Saara Itkonen has been the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public Library since 2018. (Photo credit Brian Lawrence)

Saara Itkonen has been the chief librarian at the Creston Valley Public Library since 2018. (Photo credit Brian Lawrence)

Lit: We all need community care

‘None of us can face this world alone. We all need each other.’

By Saara Itkonen, Library Director, Creston Valley Public Library

Winter can be hard for folks.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of this again. After two years of COVID-19 health measures that kept many people away from the library, this year we are seeing many more of our community’s most vulnerable residents visiting us again. These are folks that have been the most impacted by the systems of capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy that we all continue to live and work under.

The longer I work in public libraries, the more consistently I encounter people – young and old – who are harmed by our world and need our community to help support them. It’s part of why I continue to do the work, why my staff continue to do the work, and why our volunteers show up to help at the library. We are lucky to be a part of a public community space where we also understand how hard life can be.

I know, personally, how harmful our world can be. I’ve struggled, perhaps like you, and I’ve watched people I love struggle and break. I continue to hold those loved ones that haven’t made it through, in my heart.

We all have our own stories and because they are all so different, we often think they are ours alone to carry. But we all live within the same systems and our pain is often so much more similar to each other’s than we think. It’s one of the things I love about the library so much. The shelves are filled with so many people who have shared their stories with us, just so we can feel a little less alone when we need it.

When we’re feeling too much pain, there are stories of humour and fantasy and imagined worlds that can provide us with a much needed break from it all and restore our hope in a better future. Because none of us can face this world alone. We all need each other. We all need community care.

With a new year upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about what a more just, caring, hopeful world can look like and I’m looking forward to working towards that at our library and beyond. If you have ideas you’d like to see at the library, please let us know! The best libraries are true community spaces that create and/or connect you with the right kinds of supports. The best libraries reflect the best of us all.

And if you’re feeling alone or in pain, let us help you choose some stories of hope and laughter and love to comfort you where you are right now. Because true community care requires us to share our stories with each other so that we can connect and support each other best.

If you care about the supportive community work that we do at the library but don’t have the time to get involved in person, please consider making a donation. It’s easier than ever to do so. You can donate online at crestonlibrary.com (there’s an online donation button on our home page). Every little bit helps us!

Happy New Year to you and all who you love. Let’s keep building our community of care together.

Upcoming Programs and Events

• Family Storytime – songs, stories, puppets and play for young children and their caregivers – Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., starting Jan. 18

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