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National Volunteer Week: Barbara Campbell

After moving around the world for four decades as an ESL teacher and wife of a Canadian diplomat, Barbara Campbell knows how difficult it can be for women to in a foreign country to find time for themselves.

“I know for myself, moving every three or four years, you think of your children first, then your husband, and you think of yourself last – maybe after a year or so,” she says.

That’s why she knew a volunteer opportunity as a leader of an English Conversation Circle for Women was the right place for her.

Barbara is one of the 453 library volunteers who donated 10,585 hours of their time in 2016.

“You see a lot of happiness, you see budding friendships.”

The English Conversation Circle for Women at Central Library was originally created to help Syrian women who came to Waterloo Region in 2016, and includes child-minding services so that mothers can bring their children.

It’s now quite a large group that meets every week, and includes women from lots of different backgrounds, including some who have moved here while their spouses attend school. Some of the women have been here for 14 years, some arrived just a few months ago.

“It’s a large group, with language levels all over,” Barbara says. “You see a lot of happiness, you see budding friendships. People are free to voice their frustrations. They have time to think of themselves and they realize how lonely they are.”

Barbara, who is one of two group leaders who works with three volunteer assistants, says she likes to present a newsworthy or culturally relevant topic, then give the women vocabulary words and common idioms. Recently, they’ve discussed the arrival of spring, maple syrup, Easter, bullying, and the pros and cons of backyard chickens.

Barbara also likes to help the women practise pronunciation, because the English language is driven by emphasis on certain syllables, unlike Japanese or French, for instance. Frustrated by being misunderstood, the women have steadily improved with two or three sessions of learning how to stress syllables.

“I saw a lot of eyes brightening,” she says.

But perhaps more importantly, this is a place where women can connect with others in the community in a friendly, social environment.

“Many of the women have children in school and this is their first opportunity to get out. They call it ‘my time,’ and it’s fun to see,” Barbara says.

We’d like to thank Barbara and the other 452 library volunteers who use their experiences and skills to make our community a stronger place!

Learn more about ESL resources at Kitchener Public Library

Find out about volunteer opportunities


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National Volunteer Week: Allana and Jessa

Allana Villabroza and Jessa Adloc are relatively new to Canada, but they’re already stepping up and making a big difference in our community.

Both of these young women are originally from the Philippines. Allana, 19, moved here two years ago, and Jessa, 17, moved here just nine months ago. Now they volunteer their time at Central Library, working with kids in Grades 4 to 8 who are learning computer science skills with Google CS.

Allana says volunteering has been a learning experience for her as well as for the kids, and has helped her improve her (already excellent) English fluency. She started volunteering as a shelf reader last summer.

“When I first came here, I didn’t really talk to anybody,” she says. “But this really helps me communicate and socialize with others, especially the kids.”

Allana was the one who suggested that Jessa, a fellow student at Eastwood Collegiate Institute, also volunteer at the library.

“I like hearing the kids ask questions and learning new things,” Jessa says.

Emily McLaughlin, senior library assistant and programmer, says Alanna and Jessa are problem solvers and role models in her Google CS programs.

“The girls are new to coding, but that didn’t slow them down,” she says. “To make solving problems easier, Alanna and Jessa asked to have the course code so they could work ahead of the class, and used their phones to compare the code they created in their own projects with the kids’ code to help them debug their work.

“Jessa and Alanna are always there to give the kids applause and high fives, and award them their badge for the week.”

After they graduate from Eastwood, Alanna hopes to go to Conestoga College to become a respiratory therapist, while Jessa wants to attend University of Waterloo for a degree in biochemistry.

They both miss family and the tropical weather back in the Philippines (“I hate snow,” Jessa says) but they’re beginning to feel like Canada is their home.

“I’ll go to the Phillipines for vacation, but I think my life is here now, and my future,” Alanna says.

Thank you both for volunteering with Kitchener Public Library, and making a difference in your community!

Jessa Adloc’s  recommended reads:


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Ideas for a healthy city

What makes your city a healthy place to live? Social connections, walkability, bike lanes, transit, healthy food options, employment, traffic patterns and parking all contribute to the health of a city and the people who live there.

In January, our current Guest Librarian Robin Mazumder, hosted a Healthy Cities Panel Discussion at Central Library.

To kick off the evening, Robin announced a new healthy cities project he has brought to Kitchener: Lightbrary. Robin partnered with the Waterloo Region Local Health Integration Network and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre to secure funding for light therapy lamps free to use at any Kitchener Public Library location. Research shows that daily use of light therapy lamps during the winter can be an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Learn more about Robin’s term as Guest Librarian and the Lightbrary project. 

The event included experts in the field and a discussion on ways we can make Kitchener a vibrant, healthy and happy city. Speakers and panelists includes Dr. Colin Ellard (Psychology) and Dr. Leia Minaker (Planning) from the University of Waterloo and Rod Regier, Commissioner of Planning, Development and Legislative Services for the Region of Waterloo.

