Celebrating the transformational power of libraries on National Philanthropy Day

Monday, November 13, 2023

A picture of David Emery staring directly at the camera viewWhen David Emery signed up for his first library card at age eight, he began an enduring relationship with libraries that transformed his life in profound ways. To celebrate National Philanthropy Day, a day to recognize the contributions of philanthropy in transforming lives and communities around the world, we’re spotlighting the former University of Waterloo Library staff member, and how his continued support of the Library allows us to provide transformational support to students as they navigate an increasingly complex information landscape.

David grew up in England, with parents who instilled a love of reading in a home filled with books. David apprenticed for three years as a librarian after completing university, working towards the professional designation of Charter Librarian at the Newcastle Public Library. Working in a public library early in his career showed David what an important social service a library provides to a community: “Libraries are great levelers. They are welcoming community spaces where everyone has equal access to resources and support.”

David, along with his family, moved to Canada in 1967 to work at the University of Alberta Library after gaining academic library experience at the University of Edinburgh. He loved interacting with faculty members who were just as enthusiastic as he was about learning and discovering new books.

By 1973, the Emery family moved east for David to take up the role of Head of Technical Services under University Librarian Murray Shepherd at the University of Waterloo. This was a time of great change in library sciences, with the introduction of automation and computers. David thrived under the challenge of transitioning to digital catalogues to manage the library’s vast collection. This change allowed him to study the usage of library resources to understand students’ needs and better tailor our collections.

David continued to work at the Library until his retirement in 1996. He has many memorable moments of his time at Waterloo: the opportunity to continue his own studies, completing a Masters degree; a frantic one a.m. phone call when the rare book room in Special Collections & Archives was filling with water; and the library staff picnics every summer at Waterloo Park.

On a recent visit back to Dana Porter Library, David reflected on his time at Waterloo and a lifetime of working in libraries. The love of his profession – his colleagues, the patrons, the challenges – and the recognition of the value libraries have in our communities is what drives him to continue to support the Library with a monthly gift. We thank David for his continued support and the contributions of all our donors, who allow us to continually transform to meet the needs of our students in an ever-changing world.

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