MIS
MacLeod Information Services

Donna MacLeod, MLIS

Librarian, web accessibility consultant, technical writer

Donna MacLeod, portrait.
Courtesy: Rob Rohr

Professional interests

Librarian

I graduated as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) back in 1992. During my education and for a few years after that, I worked in a special library that focused on the Canadian financial services sector. I set up and maintained a records management system with offsite storage and deaccessioning, which was not that common at the time. After graduation, I provided reference services and online search, and maintained several reference collections.

I went on to start MacLeod Information Services, a records and information management company that has set up and maintained a wide variety of information-management systems, from records management systems in banks and academic libraries, to archives management for performing arts organisations. For each system, I provide a complete manual and trained staff to maintain and expand it.

For a provincial agency, I set up databases, phone systems, and intake & referral systems. I supervised and trained employees on telephone help desks, search systems, and data creation. I was also in charge of the library, which included several circulating focus collections, and helped implement a database for a community information.

I set up research collections in housing and First Nations culture, adult learning, and travelling library collections for rural, senior, Indigenous, and disabled communities in remote locations. I also provided bilingual reference and indexing services for a national health services organisation.

In the new millenium, I began working as a librarian in a public library setting. I started out as a bilingual children's librarian, doing collections management, reference, outreach and progamming in French and English for several branches. I moved on to a specialised position in Consumer Health, providing telephone reference services in French and English throughout the province, developing collections and indexing health websites for a federal government agency.

In 2009, I became the head of a department that specialises in the preservation, digitisation and publication of historical material, and which facilitates Gallery shows and co-ordinates emergency response in case of fire or flood. This complex and fascinating position is where I am today.

In addition to my paid work, I have held a number of volunteer positions in the wider library community. I helped organise the Francophone sessions of the Ontario Library Association's SuperConferences in 2007, was on the selection commitee of le Prix Tamarac and Tamarac exprèss in the popular Forest of Reading program, and became first the Vice-President (2016) and then the President (2017) of the OLA's Francophone division, l'Association des bibliothèques de l'Ontario-Franco (ABO-Franco). For the past several years, I volunteer at le Festival des arbres, the French-language festival for the Forest of Trees literacy event held every spring in Toronto.

I have published several articles and reviews in library publications. Between 2008 and 2010, I reviewed websites for the Health Sitings column of the Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet. I also published a book review in Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (2008), and in the Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (2016).

Finally, I have spoken at several library conferences on topics such as Consumer Health information (OLA and Ontario Library Services North), and Disaster Preparedness for libraries (OLA, 2018).

Technical writing and translation

For more than two decades, I have worked as a technical writer and translator (to and from French), specialising in computers, medical, library and retail translation. I did some of this work as an employee, but I more often free-lanced and collaborated under my company name, MacLeod Information Services.

In the 1990s, I helped set up an early machine-translation system based on a single-source writing methodology I developed for an AS/400 environment. On another contract, I produced the first translation of the Blackberry RIM web-browsing interface. I also indexed Canadian business periodicals for a major online journal database.

In the 1990s, I wrote, designed and helped implement the first electronic-only book published by a Canadian government agency (on housing repair and maintenance). The system assembled it on the fly to suit the needs of a homeowner or building manager, and it could be printed on demand.

Website creation and maintenance

Since my very first website in 1992, I have created and maintained websites for community groups, musicians, artists and non-profit associations. Many of these sites included content for newsletters, directories, calendars, blogs, wikis and other social media feeds.

For several years, I maintained and produced extensive content, including a community directory, and events list, and a regular blog on recent developments on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This was definitely a project-management intensive project!

I currently set up and maintain several websites, including several accessible websites for various chapters of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), a community of blind and low-vision individuals who have come together to well-being and social inclusion since 1944. Feel free to "support our vision" on any of these sites:

The other sites I am involved with are mainly those of artists, musicians of various types, and local history organisations.

Other interests

Music

In the late 1980s, I discovered traditional Irish set dancing, which led to a life-long love affair with traditional music. I took up the wooden concert flute in the mid-90s and have been playing with friends and family since that time.

For much of the past decade, my partner and I have been organising and hosting regular French-Canadian music session at the Tranzac Club, called TOQueTrad. This group has also organised workshops and dances at various times. A group of regulars also formed a dance band, Mango Chaud Point (main gauche au coin), with whom I have been fortunate to play for the last couple of years.

I have also spent many years volunteering at folk festivals and events, doing stage management and working as a sound technician at several festivals, including the Mariposa Folk Festival (yearly since the late 1990s), the Goderich Celtic Festival (mid-1990s) and the Festival Mémoire et racines in Quebec (2010s).

Finally, I do sound every month for Another Bloody Folk Club, a traditional English folk music club in Toronto.

Dog training

Since February, 2017, I have been training a service dog to assist with my worsening visual impairments. With help from a local dog training centre, and with the invaluable assistance of the Service Dog Training Institute, this ongoing project has brought great joy to my family and has helped make my daily life easier.

Swords

For more than 10 years, I studied the classical Japanese swordsmanship style Katori Shinto Ryu under sensei Corey Reid. While I have recently had to take a hiatus due to chronic pain, I still love the practice and the people I trained with. If you ever wanted to give it a try, check out the Toronto Kenjutsu website.

Tech stuff

I've been interested in programming since I first took up web development in the 1990s. That said, I've been pretty busy up to now and, sadly, I have never found the extra resources to be able to concentrate on it to any great extent. In 2018, however, I took a sabbatical and made great strides with the Python language.

I see programming as a means to an end: a way to make my life simpler and to reduce the boring, repetitive work we all have in our jobs. For example, many of the websites I maintain have directories or events calendars that are spreadsheets which I run through a program to produce the HTML. Simple, quick and relatively error-free, depending on the data quality. Another area I long to automate is metadata management, where it could improve data quality and consistency (and decrease human boredom, specifically mine!). These are the type problems I love to tackle, so don't look for the next VR solution here! I wouldn't mind learning more about data visualisation, though...

I've recently become interested in static website generators, which have the potential to be more secure and faster than CMS-based sites like WordPress, while also being both simpler to update and accessible.

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