As Trustees, we all know how vital libraries are to our communities. We can convey this through hard information and statistics about how many people use our libraries, how many books they borrow and how many programs they attend. But the facts and statistics, while useful, can only go so far when it comes to the important advocacy work in which trustees engage. A story, told by a person for whom the library has had a definitive impact on their life, can bring a new dimension to advocacy.
Earlier this year, BCLTA partnered with the BC Library Association, Vancouver Public Library, Public Library Services Branch of the Provincial Government and other sponsors to help with the Beyond Words contest. The contest asked British Columbians for their stories about how a BC public library changed their life. More than 340 were submitted, and the winners read their stories on CBC Radio’s North by Northwest.
The stories are truly incredible. They came from all across BC, from people with many different backgrounds and life experiences. They convey, far more eloquently than statistics ever could, the very powerful moments when the library makes a crucial difference in a person’s life — providing a safe and welcoming refuge, bringing someone a world of ideas and knowledge, nurturing new skills and confidence, or opening new doors and opportunities. They also tell, time and again, of the lifelong relationships people have with their libraries.
The stories are available online at www.beyondwords.ca. You might not have time to look at all 346 — but the winners and short-listed entries make for riveting reading. You can also search by “city” to see if there were stories submitted about your own library. Copies of the Beyond Words book were also sent to every library in the province and a limited number of additional copies are available through BCLTA.
Any of the stories can be excerpted and/or reprinted— in newsletters, reports to government, requests to private donors or sponsors, in media interviews, etc. (Permission for the contest sponsors to use the stories was granted by all those who made a submission.)