Q+A with Em The Librarian
She’s the new girl in town, and only the third Library Director that Pemberton has had, following in the foot-steps of library founder Jan Naylor and her successor Shannon Didier Ellis. Given that the Library is, in many ways (my bookish biases might be coming into play here, but I’m happy to debate the case) the heart and soul of a community, I wanted to know more about her, so asked Emma Gillis if she would be willing to be Choose Pemberton-ed. After all, she did. Choose Pemberton, that is. Here’s what we discovered…
You talk funny. Where are you from? Where have you lived and what have you been up to, before coming here?
I’m originally from County Armagh in Northern Ireland. My husband Stuart is also from Northern Ireland. He was a helicopter pilot in the British Army which meant that over the last 12 years we have been fortunate enough to live in Cyprus, Germany and England. If you think I talk funny now you should have heard me 12 years ago before I lived abroad! I’ve also been really fortunate to get library work every time we have had to move and as a result have had experience of working in public, military and school libraries. It’s been a great experience but I’m happy to finally be ‘home’!
How did you end up in Pemberton?
The short version of a long story is we had been planning to move here since we came to Canada on vacation in 2008. We were staying in Whistler for the last leg of our trip and just fell in love with the area. We bought a property in Pemberton and had always planned to move in 2013 when Stuart left the Army. In 2010, I spent a month as an intern at Whistler Library as part of my Masters degree so when I got an email in January from a friend there telling me about the Director position being advertised I knew it had to be fate. I still can’t believe my incredible good fortune that my dream job became available in the very year we were planning to move here.
What do you love most about libraries?
I just love the endless possibilities of what libraries can offer and the ways they can touch people’s lives, no matter how small. Libraries offer so many different things to different people –what’s not to love?!
How has your impression of Pemberton changed since taking on librarian role?
I love it more than ever.
Which writers, dead or alive, would you most like to invite to dinner party?
Hmmm, perhaps John Green, Roald Dahl and Bill Bryson. I think that would be a fun bunch to have together and the conversation would certainly be lively enough to distract them from my cooking!
What does a future-proof library look like?
It should reflect the needs and interests of the community it serves. It should continually review services and respond to feedback so it can strive to change as community needs and interests change.
If you could make everyone in Pemberton read 3 books what would they be?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Marley and Me by John Grogan
Out of all of the books I have ever read they are the three that have stuck with me – probably because they made me cry!
Describe Pemberton reading habits in 3 words.
Diverse AND dedicated.
You’re only the 3rd library director Pemberton has had… and the first to come from outside the community. A library, especially a small town library, is about so much more than books. What do you think is its most important role? What kind of perspective do you think you bring to the role, having come from “away”?
Our most important role is to be the hub of the community – and the services we provide should be tailored to meet the needs of the community we serve. Having worked in different library environments in different countries I have seen first hand that what works well in one library may not in another. Not all communities are the same so why should their library service be the same? Whether it is information, the latest bestseller, programming or just somewhere to read or study our aim is to reach out to as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.
If people wanted to get to know you better, where can they follow you? And if people wanted to follow the library happenings, where could they go?
I’m on Twitter (@emthelibrarian) and Tumblr (Library-Em) which if you hadn’t already guessed are abundant with Library related geekery (and the occasional fluffy bunny or two!). I can also be followed in person in the Library but only between the hours of 9 – 5 – just kidding!! But I am always about so please come say Hi!
Outside library hours, where is someone most likely to run into you? And how would they be able to recognise you? (Inkstained fingertips and nerdy glasses and tendency to whisper, “Shh, this is a library” being kind of a dated cliche…)
I can generally be found out walking my Boxer dog, Travis or endeavoring to live up to the librarian stereotype getting about town on my bike (complete with wicker basket filled with library books!). I also have a bit of a caffeine habit so can be found a bit too often in Mt Currie Coffee Co. I recently discovered, and am now completely hooked on Canadianos – is there anything that doesn’t go with maple syrup?!!
What might people be surprised to discover about you?
I have absolutely no idea!! I don’t think I’m particularly surprising! I got married at 21 so that seems to surprise some people – but that was 12 years ago so it’s kind of old news!!
What is coming up at the library in September that you’re most excited about?
I’m pretty much excited about everything at the moment but we are hoping to try out some new programming ideas in the Fall so make sure to keep an eye on the Facebook and Twitter pages for updates. We also have some exciting art and craft displays by local artists booked for the next few months so make sure to stop by and check them out!
Now that you’re a fulltime resident of Pemberton, what are you most excited about discovering/exploring/enjoying in your new life?
Absolutely everything! Especially… what else can I have with maple syrup? Right now however, outside of the Library I’m most excited about Stuart arriving in October so we can start enjoying our new life together – although I suspect I may have to compete with the ski slopes for his attentions!