the power of book clubs

As a young mom, participating in a book club met a lot of important social and intellectual needs for me. While those needs eventually shifted as my children moved on to school and I took on a bigger role in the work force, I still treasure those bonds that were established with a unique group of women from different professions and perspectives. My life is richer for the relationships and experiences that grew out of that book club experience.

I’ve been thinking a lot about book clubs lately. While book discussion groups have been around for centuries, there’s been a phenomenal rise in popularity of book clubs in the past couple of decades. Reading is alive and well – a healthy book culture combined with a basic human need for social connectedness is a winning combination. Continue reading

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celebrating culture

Peter Drucker

This past weekend, our library held a community event called Connection, Acceptance and Community: an Unconference, in partnership with the school district. Last month we held an event In Honour of the Community Commitment to Truth, Healing & Reconciliation, in partnership with Truth and Reconciliation Canada. A few months back, we put together a Newcomers Networking with Local Businesses event with support from Training Innovations. In all cases, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Working collaboratively with community members and partner groups, staff modelled inclusivity and compassion. I am immensely proud of the commitment, professionalism and range of talents and skills that are employed by the folks who work in our library. As I witness their professional growth, I see their confidence and capabilities expand. They are creating safe and respectful opportunities for important community conversations and connections to take place. They are taking a leadership role in partnering effectively with other organizations and building the Library’s social capital within the community.

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the great mooc experiment

Over the past few months, our Parkgate branch library has introduced the concept of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and a ‘pilot MOOC’, using MIT’s massive open online adaptation of its Introduction to Philosophy. So far, it’s been a fabulous first experiment in hosting a MOOC for our community. And for me, the coolest part is that the idea to launch a pilot MOOC came from our patrons. (See Libraries Build Communities for the back story.)

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libraries build communities

Until recently, my father could have been considered the inspiration for Jonas Jonasson’s bestselling novel, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

Like the fictional centenarian, my father had only a very few years of formal education, yet he relied on a keen intellect, fierce independence, risk-filled adventures and luck-filled opportunities to make a remarkable life. He survived Nazi-occupied Holland by living in hiding, spent time in the Dutch army during the Indonesian National Revolution and then indentured himself to a farmer for a year to start a new life in Canada. He enjoyed seeing new places; well into his late eighties, my father regularly traveled from Ontario to the west coast, Europe and even Russia. Physically active, he walked and swam several times a week, gardened, chatted with neighbours and kept up an active social life.

Ten months ago, just a few months shy of his ninetieth birthday, he decided to sell the house where he had lived for more than 40 years, and move to an apartment. And that’s when his life altered its course. Suddenly cut off from his familiar surroundings and caring neighbours, he began a rapid physical and cognitive decline.
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a true champion of our freedom to read

It’s been a while since I last blogged in this space, but this past week’s honouring of our Freedom to Read has inspired me to write.

Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, a freedom that is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Like most libraries, we celebrated with banned book displays and conversations, as champions of free expression. With “create your own ebook” workshops and thoughtful collection development, we’re doing our bit to ensure new voices are heard and available, that access is preserved.

And so it seems only fitting that a cherished friend and mentor is acknowledged this week too. Brian Campbell, a passionate and committed individual who championed intellectual freedom and information access issues every day of his career and continues to do so in retirement, was honoured by the Canadian Library Association. Brian is the winner of the 2015 Award for the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada, for his tireless championship of librarianship’s core values of intellectual freedom and information access.

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