Get to Know Mayu Ishida, Reference Librarian graphic

With the changing needs of library users during this unprecedented time, Mayu Ishida, Reference Librarian at UBC’s Woodward Library, continues to provide services and support to students, faculty and staff in the biological sciences, computer sciences, statistics and mathematics. As a proud graduate of UBC iSchool, Mayu has been contributing towards the learning and research advancement of her alma mater: “I’m a science librarian, so I have the opportunity to work in different aspects of the library and it’s been a very rewarding experience”.

When asked about what keeps her inspired, she answers: “I’m inspired by how UBC Library employees are adapting to our patrons’ information needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. We try to provide e-books and other online alternatives to print materials whenever possible. We continue providing reference services, consults, and workshops online. We contribute to AskAway, the province-wide virtual reference service, and have signed up for extra AskAway shifts since the usage of the service is increasing. I feel fortunate to be able to participate in these efforts”.

Thinking about her current remote working set-up, Mayu smiles. “I appreciate my team’s camaraderie. Recently, we had a new colleague who joined us and another colleague who returned from her leave. We greeted these two colleagues by setting our Zoom virtual backgrounds to a welcome banner that my colleague, Eleri, created specifically for this occasion,” she laughs.

On her time off, Mayu finds relaxation in knitting. “I like trying different types of yarn that I haven’t tried before. I just like all the different textures and colours and different materials that yarn is made of,” she explains. “Right now, I’m trying lacey yarn and I’m making a scarf with it. It’s taking a long time, but it’s rewarding”.

As Mayu reminisces about her own experience being welcomed to UBC Library, she recalls all the support she received throughout her career. As a new hire, Mayu would often meet with fellow new librarians and archivists over coffee, tea, and shared experiences. She would also connect with more tenured librarians, who guided her and offered perspectives. “That was a nice support group and I was fortunate to be matched with two mentors when I started – one from my branch and another from a different branch of the library,” she explains.

At this point in her career, Mayu feels fortunate that she has opportunities to foster rich learning experiences by mentoring student librarians working for Woodward Library. She makes it a point to impart time-tested advice that was given to her when she was a student librarian herself: “They have the freedom to explore the program, to build their CV, but also to get that well-rounded experience through experiential learning”.

Learn more about UBC Library’s online resources and how we’re supporting the UBC community during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kat McGrath Library employee profile

Before starting her career in librarianship, Kat pursued her dream to live self-sufficiently in the country. With some friends, Kat built a solar heated house in an agricultural area of Pitt Meadows, had land with animals and often worked in libraries. “I found myself going back to libraries and realized that working with library people felt really good. I enjoy being around curious people who have an interest in something and want to solve a problem.”

After graduating from library school and working as a professional librarian for the past 30 years, Kat’s librarianship career evolved to her becoming UBC Library’s current Renewals and Collections Librarian. “One of the cool things about Collections Services is that we support all parts of the library. All formats. All languages. All disciplines. We really get exposed to the breadth of what the library has to offer.”

With the growing needs of library users, Kat’s day-to-day involves enhancing the experience and accessibility of UBC’s electronic and print collections: “The exciting aspect about the online environment is that it supports discovery, as well as providing information and knowledge to our users 24/7 from wherever they might be – on campus, at home or in the field.  Finding something online might not be the end, in fact it’s often just the beginning,” she says. “Initially, eResources were dominant in Science, Technology and Medicine fields, but now it’s cross-disciplinary. Our Asian Library, for example, is growing its ebook and ejournal collections.  We’re also expanding our streaming media collections, which are popular in online courses; and responding to increasing demand for datasets and tools to support digital scholarship.”

Talking about her own growth, Kat shares opportunities she’s been given throughout her library career. Aside from a range of responsibilities within the library, Kat recalls being able to work within local and international organizations and committees. With a smile, she reminisces about being seconded to Southeast Asia and later immersing herself in libraries of the Middle East during an unpaid leave saying, “I’ve been very fortunate, and I’m grateful for that.”

When asked about her favourite UBC Library memory, she looks up and laughs: “I was the coordinator for an academic library and publisher conference held at UBC in the early 90s – pre-Olympics. Many people coming from the United States and United Kingdom hadn’t been to Canada before. They were blown away by the campus, the views and the salmon barbeque at the Museum of Anthropology. It was a really proud moment for me to share the library and campus with people.”

