In Memoriam: Faye Abrams

Faye Abrams, former OCUL Projects Officer died in Toronto on April 10, 2014. Faye was a very special OCUL person and she will be missed by her many friends and colleagues in the OCUL community.

Faye Abrams

Her vision and leadership encouraged librarians in Ontario universities to collaborate, to think OCUL-Y not locally, as Faye would say, to develop shared strategies to build digital library collections. She was a mentor to many librarians - her knowledge and expertise have been instrumental for OCUL in negotiating license agreements with vendors, and in representing OCUL’s interests in many different venues.

Faye began her professional career at McIntyre Medical Library, McGill University in 1973 and then moved to the Bank of Montreal Library in Montreal. This business and management experience led to her first position at the University of Waterloo as Head of the EMS Reference and Collections Department. Faye’s influence and leadership were evident in all of the positions she then held at Waterloo (Coordinator of the IBIS service, UWInfo Coordinator, Liaison Librarian to the School of Accountancy, and Head of ILL/Document Delivery).

Moving to the Projects Officer role at the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) in 1999, Faye began the work of building and sustaining a collaborative vision of how all 21 academic libraries in Ontario could work together in acquiring digital scholarly resources. Faye became the preeminent collections librarian in Ontario – even if she would say that collections work was not her strength. She coordinated the work of collections librarians from around the province to facilitate common negotiating strategies and consortial purchasing resulting in stronger digital collections for all faculty and students in Ontario. Her negotiation skills are legendary.

Faye was well-regarded by colleagues across Canada, especially within the Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) where she played a key role in negotiating national agreements for digital resources. International colleagues enjoyed her humour, expertise, and open mind at many meetings of the International Coalition of Library Consortia. She was straightforward, approachable, patient, always assumed that trustworthy relations could be established, and had boundless energy. Faye retired from OCUL in 2011 and enjoyed time travelling with her husband, Lawrence, spending more time with her daughter, Rebecca, and socializing with family and her many friends far and wide. She was tenacious in her determination to live well despite her cancer and to enjoy life as much as possible for as long as she could.

In recent years, Faye was honoured by her colleagues with several awards: the 2007 Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Academic Librarianship Award, the 2011 Ontario College and University Library Association (OCULA) Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2013 Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Award of Merit. The nominators for these awards noted that Faye commanded great respect in the wider community of vendors, libraries and library consortia.

Her colleagues at CARL honoured her with this tribute: Faye is unforgettable. She dared to be different – and to take risks. She had sound social intelligence and determination, perspective, patience, and persistence. And, yet, in response to this honour, Faye sent these words to CARL: “It is very humbling to be singled out for special attention. During my 12 years at OCUL I was challenged to develop new schemes for consortial licensing. It was a most rewarding and exciting part of my career. My peers define this as an Award of Merit, while for me it was a labour of love.”