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.

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

Book Review: The Break

“One of the most important — and best– books of the year” –National Post

The Break

Canada has a problem with racism. It’s often downplayed – when the CBC shut down commenting on indigenous stories last year due to a disproportionate number that were “clearly hateful and vitriolic, simply ignorant, (or) hate disguised as ignorance,” they said it was a “small minority” causing the trouble. But the problem is much more pernicious than that. For every overt, vocal racist, there are dozens more whose “opinions about people and places (they have) never known or been to,” as Katherena Vermette says of one of her characters, go unchallenged.

Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, opens with the violent sexual assault of a young indigenous woman by a group of indigenous people in Winnipeg’s north end. It’s exactly the sort of story that would bring out comment-board trolls and misinformed opinions – “Nates beating on nates” is a phrase used by one of the police officers in the book. It’s a harsh opening that puts race front-and-centre, but beyond issues of race, The Break is also a deeply felt story of a family’s strength and healing. With adeptness and sensitivity, Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year …

Read the full review here.

Put a hold on this book via the Ottawa Public Library website here.

Get the OPL app for your phone

Download the Ottawa Public Library Android operating system application App store badge

Did you know you can manage your Ottawa Public Library account, renew items —even take materials out without your card — using an app for your mobile device?

Yes, you can.

For android phones, just go the app store on your phone, search OPL and go from there.

Check the Ottawa Public Library website for more information on this and other apps, here.