H.D. (Sandy) Ayer, MLS, MCS, BA

Director of Library Services, Sandy Ayer
Director of Library Services
+1 (403) 410-2947
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As a generalist who enjoys helping people, I find librarianship to be ideally suited to my personality and interests. I’ve worked in libraries since 1980, when I started working as the assistant librarian at Regent College.  My service at Ambrose and its predecessors dates back to 1984, when I became director of library services at Canadian Bible College/Canadian Theological Seminary. I also serve as Ambrose’s archivist and in this capacity also administer the archives of the Church of the Nazarene, Canada and the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. In conjunction with my archival duties, I also maintain the library’s special research collection on the history and thought of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) and an annotated bibliography of C&MA sources. On occasion, I work as a library consultant. This has been a particular source of joy for me because it gives me the opportunity to learn from other librarians, and because it involves travel (e.g., to the Philippines, Austria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).  

In my spare time, I enjoy birding (a particular passion); reading (especially history and biography); berry-picking, fishing (rarely, these days); creative writing (especially memoir and poetry); good conversation (especially on weekends over lattes with my wife Diane); trying to keep up my French, German, and Spanish; and watching football on TV.

Philosophy of Librarianship

My philosophy of librarianship is determined by the mission of the institution: I must ensure that the mission of the library is congruent with that of Ambrose and that the library’s collections and services support the curriculum.  

In my role as an administrator, I do not regard myself as an “information manager,” i.e., as an accumulator of data for manipulation, but rather as a broker of the ideas and stories contained within our library’s virtual and physical collections. I regard this raw material with awe, both for the creativity that it represents and for its formational potential. Hence I try to foster a reverence for texts, a “standing under” them that will lead to understanding. In keeping with the relevant exhortations in the book of Proverbs, I want to facilitate the transformation of information into knowledge, understanding, and, ultimately, wisdom.  

My motto as collector and educator is “every [librarian] who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matt. 13:52). Accordingly, I seek to ensure that the library’s collections reflect both classical and contemporary works and an appropriate balance between old technologies (the codex) and new (electronic resources and delivery systems).  To do this well requires collaboration with faculty, students, a network of colleagues, and various consortia. Libraries are developed in community.

Since Ambrose seeks to develop critical thinkers, the library’s collections must also reflect a variety of points of view, both Christian and secular. This principle, which is enshrined in the collection development policy, is foundational to my philosophy of selection.

I see myself also as a “navigator,” i.e., one who gives guidance in evaluating sources, and in narrowing searches and assessing their results. The importance of this role is increasing in proportion to the growth in the volume of material that both faculty and students must sort through in their research.

As far as library service is concerned, my motto is “hospitality with resourcefulness.” Many patrons, especially students, simply do not feel at home in libraries, and to address their needs I am trying to adapt the service ethic of the public library to the setting of the academic library. To measure patron-related outcomes I initiated (in 2008) an annual library survey.

Resourcefulness often involves doing all one can to find the resources that best answer patrons’ research queries. To this end, I ask probing questions to determine as precisely as possible the knowledge the patron requires. Like all academic librarians, I also believe in making patrons themselves more resourceful by increasing their self-reliance as researchers. To facilitate this goal, I deliver instruction in a variety of ways, including tours, in-class presentations, electronic handouts posted on Moodle, and one-on-one sessions. Still to come are online research guides and instruction via social media. Eventually, I hope to attain the holy grail of library service: the integration of information literacy into the curriculum itself.


BA (University of British Columbia)
MCS (Regent College)
MLS (University of British Columbia)

Select Publications

Current Research

Ongoing updates to The Christian and Missionary Alliance: An Annotated Bibliography of Textual Sources: Supplement, 2001-present https://ambrose.edu/sites/default/files/Supplement_to_The_Christian_and_Missionary_Alliance.pdf

Scholarly & Professional Activity

Coordinated and chaired a conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, of librarians and doyens from the three seminaries involved in the Engagement de l’Afrique project. 12-16 June 2017.

Team member on ATS site visit to Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI, 19-23 March 2017.

Team member responsible for reporting on library and faculty for the ABHE site visit to Native American Bible College, Shannon, NC, 3-6 October 2016.

Library site visits to FATÉAC seminary in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and FATEB seminary, Yaounde, Cameroon on behalf of Engagement de l’Afrique. 10-23 January 2016                                             

Library site visit to Université Shalom de Bunia (Congo, Kinshasa) on behalf of Engagement de l’Afrique.  9-16 September 2015

Davao, Philippines, consultant for the Jaffray Institute: February 2014
Christian Colleges of Southeast Asia
Davao Alliance Bible College
Koinonia Theological Seminary                                

Yaoundé, Cameroon, part of TeachBeyond consulting team. October 2013

Recent Conference Presentations

“Engagement de l’Afrique.” Presentation on my involvement as a library consultant for this project. Alberta Association of Academic Librarians, annual conference, 14 April 2016.

Presentation at the Asian Spice field conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on internet resources for missionaries. 28 January 2015