BCLTA Bulletin




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BCLTA 40+ Years Later

Last year we celebrated 40 years of BCLTA. Since then we have been looking to the future through a lens of association strength and abundance and with a focus on increasing value to the membership. We have heard from trustees, library directors, and sector partners about what is needed from BCLTA. The association has a unique role in the continued development of public libraries as equitable, accessible, inclusive, and diverse community hubs where all participate in, and benefit from, intellectual freedom, privacy, learning, and exploration.  

We know that BCLTA needs to be a smart forward-thinking professional association that brings value to the membership. This value is created through working with our partners on provincial advocacy; encouraging boards with their local advocacy work; and supporting responsive and effective public library governance with professional development and learning resources and opportunities. 

An area of membership value that we are particularly excited about is our new website which goes live in late August. For a while it will look and feel much like the current website. We are working on the structure along with new content such as Board Discussion Starters. These will be mini-packages of research, media, organizations, government initiatives, and other resources that may be used to inform or inspire board development plans and strong governance practices, or as background information for strategic discussions and planning. Starting in September, watch for ongoing updates along with an evolving corporate identity (look of, and experience with, BCLTA).

As always, if you have any questions about what your association is doing, or feedback on what we could be doing for trustees and boards, please contact the executive director (Babs) at execdir@bclta.ca.  


JULY 2018 













Your Libraries and Your Stories

Readers tell us that the “Your Libraries” section is important for making connections across the province and for inspiring or affirming their own board and library director work. If you have a story or photos that you would like to share about your board, your library, or your community, let us know by emailing Babs execdir@bclta.ca

Celebration in Invermere 


The Invermere Public Library has officially extended its open hours by 10 more hours of service each week and is now open 48 hours/week.  This milestone was celebrated during the week of June 5th, 2018 which also marks the library's 55th anniversary of public library service in the Columbia Valley. 

A milestone to be very proud of! 









At BCLTA we enjoy connecting with trustees on social media. When the #ProudTrustee shows up on Twitter it is a definite boost to our day. We asked the BCLTA Board of Directors to share a #ProudTrustee post for the Bulletin

Jerrilyn Schembr

I am a #proudtrustee.  Why?  Libraries have always had a place in my life but as an adult I began to really grasp their value and importance. 

 What  is it that gives the library such value?  The programming? The books? The quiet space?  

No!  It is the staff and more specifically, the extremely committed, passionate Tumbler Ridge Public Library staff.  

Staff at the Tumbler Ridge Public Library are thoughtful, creative and welcoming, offering young and old alike a safe, hospitable space to enjoy.  

Head librarian Paula Coutts gives staff plenty of room to be creative in their activities, out of this creative thought process have come many great programming ideas and special events. 

Without books...you can have a library of sorts. without programming, you can have a library, but without the amazing staff the library would cease to exist.

Matthew Boyd

This past month the Greater Victoria Public Library celebrated the grand opening of the sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ (Pronounced s-hweng hw-ung tongue-oo-hw) James Bay Branch. What became clear in the opening ceremony was that this branch was more than just a place to withdraw books, it is a place to share stories, histories and community. It is the "living room" of this neighbourhood, and the door is open for everyone. #ProudTrustee



Barry Avis

Indigenous Voices at Vancouver Island Regional Library

Since January, Vancouver Island Regional Library has been hosting events with Indigenous Elders at branches in every corner of our library system. To date, almost 30 Indigenous Voices events have been held on topics ranging from reconciliation to residential schools, traditional foods to drum-making classes. The response from our communities has been tremendous. In the photo provided, Cowichan Elder, Stella Johnny leads more than 80 students at the Cowichan branch through Indigenous games and activities.  

As a Trustee and as a resident of Vancouver Island, nothing could make me prouder than experiencing these powerful connections forged, and lessons learned, from Elders at our libraries.  You can find out more at virl.bc.ca/indigenous-voices.



Rhonda Sherwood 

One of the most important roles of the board is the recruitment and support of the chief librarian. Early in June, the Vancouver Public Library Board was very proud to welcome Christina de Castell as the new Chief Librarian.



Mike Gagel 


Prince George Public Library runs a Reading Buddies program that pairs young patrons with teen volunteers for an hour of reading each week.



Thanks to generous support from Prince George Ford, the Friends of the Prince George Public Library, and our donors, the library was able to purchase an outreach vehicle. Lovingly called ‘Mobi’ by our staff, this mobile library pops up at daycares, schools and community events!   PGPL Trustees in the photo include Kirk Walker, Elizabeth MacRitchie and Al Idiens. (June 16th)


Prince George Public Library’s chili recipe won by a landslide at the annual chili cook-off organized by the Prince George Community Arts Council.  Pictured at the event from left to right: PGPL trustees Mike Erickson, Elizabeth MacRitchie, MLA Shirley Bond, PGPL Trustee Mike Gagel. (June 2nd)

Prince George Public Library’s new outreach vehicle was at the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  PGPL staff members highlighted library services and programs and registered new library cardholders. (June 21st


Austin Uzama

Austin is proud of how the Surrey Libraries staff and community use the beautifully designed staircases at the Surrey Central Library. He believes that this reflects Surrey and the public library where everyone is welcome irrespective of where they come from. #proudtrustee 

Melanie Wilke 

I am continually amazed by things that happen at the Terrace Public Library.  As a Trustee though, I am most proud of the connections and partnerships between the library, our local government and our community.  A perfect example of this is the partnership between Terrace Public Library and the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine, building "Free Little Libraries" in Terrace' s rural communities.  This sharing of resources, space and energy has allowed us to meet the needs of our residents in their home communities.  A very proud moment! 











#ProudTrustee Call to Action! 

As a force of over 700, proud trustees wield influence throughout the province. We will be adding more resources to our website this summer to support your influence and advocacy work and we want to share, through the Bulletin and on the website, your stories and practical approaches and tips. 

The BCLTA Trustee Advocacy and Influence Framework  is an update to the 2015 BCLTA Advocacy Toolkit. We kept what worked and expanded the information and suggestions to encompass the idea that some of the most important work you do as trustees is influencing and supporting other community leaders to champion the value of the public library. 

Review and use the framework and let us know what you think, particularly any useful practices and resources to add. 

And remember to use the key messages that are being used by the BC public library associations (BCLA, ABCPLD and BCLTA). We have learned that consistent and shared messaging is how powerful and effective advocacy and influence builds momentum and has an impact.













Guest Spot: Libraries Branch, Ministry of Education

A message from Mari Martin, Director, Libraries Branch, Teacher Regulation, Independent Schools and Public Libraries Division, BC Ministry of Education 

Libraries Branch staff have been partnering with public libraries and organizations that support libraries across BC.  Together we’re making progress on some key projects, starting with the renewal of our strategic plan. 

Strategic Plan Refresh: The Ministry of Education through the Libraries Branch is undertaking work to refresh the provincial vision and plan for public library services for beyond 2018.  We remain committed to our library partners and are carefully considering the feedback we receive.  We’re working to ensure the provincial vision and strategic plan remains relevant and responsive to the needs of our BC’s public libraries and the people they serve.  A highlight of the spring was our participation in the the BCLTA Governance Day of Learning in May.  We have also visited a number of communities this spring: Chetwynd, Trail, Castlegar, and Rossland in conjunction with NELF and KLF federation meetings.  It was a great opportunity to see your libraries in action. Thank you for making us feel so welcome. 

For the remainder for 2018 and into 2019, we will continue to focus our efforts in four key areas.  These projects are multi-year and have been developed in large part in collaboration with our partners. 

Professional and Trustee Learning: We’re continuing to work with BCLTA as a member of the TOP Refresh/Rethink Advisory Committee.  We are cost-hosting with BCLTA a facilitated workshop that will provide content for updates to the TOP manual and hopefully reinvigorate the learning aspects of the program In addition, Libraries Branch provides ongoing support for a variety of organizations and programs throughout the year including Royal Roads University online library staff and leadership training courses (led by North East, North Central and Kootenay library federations) and the British Columbia Library Association’s BC Libraries Conference. 

The Public Library Internet Connectivity Survey and Project:  We’ve established a working group, co-led with the BC Libraries Cooperative, to explore options to improve access to affordable broadband for public libraries.  A final report, including recommendations, has been shared with the Public Library Partners Advisory Group (PLPAG) and is also under review at the Ministry of Education. The report will be shared with libraries soon.  

Digital Resources Project:   We’re exploring the possibility of having a province-wide, common collection of digital resources accessible to British Columbians through their local libraries, regardless of where they live.  A working group has been formed within the BC Libraries Cooperative (made of up of library staff) to facilitate discussion among libraries and develop a number of options to consider.

Annual Survey Review: Good governance and effective operations depend on quality information.  We’re reviewing the questions we ask public libraries in our Annual Survey, specifically the questions about libraries’ use of eResources, to ensure the data remains accurate, relevant, and informative. We’ve consulted with our library members to identify their information needs and engaged BC Libraries Cooperative to determine what statistics are available.  This summer, we’ll be testing our new survey questions through a libraries focus group. 

Working together, we can help public libraries to deliver the connected and digitally enhanced programs, services, and resources that British Columbians need now and in the future. We welcome your questions and comments!  Please reach out to us at LLB@gov.bc.ca 










BCLA Conference and Trustee Award

This year we were very pleased to be part of the BCLA conference. On May 11th, we partnered with the Association of Public Library Directors, for the full morning workshop “Talking Public Library Governance: The board and staff relationships you really want but are too busy to ask for.” That afternoon, we hosted the very dynamic and popular Alison McNeil, Chair of the Public Administration Department of Capilano University, and her presentation, “Building Effective Relationships with Local Government”. This was followed by a Q&A session with Mari Martin, Director of the Libraries Branch and Paul Squires, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Teacher Regulation, Independent Schools and Public Libraries Division at the Ministry of Education.

