Sheila Laroque was the Academic Librarian Resident at the University of Alberta Libraries from July 2017 to July 2018. Sheila is currently the Digital Discovery Librarian at the Edmonton Public Library.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you attend college? What degrees do you have? What programs (undergraduate or graduate) prepared you for your current position? Tell me about your position and what you do?
I went to the University of Saskatchewan for my BA with a double major in both Political Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies; and finished with high honours in 2010. I went to the University of Toronto’s iSchool for a Masters of Information with a concentration in Library and Information Science, and finished in 2016. I’m also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
I find myself returning to the topics discussed in my course on Information Ethics, especially as we look at privacy policies and the way that our statistics are measured from our electronic resources vendors.
Currently, much of my role is as a liaison and point of contact between Edmonton Public Library and our electronic resource vendors. I’m also involved re-working our new website and staff communications as we are testing our new library mobile app.
What caught your interest about your residency ?
I had been hired to work on the Indigenous Language Project at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); which was to digitize the Indigenous language material that has been broadcast over the years. The report that I wrote for CBC on respectful language use and subject classification was very similar to the report written by the Decolonizing Description Working Group (DDWG) at the University of Alberta Libraries (UAL). I was very much interested in the Decolonizing Description project, as proper classification of Indigenous-related materials in libraries has been a problem for far too long.
Before you became a resident, what were you thinking about doing professionally or academically?
The impact that my work needs to have a positive effect on my community. I have felt this way since before I worked in the library industry; and this will always be my motivation for any new endeavors or projects I take on.
How was the residency or job application process for you?
This process was different because I was writing not about what I had achieved in the past; but my goals for the future. It really forced me to think about the steps and directions that I wanted to take my life in, rather than employing for positions because I needed a job.
Do you have any comments or advice for current residents?
Create a plan with your supervisor to ensure that you are learning the skills that you want to be learning. If the program isn’t working out the way that you want it to; keep telling people that have the power to change the work and tasks that you are assigned. If you are hired as a diversity resident and moving to a new city, create connections both within your institution and the broader city of people who are also within that group, who are not necessarily librarians. Find a community that you can ground yourself in and create the space that you will need to be able to talk to about your work, because being a diversity resident is extremely tough.
How are you becoming or staying involved with the wider profession?
Twitter and conferences are great for staying in touch with other librarians, but not the only way to stay connected. There are many other industries that work in conjunction with the library industry; and it is good to know what is happening in these spaces also.