Dr. Sandra Toze (SIM Director and Assistant Professor) was recently interviewed by Librarianship.ca about her career path, research and the ever-evolving nature of the information professions. A great read to kick off a new academic year!
I am originally from Ancaster, Ontario. I graduated from Queen’s University with a BAH in History and Politics. My first real job was in a special library in a brokerage firm. My love of this profession grew from there. I complete my MLIS at the University of Toronto and worked in the Financial Services industry as a Director of Information Services for many years. I joined the School of Information Management at Dalhousie in 2003 and completed by PhD while working as a Lecturer. I became Director of the school in 2015.
What are your research and teaching interests?
My entire career has involved examining the evolving relationship between information and information services, people, technology and work. I am motivated to understand the possibilities and risks inherent in the increased impact of technology, and the need for reflection on unintended consequences.
I have centred my research around three evolving and interconnected strands:
- the collaborative information and data processes of groups;
- the shift to digital governance; and
- user specific, social, and mobile information interactions.
These areas of research are interdisciplinary and integrate research from knowledge management, collaboration, organizational learning, sociology, information seeking, and computer supported co-operative work.
Similarly, I have focused my teaching in the areas of knowledge management, human information interaction, information and research services, collaboration, and management without borders.
What advice would you give to a new faculty or staff member?
This field is interdisciplinary by nature, and very much expanding and affected by technology. Find areas that connect with your interests and your past experiences. I also love that people in our field are so collaborative. There are so many opportunities to work with our associations and other disciplines.
Coolest thing in your office?
As Director I have a corner office, so can see across to our Arts Centre, as well as to the Student Union Building, and up the street to the iconic Henry Hicks building.
I also have a beautiful table cloth from Iran, a fan from Spain, and rocks from the beach near our farmhouse in Malagash Nova Scotia.
If you didn’t teach librarianship, what would you be doing?
Probably being a librarian! I love working with people and researching.
What changes have you seen in the teaching of librarianship since you started teaching?
Especially in terms of research/reference services, the impact of Google and internet has affected our roles.
I am excited by the expansion of what our academic and public libraries do. The need to design and create user centred information and data services has also expanded. These are now becoming core skills.
What do you think is the most important aspect of being an information professional today?
Beyond knowing the core aspects of our profession, adaptability is key. You can connect our skills across all industries. With the growing impact of AI, machine learning, and issues such as fake news, the importance of the values and ethics of our profession are increasingly important.
How do you stay current in your field?
I love to attend conferences, and a wide range of conferences from academic to professional. I read as much as I can, follow experts, and have alerts on topics of interest to me.
What emerging topics do you foresee in the future of LIS research?
In many ways I see us continuing to study what we always have, but in new contexts. Information and data are really the key elements of most organizations, and the consideration of this is increasingly important.