Ernie Ingles

It’s been a number of days since we learned of the passing of Ernie Ingles. Time for me to have reacted initially and now to reflect a bit more thoughtfully.

Many have already noted that Ernie was a giant in the field of libraries, librarianship, and archives in Canada. His contributions and influence cannot be overestimated. His professional legacy will endure.

Ernie and I had what would likely be called a professional friendship; we worked and socialized together because of professional roles, tasks, and events. He was warm, encouraging, critical, and demanding. We could agree to disagree, and we did, probably more often than I realized.

In a manner very much like Margaret Beckman (the former Chief Librarian at the University of Guelph under whose leadership I worked for a number of years), Ernie demonstrated through his every action that librarians mattered: as professionals, as scholars, as public servants, as political actors.

He, like most administrators, played the short game of tactics, budgets, and quick wins, but he was most passionate and influential when concerned about the long game – how libraries and archives could build and sustain roles central to the national memory, the marketplace of ideas, and the nurturing of people.

We all have people that hold a special place in our lives. Ernie was one of those for me. I will certainly remember him often but mostly I will try to live out his expectations of us within the profession. They are high expectations; it will require the hard work and compassion Ernie exemplified.


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