remembering a co-worker, an amazing person, a friend

On Saturday we celebrated the life of a cherished colleague. Leanne Erickson, Executive Assistant at the North Vancouver District Public Library for the past three and a half years, left this world much too soon.

When you work with someone, you get to know them really really well – in one context. It was a privilege to see how Leanne’s family and friends came together to celebrate this special person, as they know her in an entirely different context. To see the folks who shaped her life and enjoyed so many wonderful times with her, to get a sense of who she was when she “let her hair down”. To get a glimpse of who she was as a wife, daughter, sister, and friend, through tributes, photos and music. Leanne was one helluva vibrant and well-loved woman.

At the service for Leanne, it gave me great comfort to see the strong and extensive network of love that surrounded Leanne, that she was a part of, and that carried her through her difficult battle with cancer.

Those of us who worked with Leanne were privileged to spend almost eight hours a day, five days a week with her. We worked through good times and challenging times. We shared successes and failures. We supported each other through sickness and health. We worked hard, and we had fun.

And all the time you log together, all the accomplishments you enjoy together, all the little and thoughtful gestures, they all add up to something meaningful. Leanne was an important part of my life and I’ll never forget her. Nor will I ever stop missing her. She made my life better.

In thinking about Leanne and what she meant to me, and to my library, I wrote this tribute: Continue reading

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where it all comes together

On March 11, an over-capacity crowd of 300+ people gathered together to celebrate and remember the extraordinary life of Brian Campbell.

People came from all facets of Brian’s extensive network of communities: family, friends, work colleagues, and social activist comrades. Wonderful musicians hailed from a couple of those categories: the extended family and social activists. While those of us in the library field had glimpses of Brian’s activities in other realms, It was remarkable to see the full extent, the depth and breadth of his life. As a wise friend said to me afterwards, you can’t know a whole person until you come to an event like this – this is where it all comes together. Continue reading

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summertime and the readin’ is easy…

As children return to school this week, we can look back on another great summer of reading.

Summer is always one of my favourite times in a public library – the place is hopping with happy summer readers of all ages! Every week, thousands of children come in for stickers, stamps, encouragement – and more books.

Don’t get me wrong. Children frequent the library throughout the school year, when they are attending story times and other programs, visiting with their classes, seeking help with homework, meeting friends, using the computers, and picking up books to read or videos to watch. Families and children account for about one third of our use, and we consider children’s services, programs and collections a vital and exciting aspect of our work. Continue reading

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Under the Hood

On Thursday, May 12, North Vancouver District Public Library was proud to deliver a panel presentation, Under the Hood: Honest Stories of Disruptive Change in a Public Library, at the BC Libraries Conference held in Richmond, BC.

In alignment with the conference theme of Disrupt and Transform, this presentation describes the transformative process that started when I became chief librarian for North Vancouver District Public Library in 2013, and illustrates it with personal stories of change from seven staff members and one super-engaged patron.

I cannot describe just how proud I am of the NVDPL staff and how they have flourished in the delivery of their professional library services. The North Van community is incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated, talented and caring professionals to serve their access to knowledge that will enhance and improve their lives and support community connectedness. I am humbled to work with such committed and compassionate human beings.

All of our presentation notes are posted here, starting with my portion of the presentation, which set the stage for the personal stories that follow.  Staff spoke honestly and passionately about their experiences during this time of organizational change, from many different areas of the library: circulation, collections, adult programming, community connections, and systems. Their speaking notes are linked below.

We were also delighted to include in our panel one of our super engaged patrons!

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indie authors, indie libraries


One of the great joys in life is to celebrate the launch of a new book. Particularly when one knows something of the effort, struggle and personal investment of the author – the story behind the story makes it that much more special.

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to share in the joy of the birth of a new book written by my dear friend, Jo Manning. Jo’s memoir, Etched in Time, covers nine decades of the remarkable life of a highly intelligent and talented woman who, against the odds, became an accomplished artist. Jo’s story is a powerful personal memoir, but it also is a really important look at Canada’s social history, the role of artists and the challenges for women over almost a century. Continue reading

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