About FriendsOfTheNorthGowerLibrary

One of 12 rural branches of the library system in Ottawa, Ontario, the North Gower Library has provided 125 years of continuous library service to the people of North Gower, Kars, Becketts Landing and other communities in the southwest of Ottawa. The Friends is a volunteer community group dedicated to improving library service to the community.

Storytime resumes March 29 at North Gower

Family Storytime resumes at the North Gower Branch on Wednesday, March 29th at 10:30 a.m.

Songs and rhymes, stories and games for the little ones — drop in, no registration required.

This session runs until May 4th.

613-580-2940 for information


North Gower library volunteers reach fund-raising goal

A community devoted to its library helps raise funds

Former library staffer Karen Craig with former Rideau MP and local historian Bill Tupper at the opening of Coral's Corner in 2015.

Former library staffer Karen Craig with former Rideau MP and local historian Bill Tupper at the opening of Coral’s Corner in 2015.

December 29, 2016

The volunteers who operate the Coral’s Corner bookstore in the North Gower Branch of the Ottawa Public Library achieved their 2016 fund-raising goal, raising more than $1,500 for Friends of the Ottawa Public Library.

All book sale proceeds are reinvested in community libraries.

In previous years, the book store raised hundreds of dollars; the higher amount this year is the result of a new location in the library, and donations from the community, say volunteers.

“Up to now, the books for sale were located on a cart and then in a bookshelf in a back corner of the Library,” says Jane Wilson, Coral’s Corner bookstore manager and volunteer with the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library. Wilson is also co-chair of the Friends of the North Gower Library.

“Our new location is the renovated library is right in the front hall–everybody passes by Coral’s Corner as they come in, and they can see what we have on offer,” Wilson says.

“It helps that we have a community here that is devoted to the library, and has donated wonderful books for us to sell,” Wilson adds.

Hardcover books sell for just $2 at Coral’s Corner, paperbacks are $1, and magazines are just 10 cents.


Libraries enjoying surge in popularity

As our on-screen life expands, people increasingly value the human contact and the “memory” capacity of libraries.

Ottawa Citizen, December 27, 2016

Berthiaume and McAvity: In a digital age, more people than ever are visiting libraries, archives and museums. We can learn from that

Dr. Guy Berthiaume is the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Photographed at Library and Archives Canada Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2015.  (Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen)
Dr. Guy Berthiaume is the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Exciting times lie ahead for ‘memory institutions,’ he says. Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen

These are exciting times for the library community in Canada’s capital and many other cities across the country.

And yet, the digital era often gives us the impression that memory itself is becoming obsolete. What is the use of memory institutions such as galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs)? Aren’t Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter and the mind-blowing speed of their algorithms good enough for “remembering”?

From time to time, seemingly logical questions come up in the media. Is it still appropriate to build new libraries, given the increased popularity of ebooks? Aren’t virtual museums the best response to the need to make culture accessible to people across the country and around the world? Aren’t the archives’ holdings all digitized and accessible on either their own platforms or those of Ancestry or Findmypast?

Yet, in fact, the patronage of GLAMs is increasing. The number of visits to public libraries in the United States increased by four per cent in the past year. The new Halifax Public Library received double the expected number of visitors in its first year (1.9 million compared with the 900,000 expected), and it is anticipated that the new Ottawa Central Library will welcome at least 1.6 million visitors each year. As for Canadian museums, they attract 62 million visitors per year, up 10 per cent from 2013.

This counter-intuitive data led the British Library to conclude:

“The more screen-based our lives, it seems, the greater the perceived value of real human encounters and physical artefacts: activity in each realm feeds interest in the other.”

With this paradox in mind, the Canadian Museums Association, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and Library and Archives Canada hosted the Summit on the Value of Libraries, Archives and Museums earlier this month.

The summit brought together nearly 300 people and some 30 speakers, one-quarter of whom were international. Key points about memory institutions in the early 21st century were highlighted:

• Technology is a source of both challenges and opportunities. In terms of challenges, there is the need for financial resources necessary to acquire these technologies and to secure the human resources capable of getting the most out of them. In terms of opportunities, there is the democratization of culture that is the result of reaching citizens in their homes thanks to digital technology. There is also the increased use of GLAM spaces, following these virtual visits. Increased consultation of resources on the Web is increasing the appetite of the public to visit reading rooms and exhibition spaces.

