2017/2018 iSchool (SLAIS) MLIS Co-op Student of the Year

Each year, the Arts Co-op Program recognizes an iSchool (SLAIS) Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) co-op student for outstanding achievement in all aspects of the student’s performance, including academics, the workplace, and professional/community involvement. This year’s winner, Emily Hector, was honoured for her work term with the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC Library’s Community Engagement team. Her supervisors, Alexandra Kuskowski and Angela Towle, share that “we can think of no student more deserving of this award, as Emily made immeasurable contributions to the Making Research Accessible initiative project. Due to her dedication and hard work, valuable resources are now more easily accessible to the community.”

Excellence in the Workplace

During her term as a Student Librarian, Emily worked at the UBC Learning Exchange in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) and UBC Library’s Irving K Barber Learning Centre to a develop an open-access, web-based portal for accessing academic publications and community-generated materials focused on the DTES. Her position required working independently in addition to collaborating with multiple stakeholders, including two supervisors with different roles in the Making Research Accessible initiative (MRAi), the MRAi steering committee, and DTES community members. Emily’s supervisors notes that she did all of this with thoughtfulness and a remarkable work ethic that led to her creating new workflows, designing new resources, and improving the overall service of this initiative to an impressive degree.

As part of her role, Emily updated a digital collection of content created by, for, or about the DTES in the UBC digital repository, cIRcle. This included developing documentation to assist in maintaining and adding to resources identified as part of this collection. Emily also took the lead in a MRAi pilot to digitize community-generated materials that could be included in the cIRcle repository to complement academic articles. She built relationships with staff at the Carnegie Library and the Carnegie Community Centre Association to elicit formal support for the MRAi and permission to provide community-generated materials for the repository. With Emily’s supervision, these organizations were able to digitize 67 separate items, upload them into cIRcle and make this resource further accessible to the community. This work has made previously hard to access community materials easily available to all, something that her supervisor feels is “priceless.”

Community Involvement

In addition to her term with the UBC Learning Exchange, Emily has been actively involved in the library community throughout her studies. She has worked across Canada in various capacities to promote and facilitate public access to literary and archival material. Positions with the Elizabeth Dafoe Library at the University of Manitoba, the Klondike History Library in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, and numerous branches of UBC Library all add to Emily’s rich diversity of experience. Currently, working as a Liaison Librarian at the Mohawk College Library in Hamilton, Ontario, Emily is building on her previous experience to develop and deliver information literacy instructional content that supports and contributes to programs of study.

Co-op: Connecting with Communities

Emily shares that the personal connections she forged with others during her time with the MRAi were some of the most valuable gains of her co-op experience. For her, getting the chance to be embedded in an inter-professional environment at the Learning Exchange led to fruitful collaborations and growth in personal and professional values. Connecting with DTES community members and community advocates was invaluable to Emily, as she had her first taste of sustaining a public-academic library partnership in working with the Carnegie Branch of Vancouver Public Library to digitize and preserve their special collection. In her own experience and the observation of other librarians and Learning Exchange staff, all of whom approached their work with open minds and an eagerness to adapt, Emily is extremely excited about a future in which libraries can help communities by dismantling barriers to information access.