Letters

The importance of volunteers at Prince Rupert's library

Editor:

One of the best things about working as Prince Rupert's chief librarian is my boss. That's you, the people of Prince Rupert (and the surrounding communities).

You are the ones paying my, and all the other employees' wages. And you get to make the rules. What books should be available? Are some too horrible for some of us to read? What services should we provide to everybody, including people too poor to own computers, who never had the chance to read above a Grade 8 level?

Libraries in BC, as well as most places in Canada and the US, are still legislated to be directed by the local community, through a Library Board. The public library is not run by distant bureaucrats, nor by profit-minded shareholders. It is one of the few public bodies which are run by volunteers who freely give their time and effort to ensure that all people have access to information of their choosing, who ensure that all people can read. These volunteers -or more properly trustees- create the policies that guide the librarian's management of the staff who do the work that helps our patrons get what they need.

An excerpt from a BCLTA Handbook offers that: A "public library trustee ensures that libraries continue to contribute to the ideals of a free, democratic society by promoting intellectual freedom and providing free, equitable access to knowledge and ideas."

A heavy responsibility, one which has become so normal and expected by everyone that we don't think about it except when prompted. But think about it we must as a library board -just as a person- grow and mature. New people must take on the challenge as our elders move on. Paul Kennedy, Adrienne Johnston and Rev. John Martinson (deceased husband of Lorna Martinson above) have served their maximum time on the Board. We recently celebrated their commitment at a dinner in Cargo Kitchen + Bar Restaurant. Rather than accepting gifts for their efforts they asked that a donation to the Library be given in their name.

So, while the library staff continue their work, we -and the library users- need your direction. I would like you to think about becoming a library trustee, to ensure that the Prince Rupert Library continues to serve the community in the best way we can. What information services do you/we need that will allow children, grandparents, the wounded and the gifted to obtain their dreams and soothe their pain? The Internet, the most wondrous of modern inventions provides much, but more for the rich and the computer savvy than for the technologically-naive and poor. Help Rupertites make the best of the databases, big data and digital communities by promoting and developing the solutions to our local problems.

This is a way to make a difference in your life, in your community, as soon as you want.

Joe Zelwietro

Chief Librarian, Prince Rupert Library

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