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.
Kathy Sanford is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Victoria. Her research fields are teacher education, literacy, video games and learning.
What that basic bio doesn’t tell you is that Kathy is a leading thinker of 21st century teaching and learning. That she is intensely focused and passionate about the larger context of learning – the natural environment of the digital generation and the community partners that surround the formal education system. That her enthusiasm for learning, combined with her depth of experience in facilitating learning, dazzles and inspires. That she is spearheading a progressive and collaborative teacher training program that draws together experienced teachers, keen student-teachers and teens in a collaborative learning environment.
It’s been three months since I started my new job as a chief librarian. The work environment is obviously very different from the government setting where I previously worked as the provincial librarian. But the vision for community-connected modern library service is the same – with the refreshing position of having more influence in one local setting!
People have been asking me how it’s going and I enthusiastically tell them about the supportive and bold-thinking library board, the strategic planning process that we are embarking on, and the 50th anniversary that is coming up.
But what inspires me every day are the people I work with and their enthusiasm for the work we do to support our community.
When everyone is capable of creating and distributing content, what can a library look like?
An answer might be found in Tennessee. Blessed with a progressive mayor who wanted to make the library his legacy in a city that made a serious public investment in a fibre network, the Chattanooga Public Library embraced the challenge of innovation, inspiration and community learning. They converted the library’s fourth floor into a beta space for the community, a creative place to prototype experiments.
Having recently returned to public library work, my librarian heart is filled with joy when I witness daily the interactions between people in an information-rich environment. To see people alone or in groups, with or without help from staff: browsing, reading, typing, thinking, relaxing, engaging, talking, working. Using every chair and computer in the library, finding the sunny corners or the quiet nooks, spending time or simply picking up or dropping off books. Multiple uses, a variety of people, and limitless possibilities.