New College’s New Librarians

Overhead shot of students studying on the ground floor of D.G. Ivey Library, New College.

D.G. Ivey Library, located at 20 Willcocks is a familiar sight to the U of T community, with its curving wall-to-wall windows that look out to the New College quad, the iconic concrete staircase in its centre, and sweeping two-floor study spaces that embody 1960s modernist architecture.

D.G. Ivey Library Staircase
D.G. Ivey Library’s concrete staircase – photo by Micheal Barker

Opening its doors in 1972, the library has been a staple of the New College community – a place to catch up on readings, find research help from the librarians, do some late-night exam prep during the 24-hour Study Space, or attend the various social and academic events throughout the year – but only a select few know the history behind its name.

During the 1960s the University proposed closing college libraries and making the soon-to-be-built John P. Robarts Research Library the main student study space and library to hold social sciences and humanities collections on the St. George campus.

Donald Ivey - first principal of New College
Donald G. Ivey – the first Principal of New College

Donald G. Ivey, the first principal appointed to New College in 1963, led a vigorous campaign to save college libraries. Thanks to his intervention, the closing of the college libraries never came to pass and in 1975 the New College library was renamed as D.G. Ivey in his honour.

The D.G. Ivey Library has been in operation for over 52 years, but, as New College grew from a graduating class of 5 students in 1963 to a community of over 5,000 students in the 2010s, there was only ever a single librarian working at the College. From Jeanne Guillaume, the first librarian, to Jeff Newman who joined the College in 2010 – this has been a solitary role.

This all changed in 2015 when Jeff Newman and Principal Yves Roberge embraced the importance of librarians to student success and began experimenting with expanding the library staff. Jeff welcomed Mona Elayyan in 2015 to the library for the year, and the College quickly began to see the benefits that two heads were much better than one. So, this was tried again in 2017 and Aneta Kwak joined the College on short-term contracts. Throughout this time the New College population grew rapidly to over 6000 students and in 2019 Principal Bonnie McElhinney proposed the addition of a second permanently appointed librarian.

Students studying on the first and second floor of D.G. Ivey Library
Students studying on the first and second floors of D.G. Ivey Library – photo by Micheal Barker

Early in the spring of 2020, Jeff set out to interview candidates for the position, but the pace was slow as the College quickly pivoted online to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The interviews for this role were some of the first the College had done online! Ultimately, the D.G. Ivey Library found themselves with not one, but two new librarians joining the team – Aneta Kwak and Mikayla Redden.

This increase of professional librarians aligned with the College’s commitment to provide stronger and more robust supports and services to all the New College students, students in New College’s programs, faculty, and staff. The D.G Ivey librarians work one-on-one with students to help them develop research strategies for their papers and projects, visit classes throughout the academic term to share research and information literacy strategies, and ensure that the library is stocked with books, technology, and other resources, that students can use to navigate their academic journeys. And of course, you’ll also find Jeff, Aneta and Mikayla partnering with New College faculty and the U of T community to support creative pedagogy

Aneta Kwak headshot
Aneta Kwak – Librarian at New College

In the summer of 2023, Aneta was promoted to Librarian III and awarded permanent status by the University of Toronto. Aneta has a passion for accessibility and removing barriers for individuals with varying abilities and works to create a universally accessible academic learning experience. Over the years, she has worked on re-vamping the Online Course Reader Services that provides students access to accessible course readings, led a project to acquire assistive technology for D.G Library and the New College Writing Centre computers, hosted workshops on creating accessible electronic documents, and collaborated on the development of the three-part workshop series on accessible practices for library instruction for the U of T Library community. Recently, Aneta worked on a Closed Caption Editing Pilot where students can edit automatically generated closed captions on streaming platforms.

“This is a major achievement in a librarian’s career and reflects her ongoing successful contributions to librarianship, scholarship, pedagogy and teaching, and service to the community,” Jeff shares about Aneta’s promotion, “Since arriving at New College In 2017, Aneta has been a vital and vibrant part of the College community and has supported many of the programs and made significant, nationally recognized contributions to promoting accessibility at New College and U of T.”

Congratulations Aneta on this well-deserved achievement!

Mikayla Redden – Librarian at New College

Mikayla Redden is scheduled to be considered for the same promotion in 2024!

Goliath behind a reception desk at the 2013 Orientation

Blast from the past: The 2013 New College Orientation featured a murder mystery game centered around the death of the College’s beloved mascot Goliath III that proudly represents the spirit of New College as a wildebeest (or gnu). Turns out that Jeff was the murderer. Fortunately, this was fictional and you can still catch a glimpse of Goliath on campus. But this is the tale of how a Newman once murdered a gnu.