Staying rooted in nature, Kat is excited about upcoming Library Climate Action Initiative seminars and more outdoor activities with her partner: “For Canada’s 150, I took up bird watching. My partner and I set a goal to identify 150 species in Canada that year, which we managed to do. That pursuit has been especially life changing.”

Discover more about UBC Library Collections by visiting our website.

Stephanie Savage Library employee profile

Stephanie Savage has spent the past two years developing her career and a new job portfolio as UBC Library’s Scholarly Communications and Copyright Services Librarian. “I was able to be creative in initiating projects, developing connections across the library and campus, and taking the opportunity to do things that hadn’t been done before.”

After living in Montreal, Japan and Winnipeg, Stephanie returned to Vancouver, ready for the next step in her career. Stephanie started her librarianship journey as a UBC iSchool student in the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program. She recalls learning about copyright during her studies, “I learned a lot about what the job would entail and it kept me interested and I decided to continue to pursue it in my professional career”.

Stephanie takes the initiative to start her own projects, build expertise and expand her skillset beyond the library: “We are lucky to be in a place where some of the most exciting research in the world is going on, so I always try to remember to go to talks or events on campus,” she says. “It could be an opportunity to get broader insight to what’s going on and what’s important to people on campus.”

In her day-to-day, Stephanie helps graduate students, researchers and faculty members with scholarly communications and copyright compliance. Stephanie is also looking for ways to engage with different groups from the UBC community, and is now working on an Alma Mater Society (AMS) grant-funded project that involves undergraduate student journals.

With her growing network and advocacy for open scholarship practices, she hopes to contribute to her industry by seizing opportunities to work with colleagues across multiple institutions on a local and national level.

Thinking about the next steps in her career, Stephanie is looking forward to publishing her first research paper and hopes to build campus fluency around Open Access and Open Educational Resources. “I believe in the work and it’s important to think about the research and publication process being available and equitable. If we can change people’s workflows or get them to consider publishing Open Access or to put materials in cIRcle, I think that cumulatively has an impact.”

For early career professionals, Stephanie shares, “it’s really important in the beginning to make that effort and get out of your branch or wheelhouse and make connections early on. A lot of the way innovation happens, in my experience, is through serendipitous connections with people.”

Learn more about Scholarly Communications and Open Access

Lorne Madgett has been with UBC since 1993, and is currently the e-Resources & Access Library Specialist in Collection Service at the Woodward Library.

Before he started at UBC, Lorne was working at an engineering firm in Ontario. Looking for a change of environment, he decided to hop on a train and venture across the country to Vancouver. “I came across by train in February, which is really interesting, because it was like Siberia across the prairies,” he said. “I’m looking around [Vancouver] and thinking, ‘oh, this is where I got to be’.”

Once Lorne settled in his new home, he decided to enroll in UBC’s Creative Writing program and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. While studying at UBC, he started working as a Student Assistant for Janice Kreider, who was the Bibliographer of Science and Engineering at the time, and from there Lorne grew within the University, eventually landing his current role in e-Resources.

Lorne explained how his current role has many commonalities with his engineering past in Ontario, including skills in investigation, exploration, problem solving and technology.

Lorne’s advice to new UBC hires is to explore their position. “Don’t think of the job description as your constraints, think of that as sort of your starting point,” he said. “Always keep your options open, because the whole thing is evolving. It’s never the same, even the tools that we’re using now, two years from now we could be using something completely different. And it’s rapidly changing, what we use in the library and what the patrons want of the library, so I would say, be aware of that, and just keep up and push forward.”

During his off-time, Lorne and his girlfriend enjoy visiting their property on Salt Spring Island. They enjoy eating out at local restaurants, especially sushi, and traveling.

To learn more about the Woodward Library, click here.

Photo credit Robert Abel.

Librarians seem to be making a name for themselves on Jeopardy! these days and here at UBC Library, we’re proud to count one of our own among them. Dr. Jennifer Abel, who is currently earning her MLIS and working as a student librarian in the Education Library, recently appeared on Jeopardy! on July 17. We caught up with Jennifer to learn about her Jeopardy! experience and what she values most about UBC Library.

