Employee Feature: Jennifer Thiessen

Note: The Brock Employee Feature is a Q&A-style series that aims to highlight those who contribute to the University’s positive working environment and make a difference in the campus community. The full series is available on The Brock News. Employees interested in being featured are asked to fill out an online form.

As Head of Teaching and Learning for the Brock Library, Jennifer Thiessen works collaboratively with faculty and campus partners to provide library research instruction and support. An avid reader, Thiessen can also often be found paddle boarding, volunteering, baking or exploring a local winery after a long bike ride.

Share your Brock career story.

My dad is a Brock graduate, class of 1971. I grew up in Niagara and my parents really wanted me to be a student here, but I chose to go elsewhere. Until I became a student intern for the Brock Library while completing my Master of Library and Information Science at Western University.

This opportunity led to a contract and then eventually to a full-time permanent position as a librarian at Brock for just over 20 years. My parents were thrilled when I started working here.

I was the Liaison Librarian to the Faculty of Education and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies for many years, and I’ve been fortunate to hold many other rewarding and enriching roles over the years including some leadership roles that have led to my current position.

Which department do you work for?

I work in the Teaching and Learning department in the Library. This is a new department that works collaboratively with faculty and campus partners to provide library research instruction and support.

Our teaching focuses on the information literacy competencies necessary for research in specific disciplines, including the discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

We want students to be able to succeed academically, but also confidently navigate today’s complicated information landscapes.

What does your role involve?

I am the head of the department and work with our small but mighty team to create and provide customized classroom-based instruction, online learning objects and self-directed learning opportunities.

We also meet one-on-one with students to help them develop search strategies and to find and evaluate resources for their assignments and research needs.

We are a new team, and it has been exciting to have the opportunity to learn and work together on shared goals and activities.

I am also the Accessibility Librarian, providing leadership to the Library in ensuring our services and resources are accessible and inclusive.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

I love helping new students feel more confident in their ability to use the library and have really valued the chance to steer my career in different ways.

A collage of several Brock graduation photos hangs on a wall. Two young girls point to a photo of a man.

In this photo from August 2016, Jennifer Thiessen’s daughters Anna (left) and Abby Scott point to a photo of their grandfather who graduated from Brock in 1971.

Are any of your family members involved in any initiatives at Brock?

I’m so proud of my two teenage daughters. It has been amazing to watch them grow into interesting, kind and unique individuals. When they were younger, they attended Youth University and sports camps for many summers. They also have good memories of drama camp at Marilyn I. Walker and art camp at Rodman Hall.

My oldest daughter, Abby, just started her undergraduate degree at Brock this September. She is very excited to be here.

Do you volunteer with any community organizations?

I enjoy getting involved in community initiatives and events like food drives and had a lot of fun helping to plan the 2023 One Book One Niagara project.

I am currently representing the Town of Lincoln on the Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee, a partnership between seven Niagara communities that facilitates identifying and removing barriers for people with disabilities.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I keep chickens. We currently have four. They have so much character and are a lot of fun to watch. 

How do you maintain positive mental health? 

Daily exercise is crucial to my mental health as well as spending time outside. I love hiking and canoeing with my husband in the canoe that my dad made for us as a wedding gift.

I try to meditate every day. I meet weekly with a couple of my colleagues to meditate together and talk about mindfulness — they inspired me to start a daily meditation practice.

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