One of our favorite family vacation spots is a place called Quadra Island, British Columbia. It is a lovely community nestled off the east coast of Vancouver Island, BC near the popular sailing destination of Desolation Sound.
It's also a two-ferry ride trip to get there, which, let’s be honest, is part of the allure. By the second ferry-ride, you really feel like you’re truly getting away from it all. On our most recent trip, we decided to stop in the City of Nanaimo for the afternoon after our first ferry-ride to let our 3-year-old get some wiggles out.
It turns out Nanaimo is a lot like Redding. It has a population nearly the same size and has historically relied on industries tied to the extraction of natural resources. In recent years, Nanaimo has revitalized its city centre and built a conference center and multi-story housing. As a community, they too struggle with finding solutions to homelessness as well as investing in a burgeoning tech sector and start-up community.
Right around the corner from the little cafe where we stopped for a late lunch stands the Vancouver Island Regional Library. Like the Redding Library, it is beautiful modern building with lots of windows and natural light. Inside there were many people using computers, people playing games, studying, and parents reading to their kids. The library even had room called Creativity Commons and a Make and Break Lab similar to the Redding Library’s Create It! space. Everything felt very familiar.
The thing that really stood out to me about the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library were the words on the balcony just as you walked through the double-doors that read:
Strong Libraries - Strong Communities
The Library in Nanaimo had clearly articulated the reason why I joined the Shasta Library Foundation and why I am proud to serve as the Board President. I believe that Strong Libraries and Strong Communities are interdependent, that you really can’t have one without the other.
Libraries are an important cultural center for a community, a place for community conversations and debates, and they broadcast what is important both internally to a community as well as externally to the world.
As the comedienne Paula Poundstone eloquently put it, “The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community.” This is just as true for The Shasta Public Libraries as it is for the Vancouver Regional Library in Nanaimo.
If you haven’t been to any of our three Shasta Public Libraries in a while, I invite you to come explore these wonderful community assets.
Here’s to building a Strong Library and a Strong Community!