Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Fond Farewell to Joyce Thomson

I remember the first time I met Joyce Thomson—a fellow AST student, Brenda Novack (now a PhD candidate at Trinity College Dublin), and I were working the circulation desk at the AST Library. It was late summer 2003 and Joyce had arrived at the library one afternoon in the official capacity as Director. Brenda and I seized this opportunity to monopolize our brand-new Director, inundating her with questions and suggestions. Joyce was gracious, open, and enthusiastic, and I remember thinking that the library was headed in a direction for positive change. Eight years later, the narrative of change that characterizes the AST Library today is certainly tied to Joyce Thomson’s time here as Library Director.

As an AST student from 2001-2004 and now a librarian at the AST Library, I can testify to the impact Joyce has had on library staffing, service, and the role of the library in the AST community. In her time as Library Director, Joyce has inculcated in library staff a deep commitment to public services, a commitment that demonstrates how time invested in face-to-face communication with our library users builds not only a greater professional understanding of the information community that the library serves, but also stronger human ties to the people who use the library. In a sense, this is part of the ministry of the library: to provide and promote not only access to theological information and a welcoming and respectful environment in which to access that information, but also relationships with those we seek to serve.

Joyce has also pushed at the conceptual boundaries of the “traditional library,” recognizing that information collaboration and exchange occurs effectively in a number of social, intuitive, and expressive contexts. As promoter and supporter of the Arts and Theology Program, Joyce and others worked to transform the AST Library into a public space that fostered a greater appreciation of the deep inherent connections between theology and art, bringing the AST community and the art community together into natural partnership.

Perhaps the one of the most important changes that has served to transform the AST Library since Joyce become Director in 2003 has been the emphasis on Information Literacy. As a former Information Literacy Librarian at the Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary’s University, Joyce brought to AST a solid understanding of the skills individuals need to develop in order to recognize, locate, and evaluate information vital to their academic studies. Rapid development in technology and the proliferation of information render the above skills even more necessary in today’s academic settings. Universities and colleges across North America recognize Information Literacy as vital and nonnegotiable. Joyce recognized this as well. In addition to creating a Librarian position devoted to Information Literacy through active outreach and instruction, Joyce has inspired all AST Library staff to assist students in using information effectively.

Over the past eight years, Joyce Thomson has demonstrated not only a commitment to change but also an untiring enthusiasm for academic excellence in her own scholarly work as well as the work of AST students. In 2005 Joyce graduate with her MA in Atlantic Canadian Studies from Saint Mary’s University, and was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for highest academic achievement in graduate studies (Master and Doctorate levels). Earning her MA has brought to the library valuable expertise in women’s 19th-century missions, an expertise we lose as Joyce moves onward, returning to Saint Mary’s University as the new Digital Services Librarian. To Joyce we wish our best, appreciative of the change and enthusiasm she has brought to the AST Library and the AST community.

Robert Martel,
on behalf of AST Library staff.

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