What does the process of applying for Jeopardy! look like?

The first thing you have to do is do an online test. They host them a couple of times a year. It’s a 15-minute timed online test of 50 questions. They don’t tell you how you do. You only find out if you did okay on the test if you get called for an in-person audition.  I did the online test twice, once in the fall of 2016 and once in the spring of 2017. I was called in for an in-person audition in February 2018.

At the in-person audition, you take another written test and then they hold some mock games where you practice with the signalling device and answering in the form of a question. They record a short interview as well to get a feel for your personability. Once that’s complete, you’re in the contest pool for 18 months. You may or may not get called and I was lucky enough to get called.

What was it like once you got to set?

All the filming is down in Culver City, California at the Sony Pictures Entertainment studios. They tape five shows in one day, so basically, a week of shows. Having watched the show basically my entire life, I was sort of used to seeing the sets and the big board. But it’s different when you’re actually there. You’re on the stage going “Wow, this is bigger than I thought!”

Photo credit: Jeopardy! Productions Inc.

What was meeting Alex Trebek like?

He seemed very much like his professional show persona. I think he’s the most gentlemanly game show host I’ve ever seen, which I think is part of being Canadian. In between the shows, he takes questions from the audience — he’s very quietly funny. Apparently, he’s also a handyman — not that he does that on the set, but he showed us a picture of himself up to his waist in his wife’s bathroom floor because he was renovating the bathroom. It made me think, you can take the boy out of Sudbury but you can’t take the Sudbury out of the boy!

Librarians and librarians-in-training seem to be doing very well on Jeopardy! recently. Why do you think that is?

I think librarians in particular are very curious — they’re interested in lots of different things. They generally have a good memory, because we have to remember where all the stuff is! One of the things we learn in library school is asking the right questions when we’re conducting reference interviews with faculty and researchers. I think that skill really comes in handy in Jeopardy!.

As a former PhD student in Linguistics and current MLIS student, what do you value the most about UBC Library?

I think the people are great and their expertise is so helpful. The librarians I worked with during grad school are the reason that I wanted to go to library school. I admire their willingness to try new things and their work to make the university a better place. I think of the work I got to do with the Research Commons and just how much of a difference that’s made in the lives of so many UBC grad students.  That support wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for folks in the library.

Jennifer Abel worked as a Graduate Student Peer for Thesis and Dissertation Support at UBC Library’s Research Commons from July 2012 to April 2015 and September 2017 to August 2018, where she taught workshops and offered one-on-one consults.

She completed her PhD in Linguistics at UBC and is now working towards earning her MLIS.

Ya Min Wu has worked at UBC Library for the last five years. But his experience working with Chinese rare books goes back even earlier.

“Before I came to Canada [in 2001], I worked in a public library in China, Liaoning Provincial Library. I was there for about 15 years,” he says. “I primarily worked on the Chinese rare books, so I have lots of time spent on rare books authentication, cataloguing and some preservation.”

Moving from China to Canada with his family, he switched tracks to work in business and manufacturing in Vancouver for the next decade before returning to library work at a small company in Burnaby that provided library services to the Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver Public Libraries. Later, when an opportunity came up to work at UBC Library, he joined the Technical Services team in 2014 to work with Chinese language materials.

“UBC has a great Chinese rare book collection. It’s a huge collection, outside China,” he says, noting that the entire collection includes about 4,000 titles in 60,000 volumes, making UBC a top-tier research library for Chinese Studies in North America.

One of his first major projects at the library was to work on Discovering Modern China, a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project that involved close collaboration between UBC’s Asian Library and the University of Washington East Asia Library to catalogue large volumes of valuable but hidden scholarly material: “At Asian Library there are lots of uncatalogued materials that have not been touched before. We worked very hard, together with some student assistants and Asian Library’s Chinese Studies Librarian to originally catalogue more than 1,000 items in one year.”

In 2018, the library got funding support through donors to work on the Puban Collection, UBC’s largest Chinese rare books collection, consisting of 45,000 volumes spanning subject fields like history, literature, philology and philosophy. Ya Min’s work is now centered on the Puban Collection, both cataloguing the collection and planning for its future storage, preservation, conservation and digitization.

