On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, the McGill Library raised a glass to toast four integral members of the Collection Services family as they prepare to head into well-deserved retirement. Representing a combined experience of over 150 years, the quartet of Maria de Souza, Elizabeth Dunkley, Judy Lindsay and Michel Morin have witnessed first-hand the Library’s evolution and growth over the decades as new technologies reshaped and redefined its role on campus.
Throughout the changes, Maria, Elizabeth, Judy and Michel have been enduring pillars within Collections Services, and their hard work, expertise and kindness behind the scenes have left an indelible mark on the Library and the broader McGill community, benefiting the hundreds of thousands of students and researchers who have come through our doors.
To honour our departing friends and colleagues, those in the Library who knew them best have added a few words paying homage to the impact they all have had on the Library and beyond.
We wish Maria, Elizabeth, Judy and Michel all the best on their well-earned retirements!
Maria de Souza and Elizabeth Dunkley
by Francisco Uribe
Half of these have been devotedly logged in by Elizabeth (41 years) and Maria (37). For most of that time, they have been experts in the science and practices of the arcane knowledge required for successfully processing the 14,000 Interlibrary Loans borrowing requests that were received in 2015 from members of the McGill community.
At the beginning of their careers searching for ILL materials required verifying card catalogues and reproductions of card catalogues containing millions of individually-typed and often hand-written entries. Requests were sent out by snail mail, hoping to receive a reply within two or three weeks. If the reply was negative, a second letter needed to be typed and mailed to another possible location. Needless to say, it was a slow process, involving much hit and miss.
ILL has passed through several evolutionary steps since then. Microfiche catalogues and telex machines have been replaced by today’s explosion of information, world-wide catalogues and almost instant communication. Through many technological innovations, and at least 5 changes of location, Maria and Elizabeth have been essential in ensuring that members of the McGill community from all academic departments are provided with the books and articles essential to their ongoing research. Their contribution was highlighted last year when the ILL Service was awarded the Principal’s Award for Administrative and Support Staff (Team Projects), honouring their customer and community service, quality of work, innovation, teamwork and sustainability.
Both Elizabeth and Maria have been the steadfast keepers and transmitters of our ILL traditions, the shared coffee pot, the birthday pastry celebrations gathered ’round a book truck, the collaborative work environment, and the shifting lunch hours. Maria’s home-baked chapatties are a treat. Elizabeth’s knowledge of plants and her green thumb are legendary; many of her colleagues have enhanced our gardens and balconies with plant from her bountiful beds of perennials during her spring plant giveaways. More evidence: three thriving orchids, given to us by a grateful professor years ago and tended by Elizabeth and Maria, have graced our office with uninterrupted blooms for almost eight years.
We will miss their expertise and usual good cheer. Elizabeth’s patient manner in clearly explaining for the umpteenth time a procedure to a technology-challenged prof, and Maria’s dogged persistence in chasing after overdue books. After they leave we’re hoping to forward calls from some of our more demanding clients to Elizabeth in her garden… she’ll know how to solve the problem, for sure.
Please join me in an applause of gratitude to Elizabeth Dunkley and Maria de Souza.
by Marc Richard
I knew this was going to be a difficult speech to prepare, so I decided to keep it very short and very simple by saying just a few words about the two things that I’ve appreciated the most about Judy as a colleague over the years: the fact that she is so knowledgeable in her craft and the fact that she is so gracious as a person. I’ve known Judy for over twenty-five years, and in all that time I don’t think I’ve ever seen her lose her temper or heard her say an unkind word to anyone. I have no recollection of that ever happening — and I don’t think it’s because of any memory failings on my part. Judy is just a wonderful person to work with. I know that we’re all going to miss her very much, but I also know that we’re all very happy for her at the thought of her enjoying a truly well-earned retirement. So thank you so much Judy, and we wish you all the best.
by the Rare Books Cataloguing Team
Judy is the heart and soul of the rare book cataloguing team in Collection Services. During her time here, Judy has worked on a myriad of different collections, such as the Colgate Collection, the Fanny Burney Collection, the Bewick Collection, as well as manuscripts and incunabula. And ephemera. And just about anything Richard has put in front of her! She’s also braved many different metadata standards, most recently RDA, leaping on board and embracing any and all changes.
She’s also hands-down one of the most – if not the most – knowledgeable person on the team. We are constantly amazed and inspired by her expertise! She’s also incredibly generous with this knowledge – and her time. She fields our (often constant) questions with infinite patience, and manages to not only teach us how and where to puzzle out information on our various rare book mysteries – making us better cataloguers in the meantime – she also manages to do it in a way that is never belittling. This is also part of what makes her such a fabulous colleague to work with. Those of us who have worked with her for a number of years will also attest to the fact that Judy is also a fabulous colleague because she is a pretty fabulous person overall.
Judy, you will be greatly missed. As we muddle through the next while without you, we will try to use what you have taught us wisely.
by Peter Martinek
Michel started at McGill in December 1968 in the old Redpath Library on a special project. His first job was to stamp books in the basement and keep quiet. The almost impossible task was set for him – I am talking about the second part. But he survived the challenge.
But things started to change fast at McGill at this time. In 1970 the new McLennan Library was open – and so new possibilities for Michel to move up. So he did – from the basement to the 6th floor! Which proved to be a fateful move – here he mustered enough courage to ask a colleague for a dance. But it took more than just one dance but at the end it turned out to be one of his best moves. Michel and Catherine got married few years later.
Eventually he was put in charge of the Receiving and Binding Section. Not only was he busy with books and periodicals but he proved to be an indispensable party organizer. The 6th floor parties became legendary in library circles and beyond. Life got busier as Astrid and Zoe arrived. He was involved with his family but he still found time to take care of his colleagues as their union representative.
But in life sometimes you go up and sometimes you go down. In Michel’s case the whole department went down – to the 2nd floor in Redpath Library, but he continued perform in his 2 jobs. Even if life was more challenged at work and at home Michel never lost his sense of humour and camaraderie. Full of “good old days” stories from McGill, Eastern Townships, travels in Canada and abroad. If only we had more time to sit down and soak in the contents.
And man! The cooking trail – tracking the best recipes; restaurant reviews with tips to spare how to cook a special meal. He is definitely game for any culinary adventure. Music is another passion of Michel. He likes all genre of music. His radio has been always on and we are trying hard to keep the radio! But even promising a radio or guaranteeing him a lifetime job for organizing parties is not enough to change his mind!
Well, it is time to say good bye and thank you for all your hard work, endless stories and your friendship. So long Michel and please keep in touch!