Congratulations and fond farewells to our friends and colleagues Lynne McKechnie, Liwen Vaughan, and Ella Young

In this issue of the Alumni newsletter we celebrate three recently retired members of the FIMS community. Professor Lynne McKechnie and Professor Liwen Vaughan are longstanding professors in the Library & Information Science program who have been with FIMS more or less since its inception in 1997. Both have played important roles in shaping what FIMS has become as it has grown and evolved over time. Ella Young, the Dean’s Office Manager, kept FIMS running smoothly, deftly taking care of many behind-the-scenes details for 19 years. She worked with staff and faculty across units, shepherding new and veteran members of the community and providing support and institutional memory for three different Deans (six if you count acting deans). McKechnie and Vaughan each completed a PhD at Western in the 1990s, and then went on to teach countless students of their own. They published pivotal scholarly works in their areas of expertise - McKechnie on the importance of the intersection between public libraries, children, and reading, and Vaughan on informetrics and webometrics. Both were Faculty Scholars—a distinguished campus designation. We were lucky to celebrate Lynne’s retirement at our holiday party in December 2019, but the challenging circumstances of this past year prevented us from marking Liwen’s and Ella’s retirements in person. We miss them all.

Photo of Lynne McKechnie holding a children's bookProfessor Lynne McKechnie retired from the university at the end of the Fall 2019 term after 25 years with Western and FIMS. McKechnie developed an influential career as a children’s librarian and library head in the public sector prior to completing her doctoral studies in LIS in 1996. She joined Western as an Assistant Professor that same year and was promoted to Professor in 2007. Professor McKechnie served as a supervisor or advisor to countless students studying in the MLIS or LIS doctoral programs. She also co-authored the ground-breaking book Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading, Libraries, and Community with Catherine Ross and Paulette Rothbauer in 2005. The trio recently published a follow up in 2018, titled Reading Still Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading, Libraries, and Community. She wrote other titles as well and published over 40 articles. Professor McKechnie accomplished many things during her career, but her work teaching children’s librarianship to the next generation of librarians is one aspect she found particularly satisfying. Recently, she mentioned that she’s still happily surprised when alumni – some from many years prior – get in touch to tell her that they continue to use the content they learned in her Materials for Children and Services for Children and Young Adults classes. Children have always been at the centre of Professor McKechnie’s teaching and research activities. And though she has now retired from full-time teaching, she plans to continue with research that brings children’s voices into the process of examining literacy and librarianship.

Photo of Liwen VaughanProfessor Liwen Vaughan retired from Western at the end of the Fall 2020 term, after 27 years with Western and FIMS. Receiving her PhD in Library & Information Science from Western in 1991, Professor Vaughan joined the university as a faculty member in 1994. She was subsequently promoted to Professor in 2004. She has been a specialist in web information applications from a time when few of us understood the web’s reach and power. As a broadly cited scholar, with well over 5,000 citations, including over 1500 since 2016, the statistics attest to Professor Vaughan’s cutting-edge scholarship on web-based topics. She also has a particular gift for statistical analysis and for teaching statistics to LIS students who do not consider themselves mathematically inclined. Professor Vaughan teaches, she says, from the perspective of logical reasoning rather than mathematical deduction to explain statistical concepts and tests. In 2001 she published the book Statistical Methods for the Information Professional: A Practical, Painless Approach to Understanding, Using and Interpreting Statistics, a work that has been praised for turning a notoriously difficult subject into something accessible. Understanding and teaching the power of numbers to a whole field is a gift that takes an especially fluent scholar and pedagogue. Professor Vaughan also frequently taught the MLIS Database Management Systems course - another subject that has challenged and perplexed students over the years. She is remembered by her former students and colleagues for her pedagogic gifts.

Headshot of Ella YoungElla Young retired from the university at the end of September 2020 after 31 years working at Western, in the President’s Office, the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and finally at FIMS. Young joined FIMS in 2001, in the early years of Western’s newest Faculty, and contributed her own expertise and care to Faculty administration. At Western she has been many things to many people in her roles as executive assistant, event planner, staff manager, collective bargaining agreement specialist, council and committee guru, confidante, and a go-to resource when someone isn’t sure where to start. At FIMS, Ella is remembered by many as the first welcoming person that new staff and faculty would encounter upon joining the community. She was always quick to offer assistance in whatever way it was needed, whether it was a formal part of her role or not. She specialized in taking care of VIP guests and visitors to FIMS at Convocation, the Clissold Lecture, and receptions. At FIMS Ella was a model of professionalism and had a gift for making everyone in her sphere feel welcome and important. Young was also the primary social driver in FIMS, organizing countless staff occasions, Christmas lunches, and new faculty and grad student mixers, and encouraged others to sign up to the Global Corporate Challenge with her. And of course, her dedication to her daily lunchtime workout at the Student Rec Centre has been – and will likely remain - unmatched.

The FIMS community feels the absence of Professor McKechnie, Professor Vaughan and Ella Young acutely. But while we miss their contributions, collegiality and presence, we wish all the best to them and hope to see them at Faculty events in the future, when we are finally able to gather on campus.