Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The Library

Saturday afternoon, I went to the Millennium Library—the main library downtown. I’d been there several times before but this time I was going to the “Emerging Writers” session of the Manitoba Indigenous Writers’ Festival that was being chaired by the poet Joanne Arnott. I got there early and so had a chance to spend some time observing what was going on rather than heading for a specific section of the library to do some research. That’s when I realized that the lovely building with huge windows overlooking its snow-covered gardens is an important haven for people. Many were there who, I imagined, needed shelter from the cold, or just needed the company of other people. But if they wanted something else—the use of the computers to watch a film, for example,—they got courteous and helpful and non-condescending advice from the staff. I sat down in one of the very comfortable chairs that had a particularly nice view and happened to see on the table next to me the following notice:

“There’s a social worker at the library. Join me for coffee and an informal chat. Or if you know someone who could use my services—help with finding emergency shelter and housing, social assistance, employment counseling, mental health and therapy programs, health care information and more tell them to come and see me.”

How lovely and appropriate. A library that serves many needs very much like the library that I frequent, The Cornish Library. It's a library that is located in a relatively diverse neighborhood and it is visited by a multiplicity of people—some who are there to read the newspapers, get books, use the washrooms or the computers, and others, like me, who are there to get warm and to sit and read a book in the comforting presence of other human beings.

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