Renovating Our Living Room

The value of community, connection, and knowledge is what draws people to becoming librarians. In a world that can seem gloomier and more difficult by the day, we want to shine light for our neighbours and offer a safe, accessible, and welcoming space for people from all walks of life. To offer magic, wonder, education, and hope for everyone. To share the stories and voices of people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, races, sexualities, socio-economic classes, and more. To build stronger connections and champion cultural lives. To connect people with the resources they’re seeking, even the ones they didn’t know they were looking for. 

We know how to find things, it was a librarian’s job even before the internet. Some may even be bold enough to say librarians were the original search engine. Above all, we are at the service of our public. We provide our community with what they need, and help them to find the information, resources, and assistance they require. We tailor our programming in the same way, to build upon our already inspiring community of Fernie, uplift and enlighten the residents who live here, and foster social cohesion for people who might otherwise be alone.

The root of the word ‘liber’ means both ‘book’ and ‘free,’ a disambiguated Latin and Roman translation. The modern world has solidified this, since libraries are one of the only public places where anyone is welcome to spend time without having to spend money. Our open-door policy welcomes the privileged and educated in no different way than the lesser-advantaged, including those society would see as disruptive or troubled. In American sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s words: “a library is a palace for the people.” Libraries assume the best in people, and that if given the chance and the right resources, people will do good and better themselves.

Challenges are common in the library field, we view them as an opportunity to advance and adapt along with our community. Amid an increasingly digital world with its abundance of political and technological revolution, budget revisions, and social lifestyle changes, we have taken the initiative to advance. It is because of these challenges Fernie Heritage Library is the cultural hub it is today. Through 
it all, our community has supported our endeavours, celebrated our achievements, and helped us through. Because we are there for them in the same vein. 

When the Pandemic began, we took it our stride and began reviewing and evolving. We closed our doors for one day. One. We developed a plan so we could continue providing our community with what they needed: support, entertainment, education, activities, and of course, books! During the world’s most vulnerable time, we stood strong to uphold community values and connection. We’ve renovated our community living room, the paint is still drying, but our door is wide-open and the welcome mat is out. 

“Libraries are the kinds of places where ordinary people with different backgrounds, passions, and interests can take part in a living democratic culture,” says Klinenberg. “They are the kinds of places where the public, private, and philanthropic sectors can work together to reach for something higher than the bottom line.” Building a better world starts with education. It starts with our neighbours. It starts in our community.