by David Ryan
Master of Information (MI) grad Nicole Marcoux has always thrived by helping others. Years before she embarked on her two-year graduate program at Dalhousie University, Nicole was empowering people with the gift of information literacy.
“Information management has been part of my volunteer work for many years before this degree,” she says. “I am part of Books Beyond Bars, a local organization that provides library and literacy programs to the women’s unit of Burnside Jail. I am passionate about the way managing information can increase access to resources for people, regardless of their circumstance.”
This passion has been evident in Nicole’s time at the School of Information Management (SIM). She’s made the most of her opportunity, not only through her excellent academic work, but by completing an internship, participating in committees, and even presenting at conferences. “SIM has supportive instructors and engaging electives, so I could focus my degree in my areas of interest.”
Nicole says that this blending of interests has been critical to her development. “I had opportunities to merge my academic and activist interests. I was inspired by my experience with Books Beyond Bars to write a paper about access to information and incarceration.” She took this opportunity one step further by presenting on the topic at a Books to Prisoners conference in Boston in 2019.
Her experience at Dalhousie (including her undergraduate degree in Russian studies) has changed her life in many respects. A native of Saskatchewan, she now calls Halifax her home. “I’ve found community here,” she says. “Plus, I get to swim seven months per year, and am never more than 30 minutes from the ocean.”
Her career objectives have evolved, too. “The best advice I got before I started the program was to stay open to the interests I might discover. My interest in academic librarianship has grown into my main objective,” she says.
This interest may have been shaped to some degree by her work as an intern in the Dalhousie Libraries. Patrons and staff alike were impacted by her presence and work ethic. Her duties included working at the Killam Library reference desk and collaborating on numerous projects, including space assessments and LibGuides. “Two of my favourites were developing a pirate-themed instructional escape room and managing a large donation of Russian Microfilm,” she says. “My Russian Studies undergrad comes in handy when I least expect it.”
While she excelled during her time here, she acknowledges that there were challenges. “One aspect of the field of Information Management is the rapidly changing role of technology. I chose technologically oriented electives so I could evolve my skills in step with the field”
As with all students graduating in May 2020, Nicole also felt the impact of COVID-19. “Social distancing has been a strange way to end my degree, without access to the usual forms of celebration,” she says. There was also the disappointment of a conference postponement. She and fellow Killam Library intern, Nicole Slipp, were scheduled to present on the topic of instructional escape rooms alongside Dalhousie Librarian, Lindsay McNiff, at the Workshop for Instruction in Library Use (WILU) 2020. They look forward to presenting in 2021.
Nicole says her time at Dalhousie was overwhelmingly positive, especially when it comes to helping her focus on information literacy. “As research for an assignment in an information literacy course, I co-taught a research methods class at NSCAD University,” she says. “Through this experience I was able to immediately practice information literacy principles while gaining instructional practice. Learning and teaching concurrently allowed me to develop my pedagogical practice.”
Nicole plans to channel her experience at SIM into a career as an academic librarian, with a focus on instruction, reference, and collection development. Still, her underlying motive will always be the opportunity to help people. “I want to be part of making the knowledge held by universities available to as many people as possible,” she says.