Library hires new Head of Special Collections and Archives


Rebecka Taves Sheffield has been welcomed as the new head of Special Collections and Archives at the library. The award-winning author and archivist also holds the position of managing editor for the Association of Canadian Archivists journal Archivaria

She has spent almost a decade working with the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ+ Archives, which shaped her research and writing. She has a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Toronto, with a concentration in sexual diversity studies. 

Before joining UW, Sheffield was a senior policy advisor for Ontario Digital Service, where she led digital and data policy development in areas such as data sharing, generative artificial intelligence, and digital recordkeeping practices. She has taught archival studies at Simons University in Boston, University of Toronto, and currently at University of British Columbia, where she teaches online. “It’s been about 15 years or more that I have been working with archives and it has really informed my own research and book projects,” she said. “I wrote a book called Documenting Rebellions that is based on four community archives.”

When asked about what drew her to the role with the university, she said that UW “is a really interesting school, especially after coming from a formative experience at the Ontario Digital Service.” She mentioned that she wanted the opportunity to work in archives as it is her passion. Taves believes that UW is the perfect school to integrate her passion with archives and her digital skills. “The Special Collections and Archives at the library is home to some of the most prestigious collections of women and gender studies, social justice studies, and LGBTQ+ collections which are dear to my heart,” Taves said. 

Taves sees her time at Waterloo as an opportunity to help shape the university and become a groundbreaker in collecting research materials that support innovative scholarship. “I am going to really try to set us apart from other collecting institutions by the nature of who we are and where we are,” she said, adding she has been enjoying her time learning the campus history and getting to know her colleagues. 

“My colleagues know all the history of our institution and collections in their heads,” she said. “I enjoyed meeting students and faculty and I am really happy about where I ended up.”