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13 Questions With: Eileen Lewis

June 16, 2013

Research Librarian, Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Photo of Eileen Lewis

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

Wendy Newman has been a huge hero for me. She’s such a strong and vocal advocate for our community, and the leadership she shows is amazing. More personally, I say in all honesty that I’m a librarian today because of Wendy – she met with me long ago in 2004 or so to encourage me to consider the field and at the time I had no idea what a big deal she was!

The first job you ever held and at what age?

Around 12 or 13, I was a pretty crummy local babysitter, but eventually worked my way up to a minimum wage job in a coffee shop by 15.

Your first position in the library and/or information services field?

It’s a bit of a grey area, but technically speaking, it all started when I was a Summer Student in the Library at the Ontario Securities Commission.

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

I’m known for my love of tchotchkes, but I think my favourite one in my office is my little stuffed zombie friend. All of his limbs are attached with Velcro, so they can be pulled off or rearranged as you wish.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Totally disgusting zombie movies (see above) – the gorier the better. Sometimes after a long day of researching serious policy topics and legislation, there’s nothing better than shutting off the lights and watching some undead heads roll on-screen.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Never stop learning and asking questions. No one will ever know everything, and the sooner that you can identify the things that you don’t know, and start filling those voids, the better.

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

Running in high heels – I can do a heck of a 100 m dash in those things. In running shoes? Not so much.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

Hands down, attending the 2012 Northern Exposure to Leadership Institute.

If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?

I’d take my dog for a long walk through the city, and then come home to cook a great meal (with some great wine) for all of my nearest and dearest.
If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

That’s hard to say. My undergrad degree was in history and political science, but I don’t think I’d be doing much with that. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become fascinated with urban affairs and city building, so perhaps something in that field.

Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “

…start a fire, probably. I was a bit of a rebel back then!

How do you stay current in your field?

I’m really lucky to have a fantastic network around me. Being surrounded by so many inspiring librarians through work, professional associations, and in social circles is a great way to stay tuned into the issues and broader discussions in our field, as well as to challenge yourself to engage. Of course, there’s a fantastic wealth of professional literature out there, and I try to stay current with that, but for me the best way to keep up is to keep up with my network. I’m a textbook extrovert, so to really get thinking critically, I need to get talking first.
What would you like your headstone to read?

Probably either “I’ll be back” (zombie joke) or “Here lies Eileen Lewis, she was awesome.”

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