When you think about libraries, you might think about the latest bestsellers on offer, computer labs, storytime programs and book clubs, and public meeting spaces.
The first thing that comes to my mind, however, are the amazing people I have had the privilege to meet in my daily life as your librarian.
I think about folks like Graham Darrell who, a couple of weeks ago, came in out of the rain and offered to fix up a hole in the drywall in the bathroom. “The library has always been here for me, so I just wanted to do something small for the library in return”, he explained.
I think about Terje Munkerud, recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, and the hundreds of hours he has put in painting, fixing the irrigation, replacing light bulbs, and keeping the building maintained for the past decade or more.
I think about Helena White, Barb Thomas, and Marion Sawall who between the three of them have combined for over 100 years (100 years!) of volunteer service to Creston Valley Public Library.
It seems to me that there is something magical about the library—a place of community sharing, of stories and learning, where every human being is welcome and everything is free—and that this magical quality brings out the best in people.
I could probably write ten columns about the all of the wonderful things that happen at the library throughout the year, thanks to our patrons, volunteers and staff.
For example, the folks at KES recently surprised us with a donation of laptops and keyboards to support our Teen Access to Technology initiative.
The indomitable and tireless ladies of the Creston Valley Embroidery Guild hold an annual craft sale and tea to help support library programs.
And I can’t forget Harvest Share, which comes around and picks our pear trees each year, leaving us boxes of apples and plums and other goodies to share with our patrons during harvest time. One newcomer to Creston told me that this was one of the things that helped him decide to move to Creston. “Where else does the local library gives you a freshly picked apple with your books?”, he remarked.
How cool is that?
Our staff members have been known to get in the act as well. I recall Cassandra Viers taking a call from a patron at home on a Sunday begging her to open the meeting room door for their club’s meeting. And Margaret Basaraba on her way home dropping off some books for a patron stuck at home with the flu.
Some of my favourite people in the world—and perhaps some of the most under-appreciated–are the Friends of the Library, who not only fundraise for the library, but also distribute surplus large print books to TAPS and Crest View Village, religious books to the Baptist Church, Young Adult books to the Teen Action Coalition, children’s books to the Book Under Every Tree program, and books of all kinds to Gleaners.
From donations of books to the sharing of fresh local produce, from random acts of kindness to decades of volunteer service, the library is at the centre of a wondrous culture of caring and sharing.
If you haven’t been by recently, perhaps it’s time you dropped in and renewed acquaintances. You will always find a warm welcome at your local public library.
Aaron Francis is the Chief Librarian at Creston Valley Public Library. He is currently reading Red Planet Blues by Robert Sawyer.