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OCAD U Library 2018 Fall: Staff Profiles

Meet... Ariella Elema!

Ariella Elema is the Dorothy H. Hoover Library's Acting Archivist. We spoke to Ariella about her interests, what she does at OCADU, and some of the hidden gems in the Archive.

Library Staff Profile

You have a PhD in Medieval Studies. What are your main interests in that area?

I wrote my dissertation on the history of trial by combat in France and England. I really like medieval and martial history, which led me to the history of books and documents themselves, which led to an MLIS. Recently, I catalogued OCAD’s collection of original medieval manuscript leaves. You’ll soon be able to see them through the Artstor database.

Can you explain your role in the library?

I maintain the archives, which house the records of OCAD’s history, going back to 1887 when it was the Toronto Art School. I acquire new items for the collection and respond to reference questions from faculty, students and external researchers. The questions I can help you answer are ones about OCAD’s alumni and former staff, or about courses and programs the school used to run.

What’s the most interesting item you’ve found in the Archives?
The OCA yearbook for 1969 was also a board game. It came in a box with specially designed money, game cards, a poster about the zodiac, and a vinyl LP. The whole package is covered in mandalas and paisley. It’s the most 1969 thing you’ll ever see.
What are some things you wish more of the OCADU community knew about the Archives?
An archives works a little differently from a library. We collect original documents rather than published books. In our case,  we have records of all kinds relating to OCAD University, its history and its alumni. These documents include such things as course calendars, graduation programs, exhibition posters and the minutes of board meetings. Most of our collection is irreplaceable, which is why the materials in the archives don’t circulate the way library books do. We still like visitors, though! You can make an appointment to see archival material by contacting me