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


Sidewalk sale at North Gower Branch a success

Community members Karen Craig (L) and Christiane Bollinger at the Sidewalk Sale Saturday. In the basket, special custom Library Blend coffee, prepared just for us!

Community members Karen Craig (L) and Christiane Bollinger at the Sidewalk Sale Saturday. In the basket, special custom Library Blend coffee, prepared just for us!

A rainy Saturday failed to dampen enthusiasm at the first-ever Sidewalk Sale at the North Gower Branch of the Ottawa Public Library as donated and decommissioned books from the Coral’s Corner used bookstore were cleared to make room for upcoming renovations.

Books sold included fiction, children’s story books, military history, and many fascinating books and booklets of local history.

Proceeds from the sale go to Friends of the Ottawa Public Library for reinvestment in the community libraries.

Retired librarian Karen Craig dropped in as did may other North Gower-Kars residents throughout the day. One lucky customer picked up a beautiful pressed flower kit; another spied a home health guide from the early 1900s—a collector’s item!

Renovations begin at the Branch, now in its 125th year of continuous library service to the community, in July.

What happens when the libraries are gone?

This story from today’s National Post is an excellent summary of what the real role of a library is in a community—it’s not just a place to get books. The ideas discussed here are appropriate for any library, not just those in remote communities.

A rural town in Newfoundland is losing its only library. What will Fogo Island do when it’s gone?

Fogo Island, Newfoundland's only public library is one of 54 slated to close province-wide in the next two years.

Photo: Fogo Island Library Facebook/National Post

Nick Faris, May 31, 2016

The Fogo Island Public Library has more than 14,000 books. Children go there for homework help, fishermen to download work documents and just about everyone else in town to use the Internet. It hosts card game nights, colouring sessions and Easter egg hunts. It is the only library on the island, an hour’s drive by ferry from the rest of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is closing on Oct. 31.

The library’s demise is a decision that came down to money, set in motion by a Liberal government elected last fall. Their first budget, unveiled in April, projected a record deficit of $2.2 billion. Soon, taxes will rise. Schools will axe teachers and increase class sizes. The public library system will be trimmed by more than half, as 54 of 95 locations shutter their doors in the next two years.

“We’ve been telling people this will touch every single person in this province,” Finance Minister Cathy Bennett told reporters when the budget was released.

Although there are 2,620 public libraries in Canada, according to a 2014 Royal Society of Canada report, it is possible that the condemned branches of Newfoundland are the most important of all. They are located, mainly, in rural communities and small towns, from 1,000-person Arnold’s Cove to the settlement of Woody Point, tucked deep in the expanse of a 1,800-km national park.

Books are often scarce in these areas — but their libraries, like Fogo’s, are not just repositories of printed words. They make the Internet freely accessible, in places where broadband connectivity is not quite universal. They provide public space where movie theatres and sporting arenas have never been built.

And they mean the world to people like Christine Dwyer.

Dwyer, 68, has been a member of Fogo’s library board for 39 years. Before retiring in 2008, she taught for three-plus decades at the island’s only school: Fogo Island Central Academy, where the library is housed. “The school is like family to us, and the library especially,” she told the National Post.

When Newfoundland’s government announced the library closures, they tried to soften the news through a compromise: 85 per cent of residents would still be within a 30-minute drive of a branch, in what Andrew Hunt, executive director of the Provincial Information and Library Resources Board, called a move to a regional “service-centre approach.”

Fogo’s 2,500 or so townspeople are part of the final 15 per cent. The only way to get to and from the mainland is an hour-long commute by ferry, by way of a wharf called “Farewell.”

Google Maps

“If ours closed down and I were to go to a library, I drive 30 minutes to get to the ferry, I wait for God knows how long, I have one hour on the ferry, and then I have a one-hour drive to see which library I want to go to, whether it be Gander, Lewisporte or Twillingate,” Dwyer said.

“So people are just not going to do it. The residents of Fogo Island are just not going to read as much.” …

Read the full story here.

New crime fiction!

Three new crime novels are reviewed by Margaret Cannon in the Globe and Mail.

The Watcher in the Wall

By Owen Laukkanen, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 368 pages, $35

The essence of a good thriller is the writer’s ability to foresee scary real-world events; B.C.-born Owen Laukkanen’s The Watcher in the Wall is as current as last week’s news. Kids in a Minnesota high school are committing suicide. It seems random but the numbers tell a different story, and when the friend of Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent Kirk Stevens’s daughter dies, she begs her father to find out the truth. That story becomes Laukkanen’s best novel to date. This isn’t a whydunit or whodunit. We know early on that the watcher in the wall is 15-year-old Nathan Gruber and that his first victim was his stepsister Sarah. But Stevens and his FBI partner Carla Windermere just have the clues in front of them: names, grades, computers and a ghostly online presence that leads troubled teens to death. I found this novel irresistible. If you haven’t already discovered Laukkanen’s Windermere-Stevens series, this is the book to start.

