FOPLA President Chantal Cloutier and Erica Vanden Bosch

October is Library Month, and as one of Canada’s biggest library Friends groups, we believe wholeheartedly in the role that libraries serve in our community. It’s the reason we fundraise year-round to support the Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) goal to inspire learning, spark curiosity, and connect people.

Maybe you’ve used one of OPL’s branches to find a new book, or participate in one of the many programs OPL offers throughout the city. Every time you use a library branch, you come face-to-face with the hard working staff who’ve chosen library sciences or information management as a career.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to study library sciences? We chatted with Erica Vanden Bosch, 2017 recipient of the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Scholarship at the University of Ottawa’s School of Information Studies, about her decision to pursue a career in information management.

What made you decide to pursue library sciences/information management for your academic studies?

Erica: During my undergraduate degree, I landed a job in Information Management (IM). It was a great experience, and it exposed me to some of the opportunities and challenges in the field. I particularly enjoyed how the job called for both technical skills (such as computer skills and knowledge of the information life cycle) and soft skills (such as interpersonal and presentation skills).

I decided to study library and information science for two reasons: 1). I was seeking a program to gain a better understanding of the theory and practices being used in IM, and 2). I was curious to learn more about library services and library management. When I saw the University of Ottawa offered a bilingual program with small class sizes that covered both IM and libraries, I knew it was the right academic program for me.

How will the scholarship you’ve received help you achieve your academic goals?

Erica: Receiving this scholarship enables me to focus on my thesis research and continue to participate in extracurricular activities. Outside of my academics, this scholarship enables me to continue to volunteer with Twice Upon a Time, a local charity that supports children’s literacy by providing free books to children in Ottawa.

Why should people support their local libraries now and into the future?

Erica: I cannot overstate the value of local libraries. Libraries promote access to information, spur economic development, support vulnerable populations, provide independent and collaborative workspaces, offer free WiFi, lend devices, offer leisure and social activities, and much more. I strongly encourage people to visit their local library and see what services and resources might be useful to them. For example, one of my favourite items available for borrowing at the Ottawa Public Library is a museum pass.

The Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Endowment Fund was established to commemorate the founders and friends’ groups who amalgamated into FOPLA in 2003, is awarded annually to student(s) obtaining a graduate degree or diploma in Information Studies at the University of Ottawa.

FOPLA has provided a total of $85,000 in library sciences scholarships and bursaries to the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of library advocates. Both the Barbara-Clubb Scholarship in Information Studies at the University of Ottawa, and the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Bursary at Algonquin College are also awarded annually.

Click here for more information on scholarship and bursaries created by FOPLA.