• Memory institutions are playing new roles – welcoming newcomers, providing access to high-speed internet for the less fortunate, et cetera.

• Finally, the position of memory institutions in the creative ecosystem cannot be reduced to the functions of collecting and preserving works. They are also present at the beginning of the creative chain, providing inspiration and material to artists of all disciplines – not just authors and poets, but also digital artists, musicians, painters, directors.

Beyond sharing knowledge, the Ottawa Summit also revealed a unity among memory institutions, which had previously tended to focus on what makes them unique rather than looking for common denominators. In practice, the distinctions have been fading for years: for example, all major museums host archives, and even libraries.

The participants of the summit adopted the Ottawa Declaration as an expression of their commitment to increase collaboration, develop opportunities to engage citizens and expand access to their collections. A new day has risen for Canadian memory institutions!

Dr. Guy Berthiaume is Librarian and Archivist of Canada and John G. McAvity is Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association.

Libraries more important now than ever

Now that (it seems) all the information you could need is available on the Internet, are libraries non-essential?

No way, say people in the know. We still need libraries as a way to manage the “bewildering” flow of information.

And yes, libraries are changing.

CBC November 27, 2016

It’s one of the line items on municipal budgets that cash-strapped councils often train their sights on public libraries. You can’t cut police, firefighters, garbage collection or any number of other essential services, but public libraries all-too-often seem inessential.

Surely, the reasoning seems to be, in this age when every scrap of information you could possibly want is available on the Internet, public libraries are expensive and expendable.

But as municipal politicians repeatedly find out the hard way, you mess with libraries, librarians and their supporters at your peril. The late Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug stirred up a hornet’s nest — and came out on the wrong end of verbal sparring with Margaret Atwood — with their intent to impose major budget cuts on public libraries. It didn’t help their cause, either, that they were so publicly disdainful of libraries.

More recently, Newfoundland’s Liberal government backed off its plans to close 54 rural libraries in the name of budget austerity, after the public outcry that ensued.

It’s true, that the role of public libraries is changing in the Internet age. But some would say they’re more indispensable than ever. In a time when information is power as never before, we still need guides to help navigate the bewildering sprawl of available information…and institutions that safeguard access to that information.

John Pateman

John Pateman, CEO of the Thunder Bay Library, says libraries are more important than ever in the digital age. (Thunder Bay Public Library)

In the world according to John Pateman, the modern-day library should be much greater than the sum of its collection and the information it holds.

He has been working in public libraries for almost four decades in various capacities, both in the U.K. and Canada. Currently, he is CEO and Chief Librarian of the Thunder Bay Public Library. That is his official title. Unofficially, he is an unabashed revolutionary.

New crime fiction reviews

From the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Cannon, reviews of a new crop of crime fiction, by super-star writers.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye

By Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, 392 pages, $38

We are well past the usual burnout for series characters but Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books continue to enchant and engage. The Wrong Side of Goodbye manages to be every bit as good as early masterpieces such as The Concrete Blonde and Trunk Music. As fans know, Harry is retired from the LAPD and spends his days working as a part-time private investigator as well as investigating cold cases for the San Fernando PD. The only caveat is that he cannot use police information in his PI work. That doesn’t seem to be a problem until two cases converge in unusual ways. The cold case is that of a serial rapist – clues have been lost, witnesses long gone. The private case involves octogenarian-billionaire Whitney Vance. Sixty-five-years ago, Vance fell in love, impregnated his 16-year-old girlfriend and then his father forced the pair to part. The girl – along with the baby – disappeared. Vance never loved another woman. He wants to know if there’s an heir or heiress out there somewhere. He offers Harry $10,000 just for one meeting. It’s detection and romance, how can Harry resist? Just how Harry solves both his mysteries requires a couple of coincidences and a tiny bit of contrivance at the end, but I wasn’t disappointed. This is a terrific Connelly book.

The Keys of My Prison

By Frances Shelley Wees

Véhicule Press, 188 pages, $14.95

Have you heard of the great Canadian author Margaret Millar? She was one of the hottest bestsellers in North America in the 1950s. Working right behind her in talent, but relatively unknown, we have Frances Shelley Wees, whose plots ran to Canadian pulp, and who, if this reissued classic is any indication, really knew her way around a psychological thriller. The setting is Toronto’s Rosedale. The story begins with a man in a coma and his devoted wife sitting next to him. Rafe Johnson is the perfect husband; attentive, charming, gracious, all any woman could want. He’s also the heir to a fortune and, at this moment, on the cusp of death. Rafe survives, but the man who comes out of the hospital is a complete stranger to his wife and family. Gone are the kind, pleasant ways. The new Rafe is coarse and vulgar, drinking away his days and ignoring his wife. Can a personality change? Or is something more sinister afoot? The plot leads to psychologist Dr. Merrill and his assistant, Henry Lake. Just what is the truth about Rafe Johnson? Thankfully, Véhicule is bringing out more of Wees’s novels. I love period pulp.

Rather Be the Devil

By Ian Rankin

Orion, 354 pages, $32

John Rebus returns in this superb mystery set in Edinburgh with a murder 40 years cold. To add to the psychological twist, Rebus has quit smoking and, as any former smoker knows, to go from a two-pack-a-day habit to nothing is no small matter. When his girlfriend, pathologist Deborah Quant, sends him a jar of diseased lung, she has no idea that there’s more than one reason Rebus has sworn off the devil weed. Rebus wants to celebrate a bit, so he arranges a dinner for himself and Deborah at a notorious hotel. In the 1970s, the Caledonian was the haunt of rock stars and prostitutes. It was also the scene of the never-solved murder of Maria Turquand. Rebus is interested in the cold case, but his ex-partner, DI Siobhan Clarke, has a more recent crime he can help with: A local crime leader has been beaten senseless on his own doorstep and the rumour is that Rebus’s old friend/nemesis, “Big Ger” Cafferty, is responsible. Clarke’s current case and Rebus’s cold one converge when Turquand’s husband turns out to be an employee of a very wealthy (and possibly criminally connected) banker. Rankin plays off the lavish lifestyles of past celebrities with the even more opulent surroundings of today’s ultrarich. When there’s no shortage of wealth, life is cheap.

Read more here.

Join us for the 125th celebration


One week today is the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the formation of the North Gower library.

The library is open next Monday from 5:30-8:30 PM, and the formal celebrations take place from 7-8:30. Chair of the City of Ottawa Library Board Tim Tierney will be there to mark the occasion.

Staff is dressing in fashions from different decades over the 125 years, so if you have a costume or vintage clothing, put it on and drop in!

Formed by the Mechanics Institute –educational institutes designed to provide education to working men (and an alternative to gambling and drinking)–the library became a service for the general community. The North Gower Library moved several times in its lifetime, once it was in the General Store, and for another period it was in the coach house of the local doctor, but it has provided continuous library service for 125 years.

The North Gower Branch of the OPL is now housed in what was the Rideau Township Fire Hall. Next door are the Rideau Township Archives, in the former Town Hall.

Drop in, and celebrate, and show how much North Gower loves our Library!


NOTE: the distinguished and beautiful lady pictured in the 125th anniversary bookmark is the late Coral Scharf Lindsay, local educator and historian. Also pictured is OPL staffer Julie, and below, co-chair of Friends of the North Gower Library and Coral’s Corner bookstore manager, Jane Wilson

North Gower Artist of the Month: Ted Burnside

L-R Art coordinator Sheila King, Lorraine Burnside and artist Ted Burnside. A lifelong study of animals.

L-R Art coordinator Sheila King, Lorraine Burnside and artist Ted Burnside. A lifelong study of animals.

Ted Burnside, professor emeritus at the University of Guelph and now a local resident, has made a lifelong study of domesticated animals, and has published extensively on this subject.

On retiring, Ted began painting in acrylic on canvas and of course, animals were his subject. The paintings seen in the North Gower display reflect some of the work done, including the breeding of Holstein cattle for higher butterfat content in milk. One of the paintings depicts famed bull Johanna Rag Apple Pabst, who was the Foundation Sire for the work of Thomas Bassett Macaulay.

A number of paintings on display are also of draft horses, showing teams pulling walking and sulkey plows at the International Plowing Match in Finch, r015.

Ted Burnside is a member of the Manotick Art Association.