Saguenay, Québec
CUPE 2466

“Our libraries must be able to innovate and adapt.”

Since 2005, I’ve been part of the municipal library team in Saguenay, specifically in the Chicoutimi borough. I am a library clerk and a team leader. I studied literature and have always been a bookworm, I first went into a library when I was young and I’ve never really left.

I am also involved in my local, CUPE 2466, where I work as a secretary-archivist. My interests relate, in particular, to issues concerning schedule management and the reduction of precarious work for our members.

It is my conviction that libraries are there to meet the needs of the community. My objective and my true passion at work is to see people leave with their needs met, questions answered and a smile on their faces. That’s my greatest satisfaction.

I also believe that libraries should not remain frozen in time. I think they must evolve and diversify their services to remain relevant. It’s the only way they can survive.

Libraries offer a wide range of services that are becoming increasingly diversified. Sometimes, they are not what you’d expect, such as references for genealogical research, and loans of telescopes or tennis rackets. Our libraries even produce municipal public transit cards and complete registrations for summer camps. In short, we’ve become a multi-service centre.

Our technological assistance services have also grown substantially, particularly with the project “Le portic” which came on stream before the pandemic but has taken off in the time since. We help people navigate the digital world by offering online courses, doing troubleshooting or simply showing them how to use a computer. We sometimes help them complete government forms online or become acquainted with digital books. Many people see technological change as a threat. But, at the same time, it is a reality, and we must adapt and incorporate it into the services we provide. We must encourage digital literacy and help people feel comfortable in this new world. In the future, we’ll still have books, of course, but they won’t be the main reason why people come to the library.

I know that my current library clerk job, as it exists today, will not exist in 20 years. It will have to change, particularly by adapting to ever-evolving technology. We must innovate and not be overly fearful of change, because it’s a time of radical upheaval.

Moreover, unions have an important role to play and must remain vigilant. They must defend our rights, of course, but they must also acknowledge that libraries are changing and diversifying. Let’s be creative and roll out all kinds of services! It’s a must to ensure inclusion and buy-in from everyone and continue to meet the various needs of the communities we serve.

Libraries also play a crucial role in terms of basic social needs, a role that continues to gain importance. A municipal library is accessible to all, providing the same level of respect and services to everyone, regardless of their situation. With poverty, homelessness, addiction and mental health problems affecting communities, the need for safe and judgement-free spaces where people can obtain much needed help is growing. Increasing numbers of people living in precarity come to the library. It’s part of their living environment. And this clientele is dear to my heart.

However, not all library visitors and employees are comfortable interacting with marginalized and vulnerable people in the library.

To address these challenges, I believe our libraries must be able to innovate and adapt. For example, in the past few months, in addition to one person who provides security, outreach workers have been added to the library. This addresses the reality and the special needs of people in the downtown area. Right beside the library, some shelter resources are available for those experiencing homelessness and other challenges. We must take this into account to offer adapted and appropriate services to better live together.

There are so many reasons why I believe my trade will always have a role to play in delivering vital public services within our communities. Regardless of whatever technological or social needs arise, we’ll continue to be here to support all members of the community.