Presentation to Ottawa Public Library Board
December 6th, 2016
By Kathleen Wilker, Hintonburg Resident
Rosemount library is so much more than a place to find a good book. It’s the heart of our community. It’s where parents with little ones gather for baby time and toddler time. It’s one of the first destinations kids in the neighbourhood are allowed to walk to on their own. And it’s an important destination for adults of all ages and abilities. It’s where you know you’ll see a friend or have a great conversation even in the middle of a busy day.
Last year, my family and I took a year’s sabbatical on our bikes. For the last six months, we rode through California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alberta. As we rode through big cities and tiny communities, we stopped in and visited every single library we could. As soon as we pulled up at a library, our two kids – then 9 and 12 – would jump off their bikes, head to the fantasy adventure section, choose a great book, find a comfy chair and get reading.
My husband would use the computers to update our blog or print off some family business cards to give out to all the people who stopped us at grocery stores and wanted to hear about our trip. I’d use the free wifi to respond to emails and make plans for our next stop. If we were going to be there for a while, I’d dig into the books.
I was amazed that no matter where we were, as soon as the kids got in the doors of a library, they felt like they were home. They relaxed, got lost in a good book. Sometimes they would start a book in one city, remember what page they left off at and finish that book in another city.
The branches we visited were different shapes and sizes. Some were recently renovated, with great lighting and impressive collections. Some were part of larger community centres, next to health care centres, or beside a grocery store. Some had covered bike parking. Some had picnic areas outside. Some were across the street from the laundromat. Some had large community gardens. Some had school groups visiting.
Others branches were older and more worn. But even the older branches had plenty of comfy chairs where a wandering family of bike travellers could take a break, get comfortable and read.
Like Rosemount, every library had wonderful staff who welcomed us, were happy to direct the kids to the fantasy section and who created a caring ambiance at their branch.
Our family fully supports a new, spacious location for Rosemount. With lots of seating, meeting rooms and community space. So that there’s room for everyone from the neighbourhood – whatever their age or ability – and room for all visitors too. To sit and linger. To get lost in a great book. To access awesome resources. To attend interesting programming. And, most of all, to feel at home.