Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Q&A with Linda Lacroix, CEO and head librarian at the Lake of Bays Library in Baysville, ON

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Q&A with Linda Lacroix, CEO and head librarian at the Lake of Bays Library in Baysville, ON

Coordinates: 45.3000° N, 79.0000° W

“Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this mission. No committee decides who may enter, no crisis of body or spirit must accompany the entrant. No tuition is charged, no oath sworn, no visa demanded. Of the monuments humans build for themselves, very few say "touch me, use me, my hush is not indifference, my space is not barrier. If I inspire awe, it is because I am in awe of you and the possibilities that dwell in you.”” Toni Morrison

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Q&A with Linda Lacroix, CEO and head librarian at the Lake of Bays Library in Baysville, ON

Sandra Ridley: What path led you to being a librarian in Baysville?

Linda Lacroix: I have always had a love of books, an addiction really. I spent much of my childhood hanging out in the dressing room basement of our old arena where our tiny library was located. I became very good friends with the librarian, often going on bus trips with her. When my children were small I was constantly at the library which had upgraded to fit in half of the Baysville Seniors Centre. One day the librarian at that time offered me a job filling in for her on Saturdays while she worked at the bigger library in Bracebridge. The rest is history.

SR: How do you feel a library like Bayville’s contributes to its small local community and surrounding populations?

LL: All libraries are vital and important to their communities, however small libraries in rural areas are the lifeline to their communities and Baysville is no different. Our library truly is the hub of the community, a place to connect with people young and old. We are the welcome wagon, the referral agency, the tourist information centre, the visiting centre just to mention a few. Some folks have commented we are the only contact they have with another human being during the long winter months. We are free, we are fun and we are full of information.

SR: How do you curate your collection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry?

LL: Library Services Centre has a wonderful team that puts together best seller and solid seller lists 3 times a year. We also watch the best seller lists in the newspapers and magazines but honestly our patrons are our best source. They are always reading or listening to reviews from the Globe and Mail, MacLean’s, CBC and others. They keep us pretty up to date and we do try to purchase all their recommendations if funds permit. They haven’t steered us wrong yet.

SR: Do you host book clubs, workshops, and/or author readings? If so, can you tell us about them?

LL: Our library prizes itself on programming of all kinds. We have a fantastic local writer’s group that meets monthly to critique and encourage each other. From time to time they entertain us with evenings of amazing readings. Our thriving book club also meets monthly. We’ve done some pretty amazing sessions. It all started one summer when we were discussing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. The presenter baked an actual potato peel pie. Well that set the tone and we were off to the circus so to speak with Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. The room was completely decorated to look like a circus tent complete with lights, food and costumes. Not to be outdone the following presenter created a play around Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Oh the laughs we had with that one. Last but not least was a Victorian tea party with bouquets of flowers to celebrate The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is just a sample of the many wonderful meetings we’ve had over the years.

SR: Do you have strategies for connecting readers with recently published Canadian work?

LL: We are always proud to feature Canadian authors. From time to time we prepare a Canadian author display. We try our best to purchase a good selection of Canadian material and support works by local authors. We are finding more and more local authors are coming forward. Just this morning our book club decided we should work our way though CBC’s 100 best Canadian books. They also decided to have a month where each person would read a different Canadian author. So we do try to promote and support whenever we can.

SR: What pleasures and/or challenges do you find in your work?

LL: I’ve been in my job since 1989 and for the most part I’ve loved every day. My patrons have become my family. I’ve seen lots of change over the years. When I started we had one old 386 computer with an Internet connection so slow you could knit a sweater waiting to go anywhere. Now technology is at the forefront. Our library has grown into a vibrant, active space, offering so many different services. As with any job there are challenges but all in all I have a pretty sweet job. I have wonderful patrons, a great supportive library board and great staff. I work in a beautiful environment surrounded by stacks and stacks of books to feed my addiction. What more could I ask for?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Sandra Ridley

Sandra Ridley’s first full-length collection of poetry, Fallout, won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for publishing, the Alfred G. Bailey prize, and was a finalist for the Ottawa Book Award. Her second book, Post-Apothecary, was short-listed for the 2012 ReLit and Archibald Lampman Awards. Also in 2012, Ridley won the international festival Of Authors’ Battle of the Bards and was featured in The University of Toronto’s Influency Salon. Twice a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for innovative poetry, Ridley is the author of two chapbooks: Rest Cure, and Lift, for which she was co-recipient of the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Her latest book is The Counting House (BookThug 2013). She lives in Ottawa.

You can contact Sandra throughout the month of September with questions and comments at writer@openbooktoronto.com.

Go to Sandra Ridley’s Author Page