Pat Dawson will never forget her encounter with a young single mom who couldn’t read.
It happened during a visit to a transition house for a library story-time program.
As part of the program, parents and children would pick a book to read together.
When the young mother asked Dawson to read with her and her son, she soon realized why.
The three of them sat down and went through the book.
Later on, Dawson gave the mom a copy of the book they’d read together to keep. The grateful woman hugged it to her chest.
“She told me she had never learned to read, but she was going to make sure that her son would learn to read, and he would learn to love to read,” Dawson said.
“I floated back to work.”
Dawson, who will retire this March as the library manager for the City of Langley library branch (and the Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam), has been promoting literacy and a love of reading for the last 17 years with the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL).
“Our foundation is literacy in all forms,” Dawson told the Times.
“We are working with the whole community to break down barriers.”
It was at her first job, with the New Westminster Public Library children’s department, that Dawson developed her love of children’s literature and recognized the impact that early literacy can have on a community.
She later took a partial detour from her profession to raise a family and work in ESL education, then returned to work at the FVRL.
Dawson started at Maple Ridge Public Library as a public services librarian and then supervisor of information services.
In 2007, she became Library Manager for the City of Langley and Port Coquitlam.
Now that she’s retiring, Dawson plans to work as a literacy volunteer.
She is also looking to having more time to read just for fun, and will likely re-read Lost Horizon by James Hilton, one of her favourite works of literature that she describes as a “book that sticks.”
“I still get a kick out of it,” she said.