Darrell Yates is the Executive Director and CEO of the Lakeland Library Region. Lakeland Library Region’s total serviceable population is just under 110,000 and is spread over approximately 45,000 square kilometers. Encompassing cites, towns, villages, and hamlets, Lakeland is located on Treaty 6 territory, offering service to residents on 13 reservations. Darrell received his MLIS from Dalhousie University. Originally from Gander, Newfoundland, he has not seen the Broadway Musical Come From Away.
What’s an average day at your library?
There are no average days. Saskatchewan has a universal library card, enabling patrons to walk into any public library branch in the province and check out material. One of the many challenges is ensuring all 11 public library systems are working together to provide a seamless level of service on a singular ILS while maintaining each library agency’s cultural singularity. Three of Lakeland Library Region’s 32 branches are located in cities, one of which is the City of Lloydminster. Lloydminster has a very unique place in my region and the province, since it straddles the Saskatchewan/Alberta border. Both provinces have legislation pertaining to the city and there is also a City Charter that is provincial legislation. I believe Lakeland Library Region is also home to what is, perhaps, the country’s only public library located within a shared correctional and psychiatric facility. Since our funding is significantly smaller than that of a major city public library system, we wear many hats, which means I frequently play a larger part in nitty-gritty overall operations than your average CEO. Today, for example, I’m also the Director of Finance, Board Secretary, and Director of Human Resources. It sounds crazy. It is crazy. I love crazy.
How do you stay up to date in your field?
Facebook professional’s clickbait and conferences. Saskatchewan’s Provincial Library and Literacy Office also provides extended loans on professional development material, which I can request through our ILS and pick up in my local library. They develop the collection regularly. Numerous meetings also offer new ideas.
What was the first job you ever had?
It’s a tossup between shoveling driveways and being a page for my high school library. I seem to recall they didn’t have any petty cash and they may have paid me from photocopier revenue (they paid me in change). I bought candy.
What are you reading or watching right now?
Watching: Ex Libris: The New York Public Library, Lore.
Reading: Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities, and Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis.
What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?
That’s a tossup between an “intro to music” kit I’m putting together for the branches, the mint-condition peek-through pop-up book that was part of a donated personal collection, or the 40-year old Sears List of Subject Headings (we had a library branch that had a Sears outlet inside it that was staffed by the branch’s librarian). My office is the book’s new forever home.
If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing?
Performing arts, either theatre or music. I just won best actor at the Provincial Theatre Festival in Regina, playing the part of Austin in Sam Shepard’s “True West.”
Why do you think library work is important?
With the abundance of information out there our work is more important now than ever better. We need more libraries. We need more professional librarians.