Canadian Library Month

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Women Are Persons Monument, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize October as Canadian Library Month and this upcoming Friday, October 21, as Canadian Library Workers Day.

Libraries are tremendous fountains of knowledge and proof that information truly belongs to everyone. Particularly important are the librarians who help us navigate this world of information by providing us with the right books and tools we need to succeed. In my role as a senator, and particularly as a teacher, I have seen first-hand the part that libraries and books can play in encouraging imagination, empathy and civic duty.

This year’s Library Month theme is “One card, one million possibilities.” In Nova Scotia libraries, some of the programs on offer include career planning and job search assistance, support services for immigrants, language practice groups, tech help and computer classes, housing support services, health and well-being programs, information sessions for small business owners, storytime and activities for babies and children, author readings, book clubs, movie nights, community cafes, parenting programs, teen cooking classes, photo exhibits, music and dance classes, quilting and needlework clubs, running groups, chair fitness and events with Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy, the Halifax Public Libraries’ Artist and Innovator in Residence.

Colleagues, the list goes on.

You can see that libraries don’t just lend books. Here in Ottawa, you can access a 3-D printer or a musical instrument, borrow passes for museums or to ski and snowshoe in nearby provincial parks or even borrow a telescope to look at the stars. Canadians are increasingly organizing a variety of other libraries, be it for tools, camping gear or even the Little Free Library on your street corner where you can share books with your neighbours or passersby.

We ask a lot of libraries and their staff. During the pandemic, many libraries doubled as food bank distribution centres, vaccine clinics or testing sites. Staff provided wellness checks to seniors during lockdowns. While primarily intended as our information guides, librarians are increasingly called on to act as de facto social workers and, in some cases, emergency responders. Some libraries now have dedicated mental health and addiction support services, and at several libraries across the country, staff are trained to use naloxone kits in response to the opioid crisis.

Colleagues, libraries are so much more than simply a place to find books. They connect people and ideas, and help to build vibrant communities. Libraries bring us together. Whether it is by carrying your library card with pride, visiting or volunteering at your local branch, posting in support on social media or thanking library staff for all they do, please join me in showing your appreciation this month for all that these great institutions provide.

I love my library card, and I love my library.

Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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