New Library Director looks to build on existing strengths

August 2022

Photo of Melanie Mills standing in a blue top outside on campus in the fall.For as long as there’s been a Faculty of Information & Media Studies at Western, there’s been a faculty-based graduate teaching library. Previous to that, for as long as there’d been a School of Library and Information Science at Western, there’d been an associated teaching library. A campus resource that has weathered many changes, while remaining a core part of Library and Information Science at Western for 57 years, welcomed its newest Director in August, signaling that the next evolution of the library is around the corner.

Associate Librarian and new Library Director Melanie Mills is quick to clarify that her first task is to get to know the library, it’s staff, user community, and its place within FIMS. Outgoing Director Marni Harrington (retired as of June 30, 2022) oversaw the library for more than a decade and implemented many new initiatives, projects and programming. Under Harrington’s direction, the library – already a vital educational resource for FIMS’ graduate programs – moved into an era of increased public consciousness around things like equity, diversity and inclusion, anti-racism movements, and in the wake of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Programming, collections and services currently offered through the library respond to those shifts in various ways.

Mills says her initial goal is to preserve the library’s current direction and ensure that it continues to serve as a reflection of the teaching, learning and research endeavors of the students, faculty and staff who use it. Future evolutions will be a collaborative effort and driven by the community as a whole.

“As our graduate programs continue to evolve in step with the research and teaching interests of the FIMS community, so too will the library’s programs, services, and facilities. The evolution of the library will continue, but if it is meant to be, it is up to we (i.e., the FIMS community as a whole), not me,” Mills explains.

Mills joins FIMS from her former role as the Director of Library & Learning Services at Huron University. She is also currently the Vice President and President Elect of the Ontario Library Association (OLA). She has previously held academic librarianship positions within Western Libraries, including as a Research & Instructional Services Librarian, and as Acting Director for the Education Library. She even has prior experience with the FIMS Graduate Library. Between 2008 – 2010, Mills had a short stint managing the facility, then known as the Graduate Resource Centre. Her previous experience gives her a window into how the library has changed over time.

“We have a diversity of spaces and resources that facilitate programming and learning in today's Graduate Library that simply were not possible in the former GRC,” says Mills. “Specialized collections (e.g., board games, graphic novels, Indigenous authors and zines) and specialized facilities, such as a dedicated Bibliotech with makerspace technologies that allow our users to create, build, and learn with new technologies, are all developments that were introduced in recent years and that I am keen to learn about and to explore alongside our user community.”

As a member of UWOFA-LA and as a campus leader in management roles, Mills has been active in both the faculty and professional associations. As academic staff, her role as Library Director includes a research component, which will allow her to pursue original research interests. It is the sum of all these experiences that Mills believes will shape her approach to the FIMS Graduate Library. Acknowledging that there are currently many important conversations underway across the industry about the role of information, media, libraries, and technologies, now and in the future, Mills hopes to use her experiences and position as Library Director to contribute in meaningful ways.

Of course, the Grad Library would not succeed without a dedicated staff, user base, and the support of FIMS. Mills knows the greatest strength of any library is its people, and she’s excited to reconnect with old colleagues and meet new ones.

“The community of students, faculty, and staff here at FIMS are what make this library special; a community that is wholly committed to information and media as democratic resources, to accessibility, open scholarship, and to user privacy; and to equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization, as evidenced through existing partnerships we have within the library, as well within and beyond the classroom,” says Mills.

“I can't wait to see and to begin working alongside FIMS' students and faculty again. I love this community and working with graduate students across FIMS' areas of focus has been such a rich and rewarding experience in the past. I am so looking forward to connecting and reconnecting with all of the wonderful people who make up this dynamic Faculty, and to discovering new ways of working together.”

For more about the FIMS Graduate Library, visit: