How Will the Role of Public Libraries Be Changed?

Featuring Gohar Ashoughian, University Librarian, Wilfrid Laurier University; Mary Chevreau, CEO, Kitchener Public Library; Åsa Kachan, Chief Librarian & CEO, Halifax Public Library; Maureen Sawa, CEO, Greater Victoria Public Library; and Paul Takala, CEO & Chief Librarian, Hamilton Public Library

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Circulating social cohesion instead of library books

Registration for this session hit record numbers, as Canadian and international audience members tuned in to hear how libraries are preserving a sense of community and physical connection among local residents. In recent years, the role of libraries has evolved; more and more, they operate as both the “anchor and refuge” for community. But the COVID-19 crises has caused librarians to rethink their service offerings: instead of circulating books, they circulate social cohesion such as one-on-one phone calls to isolated seniors or assembly and distribution of activity kits for families in need.

2. Structural challenges in transitioning to the “new normal”

The crises has revealed critical issues of structural inequity as libraries work towards operating their services virtually. Language barriers and lack of multi-language resources for non-English speaking immigrants has exacerbated feelings of social isolation. Lack of access to broadband or other digital equipment deepens the poverty gap as well as the rural and urban divide. The very design of library buildings may also need a re-think, as post-COVID public health directives may be problematic for libraries that play the role of defacto community centre, but cannot accommodate the new health safety protocols for social distancing.

3. A call to action for  government

Libraries , funded entirely by local property tax revenues, will face significant funding shortfall in the post-COVID recovery phase.  And as other social services (such as mental health)  become similarly challenged financially and their services diminish, the pressures will further build on libraries to function, albeit informally, as programming for vulnerable and marginalized populations.  Libraries punch above their weight class.  And as such, they have called for greater funding from Provincial and Federal governments in recognition of municipal functions that support a community’s resilience and social fabric.

4. Multi-sectoral partnerships are crucial

Cross-sector community partnerships become foundational in wielding a sense of solidarity between institutions and increasing the ability for public services to operate as the so-called “connective tissue of a city. ” Strong partnerships also establish a more imposing presence which helps to distinguish their work as “essential” to political decision-makers. This is important as the ability to operate effectively deeply impacts the social outcomes experienced by residents. These partnerships also wield more comprehensive strategies and integrated servicing measures which facilitate greater access for vulnerable communities, which, in turn expedite the recovery process for communities that are suffering.

5. Every disruption is an opportunity for innovation

Although health protocols and access to resources vary across Canadian communities, many libraries have been lending their most creative minds to develop programs that will assist residents in smoother life transitions. Examples of these programs during the time of COVID-19 are:

  • Producing personal virtual services to assist customers in navigating online platforms

  • Dedicating administrative focus towards local geographic pockets that have poor access to technology or those with families at risk (e.g. preparing snack packs for families with challenging conditions)

  • Organizing online yoga classes to mitigate mental health pressures and connect individuals to a broader community.

  • Leaving the WiFi on at the library during the shutdown, so that homeless and underhoused residents can have free access to internet.

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.  

Mary Rowe [00:00:23] Good morning, it’s a good morning here in Ontario and good morning – or good midday in Ontario. Good afternoon, I guess. And good morning to our participants coming in from the West Coast, from other time zones. I’m Mary Rowe, CEO here at the Canadian Urban Institute. Welcome to City Talk. We’re going to talk about libraries. What are the – what are the impacts on libraries that COVID has brought in? What does the future look like for libraries? And you’re very, very fortunate to have people from across the country who have been living through this and watching carefully to see how the institutions that they run or the role that they’re playing in the broader society is changing right before our eyes. So we’re we’re very excited for this conversation. I just want to say that I think this is one of the most popular we’ve had so far in terms of the number of people we’ve signed up. So not to put pressure on these folks, but just so you know, a lot of people are interested to have this conversation with you. CUI is in the connective tissue business. We’re about how do we talk to one another in urban communities across the country? How do we build that capacity to adapt and change? And that’s why we put up City Watch Canada and City Share Canada. They’re both sites that you can look at now to tell you what municipal governments are doing. That’s going to get very interesting as they start to undo certain things. And City Share has hundreds. We did reach 500 yesterday – examples of remarkable community responses and innovation. And a lot of them are coming from this sector, from the library sector and from business communities, from institutions, from neighbours, from individuals, from faith organizations. All the components that make a city thrive are posted in examples of how they’ve been responding and how they’re adapting in the COVID time and that’s on City Share. And then this third platform, City Talk Canada, is really about how do we make sense of this? And we’ve been inviting people who work in different domains. We’ve had people talking about local business. We get people talking about streets. We’ve been having people talking about larger economic development, recovery and a whole bunch of components, urban design. And now we have libraries. We start from Toronto here but we have participants across the country.

Mary Rowe [00:02:28] But in Toronto, where the CUI has a number of staff, this is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, Chippewa and Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. And it’s now home to many diverse First Nations and Métis from across Turtle Island. And we also acknowledge that Toronto and the Greater Toronto area is covered by Treaty 13, which was signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit in the Williams treaties, signed with multiple Anishinaabe nations. And we are very conscious of the treaty as it’s the land on which we actually make our lives, and the history is embedded there. The embodied memory that we have is here. And the other thing that we acknowledge in the beginning of these is that there are still thousands and thousands and thousands of Canadians engaged in emergency response and providing emergency services, including some of these folks that some of their institutions are engaged with, that in these conversations are not intended to supplant that. We just state that it’s a parallel world that we’re living in here to try to make sense of what we think the expected outcomes are going to be, or what the impacts are now and how do we think we need to be changing. But we hold still very, very much in our minds those that are dealing with day to day life and death situations. And of course, we continue to think about the people of Nova Scotia and the communities around Truro that went through such an extraordinary tragic rupture earlier in the week and how they are coming to terms with that still. And well, these conversations are – we call them candid conversations, because we want to sort of get into the real talk here about what are you really seeing. And so they’re practical. They’re focused on what you’re immediately seeing in real time. And then, what are you anticipating over the next couple of months? And then, what about longer term? That it’s, it’s really our opportunity to do that and we invite all the participants to use the chat function. Our experience with this is that the chat is really rich. People who are participating put all sorts of questions and ideas and resources up there. And as we’ve been saying, though, we broadcast and tape these sessions and, for the most part, put them up a lot as live videos afterwards for people who can’t see them at this time of day. And we also post highlights from the chat because the chat is so rich.

Mary Rowe [00:04:40] So as they say, unlike in Las Vegas, if you put something up on the chat, it’s going to stay on the chat. And then when the chats made public, lots of people will see it. So you might want to just think about that. You can’t retract a chat, as they say. You can’t roll the tape back. If you want to participate with us on social media, this is going on. Please do use hashtag “City Talk” so the conversation continues after we’re done here today. And it’s a rich, rich dialogue that we want to continue to foster, particularly because libraries are so critical to urban life. And the other thing is, everyone here, we’re all apart of the sessions. We always say this. Every participant here is as much a participant as an individual. In this case, we’ve got folks that know the situation, but we appreciate that they’re individuals and they’re going to give us their best sense of what they’re seeing and what they anticipate, and they’re not speaking on behalf of their institution. I don’t want to bind them to that. And we at the end of this, we’ll put a survey up. We’re trying, we’re trying to learn, trying to be a continuous learning team, here at CUI. And so if you can take a minute on the chat at the end, just to give us some feedback. Also, we are relying on volunteers and partners to make all the work of CUI possible at the moment. And so if you have an idea for a City Talk, you want to help partner with us on one or if you’ve got bandwidth to contribute to City Talk, City Share and City Watch. Please email us at COVID Response at No, that’s wrong – COVID Response at Excuse me, I don’t even know my own website. So email us. Find us, e-mail us because we need help. It’s really only a half an hour a day or an hour a day to start tracking and posting things so that we can continue to learn from one another. Okay. And as I said, we’re taping so we should be cognizant of that.

Mary Rowe [00:06:32] Now, let me just introduce you, who we’ve got as our participants this morning at Mary Schapiro is from the kitchen of Public Library. Maureen Siwa is from. Nice Wave is from Greater Victoria.

Mary Rowe [00:06:43] Oh, Asa Kachan is from Halifax. And Paul Takala is from Hamilton.

Gohar Ashoughian [00:06:49] And Gohar Ashoughian is the university librarian at Wilfred Laurier University. Or I’m old enough to remember when it was called “Lulu K.W.” as well. And their details will be posted on the chat function so that you can learn more about them. We’re really, really happy to have you here with us and very pleased to have a conversation. So if we want to start with an open call, I’m going to ask everyone.

Mary Rowe [00:07:14] Just give me a minute to have two minutes on what you’re seeing in your particular purview in terms of your own institution or the function of your library. Intercommunity, just give us a sense of how Kogut has been impacting you. And I think we’ll start with the early riser. So let’s go to Victoria first and tell us what you’re seeing. Maureen?

Maureen Sawa [00:07:46] Thank you very much. It’s a real pleasure to be here from Greater Victoria Public Library. As some people may know, it’s on Victoria, Vancouver Island. We serve the capital regional district, so we serve 10 municipalities, about three hundred and fifty thousand people. We shut out all our branches down, as did all most systems that day on March 16th. So our branches have been closed since March 16th, and since that time we’ve been very much focused on our virtual library services with people being directed to shelter in place. They are very isolated. So online resources through all of our libraries have been extremely invaluable. In B.C., it seems we’re being told that the curve is starting to flatten, but still it’s early days. And what we are seeing is a real, you know, people are missing their physical branches. They are missing their books. You know, it’s it’s difficult for us right now to provide the traditional services that so many of our users have counted on. I think I’m speaking for the group on that. So fortunately, the Canadian Urban Library Council is is working on a kind of developing some processes. We have a think tank going on, what we can do to reintroduce services, but we know things are not going to be the same. And personally, for me here in Victoria, I really it’s very distressing not having our physical branches open. The day we closed, we had a little bit of a notice, a few hours. And, you know, you hear about people hoarding toilet paper. People earlier in all our branches just gathering books as many as they could because currently, we’ve extended our loan dates. So, you know, it’s it’s really changed things quite dramatically for all of us here.

Mary Rowe [00:09:35] You know, you’re not hearing a lot about hoarding. I’m glad you can start that trend, where we can increase that reporting that there was book hoarding, there was absolute.

Maureen Sawa [00:09:43] I saw for myself with my own eyes and our shelves, you know, particularly our new bookshelves, they were just cleaned out and as were our DVD and all of our other materials.

Mary Rowe [00:09:53] But we’re also seeing a huge spike in online use. And fortunately, we already had an online library card registration process through our website. So that’s just gone through the roof. And that I think everyone has gone that way. It’s very easy now for people to register online and have access to all the the E-audio books and the audio down downloading movies and things like that. And I would have to say, and I’m sure my colleagues will agree with me. Our vendors have been extremely cooperative in in in making it easier for us to add to our resources and our collections. So that’s been a huge boost. Yeah. Well, we’re going to talk more about that. I want to come back to that whole theme of digital. I want to go to the other end of the country now, if we can also. Let’s hear from you. But just note to the chat function, which as is usual, is starting to blow up, which is great when you’re commenting chatters. If you could do direct your comments as a toggle switch, they’re all panelists and attendees use that switch so that we can see that anybody can see it, not just the panelists. And it is terrific to see people punching in where they’re coming from. So I’m seeing Ottawa, Calgary, Waterloo, Beauceville, Quebec, Halifax, Newmarket, Toronto. Really terrific for us – Mississauga. Really great – Regina. Just every time I say something, we’re going to get Zoom – Kamloops, St. John’s. Wonderful. So this is what we need, guys. Connective tissue between Canada. Let’s go to the east to Halifax. OK. Oh, what’s going on? You’re in an extraordinary – as I said, extraordinary tough time for Nova Scotia. But with that in mind, tell us about the library system in Halifax.

Asa Kachan [00:11:33] Yes. Thank you. It’s been really tough. It’s been. It was a tough mountain and it’s been a really wretched week for all of us. And, you know, we talk about our communities coming together. Libraries are all about community care and we have to be all about community recovery. And that is true on both, both of the things that we’re grappling with in Nova Scotia. So like Maureen said, well, just as a bit of context, we have a 14 branch library system. We’re part of Halifax Regional Municipality, which for older folks might remember it as Halifax Dartmouth, Halifax County. We are we cover a very broad swath of land and 14 branches right from our beautiful central library to very small branches in Hubbards. And Sheet Harbour and Musquodoboit Harbor. So we have a real mix of rural and urban, uh urban core. And we have areas that don’t have great broadband. So we’ve been, we’ve been certainly rolled out very quickly upon closing in mid-March, we rolled out online registration and we have had, so we have a population of 400,000. We’ve had 4600 new users. So when we talk there’s some aspects of urban or municipal services that have seen a sharp decline, we’ve seen an increase in the people registering. So that in fact, people rediscovering us who have just now, when they’ve had a moment to pause, been able to lean into the local library and discovering all that we have to offer.

Asa Kachan [00:12:51] We we, I have an amazing team at my library, as well as all my colleagues will say too we draw really creative people. So within days, we were launching online services that we had in the in the docket. But we were able to turn that around. We were able to figure out an Ask a Library service for people from their homes could take phone calls. And we, we asked the community, you know, “call us if you need to figure out how to download an e-book, but call us if you just want to talk to someone because we missed you, too.” And that’s been really, really useful in the community. We also looked for where there were pockets of, pockets of particular vulnerability, so where those services wouldn’t reach people. This week, we distributed 743 activity packs. We identified communities that had poor access to technology or families that might be at risk. We, our children’s teams, created activity packs for preschoolers and early years kids. We also knew that they, kids often bring in their snacks for the library. So this week alone, 1100, over 1100 snack packs and over 700 activity packs were distributed to young families. We also know that our shelters have distributed. So been on deck to say “What do you need? Is a gaming systems? Is it videos? Is it technology? iPads? Materials collections?” While we haven’t been able to distribute from our libraries in a normal way, we have, we have great resources and we really want to get those out so the community can use them. Lots of online content and you’ll hear more about this from us, cooking classes online this morning. We had a couple of our staff members engaging a whole bunch of people in chair yoga via their public library.

Panelist [00:14:24] What is that? Yoga chair?

Asa Kachan [00:14:34] Chair Yoga! Chair exercises, uh together with a local physiotherapist, they, you know, video tutorials on stop action cinematography for families. You know, it is about helping people get through what they’re facing. And that has always been what public libraries have been about and helping communities spots. We’re just finding new ways to do it. And I’m a big believer in that every disruption are these opportunities for innovation. And I’ve seen the library sector just run toward those opportunities in a way that makes me really proud.

Mary Rowe [00:15:07] Yeah, fantastic. OK. Let’s go to Kitchener-Waterloo. Mary. The other Mary. How’s it going there? You’re muted, you’re muted Mary. Unmute yourself.

Mary Chevreau [00:15:23] Hi everybody. You know, a lot of the same in terms of our programming shifts and being able to do it. I think that one thing that libraries have always been very good about is, is shifting and pivoting where we need to and evolving. So I would say that in terms of the types of services that we’ve been able to develop, we’re really, really poised to do this in, in in ways that many other organizations and institutions and partners within this area really weren’t prepared to do, including, you know, right from our city to a lot of our, a lot of our partners. Just to give you some context, Kitchener is is is part of the Waterloo region, so the Kitchener Public Library is largest library in the region. Um we the city itself serves about 250,000 people, but the region itself is about 550,000. So while we technically just serve our city in terms of the tax base, we in fact serve, as well serve the larger, larger region. Right now, we have about 580 positive cases in in the region. We’ve had about 31 sorry, 31 deaths so far in this region. And we have, I think, a really great response from this community in terms of following protocol and staying home and staying safe. So like many of us in this situation, we’re seeing that flattening of the curve. I don’t think libraries are going to be anywhere near the first to open or the second to open. I think that we are going to have to really consider what this looks like in our new reality when we do open. And it might be a gradual opening. But also to say that based on what we’ve seen and the responses that I’m sure all of my colleagues have seen as well, is that we are such a critical service and more so than ever in terms of creating that connection to those in our community. I think that in terms of the partnerships particular for our most vulnerable communities, we’re doing very much what Halifax is doing, which is we have provided a lot of technology, whether it’s Chromebooks or other kinds of technology. A ton of hotspots have gone up for those who don’t have connectivity. And what we have, what we’ve done is partner with the organizations themselves instead we’ve said, “Here, here, here’s the equipment, here’s the technology. You guys deliver to the people who need it most.” So it’s in you know, we have emergency shelters. Just like I’m sure all of us do. We have isolated individuals in hotel rooms right now. So a lot of our our technology is going to create that kind of connection with individuals who are are in isolation and have no other way of connecting with our community. So we closed on the 16th of March and at that time, staff went home on the 17th of March. And at the moment, we are closed, sort of taking our, I guess a guidance from, of course, our public health as well as the province to some degree. But we are closed until June 30th at this point. And that is somewhat of a moving and moving date. But it is a date. I have, I’ve had to issue temporary leaves of absence for about two thirds of my staff. I have a core group of about sixty-five cross departmental staff who are really providing the, the content and the technology and our ability to deliver as much as we have to move into this virtual world as much as we have. So I think I’ll stop there. Let someone else have a chance.

Mary Rowe [00:19:23] OK, let’s go to you, Paul. Can you talk to us about Hamilton and the Hamilton system then I’m going to finish up with you Gohar? OK, Paul, tell us about Hamilton.

Paul Takala [00:19:32] Sure. And I’d echo, a lot of what’s already been said in terms, you know, what’s happening. A couple of things to add and certainly I do see in Hamilton that the city’s response has been quite effective and that the vast, vast majority people are really cooperating with the physical distancing. And so, you know, there’s a good community spirit out there. In terms of the library, and I think we found that the investments we’ve made in the past in terms of technology have really helped us weather this storm in a sense. So we had, we’ve gone, you know, we’re right now basically, totally online. And, you know, we had all staff working on staff development and introduced online training as a way of keeping everyone doing something as we ramp up our online services. The, a couple of things. So we are doing, I think one thing I’m noticing is during this, you really have to, you can’t wait for someone to say “do this”. You really have to take initiative. And I agree so much in partnerships and partnerships have been a huge part of our strategy. And I think going forward when we talk about the recovery and helping the communities recover. Rich Harwood says oftentimes during times of crisis, organizations retrench and look inward. When in fact, during a crisis like this, is a time where you need to do the opposite. And so I think we’re well positioned to do that. Some things that we’re doing this maybe a bit different. So we we got our we have 10,000 customers that are over seventy five. And so we have staff calling all of them and just asking if, how they’re doing and if they want a weekly check in. And I know we’ve had staff talk to people that are 104 and they just love the call and they’ve asked you to please call back. And then helping people shift to our online services.

Paul Takala [00:21:44] One of the other things we’re doing is, so we have a small number of staff doing work, supporting public health emergency. And we keep saying, you know, we have more staff and we’re doing that. Basically, we have asked staff to volunteer if they want to put their name forward for supporting the emergency response. And so any anytime…staff that are currently working from home are willing to do that. I think one thing that’s been great about Hamilton is the leadership. City leaderships are, so far we’ve laid off our our our pages and our college stuff, but that’s it. And I think city leadership understands what we’re going through a huge economic cataclysm. And so we’re, there’s going to need to be serious relief for cities coming from higher levels of government or, you know, it’s like the lesson that we learned in the Great Depression was that you can’t, you know, you can’t put social services on all these critical services on the backs of local tax payers. There just isn’t the capacity. We saw that before this crisis and I think this crisis has totally laid bare the fact that if we don’t have the federal government and the provincial governments stepping in in a really big way, then no matter how much our cities love us, they’re just going to be under so much constraint and stress because they’re, they’re trying to help the people, you know. So it’s, anyway so I’m hoping that this is going to advance that conversation about the need to invest in our, our, our local governments. It’s really important.

Mary Rowe [00:23:13] I’ll come back to it. OK. Gohar, let’s hear from you. You have a different role. You’re a university librarian. Do you want to give your perspective from a constituency that you’re working in? And then I’ve got a whole lot of people raising things on the chat and I’ve got to follow ups for all of us. So we’ll go open on that. But Gohar, just give us a little picture briefly about what you’re looking at.

Gohar Ashoughian [00:23:38] Thank you very much, Mary, and thank you again for inviting me to be part of this panel. And I’m very delighted to be with this, with my esteemed public library colleagues. And I feel like an imposter here but I’ll get over it.

Mary Rowe [00:23:49] Hardly, hardly.

Gohar Ashoughian [00:23:54] The University, Wilfred Laurier University, is a comprehensive university with campuses in Waterloo, in Brantford and in Kitchener and has a student population of over nineteen thousand students. Ranks always number one in student satisfaction in Maclean’s survey. So we’re really very proud of that. And that is one thing that we always strive to uphold students’ satisfactions and a really very important point. Now our context is a little bit different. Our primary client for, for the library is, is the university. Although the library within Wilfred Laurier University also strives to reach out to the community and partner with many wonderful things, usually it’s not a, it’s, it’s not an unusual thing for public libraries related to community programing. The library itself right now, the mandate has expanded. And we have Wilfred Laurier University Press as part of the University Library, as well as the University Gallery of Design, an art gallery. So it kind of sets us in, in a very unique situation. The primary thing that we have experienced being within the universities of course, when March 17 came and we had to close the library. The primary issue was: how ar e we going to help our community, our university, finish the winter term.

Gohar Ashoughian [00:25:35] And that was the primary focus. Of course, if I speak about libraries, you have heard already that move to online was the primary thing that everyone did, regardless if you’re a public or academic library. For us, again, thinking about libraries, I think we if you think within the university, we’re probably, the libraries are probably positioned the best to forward for that disruptive transition because we have been doing this all along. But of course, this is a completely different environment now. So the primary thing was to move our services online. Of course, the resources are available online and we added more resources very rapidly to provide more wider access. And not only that, but the publishers and vendors, they have been always very, very cooperative and very considerate, opening access to their resources for this particular period of time. We moved our services, that we already were developing and delivering online like online reference and virtual reference services. We kind of switched. Overnight, from delivering it in person to delivering it fully online. We expanded the hours associated with that. What remains important also, is that, you know, the, the the staff. I mean, I can’t say enough how impressed and proud I am of all the staff that we have within the library, both the librarians and support staff, that just in that this disruption brought us completely together and we stand by each other to to support each other, to deliver all, all the services in support of the university. Another important thing I want to mention, and I know I’m probably missing a lot of important points here, but people talked about partnerships and connections and I cannot state enough, you know, how important it has been to be apart of the Ontario university library system and being part of the Ontario Council of University Libraries to learn from each other. The meeting that I skipped to be part, part of this because we, we kind of put shoulder to shoulder trying to understand this new situation for ourselves, having virtual meetings every week, bouncing ideas off each other and trying to figure out joint approaches together and support of Opal itself and Scholar’s Portal that helped us put our, our expanded services even make, make them even more prominent.

Mary Rowe [00:28:56] Yeah, yeah. I mean, this is this is part of, as you suggest, the connective tissue that we’re trying to foster. Generally, it’s a remarkable opportunity. Thanks. Gohar! OK, gang. So a couple of things I wanted to follow up on specifically. You know what? It seems to me like have libraries as places. Then we have libraries as service providers and then it sounds to me like we have libraries as caregivers. So it’s interesting that those three roles now seem to be merging in a different kind of way. Can we talk about the shift to digital? As was suggested by a number of you, you were probably better equipped than many because you already had digital services ramped up. Anybody concerned about the strength of the digital side somehow putting, you know, giving weight to people that think we don’t need physical libraries anymore. Go, Asa.

Asa Kachan [00:29:54] I’ll speak to that. So I think it’s great that we’ve leaned into digital and, and really thank goodness we have digital. But there are a couple of things that we cannot lose sight of. One is that digital does not replace human connection. Digital is not equitably available so I have areas within my municipality that have that don’t have broadband. So, and that is true of many parts of our country and those of us with multiple devices on, on the table in front of us sometimes forget that. So it is by no means equitably available. And the library as a place. You know, that has been, you know, urbanists who’ve looked at, you know, accidental collisions and the concepts around how we actually strengthen and build communities. We need, we can’t lose that or we lose so much as a community. So part of our challenge now is to say how do we make those? And we’ve talked a lot about, say, safe proofing public libraries. It’s been an ongoing topic for many years. As you bring people together, how do we do it in a way that is is harmonious and productive and positive? And that’s going to take on different. There’s going to be from different elements. So some of that will need to be changes to our built environment. Some of that will need to be the nature by which we, some of it will be technological. So where do we have touch screens? Maybe we shouldn’t…

Mary Rowe [00:31:08] And I was going to say, do you think we, as you say, you’ve been thinking about this for a while, making a library a safe space, safe place. Now there’s a whole new definition of safe. What’s that going to look like? Are you thinking about how the design of libraries may need to change? It has to change in the short term. Do – let’s go back to Victoria and hear it from you. Maureen, what are you thinking about?

Maureen Sawa [00:31:26] I was just going to say, it’s it’s ironic that we’ve just completed a kind of an assessment of our facilities. And at a new, we actually called it an alternative service delivery plan, rather than a facilities plan. But Asa’s quite right. I think that the importance of the connection…Eric Klinenberg wrote about it…that our libraries more and more are, more than ever are the community living room and we cannot lose that. So it is going to be a challenge for all of us. I have a new branch that that will be built in Esquimalt, that that’s an opportunity to kind of adjust some of our original thoughts in terms of space planning. But for all of us, it’s going to be going to our existing physical setups. And how can we retool? I think we can learn a lot from retail and the restaurant industry in particular. I look at some of the innovations that are going on in Victoria restaurants and they’re really kind of amazing.

Mary Rowe [00:32:23] Yep, and takeout. We’re going to have to do book takeout somehow or something. We’re alrady doing that, someone mentioned.

Maureen Sawa [00:32:30] And so, you know, and you know, but again, there are issues relating to that that we’ve never had to consider. And, you know, the kind of, you know, how long is the book in quarantine for example, once it’s returned. You know, looking at the cleaning supplies, how many people can actually be around a computer hub that week? Right now, we have a lot of people in a lot of areas space. But as Gohar said, you know, libraries are most generous in terms of sharing. And right after this call, Canadian Urban Library Council has as our call. And there’s so many best practices that everybody’s kind of, we’re not all going to reinvent the wheel, but it resharing and that’s for sure.

Mary Rowe [00:33:17] Go ahead, Paul. Yeah.

Paul Takala [00:33:19] No, I was just going to say just. And there’s a lot of questions we’re gonna have to answer over the next a little while so that we’ll be able to safely reopen. And I think our strategy is that we want to embrace whatever changes we need to make so that we’ll be able to open early or rather than later. And Asa’s so right about the, you know, members of the community that don’t, that are really…We provide a lifeline for so many people and that the library is their access to technology. And when we’re closed, you know, it’s very limited.

Mary Rowe [00:33:54] It sounds like it’s not only access to technology, it sounds like it’s access to some kind of human touch. The idea that, we’re got people on the chat responding that you guys are calling your members just even not to talk about life, just have a visit.

Paul Takala [00:34:06] Well, you know, I think, you know, we’re people and one of the things that I think and I would imagine my colleagues find the same thing as a, as a chief librarian, the thing that I loved the most when I walk around our spaces and I see people of all different ages, all different cultural backgrounds and all different economic backgrounds, you know, basically coexisting peacefully and getting to know each other, even if in a casual way. And it’s, it’s such a beautiful thing and it supports community cohesion. So we’re thinking that we’re going to have to be in some kind of physical distancing until well into 2021. You know, after that, hopefully we’ll be able to. So I think one of the things the like we’re looking at doing is if we can’t offer we have 10,000 events, free events every year that we offer, if we can’t have any of those in person group activities then we’re doing some online. But what do we do with the resources, especially if we have less people that are able to come into our spaces? And so we’re looking at things like, well, maybe we could be open longer hours as a way of being open and community, you know, so like let’s, so these are the kinds of things that we need to do. There is a crisis here and we need to take, I guess take advantage of it to respond in a way that ensures we can continue to serve people. Otherwise we’re going to see, you know, a shrinking mandate.

Mary Rowe [00:35:42] And so are you, are you going to move to a little senior’s hour where people like I, like I can go to the bar, I can go to the pharmacy from 8 to 9. You’re gonna get library, you’ll be busy. Got a lot of seniors.

Paul Takala [00:35:52] Oh, absolutely.

Mary Rowe [00:35:54] Mary, can we hear from you in terms of kitchen order, too? I also know that some of you have actually been doing food distribution right? Down libraries across the country, they’re parking lots were being repurposed? Is there the potential for this to be a resurgence for libraries as place? Maybe you become the resilience center and when you… I don’t know whether people realize the extent of all that you’re telling us. There’s a lot of interest Asa, on this activity and snack pack. A lot of our gang want those snacks. So how do we get that story out? Mary, talk to us a little bit more about what you’re thinking in terms of K.W.

Mary Chevreau [00:36:33] Here. And I think it does, just to follow up on that point a little bit…every province is a little bit different in terms of how we’ve been shut down. Ontario was really legislated. Libraries was legislated to shut down in Ontario. So we are non-essential. We’re not supposed to staff are not supposed to be in our buildings. We are not supposed to access our buildings with the exception, exception of maybe, you know, physical checks to ensure that the buildings are still standing. So everybody has a slightly different…

Mary Rowe [00:36:51] Yeah. Do you think it would be our goal for you guys to say to yourselves, you know, next time we have a situation like this, it’s not just going to be the liquor store that’s considered, and groceries that are considered essential. If you had the jump on this to say, actually, we’re an essential service, we provide ABCDE information, all that stuff? Asa do you want to chime in on that?

Asa Kachan [00:37:08] So Mary, that is different in different jurisdictions. So if our, if our colleague Christina from Vancouver, we’re here, libraries and access to accurate information was deemed to be essential in the in the —

Mary Rowe [00:37:21] Maureen, are you an essential? Was Victoria closed down?

Maureen Sawa [00:37:25] It wasn’t designated that way but just as Asa was saying, I think there’s an understanding that our online resources are essential for social isolation support. You know, I can tell you here, just as in Vancouver, I mean, it really has been taken very seriously in B.C. Hence we’re getting good news about, about progress. But people have been taking it very seriously. And that means that in addition to the normal issues that – not normal, but, you know, isolation of seniors, now that they’re isolated in place, you know, is we, we all know, and I know Paul was speaking to this how, seniors, for them to come to the library every day, you know that that’s part of their life. That’s part of their social circle, their routine, so seniors with online access thought that it’s definitely critical. But I certainly agree with Asa, in British Columbia, once you get away from kind of the centers, I mean, the connectivity is, is a real challenge for my colleagues in smaller jurisdictions.

Mary Rowe [00:38:26] We should talk about this just because that number is important. Go ahead, Mary. Go ahead.

Mary Chevreau [00:38:31] Well, even here in Kitchener, right, one of the tech centers in the country, we still have something like, twenty-three percent of our residents have no actual, actual connection of any kind. So. So it is, it is of course, worse in rural areas. But even it even in our, in our tech-rich communities, we still have that.

Mary Rowe [00:38:54] It is that one of the things you’ll be able to speak really powerfully to – is that we’ve got to have a strong commitment to universal broadband. I see, I see Gohar nodding. Like, do we really need to ask ourselves this again? No. You have to double down on that. Also, the other point, it’s interesting is, you know, we often have this conversation with the urban-rural divide and somehow we’re pitted against each other. But in fact, we’re as you were saying, oh, so that in Halifax, you, you have rural branches as part of Halifax because of the way, how Halifax annexed. And I see that we’ve got Heather Marichal here who runs the library at Six Nations. And it’s certainly important to Indigenous communities, obviously, as well. You know, you really are a thread that could be the unifying thread across the country. Right. So I wonder, let’s talk about the financial sustainability question that some of you raised and that it it has been dependent on property tax base and user fees.

Mary Rowe [00:39:48] The Federation of Canadian Municipalities came out today with a big, big number about what they feel the transfer has to be from the federal government to municipal governments to keep them afloat. But what about longer term? Anybody have thoughts on what the financial model, how it’s going to need to change for libraries? Anybody got insight on that?

Mary Chevreau [00:40:06] Can I just add a couple of things, Mary, before I address or somebody addresses that, just, just a couple of points. I think in terms of the technology, is that point that you made? I think that there’s going to be a certain fatigue for technology. Zoom meetings and WebEx this and this kind of a presentation that, that two things need to happen or will happen. First of all, all of us are going to be vying for that same attention for the community if we can’t move back into a physical environment soon. And I think libraries, you know what I’m looking at is how do we improve our, our production quality? Right now, we’re all grappling with this and we’re doing it using whatever technology we have, which tends in public libraries for the most part to be, you know, medium to low-grade technology for it for these kinds of production. So I think that libraries are gonna have to look at that. And I think we need to really find something that makes us sticky and differentiates us from all the other, you know, programs that are, that are being, being developed. And Gohar, I think I hit a cord with her on this.

Mary Rowe [00:41:22] OK, Gohar, take it

Gohar Ashoughian [00:41:23]  Technology is really very important and here’s, here’s the thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

Gohar Ashoughian [00:41:35] If there is any positive outcome of this very negative situation, is that a new normal somehow, and going back to the old normal is going to be really very interesting process itself. Because, if I think about the universities, for example, overnight, we, we are a very deep, very different levels of preparedness for online learning and strength. And all of a sudden overnight, everybody was calling you to this remote delivery environment, an online learning environment with technology. I think if we can walk away from this situation with better investment in technology, within environments, within the universities and better programs that will help us to deliver in variety of formats when life becomes normal. And that is going to be one of those… maybe… I don’t even know if I can call it positive to you, but one of the positives of this very bad, unprecedented situation.

Mary Rowe [00:42:58]  You know, can I just a couple of comments. First of all, and we’re getting some, we’re getting some other collateral, noise in the system so I’m not sure if other people need to mute their mics. But, you both, Maureen and Paul have mentioned other people who are writing on this. Eric Klinenberg, Palaces for the People. And Paul, I think you mentioned John Harwood maybe? I’m not sure if I know the name.

Paul Takala [00:43:19]  Rich Harwood from the Harwood Institute.

Mary Rowe [00:43:22]  Just make clear to those references are guys, because we’ll put them up in the chatbox and then people can really see. So it’s Rich Harwood?

Paul Takala [00:43:30] Yes. The –

Mary Rowe [00:43:32] Go ahead.

Paul Takala [00:43:34] I was just gonna comment on the budget issue.

Mary Rowe [00:43:37] I go, yeah, I want to hear about the money part.

Paul Takala [00:43:39] You know, because I think, you know, and this is before the COVID-19 crisis, and I think it’s fair to say that on all our libraries had been there before, before the crisis. You know, we’ve all been working on innovation to get strong support from our principal partners. And we’ve been very successful at that. But ultimately, and I know in the case of Hamilton, we know that there’s been so many budget pressures on our municipal government that no matter how much we deliver for them, they have pressures that are being mandated and they have limited ability to generate revenue. And, you know, the whole property tax is totally inelastic. If people lose, say, people, income goes down, your property taxes don’t adjust. It’s it’s a terrible tax to try to rely on too much of your necessary social structure.

 Mary Rowe [00:44:35] So what what do you want? What do you think the solution is?

Paul Takala [00:44:38] Well, I think the solution is that we ultimately need to have investment in our municipalities, our cities, our towns from the higher levels of government, especially the federal government. And, you know, we’ve been under investing in our social infrastructure for decades. And I think, you know, to be honest, we have always serve vulnerable people. But all my colleagues, one of the things we’re dealing with now is, we’re dealing with people – before the closure – more people that are, are dealing with so much serious mental health and addiction problems that are just desperate. And never in my career of you know twenty five years have I seen so many people in our community that are really, really hurting and struggling. And so we’ve been trying to help them. But why is this happening now? You know, and it’s like the lack of investment in mental health services and community support. You know, you do it and then, you know, people muddle along for a while. But, you know, there’s lasting damage. And I think there was no sustainable format before and um.

Mary Rowe [00:45:50] Yeah, we’re seeing this in other urban environments, you know, Business Improvement Areas. Same thing. They thought they were there to support businesses. But in fact, they have tons of mental health challenges with people that live on the street. Can I ask one of my colleagues from CUI to post into the chat, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ press release today where they were calling on the federal government to make a $12 billion dollar investment in cities to get us over this hump. But there is a systemic issue, as you’re suggesting all around, whether we need different kinds of financial tools and instruments that fund these fundamental services.

Mary Rowe [00:46:14] There’s a lot of interest on the chat, guys, about universal broadband and some work around. Some people suggesting, like just take your Wi-Fi writers and put routers and put them closer to the windows so people can get them. What about the idea of libraries as a service? The way we talk about mobility as a service? Can you amp up these things that you were suggesting or so you’ve been “sending the library out” basically through packages and online things? Is that, is that a permanent “sticky” – to use your term Mary? “Sticky” change, that maybe libraries become more hubs that send a lot of stuff out? Maureen, you want to jump in on that?

Maureen Sawa [00:46:52] Yeah, I just like to comment, I think we’ve all been doing that already. You know, I think it’s accelerating. You know, in some areas. But certainly, partnerships and outreach. You know, I think I can speak. We’ve all got outreach vehicles. We, we our staff are we, we refer to it as community-inspired librarianship here in Victoria. So our librarians are basically mandated to go out and connect with our organizations to, in fact, reach the target groups that perhaps we can’t necessarily reach directly to come into the building. We are, we have been doing this for years. So I think now what’s happening is, is it’s just all the more acute. And, and it will, that won’t go – that’s not going to change. And it it wasn’t because of COVID. I think it’s just more exaggerated. Like what’s what Asa’s doing with the, the snack packs. You know, all of us are kind of doing different variations of that. We’ve had books for babies program here for years and years and years, which is kind of the delivery of a starter pack of early literacy materials that’s delivered to new parents through public health. So that, that kind of thing is well established. But I think you’re right. I think as we have more and more limitations initially with the transition of gradually what, what is business – a friend of a colleague of mine here in Victoria coined the term, “It’s not business as normal, it’s business as possible”. So what is what is possible for us right now? You know, and a lot of it is building on, on some of those good initiatives that were already in place.

Mary Rowe [00:48:29] So I’ve got a, I’ve got a tough question for you all around who you’re serving and how your workforce does. To what extent does your workforce reflect the communities you serve? Because I think it’s a challenge, right, where libraries have historically been, I think, populated by folks that look like me. And I’m curious about the extent to which you as a profession are coming to terms with this generally. Can somebody just let me know the extent to which that’s part of your conversation?

Mary Chevreau [00:48:59] Mary, I can start, at least, that conversation. I think that that is something that all of us on this call are struggling with. And one of the I think we all spend a lot of time sort of looking at our, our our talent bench and the teams that we have, the teams that we need and how we transition the talent to the right areas. So I think all of us on this call have outreach workers as part of our staff, full-time staff. And I think that that role is going to become more and more important, particularly. It always it was very important has been for the last several years, but it’s going to become more important as we reopen. I think that, you know, there are so many struck structural vulnerabilities that are exposed through this COVID deficit. And all of those are my…what I think about a lot and keeps me up at night, actually, is when we do open and some of our shelters, particularly the emergency shelters close, the individuals there that are in those shelters will probably be our first the first people back in our libraries and they’ll be welcome back. But, under the new conditions and there will have to be new conditions on use of space. Two things I’m worried about is, first of all, I don’t want a reverse NIMBY, where all of a sudden the library becomes the shelter, the emergency shelter. And because those individuals are the first, first back and because of fear within their broader community, others feel that they won’t come to the library for some risk, unknown risk. And so how do we balance all of that?

Mary Rowe [00:50:43] But you were already struggling with that, right? Mary, you were already struggling with that. Libraries were already places where homeless folks were, where people with particular…and you were – how were you dealing, how were you all doing with that pre-COVID? I mean, that’s the dilemma with any kind of town square: it needs to be open to everyone.

Paul Takala [00:51:01]  Can I say one thing about that, though? It’s true that in we have 22 branches and Hamilton does have rural areas as well because of amalgamation in 2001. But, so, when we talk about some of the problems we’re having with mental health and addictions, those are concentrated in, they’re like expressed in certain communities where there are very much expressed. And so we have many libraries where that’s not a problem because the communities are different and they don’t experience the same. So it’s not like there is a, you know, some people won’t go to Central, but they might go to another branch. And that branch, they don’t have anywhere near the same number of incidents or people with mental health issues. I know we did pre- I know we, like we have worked on slowly improving our diversity. I think we’ve made some gains there, but we’ve done mental health training for staff. We’ve done prepare trading, which is from the Canadian Crisis Prevention Institute, which is about…the principle, to me, it’s all about empathy. And if, if we treat people with respect, we get that respect back. And I think, you know what? What Halifax is doing with food justice is a perfect example of that: when you treat people with dignity and respect, they’re going to act with dignity and respect. If you, you know, if you look at them like, “Oh my god, this is a scary person”, then, you know, they pick up on that. And, and they might become scary because they can tell you’re looking down on them.

Mary Rowe [00:52:32] But this is leadership that you guys could be providing because you’re not…I mean, I think streets now, we’re going to see this manifesting on shared streets. Right? All these issues of, how do we cope? And we see it in housing and the resistance to certain kinds of housing. Do you think we’re gonna come out of this? I guess I put some burden on you folks. You’re the you’re the builders of the town squares, in essence. And libraries have been investing more in design and beautiful spaces. Do you see an opportunity to really double down even though we’re worried there’ll be austerity? Interestingly, municipally – municipal capital investment over the last number of years has done some spectacular libraries in Canada. Is this a moment for you? Yeah. Go ahead Asa.

Asa Kachan [00:53:15] So, Mary, I, I think we are actually are in a library renaissance. And I hope this does not derail that renaissance. And I actually believe it’s a combination of things. It’s creating public space that invites you know? I always believe if we build beautiful spaces where everyone is treated with dignity, you get the best behavior you can get from among us – that you get more generosity and you get more human connection. So I think, you know, Paul spoke a bit to this. I think empathy is critical. But you also asked us a question that I don’t think has been quite answered. And it’s about, do we have the workforce that reflects community serving, which is also part of being a truly inclusive organization. Because, in the absence of that, there will be people who don’t believe they belong there because they don’t see themselves reflected. So as a sector, we have we still have work to do in that. And some of that has to do with who attends library school and graduates from library school. So there are a couple of ways we can do it. We can broaden the credentials that invite people to find a career path through a public library. There, we definitely can can look sort of pre-library school and invest in people who started a position with us. And so, we set up a bursary support to support people through the library school who need our additional support, but will also improve the diversity of our leadership. So, you know, I think there are a number of elements to all of this. I haven’t lost hope that as much as we are facing…we are facing some significant financial challenges on the municipal level. I also think we have shone in this crisis and I have municipal colleagues say to me, “This blows me away”…

Mary Rowe [00:54:56] Yeah.

Asa Kachan [00:54:57] Or, “How did you get moving so fast on this?”

Mary Rowe [00:54:59] Yeah.

Asa Kachan [00:55:00] And that is true on this in the small spaces and the bigger spaces is true across. I mean, across municipalities and across our country. Like, we’re heading off to our roundtable with our library colleagues from coast to coast. When I come off that, it’s probably my high point of the week because we collectively are going to get communities through this.

Mary Rowe [00:55:19] Yeah. I mean, your and your constantly, it sounds you’re constantly innovating. OK, Maureen, jump in.

Maureen Sawa [00:55:23] I just, just to pick up on that, the other thing that I think is an advantage for us: there used to be a web site called “A Librarian at Every Table”. And some of us are old enough to remember that one. But, you know, the role of libraries is we have a role at every table. And by embedding ourselves with our community partners, like, you know, we, we here in Victoria working with the downtown service providers, we have that connection that we’re working with the workers that are providing services to, to diverse groups. And that, you know, that also is a reflection of our commitment to serving all needs. And I think that, you know, really it’s it’s been said a lot. But a democratic, kind of equitable access institution, I used to say it – it’s more democratic than any church I know. So you know.

Mary Rowe [00:56:13] No, I mean, I guess the question is to how do we make sure that lived experience is coming into the into this. Right? So, again, the references that you’ve made to books and various things and I see the panelists doing the same. But I also see some is just getting, it’s available by Amazon. Don’t forget, you’ve got a local bookstore that may actually be on your main street doing an online business so we can support those. Let’s do very quick closing comments from anybody, in terms of the view ahead. Any particular piece that you feel – one thing that you feel you’ve learned through this COVID period that you hope is “sticky”, as Mary suggested. So I’m going to start with you, Paul. One thing quickly.

Paul Takala [00:56:52] You know, I think innovation. We had to innovate in the past. And the pattern of doing that has prepared us for responding to this and our, our success is only going to be assured if we continue to adapt and stay relevant. And then, what the relevant services and picture what that will be like in 2021? You know, it’s gonna be different than it was in 2019. And if we’re ready to embrace that, we’ll, we’ll be doing very well.

Mary Rowe [00:57:27] If we could get some critical mass on this, I’m going to push people to City Share on All the best practices, all the things that people are talking about, here and on the chat, let us have these because it will then inform our larger advocacy work at CUI about what are the things that need to be instilled and, and kept in place and invested in so that we can continue to do that. Gohar, 30 seconds to you.

Gohar Ashoughian [00:57:52] If I knew this before, I know it even more now – that there is such a big power in what public libraries do and there is so much cross learning to do and partnerships between university sector, public library sector and other sectors is extremely important for all kinds of innovation, perspective and just simply learning perspective. So I’m just, I’m just leaving with that.

Mary Rowe [00:58:24] Yeah. Maureen.

Maureen Sawa [00:58:25] Um, I just to pick up on what’s been said, we’re all in it together. You know, libraries across Canada, of all disciplines, we’re all in it together and nothing is impossible. And we’re all very good at it, changing people’s minds. So we’ll continue to do that and continue to change lives as well. I’m actually, this has been a real challenge for all of us. But there, it settled a symbol of crisis is no danger and opportunity. And there’s a huge amount of opportunity here.

Mary Rowe [00:58:57] Yeah. Mary?

Mary Chevreau [00:59:02] I think that the fact that that public libraries – and, there are some very large public libraries in our country and in North America, but for the most part, public libraries – are fairly nimble organizations and we can, based on our structure, move pretty quickly. And I think that’s what has allowed us to evolve as quickly, as Paul said, to get to where we are and be leaders. But I also think this collaboration, that there is there are no better collaborate collaborators than librarians. And we see that every day. We’re going to, as we said, were going to start this talk in a few minutes with the conversation with our call group. And that’s what that’s what keeps us moving forward and and is, is delightful.

Mary Rowe [00:59:47] Yeah, it’s great. Last one to you, Asa.

Asa Kachan [00:59:48] So, I would just encourage people, you’ve heard a couple of references to a think tank that we’re working on at the Canadian Urban Libraries Council. Really, you want to know what the future is going to look like, we’re, we’re figuring out all those pieces and, you know, check back with us in a month and we’ll have that. We’ll have put our great library minds together and come up with a great path forward.

Mary Rowe [01:00:12] So we’re going to we’re going to work with a whole bunch of colleagues across the country on what the recovery roadmap for urban Canada needs to look like, recognizing that it’s not just urban that you guys serve, but we’d love to have the Urban Libraries Council be part of that conversation. It’s been a terrific opportunity for us to just demonstrate right here why libraries are so central, why you’re at the heart of the community, why you’re the heart of the civic commons and what and what makes a neighborhood work. And I just want to comment that we, as we said, we’ve had hundreds of people on. They’ve checked in on all the various communities they’ve been signing in front, including, I notice, Riga and São Paolo. So, libraries matter around the world. And we’re very, very appreciative that you brought this conversation to us today as part of City Talk. We have another session tomorrow, which is a one-on-one. Fridays, we do one on ones and the one tomorrow is back to the west, to your town, Maureen.  We’re having a one on one with Mayor Lisa Helps. she’ll be on with us for an hour midday Eastern Time just check You can see the details. Please register. The reason we’re doing those conversations is that mayors have been carrying the water on this. They are on the front line. Ultimately, they have not only libraries under their purview, they’ve got all the E.M.S. workers in a public space. And they need our support and they need the best ideas and the best resourcefulness that we can all come up with in terms of how cities move forward. So that’s Lisa tomorrow. And although Victoria is a small municipality, Lisa’s leadership has been extraordinarily important in terms of moving that discourse forward. So, again, thanks to all the attendees. Fill out those questionnaires so we can make these better. And thanks to you five for joining us today. And we bid you good day and thank you very much.

Paul Takala [01:01:57] Thanks, Mary. Keep up the great work. Thank you.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.

12:05:56          From Canadian Urban Institute: #citytalk

12:06:51          From Lanrick Bennett to All panelists: Libraries Rock! Happy #WorldBookDay. We know that our libraries are the #SocialInfrastructure that communities have been leaning on and are continuing to lean on during COVID. The hope has to be that investment into our libraries doesn’t stop but continues to grow. Thanks Mary for bringing a spotlight to this #ImLibraryPeople

12:07:06          From Canadian Urban Institute:

12:07:13          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Today’s panel:

Gohar Ashoughian –

Mary Chevreau –

Åsa Kachan –

Maureen Sawa –

Paul Takala –

12:08:18          From Lisa Mactaggart: Joining in from Guelph

12:08:49          From Melanie Ross to All panelists: joining from WLU

12:09:59          From Canadian Urban Institute: Please change your chat settings to “All panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Thank you!

12:10:25          From Cynthia Toniolo: Joining in from Toronto Public Library but home based in Mississauga!

12:10:42          From Janna Levitt to All panelists: Book hoarding? Wow!

12:10:50          From Krista Whaley to All panelists: Thinking about a pick up window for physical materials.

12:10:54          From Jennifer Evans: Joining in from Ottawa Public Library!

12:10:59          From Meagan Gilpin: Joining in from Brampton, ON!

12:11:05          From Ann MacKenzie: Ann MacKenzie joining in from Toronto Public Library.

12:11:06          From Sarah Gauthier: From Hamilton Public Library:)

12:11:14          From Julie McKenna: Joining from Regina Public Library – Hello everyone!

12:11:16          From Anne O’Shea: Good morning from Nanaimo, joining from Vancouver Island Regional Library.

12:11:17          From Sarah Hart Coatsworth to All panelists: Chatham-Kent Public Library!:)

12:11:17          From Jennifer Goodbrand to All panelists: Joining in from Brampton Library

12:11:18          From Kari Gruneberg: Another Hamilton Public Library here – hello!

12:11:19          From Jennifer Green: From Oshawa. Hello!

12:11:21          From Andy Finnen to All panelists: TNRL in BC

12:11:21          From Angela Tse to All panelists: Joining in from Markham Public Library

12:11:22          From Julia Mayo: St John’s NL

12:11:23          From Ben Shaw: Markham Public Library! Hello.

12:11:23          From Adele Reid to All panelists: From King Township Public Library, Ontario

12:11:25          From Jen Seper: Hi Anne!

12:11:27          From Val Stevens to All panelists: Val from Georgina-a smaller community library:)

12:11:28          From Melanie Sutherland: Joining in from the Ottawa Public Library

12:11:28          From Shauna May: Hi from Calgary Public Library

12:11:29          From Ron Stadnik: Joining from Library Bound, in Waterloo

12:11:30          From Alene Sen: Joining in from Mississauga Library

12:11:30          From jonathan C. Rousseau: From Boucherville, QC, hello!

12:11:38          From Kasia Morrison to All panelists: Hello from Halifax!

12:11:39          From Michel Lalonde: Joining as a Library Board Member of the Greater Sudbury Public Library!

12:11:41          From Todd Kyle: Newmarket PL here. We gave our patrons zero notice so there was no chance for book hoarding. We were instructed by the town NOT to inform the public until after closing at the end of the day as usual March 13. So we did not open on March 14.

12:11:42          From Emory Davidge: Hi from Toronto

12:11:44          From Jo Dias to All panelists: Joining from Mississauga

12:11:45          From Alessia Barzetti: Joining from Mississauga library

12:11:45          From Vandana Kakar: Joining in from Mississauga Library System

12:11:46          From Amy Rankin: Regina

12:11:47          From Eleni Pallotta to All panelists: Toronto!

12:11:47          From Dan Trivett to All panelists: Hello from Mississauga

12:11:47          From Christy Harper: Whitby PL here!

12:11:48          From Katie Saunders: Katie Saunders, Guelph PLBoRd

12:11:48          From Claire Laing to All panelists: Hello from Saskatoon

12:11:48          From Mike Brown: Hi from Kamloops, BC

12:11:49          From Melanie St-Onge: Hello from Edmonton!

12:11:49          From Jan Moffett: Joining from St. John’s

12:11:50          From diego argaez to All panelists: Ottawa, ON

12:11:50          From Abbey Clark to All panelists: Hello from Ottawa:)

12:11:50          From Monica Gaucher: Kelowna

12:11:51          From Kathy Cook to All panelists: From Springwater Township, ON

12:11:51          From Laura Warner to All panelists: Hi from Saskatoon

12:11:51          From kathleen Scott to All panelists: West Grey Public Lia

12:11:51          From Matthew Corbett to All panelists: Hello from Bradford West Gwillimbury

12:11:51          From Julie-Anne D’Aoust: From Repentigny, QC!

12:11:51          From Catherine Lavallee-Welch to All panelists: Sherbrooke, QC

12:11:51          From Megan Smiley to All panelists: Hello from Golden BC, Courthouse Libraries BC

12:11:51          From Krista Robinson to All panelists: Hello from Stratford!

12:11:52          From Chris D’Agostino: Plenty of Hamilton Public Library people in attendance, it seems!

12:11:52          From Jennifer Schell: Hello from Edmonton Public Library

12:11:52          From Chris Cooper: Saskatoon!

12:11:53          From Dana Vanzanten: St. Thomas, ON

12:11:53          From Denise Besic to All panelists: Hi from Hamilton Public Library

12:11:53          From Lynda Reid to All panelists: Collingwood

12:11:53          From Rebecca Burbank to All panelists: Hi from Powell River, BC!

12:11:54          From Dianne Brunelle to All panelists: Hello, from Granby, Québec!

12:11:54          From Nathan Fréchette to All panelists: Hi From Gatineau/Ottawa!

12:11:54          From Jenna Grose to All panelists: Hello from Vancouver

12:11:55          From Mikale Fenton: Hi! Mikale Fenton from North Vancouver City Library. Ps. SO nice to see you Maureen!

12:11:55          From Sandra Sydor to All panelists: Hello from Barrie Public Library

12:11:55          From Rina Hadziev to All panelists: from Victoria, BC!

12:11:56          From Eda Conte-Pitcher to All panelists: Eda Conte-Pitcher, Toronto Public Library

12:11:56          From nancymohamed to All panelists: Coldstream BC

12:11:56          From Bogna Wiench to All panelists: Hello!

12:11:57          From Ashleigh Dronyk to All panelists: Hello from Niagara Falls!

12:11:58          From K Eremondi to All panelists: Good morning from Nanaimo, BC!

12:11:58          From Andrea Ciurria: Joining from Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library

12:11:59          From Steve Krysak to All panelists: Kitchener! <3 KPL!

12:11:59          From Shan Fong: hi from Toronto!

12:12:00          From Julia Huang to All panelists: Hello from Brampton!

12:12:00          From Christine McPhee to All panelists: Hello from the Okanagan Valley, BC

12:12:00          From Jennifer Stirling to All panelists: Jennifer Stirling from Mississauga

12:12:00          From Susan Grant to All panelists: Saskatoon!

12:12:01          From Kari Hennenfent: Moose Jaw, SK – Palliser Regional Library

12:12:01          From Brittney Smith to All panelists: Brampton Public Library

12:12:02          From Wendy Newman to All panelists: Good morning from Hamilton!

12:12:03          From Grazyna Grochot to All panelists: Hello from Toronto Public Library

12:12:03          From Sarah Sorensen to All panelists: Hamilton!

12:12:03          From Graham Singh: Joining from the Trinity Centres Foundation in Montreal, Quebec (our vision to see places of faith used to help answer the library vision!)

12:12:04          From Jacky Lai: Joining from University of British Columbia Library

12:12:04          From Sonia Prevost to All panelists: Mont-Laurier, Québec!

12:12:04          From Abbey Clark: Hello from Ottawa:)

12:12:04          From Augusto Mathias to All panelists: Augusto Mathias – Sao Paulo- Brazil

12:12:05          From Laura Beswick to All panelists: Laura from IslandLink Library Federation

12:12:06          From Surita Dey: Hello from Brampton Library

12:12:07          From Vanessa Holm to All panelists: Joining from West Lincoln, ON

12:12:07          From Michelle Campbell: Hi from Guelph Public Library

12:12:07          From Nicole Charles: Hi from Kingston!

12:12:07          From Sharon Herbert: Thank you from Abbotsford BC!

12:12:07          From Wendy Rodgers: Another hi from St. John’s, NL!

12:12:08          From Mette Kruger: Hello from Greater Sudbury Public Library!

12:12:08          From Timothy Stewart to All panelists: Hi, joining from Vancouver, but was working for Vancouver Island Regonial

12:12:08          From Jodie Gladman: Hi from Greater Sudbury Public Library

12:12:09          From Basana Dey to All panelists: Hi, from Toronto Public Library!

12:12:09          From Heather O’Sullivan: Good morning from Gabriola Island! Vancouver Island Regional Library

12:12:09          From Leah Pohlman to All panelists: Hello from Halifax Public Libraries!

12:12:10          From Emilie Guertin: Alma, Québec:)

12:12:12          From Jason Kuffler to All panelists: Nanaimo/Vancouver Island Regional LIbrary

12:12:12          From Eugénie Fortin to All panelists: Hi from Montréal, QC

12:12:14          From Sarah Hart Coatsworth to All panelists: Greetings from Chatham-Kent Ontario

12:12:14          From Sarah T to All panelists: Hi from Vancouver!

12:12:14          From Sarah Hart Coatsworth to All panelists: Hello from Chatham-Kent, Ontario.

12:12:14          From Danielle Dungey: Joining in from Halifax Public Libraries.

12:12:14          From Jennifer Roth to All panelists: Hamilton!

12:12:15          From Terri Lynn Condon: St. John’s, NL

12:12:15          From Justine Maalouf: Brampton Library!:)

12:12:15          From Edmund Salt to All panelists: Hi From Aurora!

12:12:16          From Glenn Miller: It would be good (in Toronto) to open up the returns box for books loaned before COVID

12:12:19          From Shannon Slater to All panelists: A good morning to you from Calgary!

12:12:20          From Emily McLaughlin: Hi from Kitchener:)

12:12:20          From Kaylea Prime: Hi from Clearwater, BC, part of the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library system!

12:12:20          From May Chan: Hello from University of Toronto Libraries

12:12:22          From Anicia Rogel to All panelists: Hello from Toronto

12:12:22          From Eleethea Savage to All panelists: Joining from Greater Sudbury, Project Manager for the new Library Art Gallery – Junction East

12:12:23          From Catherine Hébert to All panelists: Hi from Sainte-Julie

12:12:23          From Ylana Luigi to All panelists: Mississauga here!1❤️❤️

12:12:23          From Sherry Freed to All panelists: Hello from Vancouver Island Regional Library.

