People frequently ask me what it is like working at the public library. It is a difficult question to answer. I don’t know what they think it is like, but I know that every day is another incredible day of activity unlike the day before and so what I would like to do is to provide a bit of insight into what goes on at your public library. I want to share what one week (this past week) was like in the hope that I can provide an answer which somewhat illuminates the variety, value and uniqueness of what your public library is all about.
Let’s begin with the Brodie Resource Library being one of the sites for this year’s Doors Open event. We welcomed 150 people with guided tours of the 100 years plus Carnegie building with its stained glass windows of authors, Doric columns and other architectural delights. Then from the old to the new, we saw cedar panels going into the Aboriginal Education and Training Services units at the Waverley Library, preparing for group meetings and education. We welcomed tutors and their students, hosted a Canadian citizenship ceremony for new Canadians, had clients visit with a social worker and with a street nurse for advice and assistance, saw families come in with objects from nature to trade at the Northern Nature Trading Centre at Mary Black, hosted meetings initiated by the community for Friends of Chippewa Park who are raising funds to restore the historical carousel there, a meeting of the Thunder Bay Geology and Lapidary Club, of the Thunder Bay Rainy River Conservatives and a meet and greet with a candidate for municipal office. Our Indigenous Liaison ran another film in the Let’s Talk Reconciliation series, this one was titled Mother of Many Children and was about the importance of women in – Indigenous culture. Northern Ontario Writers’ Workshop met to discuss what they are working on and support each other in their creative efforts. There were several book club meetings including the long-running Casual Clerisy group and the new Graphic Novel Book Club. Youth Move had two drop in nights for teens and there were plenty of events for children including a Lego Drop In activity and “Batman Day”. Knitters and other crafters came out to Crafternoons to share techniques and learn new ones, and library staff went out to student orientations for Maadaadizi and NAN. The Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre had a rehearsal here and the Zen meditation group welcomed all for some contemplative time. Homeschoolers have a long relationship with the library and this week they came together to teach coding to children in a special Tech Club event. And I haven’t even begun to describe the many people who came in to use the computers, look for ancestors in the genealogical resources, received home visits from library staff and volunteers who brought books to those who are home-bound, the donations made to the RFID food bank, the people who borrowed books, DVDs, English as a Second Language CDs, magazines, gardening tools, fishing rods, beginner readers and music, or who came in to find answers to questions, learn how to use their iPads and e-books or how staff are busy cataloguing the hundreds of new materials which come in every Tuesday (including this week’s big draw Fear by Bob Woodward) as well as those who just wanted to relax in a welcoming space and read the newspaper from their home town.
As you can see, the Library is vital, vivid and full of activity. It is a long way from the stereotypical repository of books although there is no one at the Library who is not a lover of books or who isn’t also a reader.
The fact that your Library is such an important place for so many people and for so many reasons is what motivates me every day. I am proud to be a librarian and director at the Thunder Bay Public Library and a life-long learner and user as well. We welcome everyone to discover what is here for you to use or try or borrow or experience. Libraries are evolving at the pace of societal change and we continue to be a source for lifelong learning, equity for all and proponents for a civil society. If you haven’t visited in a while (or ever), visit soon to see what we can be for you.
Angela Meady www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!