A longtime Brandon University library worker known for her devotion to information literacy, to supporting her colleagues, and to being there for the community, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at Brandon University’s Spring Convocation later this month.
Heather Coulter’s career as a specialized information literacy professional showed her tremendous commitment to equipping others for meaningful research, scholarly inquiry, and civic engagement, wrote colleagues who nominated her.
“Heather didn’t just work here, she shaped the workplace — and therefore the campus — for the better. She helped other library staff to improve their skills and service, and her dedication to superior customer service made the research life of students easier,” wrote librarian Rainer Schira, who noted that in his own career at the library he had at various time’s been her student, her co-worker, and her boss. “In all roles, I was impressed by her commitment to improve library collections and services, her professionalism in helping and advising others who work at the library, as well as her deep commitment to improving student and faculty library research capabilities. I have sought her advice and insight on countless occasions. My interactions with her have made me a better librarian and I will be forever grateful for her guidance.”
Coulter began her career working at the John E. Robbins Library in 1986, taking a position in the highly specialized Government Documents office. There, she developed a deep understanding of government publications at all levels, learning how and where to find the essential civic data that researchers, students, and community members needed.
Over the next 35 years, Coulter continued to build her expertise in finding and sharing information, along the way mentoring countless students, faculty, and library colleagues in the arts of library and internet searching. She contributed thoughtfully to essential library processes like databases and catalogues, including the creation of walkthroughs and tutorials for users, and spent years on Library Council, the library’s decision-making body.
“Heather also advocated for improvements that would better serve the needs of our users and build the Library’s reputation as a campus community service hub that students, faculty, staff, and visitors could count on to find help with absolutely anything. She made an extra effort to ensure that anyone who visited the library got exactly the right information, tools, guidance, or support they needed for whatever brought them to us in the first place,” said Heather Tornblom, a library assistant at BU. “She had a true gift for connecting with Library users and distilling and conveying often daunting and complex research processes in a way that was easy to understand.”
Coulter’s keen commitment to keeping abreast of changing technology ensured that library users were always able to find the information they needed, no matter how niche, as governments and other organs shifted from print publications to various online sources.
“I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all my colleagues at the university, and especially those in the library. I cannot imagine working anywhere else. From the very first day, my coworkers were a source of support and inspiration,” she says. “I want to thank especially Roberta Joice, my mentor in Government Documents. Her depth of knowledge, her experience, and her consideration for others were a model for anyone working in any library.”
Brandon University’s Lifetime Achievement Award is approved annually by the BU Senate. The award recognizes people who have made significant contributions in service and achievement generally throughout their lives and in particular to Brandon University.
This year’s awards are being presented at Convocation, which has expanded to four ceremonies this year, on May 26 and 27, 2022. All ceremonies will be live-streamed. See BrandonU.ca/Convocation for more.
Coulter will receive her award during the Friday afternoon ceremony on May 27.
But the Lifetime Achievement Award isn’t the first award that Coulter will have received at BU Convocation — when she graduated from BU with her Bachelor of Arts degree, she earned the Gold Medal for having the highest standing in her degree program.
She said she is honoured to be part of the 2022 Convocation, which is all about students.
“On this day, which is a celebration of students, I want you to know how proud we are of you,” she says. “Thank you for allowing me to participate in your academic journey; working with students and seeing the world anew through your research every semester was the best part of my career.”
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