12:12:24          From Katelyn Stoddart: Mississauga Library!

12:12:25          From Gail McCorkell: Hello from Orillia!

12:12:25          From Rhonda Jessup to All panelists: Whitby Public Library

12:12:26          From Dylan Thiessen: Hi all – coming in from Nanaimo, BC today. Thanks so much for sharing your time with us today. On Tuesday, I defended my master’s thesis which looked at the relationship between public libraries (as a component of social infrastructure) and quality of life from an urban/community planning perspective. I am wondering if any of your libraries have thought of (or had success) transitioning social programming to a virtual platform? It’s a bit easier to perhaps offer reading materials online, but has this also happened with more socially oriented programs? Thanks!

ps. Åsa, I interviewed two of your staff, Darla and Ken, as a research component for the thesis and they were so helpful. You have some great staff!

12:12:27          From Lynn Siu to All panelists: Hello from Mississauga:)

12:12:28          From Andrea Lam: Greetings from Burnaby Public Library

12:12:31          From Danielle Pilon to All panelists: Winnipeg Public Library here, working from home

12:12:31          From Peter Bailey: Peter from St. Albert Public Library, Alberta! Hi y’all.

12:12:31          From Faye Wreford to All panelists: Joining from Stratford, Ont.

12:12:32          From Kathryn Foley to All panelists: Hi From Swift Current

12:12:33          From Connie Kho to All panelists: From Mississauga Library!

12:12:33          From Nadine Tischhauser: Greetings from Riga, Latvia!

12:12:34          From Shannon Slater: A good morning to you from Calgary!

12:12:35          From Meghan HOllett to All panelists: St. John’s, NL – keen library supporter & this City Talk has been advertised locally amongst keen library folks:)

12:12:36          From Amber McNair to All panelists: Huntsville Public Library

12:12:37          From Karen Wales: Richmond Hill Public Library

12:12:38          From Samantha Smith: Brampton Library:) Hello all!

12:12:42          From Norman Harrison to All panelists: Norman Harrison – Toronto Public Library

12:12:43          From Nezahat Turegun to All panelists: Hello from Ottawa

12:12:46          From Catherine Lavallee-Welch: Sherbrooke, QC bonjour

12:12:48          From Meghan HOllett: St. John’s, NL – keen library supporter & this City Talk has been advertised locally amongst keen library folks:)

12:12:49          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists: Hello< so great to see and hear you today! Thank you Mary to do such amazing work. I am from North York, Downsview TORONTO.

12:12:53          From Rachel Rogers: Good morning from Greater Victoria Public Library

12:12:54          From Danielle Bettridge to All panelists: Lambton County Library, Ontario. Hi:)

12:12:54          From Anna Swanson: Another hello from St. John’s – Newfoundland & Labrador Public Libraries.

12:12:57          From Lauren Flattery to All panelists: Hello from Pickering, ON!

12:12:58          From Laurel Phillips: Hello from Edmonton!

12:13:03          From Edmund Salt: Russ Culver, Aurora, Whitehots Library Services

12:13:05          From Diana Scott to All panelists: Good Morning from Surrey Libraries

12:13:06          From Emily Mathews to All panelists: Emily from Vancouver Island Regional Library – so nice to see you Maureen!:)

12:13:09          From Faye Wreford: Stratford, Ont.

12:13:12          From Anne O’Sullivan: Hello from London Public Library!

12:13:12          From Tracy Facchin to All panelists: We had a weekend of book hoarding at the Stittsville Branch, Ottawa Public Library before closing to the public! Thanks for this great discussion:)

12:13:12          From Rachel Rosenberg: Vancouver Public Library & North Vancouver Public Library, hello!

12:13:13          From kathleen peters: Beausoleil First Nation Public Library on beautiful Christian Island southern Georgian bay

12:13:14          From Jonathan Giggs: fropm Mississauga, enjoying and exploring on-line resources from Mississauga and Toronto libraries

12:13:15          From Geoffrey Allen: hello for Regina (but formerly resident of Halifax, Kitchener, and Vancouver Island). Nice to see so many familiar faces!

12:13:16          From Milka Sobocan to All panelists: Hello everyone!!….ps. nice to see you Maureen!

12:13:16          From Aaron DeVries: St. Thomas, Ontario here

12:13:17          From Deb Addesso: Hello from St. Jerome’s University Library, Waterloo, ON

12:13:20          From Linda Seguin to All panelists: hello from port Alberni

12:13:20          From Lonestar Stone: Hello from Langford, BC, Greater Victoria Public Library:)

12:13:21          From Gayle Hall: Hi from Simcoe County Library Co-operative

12:13:22          From Anna Galanis to All panelists: Greetings from the Ajax Public Library

12:13:30          From Karen Hudson: Hello from Salt Spring Island Public Library.

12:13:33          From Greg Bester to All panelists: Hello from Waterloo

12:13:34          From Agnes at Hanover: Hello from Hanover, Ontario. Closed on March 13th. We created a new online registration right away.

12:13:36          From Kristen Bertrand to All panelists: Hello from Greater Sudbury Public Library

12:13:37          From Donna Gaffoor to All panelists: Hi Everyone from Brampton

12:13:37          From Aidan Meegan to All panelists: Hello from Regina – beautiful sunny day here!

12:13:41          From Helena Merriam: Hi from Algonquin College, in Ottawa

12:13:46          From Koichi Ronald Shimoda: Hello from West Vancouver Public Library

12:13:48          From Mackenzie Proctor to All panelists: Hi from Richmond Hill Public Library in Ontario!

12:13:49          From Dan Trivett to All panelists: I would like to hear some discussion on what the panelist think could happen when we reopen…are libraries going to follow protocols like what we see in the grocery stores? Limited access, regular cleaning, limited programming, limited computer use?

12:13:50          From Zeenat Hashmi to All panelists: Hello from Mississauga Library System

12:13:53          From Megan Clark to All panelists: Hello from Victoria!

12:13:53          From Elisa Sze: Hello! Checking in from University of Toronto

12:13:56          From Janet Delgatty: Nanaimo, Vancouver Island Regional Library and Courthouse Libraries BC. Hi folks!

12:13:59          From Sarah Davies: While having digital access is fantastic, what about those who don’t have consistent internet?

12:14:11          From Alix-Rae Stefanko: Hello from Winnipeg, MB!

12:14:17          From Michelle Fex to All panelists: Burlington Public Library

12:14:20          From Patricia Anaka to All panelists: toronto public library

12:14:52          From Koichi Ronald Shimoda: Hello for Public Library InterLINK Federation of 18 Metro Vancouver Pubic Libraries

12:14:57          From Meghan HOllett: Can we know more about “snack & activity packs” ? What does this entail?

12:15:00          From Theresa Laviolette to All panelists: Hello from Surrey, BC

12:15:36          From Sam Weller: Joining from Canadian Association of Government Finance Officers. Supporting Library Finance Officers.

12:16:00          From Veronica Ramirez to All panelists: Hi from Mississauga!

12:16:00          From Brian Owen to All panelists: Interesting article:

12:16:04          From Krista Whaley to All panelists: resources direct to shelters? Awesome!

12:16:11          From Brian Owen to All panelists:

12:16:19          From Helena Merriam: OPL is hosting a theatric reading of Tempest today at 1pm ET with a great threatre group, Company of Fools (they do Shakespeare in the park)

12:16:26          From Megan Clark to All panelists: How cool!

12:16:43          From Krista Robinson to All panelists: KPL has been doing amazing stuff!

12:16:58          From Victoria Linca: Greetings to all panelists and attendees from the Hamilton Public Library!

12:17:30          From Brian Owen: Interesting article: Libraries face more demand than during Great Recession: report

12:17:41          From Danielle Dungey: The activity packs at Halifax Public Libraries include crayons, printed activities from paid Activity Village accounts, and packed snacks (e.g., granola bars).

12:17:46          From Andrea Lam: @Sarah, we’re working with partners and some groups have refurbished tech and we have lots of hotspots to share and they can be near our building to connect for wifi. School districts are sharing devicies and we’re (the working group the Library’s a part of) about to solicit for supplies

12:19:33          From Todd Kyle: Are staff printing and distributing the Activity Packs from home? In Ontario, going to the workplace to do this would be contrary to emergency orders

12:21:14          From Dagmar Fence: Hello from Comox Valley. Vancouver Island Regional Library

12:21:19          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists: YC SSC is in the process of forming proactive relationships for our Seniors Health Village to be created at William Baker, Downsview. We would love create a partnership with Toronto Library located on Keele & Wilson. Now, learning more about what great Best and Greatest are creating. Let’s connect. Elizabeth Jassem

12:22:03          From Robin Hawker to All panelists: These community-building initiatives are so important. So much cross-over into the field of community planning and placemaking. How often are libraries collaborating with planning organizations or hiring planning professionals to support further outreach and engagement of the community?

12:22:21          From Jen Seper: Hello from Nanaimo. VIRL

12:22:23          From Robin Hawker: These community-building initiatives are so important. So much cross-over into the field of community planning and placemaking. How often are libraries collaborating with planning organizations or hiring planning professionals to support further outreach and engagement of the community?

12:22:26          From Canadian Urban Institute: For new joiners, just a reminder to change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Everyone wants to see your comments!

12:22:27          From Krista Whaley to All panelists: great to hear that Halifax is answering phones from home, both helping and connecting!

12:22:41          From Danielle Dungey: @Todd: A VERY small number of staff are going in the prepare the packs. We are still allowed in our buildings in Halifax (though the vast majority of staff are currently working from home).

12:22:49          From Dan Trivett to All panelists: Mississauga Library is printing frames for face shields on our 3D printers. We have grouped 8 printers at one branch. The frames are then sent to our local vendor, shop3d, to be finished and sent to area hospitals.

12:23:07          From Julia Mayo to All panelists: I love the “Call a friend” idea. many older people are not technologically adept.

12:23:19          From Laura Beswick: Hello from Laura; IslandLink Library Federation

12:23:29          From Janet Benedict to All panelists: jenny Benedict here. thank you all for sharing!

12:23:31          From Andrea Lam: When calling patrons from home, are people calling from blocked numbers?

12:23:42          From Krista Whaley to All panelists: Hamilton: Checking with patrons, brilliant!

12:23:50          From Andrea Lam: *for protection of privacy?

12:24:15          From Jason Manayathu: QUESTION: What can we do right now to prepare for opening – What changes are you planning to implement in a post-covid world? (e.g. physical/structural changes to support physical distancing? Planning for virtual options to programming? Disinfecting heavily circulated books/items?, etc ..)

12:24:45          From Cathy Fitzsimmons: Hello from Ajax PL in Ontario

12:24:45          From Denise Besic to All panelists: @Andrea Lam Yes staff are calling from blocked numbers

12:24:59          From Joanne Yellapa: Hi Cathy:-)

12:25:36          From Todd Kyle: Our staff are encouraged to block their numbers when calling patrons (#31# before number on a cellphone; *69 on a landline). But we are only calling at this point if someone leaves a message-we are checking our main mailbox frequently

12:25:38          From Cathy Fitzsimmons: Hi Joanne:)

12:25:41          From Timothy Stewart to All panelists: Question: Is anyone else doing or planning something similar to my previous library in North Vancouver who is using youtube for story times and other presentations?

12:25:43          From Marisa Purdy to All panelists: From Hamilton Public Library!