[10 copies in the Ottawa Public Library collection]

Cold Girl

By R.M. Greenaway, Dundurn, 432 pages, $17.99

R.M. Greenaway’s debut bills itself as the first in a series: “A B.C. Blues crime novel.” There are some first-novel missteps but Cold Girl was good enough to win the Unhanged Arthur Award for the best unpublished novel of 2014. The story, about Mounties and local cops in search of a missing rockabilly singer, starts slowly, with the disappearance of a woman in the Hazelton Mountains of northern British Columbia. RCMP investigator David Leith is in charge of the case, but there’s also a problematic young constable named Dion, who seems to be off on his own …

Read the full review here


North Gower’s Karen Craig retiring

Learning at the Library! With North Gower supervisor Karen Craig (left) and Sparks leader Lyra.

Learning at the Library! With North Gower supervisor Karen Craig (left) and Sparks leader Lyra.

A special drop-in event will be held at the North Gower Branch of the Ottawa Public Library tomorrow, January 28th, between 4 and 6 PM, to celebrate North Gower resident Karen Craig’s 24 years with the library as she retires this week.

Karen was the librarian for the North Gower Library prior to amalgamation with the City of Ottawa, and has been the supervising staff member for North Gower, and recently the Richmond Branch as well.

A “memory book” is available if you wish to share and stories or recollections, as we all wish Karen well in her new adventures!

Toronto to put book machine in transit station

Toronto Star, January 3, 2016

Anne Bailey, the Toronto Public Library’s director of branch libraries, had the idea of installing a book-lending machine — the city's first — in Union Station. She hopes to capitalize on the vast numbers of commuters who pass through the transit hub, as well as the particular pleasure of "reading when you’re in transit."

Besides being a sweet way to travel, trains are machines made for stories.

The clickety-clack cadence, the lulling sway, the passing landscape of pastoral calm or gritty urban clutter — the factories, apartment blocks, laundry lines and fleeting glimpses of other people’s lives.

A mind in transit is a mind ripe for narrative.

Stephen Leacock knew that, or he wouldn’t have started a story by writing, “It leaves the city every day about five o’clock in the evening, the train for Mariposa.”

Anne Bailey knows it, too.

Bailey is Toronto Public Library’s director of branch libraries. It was her idea to have the library install a book-lending kiosk at Union Station, where there are trainfuls of prospective readers.

“We’re tossing ideas around all the time,” she says of TPL, which watches what other libraries are doing; what banks or airports are trying in an increasingly mobile, self-service world; what other service providers are offering wherever people congregate or pass through in numbers.

For instance, after reading about how a local bar and grill was providing charging stations for tech devices and designing lighting to accommodate screens, Bailey headed down to investigate and invited a restaurant rep to come talk to library staff.

“We’re always watching things like that and asking how does that relate to what we do,” she says. “We’re always looking for ways to extend our reach and ways to keep costs down.”

So the notion of the kiosks arose. And after the process of researching, budgeting and approving, the TPL hopes to roll out a book-lending machine at Union Station by April, offering those on the move 24-7 access to popular novels, non-fiction, DVDs and downloadable ebooks.

While not new in Canada, such a service would be a first in Toronto, hoping to take advantage of the twin factors of “how many people there are that go through there every day,” Bailey says, and the particular pleasures of “reading when you’re in transit.”

If the pilot project is successful, it might be expanded to subway stations and other high-traffic locations in the city. But what to stock the machine with? That’s where the fun comes in.

In a sensible world, it would surely contain Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Harry Potter’s tales of the Hogwarts Express, and perhaps Rolling Nowhere, Ted Conover’s chronicle of riding the rails with America’s hoboes.

Canada, a country built on the railway, takes a back seat to no one when it comes to yarns involving trains.

Let’s suggest Howard Akler’s The City Man, a rollicking good novel set in 1934 featuring light-fingered grifters working Union Station. Look, there’s Mona, her fetching bottom distracting a mark walking through the grand concourse, Chesler slipping in behind to lift the man’s wallet and slip away in the crowds.

“The touch has come off without a flaw, a thing of beauty in 12 seconds, in a whiz.”

Or Richard B. Wright’s Giller Prize-winning novel Clara Callan. “When the train started up again, I stared at my reflection in the lighted window. Saw a serious, haggard face. I thought about the secrets in my life …”

Perhaps commuters with a taste for exotic locales will open Rohinton Mistry’s Giller winner A Fine Balance and set out on a journey so absorbing they hope it never ends.

“The long-anticipated rumble at last rippled through the compartment, and the train shivered down its long steel spine.”

Another story, pulling out of the station.