Public libraries throughout Ontario have enthusiastically embraced the spirit of Culture Days. More than 100 public libraries in small towns, mid-sized cities and major urban centres in Ontario are taking part in Culture Days celebrations September 30 to October 2, 2011.
During the Aeroplan Culture Stories Contest, Canadians told Culture Days that their public library is a favourite place to experience arts and culture. As Catherine B. of Ottawa said, a library is “more than books and dust; it’s thriving, growing, cultivating – we meet, we share, we have a place that’s purely for exploration. Libraries ARE community, and they burst with arts and culture.”
The Elgin County Library is hosting a reading by Giller Prize winning author Bonnie Burnard and the Cambridge Libraries and Galleries is presenting storytellers Tongues Wagging Productions. The Stratford, Grimsby and Windsor public libraries are all holding “Human Libraries” during Culture Days. The public can check out “human books” including artists, writers and musicians who have volunteered for one-on-one informative and entertaining chats.
“Public libraries and Culture Days are a natural match because both are about inclusion and making sure that culture is available to everyone in the community,” said Stratford Public Library CEO Sam Coghlan.
Beyond the literary world, many Ontario libraries are also hosting a range of arts and heritage activities, such as a bilingual demonstration by instrument builder Pierre Laframboise at the Greater Sudbury Library. The Innisfil Public Library is holding a dance workshop by the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers and the Whitby Public Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary by asking the public to scan their historic photos of Whitby into a digital photo collection.
“Libraries have obviously come a long way in 100 years,” says Whitby Public Library CEO Ian Ross, “Back then we were inward looking. Today we are collaborative organizations, working with so many partners to achieve shared goals.”
Several major urban library systems have offered their spaces to artists and cultural groups wishing to present Culture Days activities. The London Public Library is hosting activities at every library branch in London. Similarly, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is hosting 85 activities at 48 library branches for their program “Culture Days @ the Library.” This large-scale partnership between TPL, Culture Days and the Neighbourhood Arts Network is an unprecedented opportunity for the public to engage directly with artists in their own neighbourhoods.
“The great variety of cultural activities in urban library branches – from music and dance to poetry, storytelling, painting, bookbinding and stone carving – is testimony to the artistic talents in our cities,” said Toronto Public Library’s Senior Services Specialist Miriam Scribner. "In opening up library spaces for Culture Days, we are connecting artistic creators with local communities, providing high quality cultural experiences that are not always easily accessible."
Participating Libraries include (as of September 7, 2011):
- Barrie Public Library
- Cambridge Libaries and Galleries
- Chatham-Kent Public Library
- City of Mississauga
- City of Ottawa Archives
- Cobourg Public Library
- Elgin County Library
- Elmira Library
- Essex County LIbrary
- Grand Valley Public Library
- Greater Sudbury Public Library / Bibliothèque publique du Grand Sudbury
- Grimsby Public Library
- Guelph Public Library - Main Branch
- Hamilton Public Library
- Innisfil Public Library
- Keswick Library
- Kingston Frontenac Public Library
- London Public Library
- Masonville Public Library
- Maynooth Public Library
- Mississauga Library System
- Norfolk County Public Library
- North Perth Public Library
- Orangeville Public Library
- Ottawa Public Library / Bibliothèque publique d'Ottawa
- Pembroke Public Library
- Perth East Public LIbrary
- Peterborough Public Library
- Sault Ste. Marie Public Library
- Smiths Falls Public Library
- St. Marys Public Library
- Stratford Public Library
- Thunder Bay Public Library
- Toronto Public Library
- West Perth Public Library
- Whitby Archives
- Whitby Public Library
- Windsor Public Library
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