Specialized programming for Oakville seniors

Oakville Public Library (OPL) has planned a series of programs that both inform and engage Oakville seniors.

OPL started their Seniors’ Series program this past April, and continues to run this popular imitative with sessions every Wednesday until June 7. This free, drop-in program offers topics ranging from invasive species and advanced care planning, to learning and meeting Oakville’s Mayor, Rob Burton.

This past week, OPL welcomed the Town of Oakville’s Age-Friendly Committee to present the results of the Town’s latest Age-Friendly Survey. The group discussed the survey’s findings and had an open forum for participants to share their personal thoughts.

The library also collaborated with the Halton Environmental Network, Acclaim Health, and SAVIS for the Seniors’ Series, and will be working with The Tomato Ladies for the upcoming “Eating Healthy on a Budget” session on May 24.

“This series was developed to provide important information on common issues and topics that arise within the senior community,” says Kathleen Staves, who plans and organizes seniors programs. “It also gives them the opportunity to raise their own questions, and have their voices heard.”

After the series wraps up, seniors will still have the opportunity to attend four in-depth programs on managing finances.

The Finance 101 for Seniors program will begin on June 11 and cover the topic of retirement planning. The series continues on June 18 with information about estate planning, and again on July 9 for charitable giving and wealth transfer. The series wraps up with a final presentation on the financial aspects of caregiving, which will be held on July 16.

“We encourage seniors to come out and attend any of these programs,” says Staves. “It’s a great opportunity to learn more about topics that directly relate to them, and allows them to meet and connect with other seniors in our town.”

If you’re interested in attending a Seniors’ Series or Finance 101 for Seniors session, please view our program and events guide for information on dates, times, and how to register. Our guide is available at all OPL branches, and is accessible online at

Oakville Public Library releases 2016 Report to the Community

OAKVILLE, ON – Oakville Public Library (OPL) is happy to present its 2016 Report to the Community.

The Report to the Community is an annual document that features the library’s significant achievements, initiatives, and enhancements from the year prior.

Last year, OPL took noteworthy steps toward becoming a more inclusive and modern resource centre, incorporating many additions and improvements to various programs and services.

“We are excited to share this document with our community,” says Lynn Horlor, CEO. “It provides a synopsis and full review of what we, as an organization, accomplished in 2016.”

This year’s report specifically focuses on the library’s value of lifelong learning and features its endeavors from 2016 through the categories of children, teens, adults, and seniors.

The document also includes the library’s financials, pays tribute to OPL supporters – donors, partners, volunteers, and customers – and provides a glimpse into the library’s forthcoming ventures.

“Our library is very fortunate to have so many wonderful supporters,” says Horlor. “It was very important for us to recognize them in this document as well as demonstrate the important role they play in shaping our future.”

The Oakville Public Library Report to the Community is available to the public and is accessible on the library’s website at

Oakville Public Library introduces OPL Seed Library

May 5, 2017

Last week, Oakville Public Library (OPL) launched a new and exciting ‘green’ collection – the OPL Seed Library. Currently housed at the Clearview Branch, the OPL Seed Library offers a wide selection of organic seeds that customers can borrow to plant and grow in their own backyards.

With planting season upon us, those looking to start or enhance their gardens will benefit from the opportunity to borrow from the Seed Library, completely free of charge. Once their plants have matured, borrowers will harvest their plant’s seeds and return them back to the library, allowing more customers to partake in and experience the pleasures of gardening.

The Seed Library carries seeds for a variety of plants, including eggplant, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, and lavender. Through returns and donations, the collection will continue to grow to hold more seeds, including seeds for plants not currently in the collection.

“This new library initiative acts as a community project that promotes healthy and sustainable living, as well as encourages a culture of sharing,” says Lisa Williams, Manager – Collections. “It’s a great way to bring our community closer together.”

The Seed Library was established from a very generous donation made by avid Oakville Public Library supporters, Richard and Barbara Birkett. Mr. Birkett has been a long-time donor, was a former board member, and has volunteered with the library over the past 35 years.

“Throughout the ages, planting a garden has always been one of life’s greatest pleasures,” says Mr. Birkett.  “Growing plants from seeds takes one to a new level of delight.”

Chicago-based company, Ball Seed, also contributed to the OPL Seed Library by graciously donating the first installment of seeds.

Customers are excited about this new collection and have already started to take advantage by borrowing seeds. In less than one week, the library had to restock seeds for lavender, basil, and tomato.

In the near future, the OPL Seed Library will make its way into other library branches. The library’s Woodside Branch will be the next location to receive a collection, which will launch on May 8, 2017.

In an attempt to expand the current selection, the library is also accepting seed donations. Those who are interested in contributing to the Seed Library’s collection can donate open-pollinated and heirloom seeds by dropping them off at the Clearview Branch.

To avoid cross-pollination and the creation of invasive plants, OPL cannot accept hybrid seeds. If you are interested in donating seeds from your own garden but are unsure of their type, we encourage you to visit your local greenhouse or garden store for more information.

The OPL Seed Library is a very exciting initiative that we are proud to share with the Oakville community. We encourage our participants to share the story of their experience with us by sending updates and photos to


A version of this article was originally published in the Oakville Beaver on May 5, 2017.

Friends of the Library Annual Spring Book Sale

April 21, 2017

The Library’s annual Spring Book Sale – hosted by the Friends of the Oakville Public Library (FOL) – will take place at the Oakville Public Library’s (OPL) Central Branch auditorium from May 4 through May 7.

The sale, which was previously scheduled to begin on May 3, has recently changed to open on May 4. The first day of the sale is open to FOL Members only, allowing members to gain early and exclusive access to browse through the large collection of items.

The sale officially opens to public on May 5, continuing through May 7.

Community members have the opportunity to become a FOL Member by signing up at any of our six branches and paying the annual fee of $10.

The Friends of the Oakville Public Library hold two annual sales – one in the spring and one in the fall – allowing members of the Oakville community to purchase books, DVDs, and other gently used items for a minimal fee. Most items at the upcoming sale are selling for just $1.50/pound.

This past March, the Friends of the Library held their first every Pop-Up Sale, garnering approximately $1,800. To date, these book sales have raised over $520,000 which has supported numerous library programs and services such as the annual TD Summer Reading Club.

The next FOL book sale will be held in the fall, from November 8-12, 2017.

Individuals who are unable to attend any FOL sale have the option of purchasing items from the ‘Friendly Finds’ bookshelves located at all branches and at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre.

This ongoing initiative has been a highlight for the Library for well-over 10 years, and the Friends of the Oakville Public Library look forward to welcoming the community back again this spring.

For more information on the Friends of the Oakville Public Library, and the sale, please visit


A version of this article was originally published in the Oakville Beaver on April 21, 2017.

The Power of Libraries to Transform a Life

April 7, 2017

Canada lost a prominent Native author and storyteller on March 10, when Richard Wagamese died. Canadian libraries lost a friend and advocate. In the 1970s, Richard was a homeless teenager in St. Catharines. The library there changed his life.

My name is Susan Cameron and I am a librarian at Oakville Public Library. In September 2013, I attended a reading for Richard’s book Ragged Company with my colleague Ruth Borst. His words that night were unforgettable.

Ragged Company tells the story of four homeless people who find a lottery ticket and win $3.5-million. It is a powerful, beautifully written novel that deepens one’s understanding of the homeless.

After Richard’s talk, someone in the audience asked him to speak about his education and the important teachers he had had. He asked how many librarians were in the room. Ruth and I put up our hands along with about 15 other people. He then told us about the St. Catharines librarian who changed his life.

Richard spent every day in the library there, where it was warm and dry, behind a stack of books on his desk. He told us more about the special librarian who answered his questions patiently, recommended books, and quietly brought him food.

