2015 Winter Newsletter / Alumni News / Faculty News / In Memoriam

In Memoriam

The McGill School of Information Studies honours the following members of our community who have recently passed away. We extend sincere sympathies to family and friends.


Mary Patricia 0’Neill, BLS’48, MLS’69, passed away on October 5, 2014 in Halifax, at age 95. Trish (or “Pat” to many), received her early education at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, graduating in 1937, after which she earned a BA at Dalhousie in 1940 and a BLS and MLS at McGill. She then went on to work in the library at the Chronicle Herald, the bookmobile in Pictou County, and libraries in Moose Jaw, Toronto, and St. John. Her last position was in the Parks Canada library in Halifax. Source: Chronicle Herald, October 9, 2014.

Evelyn Long “Lynn” Fay, BLS’40, passed away in Santa Barbara, California, on December 6, 2013. After receiving her BLS, Evelyn was a librarian at the McGill Medical Library and the Osler Library. After serving as a school librarian in Galion, Ohio, she subsequently became the Medical Director of the David L. Reeves Medical Library at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she assisted many authors in research for their medical books and articles. Source: Santa Barbara News-Press Online, Dec. 27, 2013.

Janet (Dixon) Elder, BLS’47, passed away on July 8, 2014, in Montreal at the age of 88. After obtaining her BLS, Janet enrolled at Concordia at the age of 50 and obtained a Masters in Psychology in 1981. She then built a private counselling practice while supervising and training aspiring psychology students at Montreal’s Argyle Institute. Source: Gazette, July 12, 2014.

Donald Redmond, BLS’47, passed away on October 22, 2014 in Kingston, Ontario, at the age of 92. He earned degrees from Mount Allison University, McGill University, and the University of Illinois, and began a career in technical librarianship that included positions in Nova Scotia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Turkey, and Kansas before he came to Queen’s. At Queen’s, Donald served as Chief Librarian from 1966 to 1977. Source: Kingston Whig-Standard, Nov. 1, 2014.

Janet Brown, BLS’49, passed away on November 30, 2013 in Johnson City, New York, at 93 years old. After obtaining her BLS, she moved on to the newly founded Harpur College, part of the fledgling State University of New York system. At the time of her retirement she had long held the position of Chief of Acquisitions at SUNY Binghamton. Source: Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Dec. 4, 2013.

Margaret (Dimmock) Watson, BLS’53, passed away in Ottawa on March 10, 2014 in her 87th year. Margaret was an accomplished musician and served as a professional librarian in federal libraries for 30 years. Source: Ottawa Citizen, Mar. 13, 2014.

Anne (Shaw) Hudson, BLS’62, passed away August 17, 2013, in Victoria, BC. After earning a BLS at McGill, Anne joined the Bank of Canada, after which she moved to Victoria, BC. Source: Queen’s Alumni Review, 2014, 1.

Maurice Alarie, MLS’69, passed away on September 1, 2014, at the age of 86. Maurice earned his MLS at McGill before pursuing further studies at Columbia University (NY) in the Literature of Medicine, Science, and Engineering. Maurice retired from the University of Ottawa in 1986 after serving 28 years as the Director of the Vanier Library, Science, Medicine and Engineering Department. Source: Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 3, 2014.

Daniel Frank Phelan, MLS’74, passed away on November 5, 2014, in Kingston, Ontario. Daniel had a rewarding career as a professional librarian that took him to Montreal, Winnipeg, North Bay, and Toronto. He retired from Ryerson University in 2007 after 22 years, and moved to Kingston with his wife Laurie. Source: Globe & Mail, Nov. 8, 2014.

Susan “Sue” Patterson, MLS’74, passed away after a six year struggle with cancer on January 31, 2013 at the age of 65, in Edmonton. Susan worked as a librarian at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, at Transportation Development Agency in Montreal, at University of Toronto, and at Woodbridge Farms Elementary School in Sherwood Park. Source: Edmonton Journal, Feb. 4, 2014.

Elizabeth Comper, MLS’79, passed away in Toronto on June 22, 2014. A former Director of both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Elizabeth made many contributions to the community, such as founding various scholarships and programs. For her lifetime of social activism, volunteerism, philanthropy, and dedication to others, Elizabeth was awarded an honorary PhD from both Concordia University (‘09) and the University of Haifa (‘06), among many other awards. In 2011, she and her husband Tony were named to the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour. Source: Toronto Star, June 25, 2014.


Vivian S. Sessions, Former Director, 1920 – 2013


Vivian Sessions, Director (1976-81), School of Information Studies (formerly Graduate School of Library Science,) McGill University

Vivian Sessions, who served as the School’s Director from 1976 to 1981, was in her 93rd year when she passed away in Los Gatos, California on January 13, 2013.

A long-time resident of New York City, Professor Sessions was educated at the University of Michigan, where she received her BA in 1945 and MA (History) in 1948. After serving as a Research Assistant at Cornell University’s History of Science Department, she began working at the New York Public Library, after which she received her MS in Library Science in 1959 from Columbia University. City planning, information science, and information retrieval became the focus of her professional career after she became the Project Director for City University of New York’s URBANDOC project – a computerized documentation and information retrieval system for literature in urban planning and renewal.

Vivian’s teaching career began in 1969, when she became Director of CUNY’s Center for the Advancement of Library and Information Science, which emphasized online searching and information science. Her publications concentrated on databases, including: URBANDOC: a Bibliographic Information System 3v. (1971) and Directory of Data Bases in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (1974).

Professor Sessions came to McGill’s Graduate School of Library Science in 1976. She was the School’s first Director from outside McGill, following the School’s American Library Association 1975 reaccreditation and recommendations for change. The Dean of Graduate Studies, under whose jurisdiction the School operated, wanted the School to develop strength in the growing area of information science. After her arrival at McGill, Vivian founded an online retrieval laboratory and developed curriculum in English and French-language information systems. As the Director, Vivian forged new directions for teaching and research in the areas of data science, information retrieval, and information systems – areas which remain highly relevant to the School and the field today.

After her period as Director, Vivian returned to New York City where she served as the Head Librarian at the College of Staten Island. Colourful and energetic, Vivian Sessions left a lasting impression on all who knew her. Our sympathies are extended to her family and friends.

A special thank-you to Peter F. McNally, Professor and Director of the History of McGill Project.