John Teskey   2009 President's Medal Recipient

Powered by the digital revolution, the transformation of university library collections, services, and facilities has been swift, dramatic, and sometimes tumultuous.  At UNBF, we have been fortunate to be guided through these exciting yet unsettling times by John Teskey, our Director of Libraries, whom we honour today.

Swimming against the tide, John headed east from Alberta to New Brunswick, in 1991, with his wife Terry, and children David, Genea, and Taisha.  John has continued to confound conventional wisdom, challenging our assumptions about how libraries ought to deliver services, and emphasizing, from his early days, the benefits of the technological solutions available to us.

Not satisfied to accept UNB’s resource limitations, John took the approach, from the very beginning, that UNB Libraries could be, and should be, at the national forefront.  This bold vision has produced impressive results:  UNB had one of the first library websites in the country; in 1997, had the only library, other than the University of Toronto, to offer electronic access to all Elsevier journals; and had the first library-based humanities computing centre in Canada, the second only in North America.   From a low of 4,800 journal subscriptions in 1997, UNB Libraries now offer access to 23,000 print and electronic journal titles.  Print monograph acquisitions have been enhanced in recent years, at the same time as 300,000 e-books  have been made available through the library catalogue

The physical manifestation of John’s vision is the HIL Learning Commons, which has quickly become a centre of intellectual life on campus.  The success of the Learning Commons is grounded in John’s student-focused approach to library services and space.  Now students can find in one place: access to research help, computer support, accessibility services, remedial help with writing and math skills, spaces for individual and team work, coffee and more.  It’s clear by the gate counts that students love the Learning Commons.  Recent renovations to the Science and Forestry Library reflect a commitment to student-centred space across the libraries.

John’s assertion that we belong at the forefront nationally is confirmed by his establishment in 1996 of the Electronic Text Centre.   A recognized leader in electronic scholarly communications, humanities computing, and digital libraries, the Centre is a collaborative and interdisciplinary enterprise that has become the Atlantic hub for federally-funded large-scale projects such as Synergies and the Text Analysis Portal for Research (TAPoR).   The ETC has been a leader, as well, in education and training, attracting participants from far and wide to its electronic publishing and digital humanities institutes.

John is well-respected nationally, and is much sought-after to occupy leadership positions.  He has served as President of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), and is currently President of Canadiana.org. 

In May, he will take over as President, for 2009-2010, of the Canadian Library Association.  He has advanced the national research agenda by serving on the board of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (formerly the Canadian National Site Licensing Project).  Regionally, John has served as President of the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, chair of the Council of Atlantic University Libraries, and as ministerial appointment to the New Brunswick Public Libraries Board from 1997-2003.

A truly well-rounded individual with a wide range of interests, John’s passions include music, the visual arts, travel, home renovations, and entertaining at home.   Befitting one with a passion for travel, John’s children are citizens of the world.  His son, David, is married and working in Korea, while his daughter, Genea, has made her home in London for several years.  

Taisha is one of our own students.  His fiftieth birthday present from his kids – a pierced earring – is proof that John is a man who can, and does, embrace change!  

John came to us from the West, and has become a champion of the East, a champion of New Brunswick, and an enthusiastic champion of UNB.   He is tireless in his pursuit of the best library service for UNB.  Both gracious and kind, John is not only well-respected but well-liked.  He fully deserves the award we present to him today.