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Mayor’s Column – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018


Are we a literate tribe or not? Literate or not literate, that is the question.

Let’s say, for the sake of friendly debate, that we are not a fully literate tribe. Let’s say that the folks over in the Dawson Creek tribe are more literate than we are. Are we okay with that?

How then can we account for the usage statistics at the Chetwynd Public Library? With 60,685 visitors and 31,824 items taken off the shelves and carried from the building last year we have to have a reason. It can’t be that folks are just trying to impress their neighbours by patronizing the Chetwynd Public Library. No, that can’t be the reason. The borrowers have to be benefitting intellectually, socially, even financially from the content of the items they borrow.

That concluded, we can be confident that we are a literate tribe. Truck drivers, artisans, professionals, farmers, merchants – we all understand the value of the information, entertainment, and satisfaction to be mined between the covers of a good book. (Thank you, Mr. Gutenberg! Thank you! Thank you!)

Almost 600 years after Mr. Gutenberg’s world-changing, world-opening, world-revolutionizing invention of the printing press with moveable type we are well into another era in which the horizons of knowledge are being pushed so far into the distance so rapidly that most of us will never understand more than a fraction of the specialty we pursue. Gone are the days of the Renaissance Man who could boast of understanding all knowledge and possessing all wisdom. He was wrong, of course. But who can’t marvel at the persistence of people like Copernicus and Galileo, so recently out of the Middle Ages, as they probed with primitive instruments the secrets of the heavens – or of Dante as he plumbed the depths of hell?

Our Chetwynd Public Library is actively at the forefront of Chetwynd’s quest for knowledge and wisdom. Because we have a public library, we don’t have to redo the work of Copernicus, Galileo, Dante, and the thousands of others who have uncovered the secrets of the universe and the astonishing, stunning, almost unbelievable complexity of what we used to call the simple cell – and in the process of their labours, made our lives so much better, more productive, safer. If the library doesn’t already have in its collection the resource you need, no problem; inter library loan can find it for you.

Why am I going on like this? I was beginning to think you would never ask.

Simple. Your Chetwynd Public Library is in need of an extreme makeover. Which, translated, means that we need a new facility to keep up the service we have been accustomed to receiving. Over past months your library board in conversation with the Chetwynd Council and Dan Rose and others from the Regional District has concluded that the most effective solution to the issues with the old library building is to build a new facility. This decision did not come easily without a whole lot of soul searching but it seems to be the best answer.

Naturally, the final decision will be yours and the information you will need to arrive at the decision that fits your needs and your budget will be provided in the months ahead.

We started by vaguely wondering if we were more or less literate than the folks in Dawson Creek. Does it really matter? Probably not. Let’s say it matters not at all.

Our decision to create a library space that meets our needs is ours alone to make – but not really ours alone. Just over the line in Area E of the Regional District we have friendly neighbours who will be asked to participate in the same manner as you will be asked. This is a cooperative venture in which more is better. Working together we can do much for ourselves and for our children who will be the beneficiaries of the decisions we make now.

Your library is the soul of the community.

Oh, by the way, please forgive me for once again reaching into the mists of antiquity for a little gem of wisdom: “with all your getting, get understanding.”


Merlin Nichols, Mayor