Poppy Riddle

Interdisciplinary PhD Student and Researcher


Have you followed a circuitous path to your current position, or a straightforward path? It has been a wonderfully circuitous path full of unique experiences! Most of my life thus far has been devoted to bicycles and wanting to know and do everything, from riding and racing, to designing and making. It has taken me all over the world. As I’ve gotten older, my interests have shifted and now I’m interested in how we search for information, and question why can’t we see it or experience it in other ways.  

Favourite aspect of your current work? Most exciting part?  Most rewarding part? I am currently a student in the Dal Interdisciplinary PhD program. I’m exploring how to improve the search process while reducing cognitive load with visualizations of the information using 3D and VR. I find the most rewarding part is working with other people that are equally excited about the work they do, and love sharing what they have learned. I also really enjoy the technical aspects of the research. This pushes me to learn new things and to weave all that new information together into something I can use. Just two years ago, I had no idea how to program, and I’m proud that I’ve learned so much in such a short time. I’m currently improving my abilities in Python, but also learning SQL and C# so that I can create virtual reality applications for libraries. 

Has serendipity played a role in your career? Yes, but also trusting and listening to others. I decided to go into LIS based on suggestions from my spouse, who thought it would be an interesting area for me. She heard me speaking so fondly about being in the library and wanting to do something more with it. I’m also very grateful for all the people that have said yes, when I asked if I could do something or just wanted to be involved.

What skill is most in-demand for people entering the field today? The most offered advice I received was ‘learn how to code’! Many librarians felt they were doing repetitive tasks and wanted to be able to provide more thorough automation. I think I would modify this advice slightly as not everyone finds coding rewarding. Perhaps the advice should be, ‘be knowledgable of digital tools and methods so that, as a leader, you know what is possible and who is needed to solve the problems you will face.’

Words of advice/career tips for MLIS students? Is there anything you wish you had known when you entered your professional that would be helpful to someone entering it today? The LIS/IM profession is so huge and varied. Let that little voice inside guide you to what interests you. There will be opportunities regardless of how niche your interests are!