12:25:45          From ravil veli: Greeting North Bay Public Library, R. Veli

12:25:55          From Agnes at Hanover: @Jason some help here with planning

12:26:01          From Lauren Flattery: Hello from Pickering ON

12:26:10          From Meghan HOllett: @DANIELLE: thanks so much for this info re snack & activity packs. It sounds like a really smart offering

12:26:16          From Wendy Newman: Excellent piece from David Lankes yesterday on the full challenge ahead for librarianship:

12:26:16          From Michael Clark to All panelists: Greetings from Library Services Centre in Kitchener

12:26:35          From Mary Cavanagh: Question: If this (heaven forbid) crisis occurred again – would it be possible to have more of your library staff able to be put to meaningful work instead of being laid off? Were layotts related to not enough of the right kind of expertise or simply an immediate $ decision

12:26:47          From Robert Godfrey: In many places, libraries as physical spaces have been under threat from austerity-minded politicians who insist that in the 21st century libraries should just be online spaces and knowledge repositories. Is anyone concerned that the impressive pivot to virtual services we have seen reinforces this argument? That there could be a backlash against supporting libraries as vital physical social infrastructure?

12:27:11          From Todd Kyle: In Ontario the guidelines do not allow us to be in our buildings except for building checks, retrieving essential items, facilitating IT

12:27:31          From Graham Singh: Here is a diagram of one of our key church sites right in the heart of the KW area we’re discussing now. The question we’re hoping to add to this discussion = how in this time of radical rethinking of social purpose real estate, can we connect library + heritage + places of faith narratives

12:27:33          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists: YC SSC: adding that we’re working with so many seniors – potential volunteers here to help ..

12:27:37          From Graham Singh:

12:28:37          From Julie McKenna: @Robert Godfrey – a very good question.

12:28:46          From Lisa Hunt: @Andrea – Yes we at HPL have been given info on how to block our numbers when calling customers, with either *67 on a landline or by changing the settings on our cell phones.

12:29:28          From Agnes at Hanover: @Robert – see what happens when we re-open – track that response!

12:29:36          From Kiirstin Maki: As a patron of Kitchener PL I miss my library… as a librarian in Wellington County Library I miss my patrons. Online will never replace in-person connections, but we have to do what we can with the digital stuff so that we’re still standing and vital when we have a chance to get back into our branches.

12:30:23          From Feather Maracle to All panelists: Hello from Six Nations Public Library (Canada’s largest and oldest First Nation public library)

12:30:46          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey

12:31:03          From Brittney Smith to All panelists: I found this really great summary from a Idaho library worker that broke down a phased reopening processing with many options for what reopening might look like

12:31:03          From Michelle Splitter: Hi from Richmond Hill Public Library

12:31:37          From Helena Merriam: Libraries as place is so important. One of the last remaining free, open places for people

12:31:53          From Ben Shaw: Digital divide is also a huge issue.

12:31:54          From Rebecca Burbank to All panelists: @Asa, the digital is not fully accessible comment is so important!

12:31:58          From Pam McKenzie to All panelists: I’m in the middle of a research project on how we talk about these different conceptions of the public library (e.g., place, resource, relationship builder)

12:32:13          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please change your chat settings to “All panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Thank you!

12:32:14          From Steve Krysak: If anything, this has shown the increased need for physical library spaces. Removing these spaces from our community has highlighted how much they provide to the community. We should be looking at how digital can compliment and amplify a libraries presence and impact, not replace it.

12:32:24          From Jan Moffett: How do we reach out to parents of young children when the libraries open? There will be real fears of checking out books and other items as well of using our populated spaces.

12:32:40          From Julia Mayo: Libraries are one of the last places where there is no expectation that you must purchase something to be there,

12:33:03          From Pam McKenzie to All panelists: If you’re interested in participating I’m looking for Ontario library folk (staff and users) to pariticipate in research ranking and categorizeing a set of 30 statements about the value of public libraries.

12:33:16          From Jo Dias: book lockers

12:33:28          From Dylan Thiessen: A quote that has stuck with me is by the late author and academic librarian Marylaine Block. I may be paraphrasing a bit, but essentially, “Librarians have often billed the library as the information place, but as that becomes the internet for more and more people, librarians have begun focusing on the last part of that formulation: place.” If there’s one thing I learned in my research referenced earlier in the chat, it’s the degree to which library managers are putting intentional effort into creating programs aimed at increasing quality of life. Thank you for the work you do 

12:33:46          From Boris Cibic to All panelists: I think to echo the speaker from Hamilton, in the aftermath we are going to be facing massive austerity from different levels of government

12:33:52          From Helena Merriam: Awesome, Dylan!

12:33:52          From Timothy Stewart to All panelists: Digital issue is huge, but I remember a story from a library prof saying a UBC head librarian got sidelined by the Medical faculty for going too far into digital a few years ago

12:34:05          From Aidan Meegan to All panelists: Interesting article from the states on plans for phased reopening:

12:34:06          From Meghan HOllett: Even listening to all of your guest speakers, there’s clearly a lot of caregivers in the library system. I hope & wonder if folks outside of this webinar realize this

12:34:12          From Cyndi Bo to All panelists: Hello from Toronto !

12:35:06          From Pam McKenzie: I’m in the middle of a research project on how we talk about these different conceptions of the public library (e.g., place, resource, relationship builder). I’m still looking for Ontario library folk (staff and users) to participate: research ranking and categorizeing a set of 30 statements about the value of public libraries.

12:35:21          From Ben Shaw: Online chat helps, but I find the most effective virtual reference is when we have a call. The human contact is so important.

12:35:49          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey

12:36:09          From Jan Moffett: Any kind of written chat is a problem for patrons who struggle with literacy.

12:36:20          From Helena Merriam: Good point Jan

12:36:20          From Ben Shaw: agreed.

12:36:35          From Julie Andrews: Lincoln PL is partnering with the Town Economic Development Department to contact local businesses with information about available government subsidies – phone calls are being completed by staff

12:37:08          From Nick Otto: The TPL has been having considerable success with the food distribution.

12:37:33          From Timothy Stewart to All panelists: Also does any one have a plan in place around meeting rooms and public computers for reopening or are they just going to be shut off?

12:38:07          From diana rothbauer: Food Banks is a large component of TPL during this difficult time

12:39:30          From Anicia Rogel to All panelists: Kudos to TPL staff volunteers helping food banks

12:39:40          From Shelagh paterson: Some tracking of what is happening across the country:

12:39:50          From Shelagh paterson:

12:40:16          From Lee Losell: not all layoffs are on that list

12:40:26          From Lee Losell: eg. VIRL

12:40:34          From Helena Merriam: Lee, they encourage you to supply additional info

12:40:36          From Anna Swanson: Can people speak more about wifi lending – hotspots or home wifi lending? Is there any concern about people gathering?

12:40:37          From Shelagh paterson:

12:40:44          From Krista Whaley to All panelists: Many people in urban centres use library wifi and don’t get it at home. They now have no connection.

12:40:51          From Meghan HOllett: Point made earlier re: tax payers vs. those who libraries serve was really great!

12:41:02          From Meghan HOllett: Libraries don’t necessarily know boarders

12:41:06          From Asa Kachan to All panelists: We left wifi on at all our locations!

12:41:13          From Jennifer Green: One of the comments I’ve been seeing a lot of, especially in States, is that libraries need to consider their staff in addition to their customers. Lots of US libraries have been doing curbside service, but staff advocates have been against it. How can we provide services that won’t put your staff at risk?

12:41:18          From Asa Kachan to All panelists: It spills into the neighbourhoods

12:41:18          From Helena Merriam: Yes!! Tech fatigue!!

12:41:19          From Brian Owen: Has anyone explored voice technology – voice speakers such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc. in their tech. infrastructure? Pls. email me at –

12:41:49          From Brian Owen: Or if you are looking into it as well.

12:42:17          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff to All panelists: ASA – please change your chat setting to ALL participants if you want everyone to see your message

12:42:52          From Asa Kachan: We left wifi on in all our branches. It spills into neighbourhoods for those who don’t have it at home.

12:43:10          From Jan Moffett: @Jennifer Yes! How is staff protected in this time? How do we ensure we are not spreading COVID when we don’t know how long to quarantine the physical objects we circulate?

12:43:23          From Julia Mayo: Same here in terms of WiFi

12:43:24          From Krista Whaley to All panelists: ah, ours only works in the parking lot

12:43:24          From Franc D’Ambrosio to All panelists: Libraries are an integral part of the commons. Spatially they form part of the ‘public square’ of urban centres. How will (or should) the experience of this pandemic inform the locating and design of libraries in cities?

12:43:53          From Mary Cavanagh: Question for reflection: should feds find a way to deliver funding directly to public libraries for the broadband access in ongoing commitment? Could be a legislative push?

12:44:08          From Julie McKenna: @Asa – as have we (left the wifi on) and in addition evaluated the broadcast reach. All parking lots and outdoor spaces have 60%+ level coverage.

12:44:15          From Susan Grant to All panelists: We moved our wifi spots closer to the windows in our branches so they have a wider spread outside of the building.

12:44:50          From Catherine Lavallee-Welch: Asa and Julie, thank you to your libraries for doing that

12:44:52          From Todd Kyle: Mary, this is something CFLA will be looking at-what can we ask the federal government for in terms of securing online access?

12:45:32          From Todd Kyle: Julie, we’ve left our wifi on but the coverage is poor. To increase it we’d have to have staff or a contractor reposition the access points–something we can’t go into the building to do

12:46:03          From Susan Grant: We moved our wifi spots closer to the windows in our branches so they have a wider spread outside of the building.

12:46:05          From Mary Cavanagh: Todd – I am contributing to a policy convo / poll next week and ICT is the big question

12:46:26          From Angela Tse: Question: What are your library systems doing to recall or bring their staff back?

12:46:34          From Julia Mayo: We have seen an upsurge in mental health issues as well. staff feel unprepared.

12:46:43          From Brittney Smith: I found this really great summary from a Idaho library worker that broke down a phased reopening processing with many options for what reopening might look like

12:46:59          From Amy Norris: Is universal broadband required or is it worth looking at access and cost of mobile data within Canada? It is much more affordable to get unlimited data plans in the USA, which for a lot of people can serve as their access point.

12:47:05          From Julie McKenna: @Mary Cavanagh – can we talk? There are some potential Information and Technology policy issues (federal) that we could be pressing forward.

12:47:07          From James McCallan: Eric Klinenberg’s “Palaces for the People” is such a terrific read; for those in Toronto, there’s a digital copy circulating on the Libby app via TPL (Toronto Public Library).

12:47:14          From Agnes at Hanover: @Todd – even on Ont going in to provide tech support is allowed – so go move your acccess points!

12:47:32          From Mary Cavanagh: @juliemckenna – yes, sure. Send me an email.

12:47:45          From Nick Otto: @Paul Takala Having just recently started at the TPL I was taken aback by just how much of role the library plays as a social service. It seems to me that our libraries are playing a crucial role in providing social services that are not being delivered. To your point there’s a significant underinvestment in our social infrastructure and libraries are becoming the social service of last resort.

12:47:53          From Todd Kyle: Agnes, it could involve several people and a contractor. I’m concerned about the risk.

12:48:19          From Mary Cavanagh: Comment – I hope the chat thread will be archived and made available post session. Lots and lots of good stuff here.

12:48:20          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey

12:48:48          From Helena Merriam: Yes, Mary, Mary Rowe mentioned the chat would be kept in the recording of this webinar

12:48:48          From Boris Cibic to All panelists: Thinking about the future, perhaps, we have to think of levies for social infrastructure.

12:49:09          From Mary Cavanagh: @Helena – thanks – I came in late!

12:49:13          From Julie McKenna: @Amy Norris – yes and it isn’t so bizarre as business people think. As we move to demand for 4G as a standard and 5G emerging, the lower bands are NOT being used and sold for service. Why should they be “archived”? Open them up as Canada-wide free networks to anyone with a device.

12:49:16          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: Yes – the chat and the resources identified will be archived with the recorded video at CANURB.ORG/citywatch

12:49:19          From Boris Cibic to All panelists: akin to a luxury tax

12:49:19          From Agnes at Hanover: Todd- plan it so they are not in the same space at the same time? Wiring – move unit – connect IT?

12:49:25          From Irena Kohn:

12:50:01          From Todd Kyle: Will think about it Agnes. Points would have to be moved and wiring installed.