Attendance and the level of interest in the room for each of these sessions was outstanding and we look forward to working with our partners, BCLA and ABCPLD, on 2019 conference sessions.

BCLA generously invited BCLTA to be part of their Annual Awards Luncheon. It was a real honour for Jerrilyn, as BCLTA President, to present the BCLTA trustee awards in front of a large crowd from across the library community – what a way to showcase the work of boards and trustees!

The 2018 Award recipients are:

  • Kyla Epstein, Chair, Vancouver Public Library Board, for BCLTA Super Trustee Award
  • Smithers Public Library Board for BCLTA Super Trustee Award
  • Barry Avis, Chair, Vancouver Island Regional Library Board for BCLTA Library Advocate Award 

BCLTA 2018 Awards, (l-r) Wendy Wright (Library Director, Smithers Public Library), Jerrilyn Schembri (BCLTA President), Kyla Epstein (Vancouver Public Library, Board Chair) and Barry Avis (Vancouver Island Regional Library, Board Chair)








BCLTA May 12th Governance Forum & AGM

Nearly 80 trustees, library directors, sector partners, and guests from the Libraries Branch joined us on May 12th for a day of speakers, roundtable discussions, and connecting. Speakers included Morgane Oger on human rights and accessible and welcoming public spaces; Meharoona Ghani on inclusion, curiosity, compassion and the BC Centre for Diversity and Innovation; and Susan Koch, Richmond Public Library Board Chair, who presented an overview of board financial oversight using language and images that left the room ready to tackle their next board financial report and SOFI.

The feedback on the Forum was in general very positive about the format, content, and the ability to connect with others on issues of public library governance. And we know that we can and need to do better. BCLTA wants to raise the bar and we will be looking for your advisement, planning participation, and for more funding options so that we can increase membership attendance and strengthen the overall experience and outcomes.

The Governance Forum was full and busy!

Daphne Wood, Director of Communications & Development, Greater Victoria Public Library, energized the room with her afternoon workshop on storytelling and advocacy.

The day wrapped up with a small but lively group for the AGM. Highlights of the meeting include:

Resolution to Reinstate the Sub-vote to Support Public Libraries and the Library Sector

Appointment of the 2018/19 Board










The Trustee Orientation Program isn’t just for new trustees, it is for the whole board, including library directors and experienced trustees. Find out more about TOP in the Trustee’s Education section of the website at bclta.ca and please ask us questions. 

If you would like a TOP session in your area, click on the “Request a Training Session” link and Jan, BCLTA’s Administrative Assistant, will respond to your questions and ensure that everything is in place for a successful session. A minimum of 10 participants is required for the session to proceed. 

We also provide easy access to the TOP workbook and webinars in the Member section of the website. 

TOP Refresh / Rethink Recommendations Update

We are making our way through the recommendations proposed by the 2017 TOP Rethink / Refresh Advisory Committee for improving the development, delivery, and results of trustee orientation across BC. We have posted the Trustee Orientation Checklist recruited, and are exploring new ways to support the TOP facilitation team (Kyla Epstein, Melanie Wilke, Mike Gagel, Andy Ackerman, and Joanne Richards); and most recently we began work on renewing the TOP workbook.   

On June 20th, with support from the Libraries Branch, Open School BC met with representatives from BCLTA, the Association of BC Public Library Directors, the Library Federations, the Libraries Branch, and the TOP facilitators for a day of TOP workbook review and recommendations.

BCLTA President Jerrilyn Schembri and TOP facilitator Joanne Richards working on the TOP workbook review.


Our plan is to have a renewed TOP workbook by the end of 2018. The renewed workbook will build on the strengths of the current workbook content and will better reflect adult learning principles in the presentation of information and a more flexible delivery of trustee orientation.

June 20th TOP workbook review with (l-r) Michael Burris (InterLINK ED), Babs Kelly (BCLTA ED), Dana Bergen (Chetwynd PL, board chair), Melanie Wilke (Terrace PL board chair, TOP facilitator, BCLTA board director), Joanne Richards (TOP facilitator), Elizabeth Tracy (Whistler PL, vice-chair of ABCPLD), Deb Hutchison Koep (North Vancouver City Library, library director), Mari Martin (Libraries Branch, Director), Kyla Epstein (VPL board chair, TOP facilitator), Jerrilyn Schembri (Tumbler Ridge PL, board chair, BCLTA president) and Denise McGeachy (Libraries Branch, Library Consultant).









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