Congrats to Heather Berringer (MLIS ’03), who was recently named Associate Provost, Learning Services at the University of British Columbia! Read the full article here.
A native of Cape Breton, I have been in my current role of Associate Vice President, University of New Brunswick (Saint John campus) since 2012, arriving via several career moves, universities and cities that took me from Halifax to Toronto and back to Halifax before landing in Saint John. I wear many hats in my work and have oversight for a number of areas including student affairs, athletics, enrolment management, IT and experiential education. I came to Dalhousie’s MLIS program while I concurrently filled the temporary role of Acting Director, Information Services and Systems (ISS) at UNB (encompassing library services and IT) between 2015-2017. Suddenly finding myself a library director while not a librarian was daunting but deeply gratifying as I worked closely with professional librarians and library staff to understand how I could support them in their mission to assist our faculty, students and staff. It didn’t take long for me to become hooked on learning more, and soon I had started researching MLIS programs in Canada and beyond. Deciding to pursue yet another degree at this stage in my career (I completed my PhD in Medieval Studies at University of Toronto in 1999, and had done two Masters degrees previous to that) was a daunting prospect, not only academically but also logistically. I decided to apply to Dalhousie and the rest is history. I found myself on the journey from lifelong library user and bibliophile to something quite different.
During the winter 2017 semester, while taking INFO 6750, Health Sciences Literature and Information Sources I had the opportunity to explore how my MLIS studies connected with my “day job” in a real and relevant way, as the timeframe aligned with pending legalization of adult-use cannabis in Canada (initially scheduled for July 1). I was chairing a committee at UNB to determine how we would respond to the legislation and how we could educate and inform our students, faculty and staff on the new reality. As we explored how to develop policy for the use of a substance that was not yet legal, we realized there was little public health material available to guide our work, and few other Canadian universities had materials available to consult. This problem, the lack of accessible and reliable information at other universities lead me to the topic for my final research paper for the course, and ultimately to its publication in the Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (JCHLA/JABSC), appropriately entitled “Cannabis on campus: gateway to student health literacy for academic health science librarians.” I am deeply grateful to the course instructors, Robin Parker and Melissa Helwig (both Dalhousie librarians) for their guidance and support. They exemplify for me what my experience of the MLIS has been thus far – superb instruction, meaningful and relevant content and a genuine desire to see students succeed and prepare us for the future as information professionals.
I also presented on this UNB policy work at a national policy conference on cannabis on campus, and even chaired the conference. The opportunity to explore the challenges of cannabis education in post-secondary environments within the MLIS course helped immensely both in the policy work, and in framing many of the discussions that the conference sparked. It has also opened up new opportunities on our campus to connect non-academic units such as student health services, student affairs and residence life with academic librarians who can work with them to identify resources that supports their work and our students alike.
I find that the MLIS program has provided me with knowledge that not only fulfills my own personal interests (cataloguing!) but has also been directly relevant to my work at UNB. I have greatly enjoyed the variety in curriculum of the MLIS courses I’ve taken thus far, and have benefitted greatly from opportune moments to apply my studies to my day job, in particular the application of Dr. Spiteri’s Records Management course to a complete revisioning of my own professional files. I was also recently appointed to UNB’s Records Management Steering Committee, and I know that I will be applying what I learned to helping UNB develop and implement an effective and sound records management process.
I continue to juggle part time studies (commuting at least one semester per year each week for classes) with my work at UNB, and am looking forward to eventually earning my MLIS degree and continuing to promote the importance of “all things library” to colleagues and friends alike!
“I devoted my final capstone project towards facilitating communication across the various, remotely-located, offices in which I dealt with on a regular basis. It is gratifying to know that many of the findings contained in my capstone presentation continue to greatly benefit the organization.”
Sarah Horrocks, MIM Class of 2011
In a recent virtual interview, Sarah joined CEGE Connection in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the MIM program.
I was one of the first recipients of the MIM degree from Dalhousie. Being part of the inaugural cohort of students meant being grouped together for every course, which led to many lasting friendships that continue to this day. The MIM program opened a new way of thinking about how to organize documents and materials for the preservation and continuity of business knowledge and information assets.
While I was studying for the degree, I was also working in two different office environments. I found that every aspect of what I was learning was immediately applicable to my work in both of those positions. I developed a deeper understanding of some of the legal underpinnings of information management and privacy legislation and was able to correct several policies that had fallen into non-compliance. I created a document retention/disposition policy and instituted file naming conventions for ease of document retrieval that exist to this day. I devoted my final capstone project towards facilitating communication across the various, remotely-located, offices in which I dealt with on a regular basis. It is gratifying to know that many of the findings contained in my capstone presentation continue to greatly benefit the organization.
Thanks to the flexible MIM blended online model, I was able to complete my degree, despite facing many time constraints. It was not unusual for me to be doing homework during my kids’ football games, paddling practices, even during my son’s bagpipe lessons (THAT was a challenge!). The faculty were extremely helpful in devising options for working around the occasional life events that caused interruptions in studies, such as skyping in to intensives or offering independent studies. Having the course material available online meant you were able to access it at your convenience from any location. The moderated online discussions ensured you were able to exchange your ideas with colleagues and faculty to better understand the material. The “in person” intensive sessions were a two-day whirlwind of knowledge exchange, presentations, papers and most importantly, networking. We worked incredibly hard. Even so, being together as a group made the experience extremely rewarding.
I would (and often do) encourage others to explore this program because there is so much to learn that is interesting and immediately applicable to any organization. In fact, my husband, a career army man, received his MIM degree in 2017. The variety of specialized electives available allow the degree to be tailored to fit a variety of interests. I am continually excited to uncover where my MIM knowledge can next be applied. This fall, after 13 years with the same organization, I am dusting off my CV and embarking on a job search, with my MIM designation at the top of my list of qualifications. I am ever eager to put my hard-earned degree to good use!
By Shania Taylor
On October 23, Jacob Ericson (Legal Information Specialist), Craig Olsvik (Senior Content and Licensing Officer), David McDonald (Legislative Librarian), and Melissa Helwig (Health Librarian) joined students and faculty to have a panel discussion on special libraries.
Students were able to ask the professionals questions and get an idea of what they can do with their degrees beyond traditional library careers. A prominent theme that arose throughout the talk was the unpredictability of life after graduation. Every one of the panelists indicated that their current jobs were not where they thought they were going to end up when they started their degrees, and how important it is for students to take any opportunities offered to them. They also unanimously emphasized the importance of being able to demonstrate leadership and teamwork skills to employers, as those will be what sets them apart from every other MLIS graduate hoping to earn the same job. Being active in extracurricular activities within and outside the program can look very good on a resume.
The hardest part of working in information management is dealing with people, the panelists agreed. Although they all brought up different aspects of it, it all came back to communicating with others and the challenges that come with that. Their suggestions for dealing with this problem were varied, but ultimately came back to the same concept – treat others as you would like to be treated. Be friendly, be respectful, and try to see things from others’ perspectives, but also retain strong personal and professional boundaries and become comfortable with saying “no” when it is warranted. All together, the event was fun and informative, and more than worth any MLIS student’s time.