Terri Tomchyshyn, MLIS'81


Current Role: Union Liaison Officer, Change Management Office – Department of National Defence (Ottawa)

Grad Year: 1981

Degree: Master’s of Library Service [Now: Master of Library and Information Studies, School of Information Management, Faculty of Management]

Nickname: Because of my long last name, I had the same nickname I’ve always had: people just called me Terri T.

Dalhousie Alumni Association: Why did you decide to attend Dal?

Terri Tomchyshyn: Because I got a personal handwritten letter from the then-director of the program, Dr. Norman Horrocks. I grew up in Winnipeg, and my choices were West Coast or East Coast: UBC or Dalhousie. It was this, along with that very personal letter that I got from Norman that made me decide that I really wanted to come to this program.

DAA: Where did you live while you were at Dal?

TT: I had a great time when I lived there. In my first year I lived at Fenwick Towers on the 20th floor! I lived with a BComm student and a nursing student, and just down the hall from someone who was recently in the alumni news, Scott Logan. In my second year, I lived in a grad house on Henry Street that is now where the new management building is. There were nine women and two bathrooms! The good thing is that it was a whole lot closer to school.

DAA: Where could you be found most often on campus while you were at Dal?

TT: Either in the Killam or at the (old) Grad House. Every time we have reunions we go back to the Grad House.

DAA: Favourite place to study while at Dal?

TT: We were lucky; we had our own working collection and our own common room [in the Killam] so I tended to stay up there and work up there. Or at home.

DAA: What was your biggest distraction while you were at Dal?

TT: All the pubs downtown! The Split Crow, the Midtown, Maxwell’s Plum, the Lower Deck.

DAA: What was your favourite cafeteria food on campus?

TT: We’d eat in the Grad House. The cafeterias were more for undergrads.

DAA: What is your favourite Dalhousie memory?

TT: When we were in the first year of our two-year program, Norman took us to New York for a school field trip. So there were 10-12 of us and it was October, around the same time as the New York Marathon. We were in New York running around to all different kinds of libraries and organizations and in the nighttime we’d go to the theatre and go shopping. It was a really wonderful trip, primarily because Dr. Horrocks was so well-known and so highly respected that he opened a lot of doors for us.

Another favourite memory would be our Friday afternoon lecture series. There would be Friday night get-togethers with students and the guest speaker from that day.

DAA: How did your Dal experience prepare you for your current role?

TT: Pretty much everything. The program itself is the foundation of a career. The good thing about the Dal program is that it doesn’t pigeonhole you into a type of practice, so you don’t have to take a “public library” course or a “university librarian” program. The courses are all general enough so that you get the foundational skills of how to organize information, how to do research, how to work in any kind of environment. So by going to that program I’ve had a career in pretty much every kind of library, except schools. And I believe that’s directly related to how the school teaches, and the approach that they take to developing information professionals.

DAA: What do you see as the best thing about being a Dal alum?

TT: I still have friends from school; we are all still very well-connected. So I think it’s the network that it builds and the prestige of being a Dal grad. I wear my 30-year pin proudly.

DAA: Do you have any words of wisdom for current Dal students – something you wish you had known when you were a student?

TT: Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Kind of trite, but kind of true. School is more than getting good grades – you really want to experience everything that campus and university life has to offer, and to embrace it. If all you do is sit and study, you may get good grades, but in the end the good grades are only a small fraction of what a wonderful university experience is about and what you should be doing. Get out and explore, get out of your comfort zone. Get involved in something, in a sport or club activity or student leadership. Get out and learn about other people, outside of your faculty area.