ASSOCIATES (2013, July, v. 20, no. 1)


Kathy Davidson-Heney, Ottawa, Canada

Library Technician
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Where do you work and what do you do?

I’m a library technician with the law firm of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Ottawa, just a block away from the Parliament buildings! I’ve been with the firm since 1987, starting off working part-time one day per week (amongst other part-time jobs). I eventually got two days, then three, then four until finally, ten years later, as the firm grew I became full time.

How did you get involved in library work?

I never really expected to work in a law library but did always want to work in special libraries which I’ve done since the late 1970s. I worked my way through my BA. I’m originally from Montreal and did all my education there. Concordia University was offering a B.A. Major in Library Studies and since I wanted a practical, useful degree and to help people I went to school part-time and worked part-time in the library at the Montreal office of Bell-Northern Research.

I met my husband in Ottawa while attending a BNR departmental staff meeting in 1981 and moved here in 1982 when I got a contract job at the Bank of Canada. That lasted 3 years, the job that is. (The marriage is approaching 30 years.) Then the 1980s recession hit. I did a number of mindless, short-time agency contracts until I got into the multi-part-time job thing which lasted about 10 years. Most of those jobs were in libraries and most of them special libraries. An old tag line of Concordia was Real education for the real world. So it was! I also had to know what day it was in the morning so I’d know which job to go to. For the past ten years I have been exceedingly lucky to be working with one of the finest law librarians in the country. We are part of a larger library team as BLG is a merger of 5 law firms across the country, each office having its own library. This is great for resource sharing!

Because it’s just Neal and me serving about 100 professionals in this office, we both do many tasks! While he does the bulk of the reference work and, of course, has the challenge of managing me I do more the day to day stuff. Check-in and routing, consumes the biggest chunk of time most days. My biggest challenge is ILL, especially when things are needed in a hurry. We outsource most of our cataloguing (I never did really master MARC coding but I do remember what a catalogue card looks like!) In a law library there are still a lot of loose-leaf books and our office services people have been helping out with updating those. I also go into a few of the case law databases and pull out cases but anything more in-depth goes to Neal.

Describe Support Staff activities in your area

I’ve been a member of the Canadian Library Association for many years and have just recently become actively involved with LTAN (Library Technicians and Assistants Network) which was formerly an interest group. At the CLA conference LTAN has an annual meeting as well as a dinner or pub night. This is the only opportunity, so far as I know, that library technicians come together from across the country. There aren’t many of us at this particular conference as travel within Canada is very expensive, but there were a few years when we had people from coast to coast!

I was for several years an active member of the Ontario Association of Library Technicians / Association des bibliotechniciens de l’Ontario. There are several chapters across the province. In Ottawa we gather for dinner a couple times a year and there have been other events such as an annual student meet & greet at Algonquin College.

Final Comments

Marathon training in 2010 and 2011 took over big chunks of my time and after a year off from running to recover from an overuse injury, I’m just starting up again (no more than 5 km) this year. I also do Taoist tai chi to stay healthy and sane!