It was with great sadness that I—like many people in Vancouver and across the library community—learned of Brian Campbell’s passing. Brian was an extraordinary person and librarian who had a profound impact on the library community in Canada and on many of us as individuals. Brian had an incredible ability to work in both the macro and the micro at the same time. He created the dialogue on information policy in Canada and invested significantly in the national issues that impact equity and access to information.
At the same time, Brian worked on the nuances of integrated library systems, the logistics of providing access to the technology-based services for the public, and led experiments that explored the role the library could play in community dialogue on important issues. He cared deeply about his staff and colleagues as individuals, even as he pressed those who worked for and with him to the details that ensured excellence. Brian also demonstrated regularly with his colleagues how to engage in respectful professional dialogue on contentious issues—whether it was a local operational issue or a national policy issue.
While many of Brian’s years were spent in the realm of information systems and information policy—and these contributions were critical to the advances that brought the Canadian library community to where we are today—I want to offer my gratitude for his leadership in conceiving and initiating the Working Together Project at VPL with HRSDC. Without Brian’s vision for this seminal demonstration project, we would not have community-led librarianship in Canada. The movement started here at VPL, with the Working Together Project, sparked by Brian’s vision and tenacity.
I believe all libraries in Canada have benefited from Brian’s commitment, dedication, and hard work, and will always consider working with Brian one of the great privileges of my career.
Sandra Singh is Chief Librarian at Vancouver Public Library.