Today we say goodbye to our friend and colleague Gwen MacNairn, who is retiring after 21 years with the Dalhousie Libraries. With this post, we want to share a few of her career highlights while paying tribute to Gwen.
Gwen came to us from Auburn Drive High School to be our new Computer Science Librarian in 2001, a role she held until 2016. Before that, she had also worked for ESRI in California writing technical manuals, as she holds a Diploma in GIS from COGS (NSCC), among many other credentials. Later in Gwen’s career, that experience and education would prove to be very useful. In 2015, Gwen became the Assistant Head of Killam, and in 2016, she became the GIS & Data Services coordinator. At that time, she also took on liaison duties for medical sciences, adding biology in 2018.
Throughout her career, Gwen has been an active collaborator with Integrated Science, Science Communications, CLT, and the Writing Centre. During Gwen’s time as the Coordinator of GIS & Data Services, they launched a popular newsletter, Layers, created a new service-focused landing page for GIS & Data Services on the Libraries’ website, and launched the Chris Hadfield Space Photographs Collection in 2019. The launch of this collection was the single largest event, from a media perspective, that the Dal Libraries have ever had, resulting in 58 media hits and remarks from Commander Hadfield himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otebueyo6Vo. In short, Gwen easily met one of her early goals as the GIS & Data Services Coordinator to grow the service awareness beyond the client base in Planning, Earth Sciences, and Economics.
Gwen embodies the ethos of life-long learning, with her annual reports typically including at least one full page detailing the continuing education activities she had engaged in in the previous year. She has a strong commitment to academic integrity, being active in plagiarism prevention from the beginning of her time at Dal. She was an early adopter of citation management software, and her special leave in 2008–2009 was focussed on Zotero and RefWorks as digital scholarship tools. Gwen’s commitment to teaching and information literacy was demonstrated through her involvement in several iterations of information literacy groups over the years. She also taught an Info Lit class at SIM in the fall of 2008.
Gwen’s approach was always user-centred, and she served on many committees and teams throughout her 21 years with us. We can’t list them all here, but we will try to provide some highlights. Soon after her arrival in 2002, she joined the Learning Commons implementation team, and in 2006 she chaired the Central Search Committee, which was our first foray into federated searching, resulting in the Prowler interface. In 2009, she joined the Web Renewal team, and in 2012 she worked on the Killam Single Service Point team. In 2015, she was part of the Strategic Alignment Plan and strategic planning group as well as the Primo Implementation team for Novanet Discovery.
It would be a huge oversight to not mention that Gwen is always energetic, fun, positive, and interesting. She brings her refreshing perspective to every project she is involved in. We hope that in her retirement, she will get to do more of the traveling she so dearly loves to do.
With great admiration and affection, we wish you all the best in your retirement, Gwen!