“The project is focused on how to organize and make the Puban Collection support teaching and research. For the past 60 years, the collection has helped to make UBC Asian Studies one of the best in the world,” he says. “So how can it benefit new students in the future? This is the project.”

In honour of the 60th anniversary of the Library’s acquisition of the Puban Collection in 1959, Ya Min Wu will be hosting bi-weekly tours highlighting items from the collection at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections. Learn more about the tours.

It’s been nearly five years since Anne Lama, Library Conservator, joined the team at UBC Library. At the time, her move from Paris to Vancouver was a big change for her and her family. “We packed everything and decided to move first for one year,” she says. “And in fact, we fell in love with Canada and the people so we stayed.”

Having spent 10 years at the National Archives in France, Anne has brought time-tested experience to UBC Library but remembers the challenge of adapting to a new institution, language and culture, all at once. She noticed, for example, that the atmosphere at UBC—and Vancouver in general—is quite different than what she experienced in France. “It’s about the way people work and the difference, of course, with France. Here it’s very calm, everybody is zen,” she laughs. For new UBC hires, Anne’s advice is simple: “I would say take your time to get to know everybody, the services, and how it works before jumping in to your work.”

While relatively new to Canadian culture then—she did an internship in Toronto in 1999—she also had the unique opportunity to establish preservation-conservation processes at UBC, which, until she arrived, had not had a dedicated Conservator on staff. “National Archives has a big restoration lab with almost 20 people working there,” she recalls, who now works on a team of two with an assistant.

No longer the newcomer, Anne has a strong vision for the future. When asked about her wish list for the next five years, she doesn’t hesitate: “I really want to set up a Preservation Lab.”

“We try to evaluate our needs and to see in which direction we want to go,” she says, noting that the direction they choose would also inform what equipment the lab would house and the kinds of work the lab would specialize in. A balance needs to be struck between preventive conservation work for the general collection and the more specialized work that is required for materials in Rare Books and Special Collections. “We need specific materials to be able to perform reversible conservation work. We need to also use supplies which do not transform the object completely, but preserve the original aspect of the object, like Japanese paper or starch paste.”

As for life in Vancouver, Anne continues to make the most of it, bicycling on weekends and visiting the pool during summer, travelling, and exploring all the art available around the city. Though she doesn’t often get the chance these days, Anne also enjoys book binding in her spare time.

Anne Lama is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Employee Excellence Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

The post Meet Anne Lama, Conservator at UBC Library appeared first on About UBC Library.

Three years ago, Wendy Traas moved from Toronto, where she worked as a Liaison Librarian at the University of Toronto Mississauga, to Vancouver to take on the role of Reference Librarian at UBC’s Education Library. “BC is beautiful, and I really wanted to live somewhere beautiful. It was also the perfect role for me. I felt like Education was a great fit for what I had done before, because I’d also worked at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.”

At UBC, she works primarily with the teacher candidates who come through the Faculty of Education, as well as graduate students and educational researchers. “We do a lot of instruction in the library. In the orientation sessions that we run, students come into the library, and we want to get them immersed in our collections and give them a chance to explore what we’ve got.”

One of the most interesting parts of her role, she says, involves working closely with other educators and picking up new instructional strategies and ways to use emerging technologies. “This place is rich for those kinds of experiences and I really get recharged just hearing about other academics’ work and other fun and innovative projects.”

This year, she was able to use augmented reality (AR) as part of the Education Library’s instructional programs by setting up with unique AR targets designed to engage students in key collections and resources. The project was a successful collaboration between the Chapman Learning Commons, iSchool, and the Education Library.

“We’re also excited about community engagement with the library,” says Wendy, referring to innovative programs like the Seed Library and the Young Learner’s Library (YLL).  The Education Library is in process of developing the YLL into a flexible, multi-purpose area that addresses both a need to support joint Library/ Faculty of Education programming as well as a need to have a space that is welcoming and appropriate for local caregivers and kids. As it continues to develop, in both physical features and programming, it will also serve as a model for teacher candidates of what a contemporary school library learning commons could look like, as well as opportunities for rich learning experiences for iSchool GAAs with an interest in Children’s Librarianship as well as alternative practicum placements for Education students.

