Working Together

Working Together begins working…

After applying for and entering in to a Funding Agreement with HRSDC the Vancouver Public Library, Regina Public Library, Toronto Public Library and Halifax Public Libraries launched the Working Together Project: Library-Community Connections in March 2004.  It completed in April 2008.

What we did…

The Working Together Project had two main objectives. The first objective was to use a community development approach to build connections and relationships in the community. These connections facilitated a better understanding of what socially excluded communities want and need from public libraries. They also ensured that socially excluded people defined and articulated their own wants and needs. Understanding what the community wants and needs from the library is a significant step toward building relevant and inclusive libraries that respond to the needs of all community members.

The second objective was to identify and investigate systemic barriers to library use. Many socially excluded people see and feel barriers that may not be evident to librarians and library staff. The Working Together Project wanted to identify those barriers and then, rather than try and convince socially excluded people that these barriers either don’t exist or are being perceived incorrectly, attempt to remove the barriers by influencing internal policy and procedural changes. In other words, the Project is attempted to change the library’s understanding and awareness of socially excluded people.

How we are did it…

Our public libraries, with their deep community roots and wide public acceptance, offered an opportunity to work in a new way with socially excluded communities. In turn, our libraries benefited by learning how to provide the equitable service they want to provide to all library users.

Public libraries remain in their communities after the Working Together Project finished. The challenge our libraries face now is be to build sustainability into the programs and services that the Project developed and to continue the interaction and dialogue with community groups and individuals as an ongoing part of library service.

Where we were…

The Vancouver Public Library was the lead library in the Working Together Project. The Project worked specifically in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood and out of the Mount Pleasant Branch. The neighbourhood can be characterized as a low-income area with substantial ethnic and cultural diversity. The neighbourhood is currently being gentrified and so additional community changes are underway.

The Regina Public Library participated in the Project through the Albert Branch Library in the North Central part of the city. The community is primarilly aboriginal.

In Toronto the Project was located in two adjacent neighbourhoods, Thornecliff Park and Flemindon Park. The library branches in both locations participate in the Project. Both these communities are home to newcomers.

In Halifax the Project worked out of the Captain William Spry Branch and worked in the Greystone Housing community. This is a large and isolated housing project.

Who we were…

Sandra Singh
Working Together National Director
Annette DeFaveri
Working Together National Coordinator

Randy Gatley
Vancouver Community Development Librarian
André Gagnon
Regina Site Supervisor
Mary Saso
Regina Community Development Librarian
Heather Davis
Toronto Site Supervisor
Sonia Pacheco
Toronto Community Development Librarian
Tracey Jones
Halifax Site Supervisor
Darla Muzzerall
Halifax Community Development Librarian

Current Contacts (Aug 2009)…

Diana Guinn, General Project Inquiries and Vancouver Contact

André Gagnon, Regina Contact

Magdelena Vanderhoof, Toronto Contact

Tracey Jones, Halifax Contact