5 Questions with David Alexander


David Alexander joined VIU in April, 2022 as the University Librarian.

June 14, 2022 - 8:15pm

David Alexander joined VIU in April, 2022 as the University Librarian. He brings a passion for information and resource access and community-building as well as a wealth of experience in to this crucial role at VIU.

Most recently, he served as Acting Vice President of Collections and Research at the Royal BC Museum. In this role, he oversaw a broad portfolio including preservation of and access to the provincial museum, archives and library collections; partnerships; Indigenous engagement and repatriation; research and registration; conservation and digitization services. Prior to his tenure with the Museum, David worked at the Vancouver Island Regional Library system as Communication and Privacy Manager and prior to that founded a technology company that provided digital solutions for cultural and government institutions. For the past 20 years, he has been an active member of the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) sector, serving in a variety of volunteer positions in addition to his career achievements.

We caught up with David to learn more about his plans, passions, and perspectives as he settles into his new role with VIU.


1)  How has your first month or so at VIU gone? What have you learned about the institution?

The first month has gone really well. The Library team and everyone I’ve met at VIU, have gone out of their way to be welcoming and supportive. When I was going through the interview process, I kept on hearing about the “special sauce” that makes VIU so wonderful and unique. I realize that the “special sauce” is the people.


2) Can you share your ideas on the importance of libraries in the “digital age”?

Libraries in the digital age are just as important as they have ever been. In some ways, they reflect where we are in society; they have become less about physical books and more about access to digital resources and providing a supportive space. It can be increasingly difficult to find information, there is a dizzying amount of data available and it’s not as easy as just Googling something because so much of the data available is inaccurate, over-simplified, or wrong. Libraries have the experience to help students access what they need to be successful during their time at VIU and to help build crucial digital literacy skills that will last a lifetime.

I believe that libraries are truly the heart of a community whether it is a municipality or a university.  Here at VIU, the Cowichan and Nanaimo Library branches provide a safe and welcoming space for all our students to study and to collaborate in.


3) You’ve had a unique career as a leader in the knowledge sector, overseeing services in an archive, museum, and public library – where do you see similarities in your past roles with the new role of University Librarian?

GLAM is, at its core, about acquiring, preserving, and providing access to collections. The collections and the audiences vary but that critical access piece doesn’t. I’ve been fortunate in my career; I have helped manage a wide variety of collections - everything from dragonfly collections to John Lennon’s Rolls Royce to government documents to library material. The unifying factor in all of these is access and one of the reasons I have stayed in this sector is watching how that access makes the world a better place; whether it is using collections to do climate change research, accessing audio collections to better understanding Indigenous languages, or building research data to discover new things.


4) Knowing it is early days, what are some areas that you are interested on focusing on at VIU?

Collaboration is in my DNA, I am looking forward to building on the great partnerships that the Library has developed and to create some innovative new ones. I always believe that we are stronger when we work together, and I am looking forward to getting to know the communities that VIU works with. I am also really excited about a brand new position, the Library is recruiting for a that will support students in times of transition at VIU. Whether a first year student is just joining the university or a student is finishing one program and jumping into another one, there will be a resource in the Library to be a partner in that student’s success. Finally, the Library is working with IT and Scholarship, Research & Creative Activity to create a new research data management strategy. I see lots of potential with this strategy and the infrastructure built to support it to preserve, keep secure and make sharable the amazing research data being developed here. We will be communicating more as it takes shape and begins to be implemented.


5) When you’re not working, where can you be found? What are some of your non-work related interests?

I’m a Vancouver Island boy having lived here most of my life and when not working I can be found in the woods walking my dogs, riding trails with my husband or on the water in a kayak. Not surprisingly with the line of work I’m in, I am also a voracious reader.


5b) Any local (BC) authors you’re currently reading?

I have just started reading The Object’s the Thing: The Writings of Yorke Edwards, a Pioneer of Heritage Interpretation in Canada. Yorke was a fascinating person with interests in biology, education, museums and conservation. I’m really looking forward to finding out more about him.

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