When I first arrived in this city a decade ago one of my first stops was the library. I have been a library patron since I was old enough to hold a book, you see. Reading has always been a favourite activity in my family, and when I was growing up I visited my local library in Saskatoon weekly. I was the kid with the book bag overflowing with books, taking out as many as I was allowed, and always wishing I could take out more. As I grew into my teenage years I served on library youth advisory committees, and as I became an adult libraries became even more important to me. I remember when I first moved to Toronto, a prairie girl in the Big Smoke, and how I was so pleased to find a branch library just blocks from my little studio apartment. As long as I knew where the library was I felt like I was home. The library was always my anchor, because it held the books I so loved. It was like finding a treasure, winning a lottery, to find a treasure trove of books free to borrow. I read through good times and bad, through struggles and success. I was never alone if I had a book with me, you see.
The Intrepid Junior Blogger has been a library fan since early on, too. When she was much smaller we would visit the library when it was still on Franklin Avenue, just to get out of the house for a bit. She would find books and play on the computer and we would sit and read books together. We would walk out with stacks of books for each of us, enough to keep us going for another week. The library has always been fairly central to our lives.
Libraries have had to change as time has gone on. They have had to embrace the concept of websites and ebooks, lending movies and music, and finding ways to engage the community. And in my opinion no one has done this better than our own library right here in Fort McMurray.
I've gone to many events hosted by our library from Frosty Frolics to Team Trivia. I've always been delighted with how they reach out to the community, a community that warmly embraces them. I think they have been incredibly successful at becoming an integral part of this community. They have become the treasure trove a library should be. They have become an anchor for the community. And that is why I am so deeply proud to have been asked to participate in Fort McMurray Reads. It is a small chance to be a part of the library community that I have loved since I was a very small child, barely able to turn a page. It is a chance to share my love of a good book, of the written word and the places it can take you. It is my chance to celebrate an anchor of our community.
So, people, Saturday night from 6-9 pm I will be at MacDonald Island Park with some other community representatives and we will each champion our book. I have some good competition, too, with people like my buddies at the YMMPodcast on board, and others from this city that I respect and admire. I have started a little Twitter trash talk, too, but all in good fun as I think every single one of us is simply delighted to participate in this event. And people - you are invited too. I would be thrilled if you came out to join us, to see us share our love of books - and libraries - with you. Win or lose it's bound to be a helluva good time - although one should keep in mind I play to win, and if I do win I plan to celebrate by buying new shoes, so I have a clear incentive (that's a warning to my competitors, in case you missed it). Win or lose, though, new shoes or not - I'll be there with a grin because it's all about books and words and authors and libraries, and those are the things that make my heart sing.