We are delighted to announce that Ardie Burnham of the Okanagan Regional Library is the winner of the 2018 BC SRC Community Story Award!
Every summer, the youth in our community rush down to the library to sign up for Summer Reading Club. It thrills us that the parents and young people of Salmon Arm see the importance of reading over the summer and are excited to do it. This year, however, was particularly moving for us.
We are all aware of the terrible wildfires that ravaged our province over the summer. Like many other communities in BC, Salmon Arm provided shelter for those who were displaced from their homes due to evacuation orders. In situations like this, a library becomes a safe place and almost a second home for those who have nowhere else to go. This summer, we also discovered that the province wide summer reading program can provide much needed consistency for displaced children.
In July, we had a family come into the library hoping to use its resources. We discovered they were one of the many families effected by raging fires near their town. They had to leave behind almost everything they owned in their rush to escape the fires. After helping the family set up an emergency library account with us, the staff then asked if the children would like to sign up for Summer Reading Club. One of the children looked at the reading record and said, “Mom! They have the same club as us! Am I allowed to get another reading record?” It turned out that these children had signed up for Summer Reading Club at their own library but left their reading record behind when forced to evacuate. We were so happy that we were able to provide the children with the Summer Reading Club materials they had to leave behind, and it warmed our hearts to know that even in the midst of chaos, these children were able to find something from home in our library.
Ardie is currently the Youth Services Librarian at the Salmon Arm Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library system (ORL). Prior to working for the ORL, she taught grade one at a private school and ran her own music studio. Ardie says she has the “best job in the world”! When she isn’t telling stories or carting her big gym bag (a.k.a her Mary Poppins bag!) to an outreach program, Ardie loves to be in motion. She can be found hiking, kayaking, biking, snowshoeing, waterskiing, rock climbing, and walking around her hometown.