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We have a fabulous new ED – come learn about her!

Half body shot of Sunni Nishimura. She is smiling at the camera with shoulder-length wavy black hair and glasses. She stands in front of a backdrop of autumn trees.
October 6, 2023

The start of the new fall term also welcomes BC ELN’s newly appointed Executive Director, Sunni Nishimura, who has been with BC ELN since 2006.  From AskAway to Arca, WriteAway to eHLbc, Sunni has been highly involved in kickstarting and optimizing services provided by BC ELN. Under the gentle autumn breeze, Sunni shares her experience at BC ELN, the current projects she is working on, and her vision for BC ELN in her new role as the Executive Director. 

Hi Sunni! Can you share some of the most significant projects you've been involved in over the years? 

Sure. I started out at BC ELN as the first AskAway Coordinator, working with different strategic partners including BCCampus, Council of Post-secondary Library Directors (CPSLD), the Ministry of Advanced Education, Vancouver Public Library and the Public Libraries Branch under the Ministry of Education, to launch this province-wide chat service. We worked closely with participating libraries to deliver in-person training across the province, connecting public and post-secondary librarians to support the service. After launching AskAway, I brought my experience with AskAway to launch WriteAway in 2011, working with early adopters and partners including the Council of Student Services Affairs Leaders (CSSAL), BCcampus and the Irving K Barber Learning Centre at UBC. Having these experiences collaborating with other partners, I managed the launch of the Arca digital repository service in 2014 with Ministry seed funding, expanding our range of services to the post-secondary sector and beyond.  

That’s impressive! So, other than your projects at BC ELN, what external committees do you serve and how do they facilitate the work of BC ELN? 

Through AskAway and WriteAway, I served on BCCampus committees to better connect BC ELN with the external partners we work with. In my role as BC ELN Resource Sharing Manager, I chaired the international user group for the SHAREit software which supports our Illume interlibrary loan service. Most recently, I was invited to sit on the BC History Digitization Program (BCHDP) adjudication committee through my role as the Arca Partnerships Coordinator, connecting with other adjudicators from the library, history, museums and archives fields. I also serve on the DigitalBC Committee, actively working with people across the GLAM sector towards a vision of unified access to the intellectual, cultural and historical record of BC. Apart from provincial committees, I sit on the Coalition for Canadian Digital Heritage (CCDH), which is a national cross-sector coalition of memory organizations committed to expanding digital access to Canada’s cultural heritage. With my new role, I’m looking forward to working more closely with the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), as connecting with these external peers can help expand and improve the services provided by BC ELN. 

It’s nice to see how the services provided by BC ELN are connected from the provincial level to the national level through collaboration with external partners. As the Executive Director, how would you describe the work of BC ELN and your role in it? 

The work of BC ELN is about leveraging our network and collective energies as post-secondary libraries to foster resilience in the post-secondary sector through facilitating collaboration and equitable access to resources. As the Executive Director, my role is to ensure the health of the consortium and the team that supports our work. I plan to lead the team not only in moving forward on the consortium strategic framework goals, but also in strengthening and expanding the network of connections we have with our partner libraries and sector partners. Of course, making sure our office team is energized and supportive is the key to delivering quality services. 

With your new role, what are your plans for the upcoming year? 

Internally, there will be several hiring processes throughout the fall to make sure our team comes back up to full strength to support the work of BC ELN. Externally, I will be connecting with the partners we work with, in-person or virtually, to gain more understanding of the unique characteristics of each partner library, the common ground we share, as well as the pressure points. There are also ongoing key projects at BC ELN such as the new service agreement with our host institution SFU, the Arca migration, our new model license, activities to strengthen partner library engagement, and exploration of how BC ELN can support research data management. With some of the new Ministry funding we’ve received and changes in our SFU reporting structure, BC ELN finances have recently become much more complex, so this spring I’ll be focused on re-aligning our financial management processes to meet that new complexity. I’m looking forward to getting a lot of groundwork in place this year so that we can move forward with the important work of exploring further connections with Indigenous-mandated post-secondary organizations. 

Sunni’s rich experience in the field of consortial work will further enhance BC ELN services to meet the expanding information needs of learners, educators, and researchers in BC and the Yukon. Sunni will be responsible for eHLbc, finance and human resources of BC ELN, and act as a Ministry liaison. Sunni can be reached by phone on 778.782.6937, or via email at