Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Profiles in Awesome – Meg Canada

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One thing about being an online student (although my program does have a once-a-semester in-person element), is that I’ve come to feel that at least 30% of learning is social. While I learn a great deal from my readings, synchronous class sessions, asynchronous class writing, and papers, I really miss having colleagues. So as one way to ameliorate this situation, I’m starting a series of  profiles of the librarians, professors, fellow students, information professionals, and other generally interesting folks I meet.

Meg Canada

I’m starting off with my dear friend Meg Canada, librarienne extraordinaire in Web Services at the Hennepin County Library system in Minnesota. I first met Meg when she did a presentation for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Social Media Breakfast club, a raucous group of misfits with an obsession for bacon, Twitter, and exploring social media. I immediately became a Meg groupie, approaching her and gushing all about my desire to become a librarian. She’s taken me under her wing in many ways, from showing me the joys of the iPhone (which I still don’t own, sadly), introducing me to other technophilic librarians, taking over coordination of NetSquared Twin Cities when I moved away, and sharing her amazing life on her blog, Meg’s Single Step.

In the email interview below, Meg talks about her journey to librarian-awesomeness and the need for librarians to reinvent themselves (hello, introverts!) and their institutions:

Nicole Forsythe:  Tell me about your background, and your current work (as in, job).

Meg Canada: I originally set out to work for a large, public university, but the large, public library is the people’s university, right? My first Master’s degree was from Indiana University Bloomington in Higher Education Student Affairs Administration. I worked for the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU). As an alumni of the IMU Union Board, I wanted to give students a similar experience.  When I relocated to Minneapolis, the first job I found was working as a Computer Trainer for New Horizons Computer Learning Center. I found myself treading water in the unfamiliar waters of technology. Both experiences prepared me well for my next role. In February of 2002, I accepted a position as a Library Technical Assistant (LTA) for Hennepin County Library (HCL).

NF:  What made you want to go to library school?

MC: By May of 2002, I was enrolled at the University of North Texas and completed my degree online while working full time for HCL. The first year I spent on the public floor as an LTA maintaining equipment and helping customers. My second year at HCL, I worked in Web Services and Training as an Office Applications Trainer teaching staff how to use everything from Microsoft Access to their phones. I was aware immediately that librarians ran the libraries, not administrators or educators, and I knew I needed to pursue an MLIS to be promoted again.  I also loved the ideals behind the profession: helping people, increasing access and promoting literacy.

NF: What do you think of your education in school vs. in the job world (expanding on the comment you left on my blog).

MC: My classroom experience had little to do with the job world with one notable exception. I was often required to find out what my organization was doing or had done regarding policy and practice. In a class on  library automation, I was able to ask our Integrated Library Systems Manager to show me a recent RFP our see the servers we had chosen. It was watching colleagues work, teaching staff how to use the new VOIP telephony or volunteering at the Correctional Facility that taught me the ins and outs of library service.

NF:  What do you see as a big issue in the world relating to LIS – challenges for the field itself, info challenges for the rest of the world, OR challenges for individuals?

MC: We are a field that attracts introverts. Many people who pursue Library and Information Science are interested in cataloging, archiving, and solitary pursuits. We need teachers, presenters, evangelists to pursue LIS education and to spread the word about public libraries and their value in communities. We also need professionals who are interested in early childhood education, youth development, language and technology.

NF: What might “information leadership” mean to you?

MC: Advocacy for libraries, creating useful community centers, and promoting the sharing of information are all ways I would like to be an information leader.

NF:  Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I hope the extinction timeline ( is wrong, but Libraries and Post Offices are slated to disappear by 2019. 250 post offices were automated in the Netherlands in 2008. Where do libraries stand? We need to take a serious look at reinvention and figure out what our new role is.


Want to hear more from Meg? In addition the the above mentioned blog, you can follow her on Twitter.

Are you interested in being profiled in “Profiles in Awesome” or know someone you’d like to see here? Have a good idea for a question to ask? Email me at nicolibrarian{at} gmail {dot}com.


Written by nicolibrarian

January 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

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