Each year, the British Columbia Library Association invites the library community, partners, and stakeholders to nominate individuals and organizations for awards recognizing outstanding work in libraries throughout BC. In an ongoing effort to fully articulate how the work of libraries reflects the values of our communities and of the library sector, the BCLA Board re-imagined the Association’s awards in 2017. The winners of the new BCLA awards were announced in April at the 2017 BC Library Conference.
BCLA Eureka Award | Arca Collaborative Digital Repository / Vancouver Public Library’s Inspiration Lab
The BCLA Eureka Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have created an innovative approach to address a barrier, solve a problem, provide a powerful new insight, or introduce an original idea in the library world. The Eureka award’s inaugural recipients, the Arca Collaborative Digital Repository and the Vancouver Public Library’s Inspiration Lab, are excellent examples of work that transcends the expected and achieves excellence.
The Inspiration Lab opened at Vancouver Public Library’s (VPL) Central Branch in May 2015 and helps combat the barriers of the ‘digital divide’ by providing patrons with free access to and instruction on high-performance computers, analog-to-digital conversion, sound studios, and self-publishing and editing software. Conceived as a hub for content creators to access new technologies for sharing their work, VPL’s Inspiration Lab serves as a valuable resource for everyone from local storytellers and writers to artists and musicians. In one instance, a local woman digitized and added audio narration to a scrapbook she had made for her granddaughter, who could not otherwise read the longhand cursive interspersed throughout the pages. In another, a local musician who has long played guitar and pan flute outside local SkyTrain stations was finally able to record an album to sell to fans.
The Arca Collaborative Digital Repository provides a province-wide network of repositories for post-secondary institutions to host digital objects such as photographs and newspaper archives. Launched in October 2015 as a partnership between the BC Electronic Library Network (BC ELN) and Prince Edward Island-based software firm discoverygarden, the repository supports institutional management of open-source digital content, increases access to faculty and student research, and promotes British Columbia as a hub for knowledge creation. As one community nominator put it, ‘’Arca demonstrates the power of collaboration; libraries have joined together to achieve a common goal – opening BC’s digital treasures to the world – and we all reap the rewards as a result.’’
BCLA Champion of Intellectual Freedom Award | OpenMedia
Intellectual freedom is a major tenet of librarianship. This includes the right to seek, receive, hold, and disseminate information from all points of view. As such, the BCLA Champion of Intellectual Freedom Award is intended to recognize an individual or organization demonstrating significant advancement of this value in the public realm for the benefit of British Columbians. The BC-based non-profit OpenMedia has demonstrated such support by mounting effective public campaigns promoting an open Internet and fighting barriers to online access, free expression, and privacy.
OpenMedia’s crowdsourcing efforts represent significant endeavors in the ongoing fight for intellectual freedom in the province: The organization was an early and vociferous opponent of Bill C-51, and generated more than 15,000 online responses from Canadians for the government’s consultation on the bill. A historic CRTC ruling last December declaring broadband Internet a basic telecommunications service for Canadians drew heavily from comments of support compiled by OpenMedia. But the battle is ongoing. ‘’If we don’t push back, we’ll end up with an Internet where already marginalized voices are silenced, not amplified,’’ said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe in a recent article in BCLA’s quarterly newsletter, BCLA Perspectives. ‘’OpenMedia will continue working for a free and open Internet that is affordable and free of censorship and surveillance.’’
BCLA Building Better Communities Award | Smithers Public Library
The BCLA Building Better Communities Award was developed to recognize an individual or organization responsible for increasing the relevancy and impact of library service through partnership, collaboration, and building trust where little has previously existed. The inaugural award was given to the Smithers Public Library in Smithers, BC, for its extensive work building a relationship with the local First Nation (Wet’suwet’en) community. This includes promoting the library as a community hub and safe space and partnering with outside organizations to extend services beyond the library’s walls.
Just a few such examples of this include the library working with the local Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre for National Aboriginal Day and a career week event, providing a VolunTeen Program that empowers youth to participate in planning programming for the broader community, and sending a BC Summer Reading Club Mobile Literacy Tent to the nearby Wet’suwet’en community of Moricetown. As a nomination submitted in support of the Smithers library noted, ‘’Since establishing and maintaining this cross-cultural relationship there has been an increase in local First Nation community members accessing the library and realizing it as a place that is open, equitable, and inclusive.’’ Both Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach and Library Director Wendy Wright attended the awards ceremony to accept this award.
Our congratulations to the winners!