MacEwan welcomes new dean of the Library
August 14, 2019 | Campus Life
With September fast approaching, MacEwan University’s new dean of the Library has been working behind the scenes to prepare for the academic year, while getting to know the university.
Sitting at the helm of a university library is a natural fit for Karen Keiller — not only does she have over 30 years’ experience working in university libraries, she discovered a passion for it during her own post-secondary education.
“When I walked into the library at the University of Winnipeg, where I was getting my degree, it was sort of strange,” says Karen. “I grew up on a farm in southern Manitoba and we didn't have a library nearby, so this one felt so big. But I figured out how it worked pretty quickly.”
Karen’s most rewarding experiences in her university library weren’t the times she found what she was personally looking for – she found greater satisfaction in helping others. She recalls a pivotal moment in her fourth year when a friend was overwhelmed by an assignment that required her to cite peer-reviewed journals. “She was practically in tears. So I went up to the library with her and I showed her how to find the journals she needed. She was so happy. I knew then that I wanted to do this for a living.”
“That pride people feel when they figure something out – that’s what I love.”
Since then, Karen has made good on her plan – after receiving her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario in 1989, she took on roles at the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, University of New Brunswick, and most recently Lakehead University. Along the way, she served on the Ontario Council of University Libraries, the Council of Atlantic University Libraries and the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries. Now, as the head of MacEwan’s library, she doesn’t intend to stray from her mission to help.
“As dean, I don’t work as directly with students as I used to. So now it’s about getting the best out of my team. My job is helping them be their best so that we can give our students what they need.” According to Karen, giving students what they need means adapting to ever-changing times. “Technology is making it easier to access information that previously was only available in a library. But it’s also making it harder to evaluate the credibility of that information, so I see that as an important role that we play now – just helping students with those critical thinking skills that they need for research.”
For Karen, it all comes back to helping people help themselves. “That pride people feel when they figure something out – that’s what I love.”
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