Hugh Samson: How libraries can support mindful living

By Claire Martindale

Hugh's place of birth: Isle Madame, Nova Scotia

Western University LIS PhD student Hugh Samson is focusing his research on the use of digital applications within librarianship that can support mindfulness and well-being for patrons and other users.


Amidst the overwhelming pressures of today's technology-driven society, Hugh Samson’s research is motivated by the hope that his work will encourage people to live more balanced, reflective and mindful lives.

Currently a doctoral student in Library and Information Science, Hugh arrived at FIMS with a varied educational background. Starting his academic journey at King's College in Halifax, he initially studied journalism but eventually switched to Classics.

Hugh later went on to work in Korea as an English teacher, where he was a regular guest on radio shows about literature and current affairs. Through his experience and work on the shows, Hugh gained a deep understanding and appreciation for Korean history and culture. These unique experiences abroad inspired him to further explore the field of Education, leading him to earn a B.Ed., two master’s degrees, and to eventually pursue his PhD in Library and Information Science at Western University.

Fun Fact

Aside from London, Ontario, Hugh has lived in Halifax, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Gwangju, Korea.

Hugh published his master's thesis in 2021 while enrolled in Information Studies at the University of Toronto. During his time in Toronto, he explored the introduction of mindfulness meditation and yoga in academic libraries to support student mental health.

Hugh cites this master's thesis as a significant milestone in his academic journey as it provided a solid foundation for the research he would pursue in his PhD. “Writing my thesis was one of the most important steps that I made,” he says.

Hugh believes that taking the time to complete a master's thesis, rather than jumping straight into a PhD program, allowed him to gain the necessary experience to prepare for impactful, independent research. Additionally, Hugh says that seeing his master's thesis cited by others was a surreal experience that confirmed the value of his work.

As he researched academics who might be willing to supervise his doctoral studies, Hugh discovered FIMS professor Ajit Pyati, whose work has examined the provision of contemplative programs and resources within libraries. Looking through Professor Pyati’s work, Hugh’s interest in enrolling at FIMS was sparked.

"Today's society is stressful in regards to expectations of performance and success. I enjoy that the ideas I explore around contemplation, mindfulness and well-being encourage me to lead a balanced life."

Hugh was accepted into the doctoral program at FIMS in September 2021. Currently, he is researching the use of digital tools to support well-being, mindfulness and reflection. He finds such research exciting as it is both timely and relevant to the high-pressure society we live in today. “Not only do these ideas speak to me,” Hugh says. “They seem to resonate with a lot of people, which suggests to me that they're important and worth talking about.” 

In alignment with his background in teaching and education, Hugh appreciates the emphasis FIMS puts on librarianship and how the MLIS program trains students to become library professionals who connect people with important resources. “Because of my background in teaching and education, I see schools and libraries as complementary institutions,” says Hugh. “When we only talk about information and technology, we run the risk of forgetting about these institutions and their importance within society.”

Hugh is also a founding member of the Information and Contemplation Salon, a collective that explores the intersection of Information and Contemplative Studies. Hugh was invited to join the Salon as a founding member by his research supervisor at the University of Toronto. With members coming from various backgrounds and institutions, the group focuses on information behaviour, practices and retrieval, as well as the relationship between information and contemplative practices like yoga, Tai Chi and mindfulness meditation.

When not engaged in his academic work, Hugh enjoys walking along the Thames River that winds through London, Ontario. Growing up in Nova Scotia, next to the ocean, Hugh finds spending time around bodies of water an important way to disconnect from technology and practice being mindful during busy times.

Profiles in the Meet Our Students section are written by students in the Master of Media in Journalism & Communication program, who are enrolled in MMJC 9604 - Professional Writing.