Christine Gyapay is the Head Librarian for the NWT Centennial Library in Hay River, NT.
Describe yourself in three words.
Community-minded, curious, organized.
What’s an average day at your library?
Each day is so different. My morning started with bookkeeping entries from the previous day. Processed the day’s mail. Email catch-up. Yesterday I was emailing with an author who was part of a grant I received from Canada Council for the Arts. Opened the library to the public. Between my Head Librarian duties I work the circulation desk. I enjoy the whole process of ordering books, processing books, helping patrons find books, and signing them out. Yesterday I set up interviews to hire afterschool students for Page work. Yesterday I also trained our new high school Work Experience student. So really, a bit of everything, which helps to keep me in touch with all areas of the library.
What was the first job you ever had?
Working in a kitchen in a restaurant. Clearing dishes, filling the dishwasher, and deboning boiled chicken are my not so fond memories of the job.
What was the first position you ever held in the library or information field?
I was a high school summer student running summer programming together with my sister. I remember making lots of various kinds of puppets from marionettes to shadow puppets and organizing plays. I have fond memories of working in the Yellowknife Public Library when it was still located on Franklin Avenue in the building that is now occupied by Northern Images.
How do you stay up to date in your field?
Reading library journals and trying to attend the annual Rural Librarians Conference in Grande Prairie are two ways to keep up to date.
What are you reading or watching right now?
Reading Wayne Johnston’s First Snow, Last Light and watching “The Durrells in Corfu.”
If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing?
Not sure where life would have led me.
What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?
My desk is part of the circulation desk that is in the middle of the library which has large wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows and lots of plants. I would find it hard to work in a small windowless office.
What makes you passionate about library work?
The public. In our small library I have daily contact with library patrons of all ages, from all backgrounds. Over the years I have come to know our regulars and I enjoy meeting new people. One family came in to the library directly from the airport. It was important for them to get library cards but they also needed information about the community.
Why do you think library work is important?
Libraries can offer such a wide range of resources for the public that they may not have access through any other means. After working in Hay River Library for 15 years I see regulars who use the computers, read newspapers, sit and visit with one another, write exams or sign out the latest book by their favourite authors. One woman came into the library, said a big hello to me and said “I’m home!” She was an avid reader and the library was an important part of her regular routine. Library patrons can ask any questions and we try to find the answers, and match them with the resources that they need.