Day in the Life: Christine Currie


- Marc Christensen

Christine Currie, Stacks Maintenance Supervisor
Stacks Maintenance Supervisor Christine Currie, of UVic Libraries. Photo: UVic Photo Services

Anyone who’s ever misplaced keys, glasses, a wallet or a purse in their own home learns to appreciate the value of placing things in a consistent place. Now imagine keeping track of more than two million sets of ‘keys’—each one unlocking an important, highly specific area of knowledge. That’s the challenge Christine Currie, stacks maintenance supervisor in UVic libraries, faces every day at the office.

It’s easy to overlook the amount of labour required to keep the shelves organized, when a trip to the library works as it should—books in order, where they should be. With an average of more than 500 books returned each day, however, and countless others removed from stacks for review by students and researchers, it’s no small feat. And when a book or journal goes missing, like our misplaced keys or glasses, it’s Currie and her colleagues who track it down.

In addition to returning items to shelves, her team is also responsible for finding room for new books as the library grows, and shifting the collection when it does. And they’re midway through a project to convert microforms from accession order to call numbers, modernizing access to the collection.

It’s not quite the job Currie imagined when she came to UVic in 2004 to help establish Village Greens and move Cap’s Bistro into daytime services. Prior years of work in food services management—from seniors’ homes to Victoria General Hospital—prepared her well for those challenges.

And Currie’s jump to the library, in 2007, isn’t that tremendous a stretch, she explains. Her service leadership background—with coursework at Camosun and SAIT, honed by on-the-job learning—is a real benefit in the Libraries’ Academic Commons unit, which focuses on a core set of services for library patrons.

Currie also sees a lot of overlap from her time at VGH. At the hospital, she knew just how essential food services can be for patients. “The doctors could do all the work in the world, but if we don’t feed the patients properly, then they’re not going to get well.”

The university parallel, lined up row by row among the stacks, isn’t much of a reach: books are food for learning. As Currie sees it, “it all boils down to reading, and libraries provide the nutrition for education.” 

That’s a great fit for her personally, and as a supervisor. Currie’s whole career is grounded in a love of working with people—providing leadership and service. “I have a lifelong passion for learning. With that, being able to work at a university is perfect.”

In keeping with that motto, Currie has taken many of the courses offered by UVic’s Human Resources department. “I do a lot of the leadership courses, and I always learn something there,” she explains. “The most recent course I took was ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.’  I found the material very interesting and the take-home items were more useful than many other courses I have been to. There was a set of practice cards included with this course that I keep on my desk and actually use frequently.”

Currie was also sponsored through UVic to enroll in a nine-month experiential program with Leadership Victoria. One of the Leadership Victoria projects she worked on brought her full-circle to her food services roots, as she helped coordinate a Big Brothers and Big Sisters program organized around cooking.

That spirit of giving is also central to Currie’s life. Her support of Operation Trackshoes, an athletics and recreation program that supports people with developmental disabilities, predates her arrival at UVic. She and her husband also volunteer at Our Place.

Currie also reminds us that these important connections to the community can be made on campus. “Community patrons and alumni bring a wealth of life experience with them when they walk into the library. Every Saturday, there are at least two I can count on to be here, as soon as I open the doors.”

Whether they’re alumni from years ago, or community members who are working on their own projects, these library clients also create important human connections. “They’ll come up to the loan desk to chat with the folks they reliably see there, week after week—just to keep them up to speed on their projects, or on a book they’re working on.”

From a growing sense of community, to providing an ever-growing array of in-person and digital services, Currie has seen a decade’s transformation at the library, which is an increasingly social space as well as a vital home for reading and resources. “Many people think of the library as a quiet place to study, but it’s also a vibrant and lively place. Between classes, it can be crazy—you can’t walk across the floor for all the students. And that’s a good thing.”


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Keywords: administrative, staff, Day in the Life

People: Christine Currie

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