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13 Questions With: Ross Gordon

March 10, 2013

Director, ECollab, Library and Records Management Service, Environment Canada

Ross Gordon

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

Alpheus Todd, Librarian of Parliament. The greatest Canadian Librarian ever. Read up on him.  Started work at the LoP at age 13, became Librarian of Parliament age 34 and did much to help design the beautiful building  and create the collection within. He wrote definitive works on parliamentary priviledge and constitutional matters. A real example of what a librarian can achieve.

The first job you ever held and at what age?

Helping my friend Don deliver newspapers in Calgary, age 12. He paid me in eggrolls. Probably a sign I wasn’t going to become a Financier at any point.

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

As a student at Library School at McGill University I worked part time in the Gov’t Docs library. Deadly dull and all the full time staff seemed to all  rotate through stress leave.  Made me wonder about choices in life. Fortunately the other Library student was a lot of fun, it looked like life could go on in this field.

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

Photo of me and Pierre E Trudeau shaking hands in the Library of Parliament. Historical not political, he was retired and came in for a documentary film shoot.

What is your guilty pleasure?

No response.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

Take courses outside your school, be very broad, you never know what opportunity will pop up. In my time whole new technologies blew up that took on IM specialists, things we never dreamed of became normal. Google, who knew? Handy to have some business and marketing courses. I sell my library services full time, otherwise they can become roadkill. The way it is. Learn to speak out loud about how valuable you are, don’t for a minute think people will just notice you.

Study History and Technology and Business and whatever else looks like fun. May come in handy. I got to work a year in Marketing at CISTI which was a lot of fun, travelled all over the place, who knew it was coming?

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

No such thing as a useless skill.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

The day I became a Director of a large division in the Government of Canada. I used to think I’d be happy running a library branch. Then I saw how much fun it is to work with Records Managers and Sharepoint technology folk, Business Analysts and Information Architects and so much more. Being a part of the biggest change in IM in decades.

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

Reading takes up a lot of that day, and TV and sleep. I think relaxing and reading and some dreaming, done well, are achievements. Keeps me happy and calm. The whole work life balance is no joke. I have seen too many people burn out in the most tragic and unexpected ways. Often in the form of physical illnesses that ruin what could have been a nice life. Tune out future worries, eliminate worries about the past. Ask  yourself “do I have any real problems right at this moment?”

If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

Marketing, maybe journalism. I write from time to time, but am not disciplined enough. I like History a lot, wouldn’t mind teaching it.

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

Become a Lawyer.

How do you stay current in your field?

Meet colleagues in other venues, talk talk  a lot. Try to read up on IM but I find conversation gets to the core of things a lot quicker. I like conferences for that, the hallway, restaurant conversations.

What would you like your headstone to read?

He chose not to be a lawyer.  (happy face)


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