Although Wendy isn’t new to UBC anymore, she has plenty of helpful advice to any librarians who are just coming on board. “New hires should get in touch with all the other new librarians because they should know that they’re not alone,” she says, adding that she appreciates the support network that exists at UBC.

Learn more about the Education Library’s initiatives.

Wendy Traas is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Innovation Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

Most of the collections at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) are kept in what’s known as the Vault. This climate-controlled storage space is one of Hiller Goodspeed’s favourite spots to uncover hidden treasures, as he goes about his job as a Circulation, Copying and Shelving Assistant: “Just in shelving and retrieving items, I often stumble upon books, maps and photographs that I didn’t know that we had. I discover new things in the Vault all the time.”

Hiller came to UBC as a student in the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program at UBC iSchool, before taking on a position as a shelving assistant at RBSC in 2015. After graduating the following year, he was hired into his current role.

“I work for the most part at the circulation desk at Rare Books, and so we get students, scholars, and researchers from all over the world. I have had great conversations with people who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject of study,” he says. “People come here and do an informal residency, where they will go through a whole collection. They will tell you bits and pieces of what they’re doing each day, as they’re packing up. It’s fascinating.”

His journey to UBC started when he bought a one-way ticket to escape the heat and humidity of Florida, and made a new home in the Pacific Northwest. He lived in Portland, Oregon, working as a designer and illustrator for three years before enrolling at UBC, moving further north. But working at UBC Library hasn’t meant he’s stopped designing—in fact, the Library has become a source of inspiration.

“I do a lot of freelance illustration work, for all kinds of people,” he says. “I think a lot of my ideas for drawings and art in general come from conversations I overhear or have myself, things I observe and, like I said, going through the Vault. Inspiration comes from everywhere and definitely working at the library has an influence on me.”

Recently, Hiller teamed up with Google Hardware Store to design elements of a pop up shop in based in Chicago and New York. “What started out as one email turned into a three-month intensive project. It was a great project to work on, and it’s always a nice complement to library life because it’s quiet here—very orderly and structured—and then at home, my desk is covered with pencils and pencil shavings and I’m drinking coffee and it’s kind of like a disorderly artist studio. The two pair very well together.”

Some of Hiller’s artwork is also currently on display in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre as part of new exhibition, curated by the Music Art and Architecture Library & Rare Books and Special Collections to showcase a selection of their 2018 acquisitions.

Learn more about the exhibition and about RBSC on our website.

Fernando Murillo worked as a Graduate Student Peer for Thesis and Dissertation Support at UBC Library’s Research Commons from September 2017 to July 2018, where he taught workshops and offered one-on-one consults.

He completed his PhD in the Faculty Education at UBC this past summer, and is now looking forward to joining a small, private university in Santiago, Chile, where he will be opening a new line of research on the study of education. From this new position, he will be able to continue the work he started at UBC and have opportunities to collaborate with professors and colleagues from UBC at an official institutional level. 

What were you doing before you came to UBC?

Before I came to UBC I was living in Chile, my home country. There, I worked for the national government in public policy making at the Ministry of Interior. I also worked as a curriculum consultant for a university that was transitioning to a competency-based curriculum. I think that, perhaps, part of that experience helped me in navigating and making decisions about the direction of my doctoral work at UBC.

What has been the most interesting part of your role at UBC Library?

One of the most interesting aspects of my job with UBC library was that it gave me the chance to meet and work with students and faculty from across the university and from so many different fields. You get to hear about work being done in areas you otherwise would have never come across, and one inevitably learns from that exposure.

Did anything surprise you about working for the Library?

Perhaps because of past experiences I always had the image of libraries being very serious and quiet environments. Instead, I felt welcomed into a genuinely caring and thoughtful group of people, and I am thankful that the people at the Research Commons trusted us—sometimes more than we trusted ourselves—to do the job and also try out new ideas.

What advice would you give to new student employees at the Library?

Don´t be afraid to bring your personal experiences to the workshops and one-on-one consultations. One of the reasons why students feel at ease coming to the library for help is because they can ask questions and get answers from their fellow graduate students, without feeling intimidated. Students seeking help can relate a lot better when they see someone approachable and who speaks from personal experience.

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