Across Canada, October is celebrated as Library Month to recognize the dedication and hard work of library workers and to emphasize the important role libraries play in education, research and literacy in our communities.

This year to celebrate library month CUPE BC will be featuring several of our library workers from various sectors and regions of the province each week so you can learn a little bit more about them and their passion for the important services they provide.

CUPE represents more than 4,500 members who work in academic, public and school libraries throughout BC and provide vital services in our schools, communities and college and university campuses each and every day. CUPE represents a wide range of library workers including librarians, library technicians, clerical workers, pagers/shelvers, graphics technicians, disability services workers, IT workers, building service workers, and drivers.

“Libraries are the heartbeats of our communities and institutions. CUPE members provide a wide range of services and with an ever-changing world library workers are continuously being asked to provide new services. Everything from helping graduate students navigate complicated databases, to cataloguing indigenous materials, to teaching seniors how to use social media, to assisting newcomers to settle in their communities to running reading clubs for kids,” says CUPE General Vice-President and Library Committee Chair Karen Ranalletta. “Library work is as diverse as our members are and there’s no question that the contribution CUPE members make to their communities is invaluable.”

This year the CUPE BC Library Committee has been working on a number of projects.  Earlier this year the committee released a report on health and safety in libraries which highlights the challenging working conditions library workers face, and the committee has also updated the progressive adults, kids and film lists for locals to use as resources.

“The committee has really focused on encouraging locals to affiliate to the BC Library Association (BCLA) and we are happy to report that this year we had the biggest turnout ever of CUPE members at BCLA’s annual conference. It is really important for CUPE members to be part of the broader library community and we are so pleased to see CUPE members engaging with the BCLA,” notes Ranalletta.

CUPE National is also celebrating Library Month – they are inviting all locals representing library workers to participate in a visibility campaign. You can find more information on their campaign here.

Name: Denise Parks
Local: 402-02
Employer: Surrey Public Library

How long have you worked at the library? Member since 1995.

Job Title: Currently 13 years as the Circulation Supervisor. (Previously two years as a regular part time circulation assistant, six years as a casual circulation assistant.)

Tell us about the work you do or an innovative service or program you support:

While many businesses and service counters are promoting ‘do it yourself’ transactions, Surrey libraries continue to have fully staffed Circulation counters to assist patrons with borrowing/returning items, settling accounts, making requests and always with a cheery greeting and welcoming smile for everyone in our community.

What does being a CUPE member mean to you?

Working with a team of activists that continually strives to improve the working condition for all workers, not just our members. Knowing that I have a voice that will be heard.

Name: Inder Pannu
Local: 391
Employer:  Vancouver Public Library

How long have you worked at the library? 23 years.

Job Title: Supervisor.

Tell us about the work you do or an innovative service or program you support:

One of Vancouver Public Library’s most innovative programs is the aboriginal storyteller in residence.

The aboriginal storyteller in residence involves promoting storytelling as a way of sharing culture and building memory.

The aboriginal storyteller in residence provides a valuable link between the library and aboriginal communities as a way to honour aboriginal culture and traditions, and connect storytellers and listeners. For both aboriginal and non-aboriginal participants, this promotes intercultural understanding and communication.

Created in 2008, Vancouver Public Library’s aboriginal storyteller in residence program was the first program of its kind at a BC public library and the second at a Canadian public library.

What does being a CUPE member mean to you?

Being a CUPE member means that I am part of the community and the communities that surround me. 

Name: Kelly Davison
Local: CUPE 2254
Employer: Grand Forks & District Public Library

How long have you worked at the library?  4 years on the job (as of October 2nd).

Job Title: Circulation services library assistant.

Tell us about the work you do or an innovative service or program you support:

Our library is fine free for late items which helps reduce barriers for low income patrons in our community. I enjoy working in a library that is inclusive in this way.

What does being a CUPE member mean to you?

Being an active member of CUPE has allowed me to learn about workers’ rights, meet many other people interested in improving work environments and realize the concerns we share. CUPE has empowered me with tools to help myself, coworkers and any worker (unionized or not) make more informed decisions. I will always be grateful for the dedicated members who keep CUPE strong.