Developing an Inclusive BC Summer Reading Club: Working with, learning from and serving First Nations communities in Hazelton

Message from the BC Library Association Executive Director

How can the BC Summer Reading Club work with First Nations to develop an inclusive summer reading program? The BC Library Association asks this question regularly and works to answer it in collaborative and iterative ways.

Ruth Cooper and Laurette Lapalme spoke about their experiences learning from First Nations communities at the 2019 BC Library Conference. The presentation was so well received that we asked Ruth and Laurette if they would prepare a written report to share their knowledge and experiences more broadly. Ruth and Laurette agreed, and the following report documents their commitment to working with, learning from, and serving First Nations to develop an inclusive BC Summer Reading Club.

I was fortunate to work on the national “Working Together Project” and to team teach the “Community-Led Libraries” course at UBC. This work facilitated many opportunities to read articles, reports and statements on what it means for libraries to work with their communities. Ruth and Laurette’s report is the best example I have read, or heard of, demonstrating what it means to be a community-led library. It is also an essential blueprint for libraries committed to honouring Truth and Reconciliation through the work of their institutions. Ruth and Laurette’s work is inspiring and motivating.

This report was possible because of the Ministry of Education’s continued and generous support for the BC Summer Reading Club. Ministry funding lets us work to increase BC Summer Reading Club accessibility and inclusion.

It is a pleasure to present this report to the library community and an honour to have met and worked with Ruth and Laurette. —Annette DeFaveri, November 2019

The Authors

Ruth Cooper

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Ruth Cooper has been with the Hazelton District Public Library located on unceded Gitxsan territory, for over 25 years. She has been involved with every aspect of library work from watering the plants to 5 Working with, learning from, and serving First Nations communities in Hazelton serving as Acting Librarian. She currently co-ordinates the Summer Reading Clubs, takes care of the non-fi ction collection, co-ordinates the Fostering Literacy Program, and acts as the library’s community literacy liaison. Her passion is patron service in all its diversity.

Laurette Lapalme

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Laurette Lapalmebelongs to the Witsuwit’en Nation, and has worked for the Hazelton District Public Library off and on since 1988, and has been a steady part of the staff for the last four years. Part of her post-secondary education involved First Nations Library training in tandem with training to become a curator for a First Nations museum. This is of note since she had the privilege of traveling to and working with several First Nations organizations across BC. She has worked in many different fi elds but has devoted most of her life to working in the Hazelton area focusing on Culture and Tourism. She is extremely interested in adding to the energy being devoted toward Truth and Reconciliation, and in providing First Nations people a recognized and appreciated part of our local library via the promotion of our special collections.