British Columbia Library Association

Getting to Know…Sunni Nishimura

By British Columbia Academic Libraries Section (BCALS)

Sunni Nishimura is a settler librarian of Japanese, Scottish, and English descent, privileged and grateful to live and work on the traditional and unceded territories of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwxwú7mesh-speaking people. As a settler, and someone who has directly benefitted from colonization, she takes seriously her responsibility to lessen ongoing colonial harms by addressing them and challenging them throughout her life and work. When not cuddled up with her two ginger tabby cats, a hot drink, and a book, she likes to walk, sail, and photograph these beautiful lands and waters.’

Figure 1. Sunni Nishimura holding an umbrella. Copyright 2020 by K. Niet.

Figure 1. Sunni Nishimura holding an umbrella. Copyright 2020 by K. Niet.

What do you do in your job?

I am a Manager at the British Columbia Electronic Library Network (BC ELN), BC’s consortium of post-secondary libraries. Specifically, I manage collaborative library services, which over the years have included AskAway (chat reference), WriteAway (online writing help), Illume (provincial resource sharing), Arca (collaborative digital repository) and the Electronic Health Library of British Columbia (collaborative licensing of online health resources).  For each service I work on, my role includes implementing and operationalizing new services, coordinating and supporting the work of the teams maintaining the services, managing project expenditure plans, providing outreach and training both in-person and remotely, supporting governance and strategic planning, liaising with partners from other sectors and government, developing reports and communications pieces with BC ELN’s Communications team, and engaging in the office’s lively culture.


What’s one exciting thing you’ve worked on recently?

The joy of this position is that I get to work on exciting things every day; I never know what each day might bring! One thing I’ve been enjoying a tremendous amount recently is participating in the LLEAD (Library Leaders Excellence and Development) leadership program, under the care of Rebecca Jones (Dysart & Jones), Dr. Shailoo Bedi (University of Victoria), and Michael Burris (InterLINK). I would highly recommend this leadership program to any academic or public librarians seeking to develop or enhance their leadership skills! The caliber of the mentors you have access to is exceptional and participating in the program provides you with an amazing opportunity to learn about your own strengths, develop your career goals, connect with peers, and learn in a safe environment from experienced professionals and consultants. I’m happy to chat with anyone about my experience in the program!


What’s the most important thing one needs to know, or have, to be successful in your job?
Systems-thinking. It’s really important to understand how BC ELN operates as a system of diverse post-secondary organizations and as a system partner in the BC post-secondary sector. It’s also critical to understand how the unique strengths and skills we each bring to the office contribute to the larger goals of BC ELN as an organization; even the most mundane licensing renewal or tech support email takes on great significance when you understand how these seemingly small tasks function as part of the overall system of support we provide.


What’s something unique or unusual about your library/organization/campus community?

I think BC ELN is unusual in its ability to participate in cross-sector initiatives. As an agency of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, BC ELN can reflect that ministry’s interest in shared services which leverage investment in the post-secondary sector. So, for instance, I’m currently working with organizations, such as the Karen Jamieson Dance Society and the Hazelton Pioneer Museum, on sharing their digital cultural heritage materials in Arca, BC ELN’s collaborative digital repository. As a result of BC ELN’s partnerships with BC Regional Digitized History and the BC History Digitization Program, Arca is now being used by 16 post-secondary libraries and 42 GLAM-sector organizations!


Media recommendations: What is something you have enjoyed lately?

A favourite recent Bandcamp download was an album called The Making of You by Snowgoose, a Scottish alt-pop group. I just finished watching Little Fires Everywhere and am about to start Trickster. I recently completed Broken Ground by Val McDermid and am about to start On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.


Getting to Know… is a regular column by the British Columbia Academic Libraries Section (BCALS) that profiles academic library workers from around the province. If you would like to be featured, please contact



Niet, K. (2020, October 23). Sunni Nishimura holding an umbrella. [photograph].


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