One day, Richard asked her about a musician he had been reading about, named Beethoven. He said, “Did you know he was deaf and still composed symphonies, and he could put a hand on the lid of the piano and recognize the notes by their vibration?” The librarian asked Richard if he would like to hear some of Beethoven’s music, and she took him to the listening room.

Shortly after, she took him to see Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, in Toronto. This was followed by outings to see Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, and to art galleries. She opened the world for him. He told us that the librarian taught him to read, see, hear, and feel through everything she introduced to him.

Richard left St. Catharines and turned his life around. He lost touch with the librarian but never forgot her. He became a journalist and, became the first indigenous writer to win the 1991 National Newspaper Award for column writing. Stories about his win appeared in all the newspapers. One day he received a card from the librarian. She told Richard how proud she was of his accomplishments. Richard was touched by those words then, and still so emotional about them that he had to pause, speaking through his tears. He realized the librarian probably did not know what a big part she played in his success.

Two years later, he got a call from one of the librarian’s children. She had died and her family wondered if he would he come to the funeral? He decided to make the trek and flew from Alberta to St. Catharines to pay his respects.

Once he arrived at the church, the librarian’s five adult children surrounded him; they had never met Richard, but they embraced him in a group hug. They told him he was a central figure in their upbringing. Their mother always talked about Richard at home, telling her kids about what he was reading or learning. They said they were never allowed to complain about their own lives or struggles in school, because their mom would say, “Look what Richard is doing and he has so little.” The kids felt they owed much of their own success to Richard’s inspiration.

Ruth and I are fairly certain that Richard ended his talk by encouraging us to treat the homeless with respect, and to help them. We cannot be sure though, as we were so emotional and looking at him through tears. We were both thinking about the homeless customers who spend time in our library, and how we might help them.

We never felt so proud to be librarians as we did that evening or more resolved to treat the homeless with respect and understanding. We will miss Richard’s voice, but his stories remain with us.


A version of this article was originally published in The Globe and Mail on March 29, 2017, and again in the Oakville Beaver on April 7, 2017.

Students get ready for Battle of the Books competition

March 24, 2017

Students from the community have been gearing up and studying hard for the Oakville Public Library’s (OPL) upcoming Battle of the Books competition. The exciting program runs from April 3-6 and sees approximately 500 people, including 400 students from various schools around Oakville.

The junior group (ages seven to nine years) kicks off the tournament on April 3, and the seniors (ages 10 to 12) begin on April 5. Each group includes 20 teams made up of 10 students and one coach. This year, 22 schools in Oakville have signed up for the competition.

In the round-robin based program, teams are asked a series of questions about specific books from a list given to them in February. Students are encouraged to read and thoroughly study the plots, characters, and themes of the books to prepare for the competition.

“Battle of the Books is an event hosted by OPL that promotes literacy skills, love of reading, teamwork and community,” says Justine Gerroir, Acting Manager, Programs and Outreach. “I remember having so much fun when I participated in the battles as a kid.”

Over the course of two days, teams face-off in back-to-back battles to secure a spot in the top two and win the tournament. Winners receive medals, a trophy for their school, as well as move on to a regional competition between other winners from Burlington, Milton, and Halton Hills.

Each day concludes with a special presentation given by an author of one of the books studied. This year the OPL welcomes Mahtab Narsimhan (April 3), Rona Arato (April 4), Joel Sutherland (April 5), and Richard Scrimger (April 6).

“The tournament gains more and more interest every year, and registration fills up in as little as one week,” says Gayle Casey, Branch Supervisor – Children’s. “We have so many people signing up that we’ve had to create a waitlist in case anyone cancels.”

Battle of the Books is one of OPL’s most successful school-aged programs that has seen over 10,000 students over the past 30 years. The well-sought program teaches teamwork, encourages good sportsmanship, promotes literacy, and boosts self-confidence among children.

