Hi I’m Rita.
I’ve listened to over 1000 librarians from academic and research libraries share their challenges and struggles from being “of service” to a practice of active engagement.
I can help your organization focus on the future while honoring professional values.
Forever focused on innovation
My early work focused on technology — identifying innovations that improve the speed and effectiveness of library work, then learning it and applying it. These innovations — like introducing fax machines to library interlending services, and training staff to understand and use email — may seem quaint now, but they were a huge leap forward in the mid 1980s.
At the dawn of the publicly available Internet in the early 1990s, I led the first Internet search classes at the University of Toronto. Early adoption of Internet technology led to a wonderful shift into consulting. For the next decade I taught thousands of business researchers and librarians across North America to use this strange new tool called the World Wide Web to find information on the Internet. My work was profiled in Greg Notess’ book Teaching Web Search Skills: Techniques and Strategies of Top Trainers.
If tech is a given, why is moving forward still a struggle?
Today, learning about and using technical tools is a given. Technical skill requirements have become more complex, and not easily obtained. What hasn’t changed is the anxiety that often surrounds rapid shifts caused by technology.
The fear of loss — of previous expertise, status, or maybe even one’s job — is real . Even when employment security is not threatened, anxieties about the shift from cherished service values to impact-centered or user-centered goals can make it hard for the workforce to eagerly move forward.
At the workforce level, this anxiety translates as inertia, risk-aversion, resistance, or some of each. Leaders struggle to move their teams forward to accomplish pressing goals.
Recognizing this tension, I joined with the Association of Research Libraries in 2014 to develop a better understanding of workforce issues and concerns, and to share this learning through articles, tools, and recommendations as part of the multi-year Re-imagining the Library Liaison project.
Since retiring from full-time library practice at the University of Toronto, I’ve used my knowledge to help library staff understand and address these value-driven issues and concerns in ways that allow them to work with purpose, maintain their values, and contribute even more effectively to the mission and goals of their institutions.
I can help your organization focus on the future while honoring professional values. Learn more about the services that I can provide to your team.
Would you like to know more about me? See my full curriculum vitae (PDF).