One of our challenges at the Courtenay Branch is responding to disadvantaged and homeless people and those with mental health issues or addictions. Many of these people don’t have anywhere else but the library to go to during the day. It’s finding that fine line between a public place that everyone’s entitled to and obeying the library rules. Some of them may have been out in the cold all night and not gotten a good night’s sleep. But at the same time you can’t use the library as a flophouse. My immediate manager is really great – she’s proactive and engaged, and hosts the Comox Valley Homeless Association at the library. We’ve had some training but we need to learn how to engage with someone who clearly has mental health issues, when we need to call the police. It’s about that fine line.
For me libraries are so much more beyond just books. It’s the information and providing free universal access to information. It’s working in a community space, a public space or commons. I love that aspect and interacting with the public. I also have a degree in history and really enjoy the little bit of reference I get to do. I take a lot of pride in the work I do.