Interview with Danielle Robichaud, Digital Archivist: written by Megan Thomas

woman standing in building

Hey everyone! My name is Megan Thomas, I am in my 4A of Biomedical Science and this is my second term as a Library Ambassador. Initially I wanted to be a Library Ambassador to get more involved with campus life and it seemed like a fun part-time job. After one term, I knew I definitely wanted to come back. I had so much fun interacting with students all across campus while promoting the services the library has to offer. As an ambassador I have had various opportunities to improve my own skills including verbal and written communication, however the best part about this position is the amazing people I get to work with.

woman holding books

I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Robichaud who has been working as a Digital Archivist at the Special Collections and Archives at the Dana Porter library for four years. This department holds early editions and collections of archives, manuscripts, and any other rare material that requires special care. Danielle is responsible for managing how the library digitizes archives and displays them online. She must take special considerations when scanning original photos consistently in order for them to be used reliably or migrated. In talking with Danielle I realized the importance of managing electronic information so that it is around for the long term. When digitizing archives and putting them online, she must decipher what people may find interesting as well as what information may be helpful for research or coursework. Danielle has a Masters of Library and Information Science as well as a degree in Sociology. Her background in Sociology allows her to better understand how people research, and helps her fill in gaps in what is being made available online to reflect the diversity of the University of Waterloo.


Danielle is currently working on two interesting projects; The Waterloo Digital Library which has digitized photos and old newspapers, and the Archives database where people can do their own research and look for information in archives the same way they would with books online. These resources are not only useful to students but Archives and Special Collections are a public service open to anyone. For example, someone can come in seeking more information on the history of the home they currently live in or about a specific person, and Danielle would do research to help find what they want. Furthermore, as a researcher, there is often pressure to come up with unique and interesting topics and archives offer the potential to study something that people haven’t already extensively written about. The collections and records at Dana Porter are waiting to be used and can help a researcher set the tone of their research.

Danielle enjoys working at the University of Waterloo because of the lively energy on campus and she loves doing meaningful work that contributes to the needs of the community. When managing ongoing projects, she must use project management skills and also have technical understanding of digitization. When new archival collections come in, it is her responsibility to appraise a set of records and determine the long term research value or whether it will be of interest to people. Some soft skills she must use on a daily basis include speaking articulately about something people aren’t familiar with in a way that’s interesting while simultaneously paying attention to minor details as well as the bigger picture. For example, she must work diligently to ensure there are no typos in order for keyword searches to function effectively. Furthermore, if an item isn’t described in enough detail, it will be difficult for people to find what they are looking for. She must also be conscious of the end user experience when making things available online so that navigation on the website is easy.

Danielle Robichaud is one of the many talented employees at the Library and has a very unique job. Check out the following links to find information for your next research project:

Waterloo Digital Library

 Archives Database