“Cities are, by definition, full of strangers.” ~ Jane Jacobs

Dr. Ellard talked about the ways living in a city can change our brains. “There’s a mismatch between our brains and the structure of cities,” he said. Social isolation is on the rise in cities, and is one of the reasons healthy cities research and conversation is so important.

Dr. Minaker talked about the need to consider equity in the concept of a healthy city. Is it a healthy city for people who have lower incomes, or for people with disabilities? Is healthy food easily accessible? “People in Waterloo Region, on average, live one kilometre from a grocery store,” she said. In many places, it’s easier to access fast food or junk food than healthy food. This is known as a “food swamp.”

Rod Regier talked about the Region of Waterloo’s official plan, which focuses on reurbanization and intensification. He also talked about the Ion, the region’s rapid transit project, “the most profound city-building project we’ve ever undertaken.”

The night wrapped up with questions from the community about gentrification and affordable housing, light pollution, and neighbourhood strategies. People who attended also had a chance to contribute their healthy city ideas (see photo above). The ideas included:

  • More community centres
  • More greenery, community gardens, trails, parks, and recreation infrastructure
  • More walkable – better side walk maintenance and snow removal
  • More animal friendly locations; green space, dog parks, animal friendly cafes
  • Ensure new developments include space for gardens, woodlots
  • Inclusive & colourful spaces
  • More garbage, recycling and compost bins on the streets, making it easy to recycle on the go
  • Public fire places
  • Mobile food market with leftovers from Kitchener Market on Saturday afternoons
  • Have more community markets open on weekends and evenings
  • Have more cafes and small businesses – give the opportunity to open in our communities
  • Book mobile; back again please
  • Create more opportunities for citizens to share their gifts and talents without red tape like the Taco Stand project by Cambridge Idea Exchange – check it out!
  • More frequent transit locally
  • Better transit connections to Toronto
  • Integrating students and long-term residents: well off and less well-off
  • Universities could do more to reach out to low-income local students
  • Shared maker/hacker spaces; shared tools
  • Create venues where people can interact with different people: seniors & IT staff & youth & professors, etc.
  • Lighting ordinances that align with the concepts of the international dark skies association to control light pollution and trespass
  • Make streets safer for cyclists
  • Dedicated cycling lanes

We’d like to thank Robin for hosting and organizing the event, our speakers, and everyone who attended or followed along on Twitter. Please stay connected to this very important topic:

RESOURCES

Find out more about Robin Mazumder and his research: Do skyscrapers stress you out?

Healthy Cities:  Books and films from the KPL collection

Sign up to stay up-to-date with @PsychOnStreet projects: bit.ly/urbanrealities

TWITTER   #HealthyCities
@RobinMazumder        @WhereAmINow      @LeiaMinaker        @regierr


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Learning with KPL and Lynda.com

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We’ve got great news –  Kitchener Public Library is now offering FREE, unlimited access to Lynda.com. This amazing online learning service is yours to use in the library, from home, work, or anywhere with internet access.

Whatever your goals are this year, Kitchener Public Library can help you reach them. Just use your Kitchener Public Library card to set up an account and get started!

Learn a new skill at your own pace: from 3D and animation to web design and wireframing, and everything in between. There are more than 4,000 courses to choose from in business, technology, creative skills, and more, taught by industry experts.

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More movies than ever before

GUEST BLOG POST by Lesa Balch
Director, Technologies and Content

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Library customers streamed more movies than ever before in December 2016, enjoying movies from Hoopla, downloadLibrary, CBC Curio, and National Film Board databases. Find out more about our free digital movie services here, and see our great DVD collection too.

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Holiday happiness

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Happy Holidays! Our holiday hours begin this Saturday. Please check whether we’re open before heading to your local library any time from Saturday, Dec. 24 to Monday, Jan. 2.

While we’re open, stop in and stock up on books, movies, and music, or try out our new virtual reality experience. We’ve also got plenty of fun, fabulous, and (as always!) FREE activities for people of all ages.

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Sandvine building bridges over the digital divide

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Thank you to Sandvine for your generous support! Dave Caputo, CEO at Sandvine, with Mary Chevreau, CEO of Kitchener Public Library, and Rick Wadsworth, Director of Corporate Communications at Sandvine.

Users of Kitchener Public Library’s popular wi-fi lending program will be soon be getting a gift from local tech giant Sandvine, a global leader in network policy control.

Launched in October 2015, Kitchener Public Library was the first in Canada to offer a free wi-fi hotspot lending program. Members use their library card to borrow an Internet hotspot device for up to two weeks, giving them access to unlimited data anywhere in Canada where there is Rogers cell coverage.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Library Association recognized Kitchener Public Library with an Ontario Library Information Technology Association Award for outstanding innovation in their community.

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