Wendy Wright serves as Director of the Smithers Public Library on the unceded territory of the Witsuwit’en Nation in northwestern BC and currently as a Director-at-Large on the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) Board. She has always loved connecting people with stories, ideas, and information in various formats and enjoys creating opportunities for community members to learn from each other. Originally from Toronto, Wendy worked in bookstores and the publishing industry for nearly two decades before side-stepping into the endlessly creative world of libraries.
Describe yourself in three words.
Philosophical, eclectic, curious.
What’s an average day at your library?
What was your first position in the library or information field?
Volunteering in my former small island community. We had only a volunteer-run reading room with donated books and an elementary school library that was closed in the summer. My husband, children and I took on modernizing the reading room as a family project, introducing WiFi, DVDs, children’s programming, school tours, and updating and expanding the children’s and teens’ sections. This led to liaising with local literacy outreach coordinators to organize book giveaways and literacy-based events at the school. It was immensely satisfying work and made me realize how much I wanted to spend time outside of the library’s walls connecting with people and organizations in the community to maximize the library’s impact. My first paid position was as a casual library assistant at nine branches of Vancouver Island Regional Library.
How do you stay up to date in your field?
I find Twitter, Library Link of the Day, the BCLA listserv, and PubLib listserv to be consistently fruitful sources of information and new ideas.
What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services work?
Seeing the impact that a book, program, or facilitated human connection has on someone; witnessing the spark of an idea formed and shared with others; and learning something new from our patrons every day.
If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing?
Spelling is a superpower of mine, so I should probably work as a copy editor. I would like to spend more time volunteering, and take more university courses on sociology, psychology, philosophy, comparative religion, and children’s and Canadian literature out of personal interest.
What is the coolest thing in your office or on your desk?
A picture of German sociology Max Weber, to remind me of the danger of bureaucratic systems growing to serve themselves instead of the people they were originally created to serve. (Well, I think he’s cool!)
What aspect of library work are you most passionate about?
Why do you think library work is important?
To choose just one of many reasons, when I worked in bookstores I observed that only relatively well-off people purchased books, and children’s and teens’ books were always selected and purchased for them by adult family members. In public libraries we see readers from all income brackets and walks of life accessing books, and children and teens choosing for themselves what they want to read.