The Library is delighted to introduce Ingrid Thomson, our visiting South African librarian! Ingrid arrived at the Library in early March as part of the Research Libraries Consortium program funded by the Carnegie Corporation which aims to sustain, improve, and transform the research support provided by mid-career academic librarians in South Africa.
Ingrid is one of fifteen South African librarians selected to visit academic research libraries in North America to learn about the latest practices, trends, and developments. Waterloo and McGill are the sole Canadian libraries participating in this program this year.
Ingrid hails from the University of Cape Town Libraries where she is the subject librarian for Film and Media Studies, Education, Historical Studies, and Librarianship. Since arriving at the Library she has been meeting with librarians throughout the system to learn about the initiatives here and has been actively observing on many major projects, including the Library’s strategic Library Review process.
During her stay, Ingrid has been situated in Porter's Information Services & Resources (ISR) department where she has become good colleagues with ISR staff. She also visited the Wilfrid Laurier and University of Guelph libraries and enjoyed the opportunity to attend a conference at the University of Toronto's iSchool on Film Studies librarianship.
As part of the program, Ingrid also visited select libraries throughout the US. “There have been a number of highlights both within Canada and the US leg of the trip,” she says. “I still can’t get over the highly automated storage retrieval system I saw at the University of Chicago and the non-stereotypical librarians that I have met at the Source which is the library of the Upshot Marketing Agency in Chicago, and the librarians here.”
When asked how Canadian and US libraries compare to those in South Africa, Ingrid explains, “Library space is an issue everywhere. This showed up as one of the major trends in my library visits in the States. Space is being repurposed for scholarship and research and printed materials are being moved out to remote storage or stored off the floor. Student success is a challenge for us as well. My university has just set up a First Year Experience group with representation from across the faculties and the Libraries to try to address this.”
Ingrid will be returning to her home library in early May and is looking forward to sharing everything she has learned with her colleagues at her institution and further afield.
Everyone at the Library will miss Ingrid’s thoughtfulness, sense of humour, and joyful personality. One thing Ingrid will miss is the Canadian winter she never got to experience.
“Where’s the snow? I came prepared for cold snowy weather!” she says. “All joking aside, I must thank everyone here at the uWaterloo Library for making me feel so welcome, for the hospitality, and generous sharing.”