Monday, 26 December 2016

Sunday December 25, 2016 (Published Monday December 26)

2016 has been, in many ways, a difficult year. On top of the deaths of some beloved celebrities, like David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, and Harper Lee, the world appears to be a deeply divided place The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union during the summer in a very close vote (51.9% voted in favour of leaving). And thanks to the 2016 American Presidential Election, we’re now seeing just how split their country is, with both halves fearing the other. Thanks to our modern world’s 24-hour news cycle, we’re seeing all kinds of negativity in front of our faces all day, every day. But it is often removed from us, happening “over there” or “to someone else.” In an odd twist, thanks to social media, which should be bringing people together, we’re becoming even more isolated from differing cultures and viewpoints thanks to what’s been called the social media “filter bubble;” we’re seeing information that only agrees with our world views.

With all of this going on, bringing the world together may seem like an insurmountable task. But there’s no reason why we as a city can’t strive to be more respectful and inclusive of differing cultures and beliefs. And what better place to start than with a visit to your local library? The Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) is the hub of the community, bringing different viewpoints and people together in one place.

As you might expect, TBPL has many books, both fiction and nonfiction, that can help you learn about different people, cultures, and viewpoints. Want to know about Islam? Try reading What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam by John L. Esposito. How about Mexican history? Try the novel Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry. Want to learn about what is tearing modern-day Europe apart? Try Flashpoints: the Emerging Crisis in Europe by George Friedman. Or what about modern Aboriginal culture? Try the novels Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, or Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. Want to learn about Canadian leftist politics? Try This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein. More curious about the right? Give Blue Thunder: the Truth About Conservatives from Macdonald to Harper a try. We’ve also got books like Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You, the original book on the filter bubble phenomenon if you’re interested in reading that.

But TBPL has so much more to offer than just books. The library brings a wide range of people with diverse interests together under one roof. Along with offering our in-house programs, such as puppet shows, children’s storytime, the Youth Advisory Council, book clubs, and one-on-one technology coaching, TBPL has partnered with many different organizations to make a much larger offering of programs available for you. For example, thanks to our partnership with the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW), we have writing workshops and readings in the library. Our partnership with Science North has made Northern Nature Trading possible at Mary J. L. Black. The Ontario Genealogy Society runs genealogy classes here at the library. Our partnership with Lakehead University has made the In Conversation lecture series possible at TBPL. We also have staff sitting on various community committees, helping to plan events for the city and looking at how Thunder Bay is doing holistically.

And of course, TBPL has many services that also make us a community hub, like our free to use computers, WIFI, and internet databases.

Your local library is a powerful place that connects people of all ages and backgrounds. I hope you’ll stop by and take advantage of our many free resources and programs. A visit to TBPL will help make the world a truly inclusive place.
Shauna Kosoris

No comments: