anne daniel

Anne Daniel is just a fraction of the height of the towering stacks of boxes on either side of her.

She stands in between the shelves of approximately 16,000 boxes of archival material held at Western's Archives and Research Collections Centre.

As an associate archivist at Western, she is well-versed with the plethora of documents held in Western's impressive and under-utilized collection.  

Nestled in behind the desktop computers on the first of floor Weldon, Western Archives is an untapped treasure containing archival material including a letter written by Charles Darwin, Emma Donoghue screenplay drafts, old London building plans, microfilm, photographs and almost any other type of documentation you can think of.

“The most rewarding thing, I would say, is the constant search for information,” says Anne of her 15-year career at Western Archives. “I like the fact that I never know what kind of question is going to come in.”

On a typical day, Anne responds to questions from researchers, students, faculty and members of the community who are looking for specific pieces of information.

“This for example,” Anne says holding up a photograph from the 1800s, “is a picture of the superintendent’s house at the London Insane Asylum.”

Anne is preparing to send a scan of the photo to the researcher who requested an image of the home during that time period.

While Anne happily spends her days responding to research questions via email and managing the Western Archives social media accounts, she didn’t always know that information management was the career path she wanted to take.

After growing up in Guelph and earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Guelph in applied science with a specialization in gerontology, Anne thought she would become a social worker that works with the elderly.

But her career goals made a drastic shift when it came time to apply to graduate school.

After realizing that a masters of social work wasn’t for her, Anne applied to Western's masters of library and information science program, admittedly on somewhat of a whim. 

"I worked part time at the University of Guelph library during my undergrad, and I think this might be what sparked my interest," Anne says of her choice to pursue information science.

After completing her masters, Anne applied for her current job at Western and was hired.

Now, Anne specializes in health and medical reference at Western Archives and helps people find missing pieces of their research through using the many primary documents in the archives. 

“I think the biggest thing is [the archives] teach students how to use primary resources, which a lot of students don’t have exposure to anymore,” Anne says. “Students think everything is on Google or Wikipedia, and that’s not the case.”

“I think if students realized more about what we have, like the comic book collection for example, there’s a lot of material in there I think they would find interesting,” Anne says. “Anybody should feel free to come in.”

Western Archives is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. You can contact Anne at anne.daniel@uwo.ca.

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Annie is a culture editor for volume 110. Previously, she was a staff writer for volume 109. She is in her fourth year studying English and political science. Contact her at annie@westerngazette.ca or follow her on Twitter @annierueter1.

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