Remembering Rowena

Rowena Macrae-Gibson
Rowena Macrae-Gibson

We have all been shocked and deeply saddened by the news that Rowena Macrae-Gibson, our friend and Deputy Chair of the CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG), died on Friday 6th October. Nick Poole paid tribute to her at the CILIP AGM on Thursday night. In addition to all the work she did for the ILG, she had been involved in the CILIP Career Development Group for many years before that.  Jane Secker, Chair of ILG, said: “I’ve known Rowena since she came to work with me at LSE in 2003 and both personally and professionally I shall miss her for her good advice, her sense of humour and her dedication to her work and information literacy. It is hard to believe such a vibrant person has gone so soon.”

Rowena and colleagues
Rowena with friends and colleagues

When we heard the sad news about Rowena, the Information Literacy Group and LILAC committees started sharing our thoughts and memories of Rowena on our mailing list. It was immediately clear what a big influence she had on all of us, and how much we all cared about her. We’ve included a few extracts below but would like to invite you to share any thoughts or memories you have about Rowena using the comments option on this blog post.

Elaine Sykes, our Treasurer, said: “… her passion for Information Literacy, acting as an unceasing champion for it as a basic human right has been heartening in a world of ‘fake news’. The sheer quality of her work, even amidst the challenges of ill health, were inspirational. I’ll miss her combination of passion and humour a lot and the committee won’t be the same without her.”

Emma Coonan, Editor in chief of the Journal of Information Literacy, said: “It’s almost impossible to take in that such a vivid person is no longer here, and that her incisive intellect has gone from us. Yet Rowena made such a deep impression on everyone she met that she will not be forgotten.”

Rowena Macrae-Gibson at LILAC 2017
Rowena having fun at LILAC 2017
Rowena with friends Maria Bell and Jane Secker
Rowena with friends Maria Bell and Jane Secker

Laura Woods, our Secretary, said: “Rowena was the first person to welcome me to the committee. Over the few short years I knew her, I really valued her advice, her insight and her compassion. Rowena was fiercely intelligent, passionate and dedicated to campaigning for libraries and for information literacy.”

Maria Bell, her former colleague from LSE, said: “Rowena was passionate. Passionate about information literacy, libraries, learning and passionate about opera (more Wagner than Puccini), ballet, cricket, cricket and cricket, Radio 4, Leonard Cohen (she travelled Europe to see him), Dr Who (more classic than new), politics, … passionate and opinionated! She faced her illness with the same fire and commitment to get through it. Many of us had fun catching up at LILAC this year and were looking forward to more times like this.”

Her husband Mark has asked that, if you want to remember Rowena, donations can be made to the Michael Sobell Hospice and to Mount Vernon Hospital.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Rowena”

  1. Very sad to hear the news. She was an exceptional person. The first time I met, she tales about what the Career Development Group did for her, she presented it with such enthusiasm, energy and sincerity that I wanted to join the group immediately. After joining, I was regularly in contact with her and i became more and more impressed by her professionalism, dedication and her kindness. Such a beautiful person! Rest in Peace.

  2. I had the good fortune of meeting Rowena back in India in 2009 when she attended a conference in India. Kept in touch with her right until I moved to the UK . Was aware of her surgery but went to Brunel today and was shocked to hear the sad news. She has been a mentor colleague and friend to me through all these years. I know that a wonderful person like her must be in a wonderful place up there. Will miss you Rowena.

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  4. Well, I am in China, and I was just looking for Rowena on LinkedIn and then I found this news. It is shocking. I knew Rowena at formal Career Development Group meetings at CILIP in London many years ago. I never knew her well.

    Then I met her again in Sheffield. She was struggling to walk, but I did not know why. We talked; the shared slipping moment. Everything different in the click. We promised to talk more when we saw each other again. You always think there will be again, and again…again.

    And because of that walk and train station talk, I was thinking of Rowena tonight. She found a strength that I was looking for tonight.

    And she is gone…

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