12:50:08          From Irena Kohn:

12:50:38          From Mike Brown: ALA has some thoughts on quarantining library materials. Three days seems to be the common idea at the moment.

12:50:40          From Boris Cibic to All panelists: combined with a consolidation of many civil society agencies

12:50:41          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff:

12:51:21          From Pamela Robinson: The TPL has shared its 3D printers with hospital researchers to make PPE:

12:51:56          From Julie McKenna: @Sue Hallatt – Citywatch or CityTalk?

12:52:37          From Katie Saunders to All panelists: I’d like to hear Asa’s comments on this

12:52:38          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Yes – the chat and the resources identified will be archived with the recorded video at

12:52:43          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: oops! posted at CANURB.ORG/CityTALK

12:52:47          From Jennifer Green: Here are a couple other articles on sanitizing collections:

12:53:22          From Lee Losell: empathy is the answer

12:53:31          From Feather Maracle to All panelists: @Jennifer Green – the link doesn’t work

12:53:34          From Jan Moffett: @jennifer Thank you! That’s helpful.

12:53:40          From Julie McKenna: IMLS provides some good advisory on sanitizing and safety for the quarantine of various type of material:

12:53:41          From Julie McKenna:

12:53:51          From Jennifer Green: @Jan You’re welcome!

12:53:53          From Julia Mayo: @Lee absolutely

12:54:15          From Ben Shaw: This is a great article by Robin Mazumder who looks at the neuroscience of public space.

12:54:18          From Lee Losell:

12:54:23          From Jennifer McCready: Do other panelists have a planned date (or hoped for date) for reopening? Is any system that far along?

12:54:39          From Kiirstin Maki: @Lee Ryan Dowd’s training was extremely excellent yes. For urban and rural. Highly recommended.

12:55:01          From Julie McKenna: @Sue H – thanks!

12:55:02          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: @Feather –

12:55:12          From Shelagh paterson: Ontario is conducting a poverty reduction strategy consultation. Libraries are encouraged to respond. OLA will post a provincial response shortly:

12:55:17          From Meghan HOllett: Is there an overall strategy (maybe it’s individual for each library?) to hire folks who work at the library from diverse pools? I appreciate Mary Rowe’s Q re. how does your library reflect those who use it?

12:55:18          From Shelagh paterson:

12:55:36          From Meghan HOllett: Certainly not everybody who works at our local libraries in St. John’s have a degree in library science

12:56:04          From Michael Burris: I am hopeful seeing recognition of the stress staff are under, and a focus on their mental wellness and resiliency

12:56:07          From Peter Bailey: On libraries as essential services. We pushed this point for years through our associations but when the crisis hit we folded our tent and went home. Literally. I don’t see our associations pushing back on this, rather broad agreement that libraries are not essential.

12:56:35          From Julia Mayo: @Kristin I really loved his book. Share   CDN$ 74.55 List Price: CDN$ 79.55 You Save: CDN$ 5.00 (6%) & FREE Shipping. Details In Stock. Ships from and sold by Quantity: Try Amazon Prime and start saving today with free delivery on millions of items Add to Cart Buy Now Get it Wednesday, May 6 Deliver to Julia – Pouch Cove A0A 3L0‌ Add to Wish List Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon  See all 2 images The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone Paperback – Jan. 15 2018

12:57:01          From Julia Mayo: oops

12:57:10          From Meghan HOllett: A Librarian At Every Table – I guess this is what Maureen is referring to:

12:57:11          From Graham Singh: Good reminder to fix democracy in churches (challenge accepted!!)

12:57:14          From Ryan Walker: Thank you for an engaging session that allowed me (an urban planning professor) and my wife, Saache Heinrich, a Programming Librarian at Saskatoon Public Library, something to think about together. Very proud of our libraries in Canada.

12:57:18          From Anicia Rogel to All panelists: Thank you all panelist for sharing an excellent webinar. can we get a copy of what transpired today’s conversation

12:57:19          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey

12:58:01          From Helena Merriam: Thank you, very interesting talk!

12:58:16          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: the video will be posted in a few hours and the transcript, a summary and the saved chat will be posted in a few days at

12:58:16          From Ben Shaw: Thank you all! this has been great!

12:58:39          From Julia Mayo to All panelists: Wonderful connection. Thank you.

12:58:40          From Andy Finnen: Thank you everyone. Be safe. 🥰

12:58:40          From Emily McLaughlin: Thanks all.

12:58:42          From Meghan HOllett: “You are the builders of town squares” – nice image, Mary Rowe.

12:58:43          From Feather Maracle to All panelists: Thank you to all the panelists – very inspiring!

12:58:46          From Laura Heller to All panelists: There still is a vestige of a an innovative program functioning – Library Settlement Partnerships – which provides a partnership model to support diversity in the total cohort of service providers in public libraries. There are many lessons learned and also the option to expand it.

12:59:14          From Canadian Urban Institute: the chat will stay open after the webinar if you’d like to post resources or continue the conversation.

12:59:17          From Janet Eastwood: Thank you all – excellent talk.

12:59:23          From Sarah T: Thank you to all the panelists and to CUI for organizing. This is very inspiring!

12:59:36          From Ylana Luigi to All panelists: thank you so much for share all your ideas and experience!

12:59:36          From Meg Forestell-Page to All panelists: thanks all! wonderful webinar

12:59:53          From Victoria Linca: Thank you everyone – stay positive and safe

12:59:58          From Jason Manayathu: Thank you all – great discussion

13:00:01          From Julie Carter: Thank you panelists. Very interesting session!

13:00:19          From Rachael Bennett: Very informative- thanks everyone!

13:00:21          From Boris Cibic to All panelists: Thanks for all panelists but must go to another webinar

13:00:25          From Caitlin Ottenbreit: Thanks everyone for the open and interesting conversation!

13:00:27          From Nick Otto: Thanks to the panelists for a very interesting discussion.

13:00:27          From Mary Cavanagh: Move quickly: having boards autonomous from City, legislatively. Very important. Helps on nimble.

13:00:28          From Norman Harrison: Thank you. Very interesting discussion.

13:00:42          From Monique Roy to All panelists: Thank you everyone! great session.

13:00:45          From Lynda Reid to All panelists: Thank you everyone. This is probably the most uplifted I have felt in quite awhile. Inspiring.

13:00:47          From Melanie Sutherland: Thank you all for the great session. Many great resources to check out.

13:00:48          From Sherry Freed to All panelists: Thank you! Great session—so many good points made! Stay safe everyone!

13:00:48          From Josie Chuback to All panelists: Excellent forum and information. Thank you! Will stay connected with CUI & shared resources.

13:00:51          From Allan Kean: Thank you everyone. Great discussion.

13:00:57          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey

13:00:57          From Wendy Rodgers: Many thanks to the panelists!

13:01:04          From Amy Dawley: Thanks all! Great panel.

13:01:05          From Jen Seper: thanks for some great ideas!

13:01:08          From Koichi Ronald Shimoda: Insightful discussions and chats – thank you

13:01:10          From Lise Conde to All panelists: Listening to librarians always makes me feel more positive about the future!

13:01:10          From Meghan HOllett: thank you, re. not just urban reference

13:01:11          From Ginger Warden to All panelists: Thanks! Great discussion.

13:01:14          From Wendy Newman: Good point on boards, Mary Cavanagh!

13:01:16          From Angela Tse: Thank you.

13:01:17          From Lara B: Amazing webinar! Thank you to all the panelists!

13:01:19          From Danielle Dungey: Thank you!

13:01:19          From Jennifer Green: Thank you!

13:01:20          From Sarah Davies: Thank you so much for doing this.

13:01:21          From Carol Welch: Thanks very much – very interesting discussion! Many thanks to all the panelists!!

13:01:22          From Julie-Anne D’Aoust: Thank you all!

13:01:22          From Shannon Slater: Huge thanks! Stay healthy and safe.

13:01:23          From Christy Harper: Great discussion! Thank you!

13:01:25          From D So: Thanks for Toronto.

13:01:25          From Sharon Herbert: Would be great for that think tank to include input from small and medium libraries – different challenges and opportunities! Thank you all, very inspiring!

13:01:26          From Michael Clark to All panelists: Thank you!

13:01:26          From Leah Pohlman: Thank you all!

13:01:27          From Fareh Iqbal to All panelists: Thank you for this amazing webinar!

13:01:30          From Niki Van Vugt: Thank you very much for sharing your insights and providing positivity in these unprecedented times!

13:01:35          From Jennifer McCready: Great panel- could have been 2 hours!

13:01:37          From Cathy Simpson to All panelists: Thank you from Niagara-on-the-Lake!

13:01:41          From Meagan Gilpin: Thank you!

13:01:44          From Janna Levitt to All panelists: Thank you to all the panelists and the CUI for another fantastic and provocative session. Loved it.

13:01:57          From Carolyn Vincent: Thank you!

13:01:57          From Linda Seguin to All panelists: Thank you. very interesting. keep nimble, adaptive, emphatic from Linda in Port Alberni.

13:01:57          From Jean Ludlam: Many thanks for this everyone!

13:01:57          From Cathy Stewart-Leahey to All panelists: thank you!

13:01:58          From Susan Harrington: Thank you very much for this important conversation .

13:01:58          From Pam McKenzie: Thanks everyone, this has been so energizing!

13:02:03          From Meagan Gilpin: Yes agreed, could have been longer for sure!

13:02:05          From Robert Godfrey: Thank you all for a terrific discussion (and everything you do). Long live libraries!

13:02:07          From Alessia Barzetti to All panelists: Thank-you!

13:02:10          From Dan Trivett to All panelists: we got this! THanks all

13:02:11          From Michael Burris: Thanks all!

13:02:11          From Leandro Heck: Thanks everyone! Great insights

13:02:12          From Danielle Bettridge to All panelists: Thank you! This was great.

13:02:12          From Eugénie Fortin to All panelists: Thank you to the panel. It was very interesting!

13:02:20          From Pam Saliba: Thank you all!

13:02:27          From Ron Stadnik: Thanks for putting some hope into my day!

13:02:32          From Miriam Ticoll to All panelists: Thanks everyone!

13:02:33          From Vanessa Holm: Thank you everyone – I appreciate your ideas and positivity!

13:02:36          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey

13:02:36          From Dianne Brunelle to All panelists: Thank you!

13:02:37          From Jennifer Evans: Thank you!

13:02:38          From Julia Khodos to All panelists: Thank you!

13:02:39          From Megan Smiley: Many thanks to all of you!

13:02:39          From Naomi Roy to All panelists: Thank you!

13:02:40          From Eda Conte-Pitcher to All panelists: Thanks!

13:02:40          From Basana Dey to All panelists: Thank you very much for your discussion guys!

13:02:42          From Lynn Siu to All panelists: Thanks to all

13:02:42          From Julie McKenna: Thanks so much to all of the panelists!

13:02:42          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists: WONDERFUL PANEL – DISCUSSION. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

13:02:44          From Julia Mayo: Thanks everyone.

13:02:57          From Alan McNair: From Barrie ON: Need to support public libraries as centres for life-long learning!

13:02:58          From Krista Woltman to All panelists: Thank you/Merci; Library LOVE

13:03:00          From Nezahat Turegun to All panelists: Thank you all! Wonderful discussions.

13:03:00          From Cathy Fitzsimmons: Thank you!

13:03:00          From Sarah Chamberlain to All panelists: Thank you, from Ottawa!

13:03:08          From Lisa Mactaggart: Thank you so very much for hosting these conversations.

13:03:32          From Celia Rheault: Thanks to the panel and host – taking time to address such an important topic.

13:03:42          From Hugh Dessert to All panelists: that was an interesting discussion. most enlighten ing … and sobering

13:04:01          From Augusto Mathias to All panelists: Thank you to all participantes and panelists

13:08:19          From Canadian Urban Institute: If everyone can weigh in with final comments, we will close the chat in two minutes.

13:08:25          From Rakesh Koneru to All panelists: Thank you CUI