Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette Recruits Chief Librarian for Ryerson University

June 13, 2017 – Nova Scotia-headquartered executive search firm Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette has assisted Ryerson University with the appointment of Carol Shepstone as its new chief librarian. Anna Stuart, managing partner and leader of the firm’s academic search practice, led the search.

Ms. Shepstone has been working in academic libraries for more than 18 years. As university librarian at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, she helped transition the library through periods of significant institutional change, and provided key leadership in planning the new Riddell Library and Learning Centre facility, which is set to open in July. Her career has also included leadership roles with the University of Saskatchewan Libraries and positions with both the University of British Columbia (UBC) Library system and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

Ms. Shepstone is an active member of many association boards, advisory committees and academic library consortia. She currently serves as vice-chair of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network and vice-chair of the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries.

Ryerson University is devoted to innovative, career-oriented education. The university has a population of more than 43,000 students from a broad range of cultures and backgrounds, including 2,500 master’s and Ph.D. students, nearly 3,000 faculty and staff, and over 170,000 alumni worldwide.

Canadian Search Consultants

Over the past 40 years, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette has established an extensive record of experience in executive search in the academic sector. The firm has completed over 130 searches for postsecondary clients over the last three years, including working with Ryerson University in finding its current president. The recruitment firm has facilitated searches for university / chief librarians at the University of Windsor, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Humber College and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Ms. Stuart has led executive searches and provided strategic advice to universities and colleges, government, not-for-profit, family-owned and private sector organizations across Canada. Her experience as a senior leader within the public service, and as an advisor to senior leaders within the academic, public and private sectors, has given her first-hand insight into the rewards and challenges of leadership in broadly-accountable organizations. She recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss her recent search for Ryerson University.


Anna, explain the importance of this role.

The contemporary university library is integral to learning and teaching; it is the hub of scholarly, research and creative activates. More than simply collecting and organizing information, today’s library engages university communities at all levels and provides access to the type of resources necessary to enable knowledge creation. Chief librarians oversee all aspects of the operation of the library but their responsibilities often extend far beyond this. They work across the university and with external partners to identify and advance new opportunities in innovation for library services. They are often a part of the decanal leadership group and a key participant in the development and realization of a university’s goals. With their finger on the pulse of emerging practices, a chief librarian leads and coaches librarians, as well as the full complement of staff that support the library to improve services and operational efficiencies.

What type of leader was Ryerson University seeking?

As they prepared for this search, Ryerson University, in consultation with the campus community, identified the need for a leader who could demonstrate a contemporary understanding of the changing character and role of university libraries and who had the drive and creativity to ensure that Ryerson’s library and archives continues to support students, learners, faculty, researchers and the university’s bold ambitions. Ryerson sought a collaborative and passionate leader who was an experienced administrator as well as an innovator and a strategic thinker. The new chief librarian had to be a collaborator and relationship builder with a commitment to increasing accessibility, equity and diversity.

“With their finger on the pulse of emerging practices, a chief librarian leads and coaches librarians, as well as the full complement of staff that support the library to improve services and operational efficiencies.”

What made Carol the best fit for this role?

Her experience working in archives, academic research institutes, and public libraries combined with her research into the value and impact of academic libraries, library building design, and intellectual property, and her passion for the subject made her an ideal fit for the role.

What will her primary responsibility be in this new position?

As chief librarian, Carol will be responsible for evolving the vision and strategic plan for the library, promoting the library and its role in student experience, and the academic and research mandates of the university. Carol will also participate in leading the new Student Learning Centre, an iconic building on one of Canada’s busiest urban streets with an expanded inventory of collaborative work rooms that promote learning outside of the classroom. She will be tasked with determining priorities for, and optimizing resource allocation of funds, time, staff and equipment within the context of rapid growth and innovation at Ryerson. She will also lead the strategic development and oversee the implementation of organizational change initiatives.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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