Library and Info Mgmt Professionals Network on 2014-09-22

Learn at Work Week 2014 logo

Learn @ Work Week is an annual celebration recognizing the value of workplace learning and development in Canada.

To help members of the community plan their learning activities, the Government Library and Information Management Professionals Network has produced two resource pages:

Conferences and Workshops
A listing of conferences/workshops of interest to the Canadian library and information management community. Includes: events in Canada; international and national events in the United States; and selected international events outside North America.

Information Management Learning
List of college and university programs in information management, including: library and information science; library information technology; records management; archival studies; museum studies; and information management.

If you have suggestions for additions to either list, please send them to

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