Reliable Sources: Emily Kingsland

Author: Sarah Simpkin

In this new column we’ll be featuring interviews with local library, archives and museum staff and students. Our first interviewee is Emily Kingsland!


Who are you?

My name is Emily Kingsland, and I’m from Montreal, born and raised. I’m a social sciences librarian at the University of Ottawa and a recent graduate from McGill University’s School of Information Studies.

What was your first library-related job?

When I was 17 years old I started working part-time in the Children’s Department of the Westmount Public Library. I worked there for over 7 years and got to lead story times, crafts, and sing-alongs. I am only good at one of those three things.

One out of three, eh?

I’ve always been a natural-born storyteller, but crafts do not come naturally to me. I enjoy singing in groups, but I dislike the sound of my own voice. Singing in front of small children, their parents, and nannies, has remained the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do on the job. My boss at the time, Wendy Wayling, told me that I had to lose all my inhibitions and that was the greatest advice because once I was able to do that, I didn’t care if my voice wasn’t particularly strong.

I don’t imagine you do as much singing at the University of Ottawa. What does your day-to-day look like now?

I started the position a little over a month and a half ago, but I really had to hit the ground running since it was the start of the school year. I’ve given some introductory workshops in both English and French on how to use the library, I work at the reference desk quite a bit, I’ve had many one-on-one session with students, and the rest of the time I’ve spent soaking everything in.

Wow, what a busy time to start! Have you had any mentors along the way?

Yes, several! Wendy Wayling at Westmount Library was my first boss and she trusted me with a lot of responsibility at a young age. It gave me a real sense of ownership over my position. Kathleen Massey, McGill University’s Registrar, taught me how to lead and remain calm in tense situations. Luigina Vileno and Michelle Lake at Concordia University both gave me excellent career advice and taught me a great deal about information literacy.

Have your mentors given you any advice on workplace décor? What’s the coolest thing in your workspace?

They all had excellent taste in workplace décor! The coolest thing in my office is a framed original watercolour of Richie Tenenbaum from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums, which was a gift from my talented friend Justin Woo, who you can follow on Twitter @justinwwoo

It’s been a month and a half. How are you enjoying Ottawa so far?

It’s been great! Several of my friends from library school got jobs in Ottawa and I have reconnected with many old friends who have moved here over the years. I’ve enjoyed exploring the area and finding quirky little spots. For example, I love House of Targ, which is not just a concert venue – it’s also an old-school arcade and they sell pierogies.

Who should I interview next?

You should interview Sandy Hervieux, one of my friends from library school! She works at Saint Paul University, right here in Ottawa.


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