This program is generously funded by the Friends of the Oakville Public library, a group of volunteers who believe in the importance of library resources and programs.

Registration has closed for this year’s Battle, but we encourage any interested parents, teachers, or students to connect with their schools to set-up a team for 2018’s battle.

For more information on Battle of the Books, please visit


A version of this article was originally published in the Oakville Beaver on March 24, 2017.

Exciting new technology at Oakville Public Library

March 10, 2017

Over the past few months, Oakville Public Library (OPL) has taken great steps in implementing modern technology into the library system. With the introduction of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, Smart Gates, and Check-out Kiosks, the library is well on its way to enhancing the overall customer experience with the efficiency of its services.

In September 2015, OPL began working on a project to enable RFID technology on its existing collection of 1.3 million items. The project, which took 16 months to complete, involved placing RFID tags on each item and programming each tag into the tracking system.

This past January, the library installed 22 RFID-reading Smart Gates across all six branches. These Smart Gates work together with the RFID tags to help keep track of all items from the library’s collection.

The Smart Gates provide the library with additional information, as well. Not only do these gates ensure items have been correctly checked-out and secure the library’s inventory, they also count traffic. This counting feature allows the library better understanding the flow of traffic coming through its doors and plan accordingly.

The most recent addition to the library is the Check-out Kiosk. These beautifully designed kiosks allow our customers to conveniently check-out all of their items with ease. New kiosk features such as the ability to view account details, place holds, and renew items will become available later in 2017.

Working together with the RFID tags, these kiosks are able to scan and track multiple items simultaneously, resulting in a much faster check-out process.

The library will also be installing automatic sorters and check in stations in the near future. Connected to each branch’s drop box, these check in stations and sorters scan and track all returned materials and organize each item into circulation bins.

This new technology allows library staff to focus more on our customers by being readily available to assist with various inquiries. With additional face-to-face interaction, staff will be able to learn more about the needs of our community, which, in turn, assists in the development and creation of new library initiatives.

Oakville Public Library is committed to providing our customers with exceptional service, and will continue to grow and adapt to our community’s ever-changing needs.

For more information on our new technology and future branch enhancements, please visit


A version of this article was originally published in the Oakville Beaver on March 10, 2017.

Friends of the Library Pop-Up Book Sale

February 24, 2017

The Friends of the Oakville Public Library (FOL) are excited to be holding their first-ever Pop-Up Book Sale from March 4 to March 5. The sale will take place in the auditorium of the Oakville Public Library’s Central Branch, and will offer a wide selection of books and DVDs for all age groups and interests.

This Pop-Up Book Sale is a great opportunity for book enthusiasts to stock up on items for their personal collections. All items on sale are either new or gently used, are in great condition, and are no more than $2 each. Customers also have the option to purchase a bag full of books for only $10.

The Pop-Up Book Sale is a new initiative of the FOL, piggybacking off their annual spring and fall book sales. Over $500,000 was raised from past sales and has been used to support various library services, including events like Battle of the Books and Write2Xpress.

The FOL have held over 20 Book Sales to date, and have seen hundreds of thousands of items sold to community members.

The FOL 2017 Book Sale will run from May 3 to May 7, with the following 2017 Fall Book Sale running from November 8-12. The first day of each sale is a special ‘Friends Only’ night for individuals who are registered FOL Members.

Community members have the opportunity to become a FOL Member by signing up at the library and paying the annual fee of $10. Becoming an FOL Member allows you to gain early and exclusive access to the annual spring and fall book sales, and supports both the Oakville Public Library and your community.

Individuals who are unable to attend any FOL sale have the option of purchasing items from the ‘Friendly Finds’ bookshelves located at all branches.

The Friends of the Oakville Public Library are excited to pilot this new initiative with the community, and hope to plan additional pop-up sales throughout the year.


A version of this article was originally published in the Oakville Beaver on February 24, 2017.