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Manitoba Library Association Posts

Manitoba Library Association awards its first Human Rights Book Award to Cathy Ching and the South Central Regional Library System!

Posted in Intellectual Freedom, Membership, and Scholarships & Awards

Manitoba libraries are upholding the fundamental values of intellectual freedom, inclusion, and diversity despite recent calls for censorship and the harassment of library workers. 

Appreciating this important and yet often unrecognised work, the Manitoba Library Association (MLA) alongside the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers (AMBP) are pleased to announce the inaugural Human Rights Book Award to Cathy Ching and the South Central Regional Library System (SCRL). This award is presented in recognition of their “strong resolve in upholding human rights, inclusivity and equity in library access for their library or in the library community at a local, regional, provincial or national level.”

Ching and her team at SCRL have remained passionately steadfast, and according to their nominator, “remarkably positive throughout their censorship ordeals.” SCRL’s experiences have been shared in the media over the past couple of years and have inspired not only their own community but the entire province with their determination “to uphold the fundamental right to freedom of expression and the unrestricted pursuit of knowledge for all individuals, regardless of background or belief.”

The glowing nomination letter also describes Cathy Ching’s willingness to educate and inspire their library peers through conferences and workshops helping to foster a culture of continuous improvement within our professional community.

MLA is proud to celebrate this deserving recipient: 

“Cathy is an amazing example of the type of people we need in our communities and libraries now more than ever. Her work and perseverance in the face of adversity is not only inspiring, it’s a loud and bold statement that libraries will always be a safe space and will help echo the voices that need to be heard.” 

– KC Bateman, MLA Vice-president

AMBP is awarding Cathy Ching and SCRL, whose service, passion, and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is outstanding among their peers with 15 books from Manitoba publishers.

“The AMBP is proud to support the instatement of the MLA’s Human Rights Book Award. Cathy Ching and the South Central Regional Library System demonstrate an unwavering commitment to keeping our libraries a welcoming, safe space for all.”

– Chelsey Young, AMBP

Both MLA and AMBP send heartfelt congratulations to our very first and very deserving award winner.

Welcome to Jen Kendall, MLA’s new Office Manager!

Posted in Board

The board of directors of the Manitoba Library Association is thrilled to welcome Jen Kendall as our new Office Manager.

As a passionate library advocate, and an enthusiastic -if slightly impatient- gardener Jen brings a wealth of experience from a variety of customer service and administrative roles to the Office Manager position.

Many of you know Jen as the Director and occasional Bossicorn of the Portage la Prairie Regional Library and her experience means she understands the unique needs and challenges of libraries firsthand.

MLA is grateful for the support of the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Heritage for the funding that allows us to hire such qualified and experienced staff.

Please reach out to Jen and introduce yourself if you haven’t yet met, share any thoughts or ideas you have, or just say “hello!”

Library Spotlight: Brandon Public Library Downtown Branch

Posted in Library Spotlights, and Uncategorized

“I don’t think I’ll be able to help you find that.”
– No librarian, ever.

Located in the heart of Manitoba’s second largest city, the Brandon Public Library (BPL) serves one of the most diverse populations in the province through its inclusive space and ever-evolving services, programming and collection. It is deeply rooted in the social and cultural fabric of the city and continuously seeks out new and innovative ways to add to its vibrancy.

Newcomers to Canada find a welcoming environment at the BPL. Local agencies such as Westman Immigrant Services, for example, regularly introduce their clients to the BPL as a resource for improving their English skills. By embracing such opportunities, the BPL also plays an important role in promoting a culture of diversity and inclusivity in the city. Other examples of the library’s celebration of culture and diversity include a prominent display of Indigenous materials, generously funded by the Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation. The library also showcases works by local artists, some of which were produced in the library itself.

With many vulnerable individuals residing in Brandon’s downtown district, the BPL also provides information about local services to assist with issues ranging from housing insecurity, mental health, to more basic needs such as obtaining government identification and access to mail delivery. Branch Supervisor, Carson Rogers, likened this role to being a switchboard for the downtown hub while emphasizing the high importance placed on respect in all interactions.

Branch Supervisor, Carson Rogers

Another way that the BPL removes barriers and builds bridges in the community is through its delivery of library materials to patrons who are homebound or in care homes. The service, which is supported by the library’s passionate volunteers, is highly appreciated by patrons who face challenges in attending the library in-person. The library is also dedicated to providing alternative formats for patrons with print disabilities through collaborations with organizations like the Centre for Equitable Library Access and the National Network for Equitable Library Service. If technology itself is a barrier to accessing information or online services, the BPL has tech savvy staff that are keen to help patrons navigate our increasingly digitized world.

The BPL also provides ample educational opportunities for the city’s younger readers, both independently and in conjunction with the local school division. In addition to regular programming aimed at building foundational literacy skills, the library puts on special programs during PD days and school breaks throughout the year. The library’s Stem Club, which is geared towards patrons aged 9-13, explores topics ranging from math, aviation, “hacking,” and fossils. “Meet the Author” events have provided students with opportunities to engage in dialogue with authors whose works they’ve studied in class, an exercise that not only enhances students’ literary analysis skills but is bound to inspire future generations of writers as well. Recent authors include Kenneth Oppel and his work Silverwing, and local author Katherena Vermette with her feature work The Break.

While some prefer the individual nature of diving into a book as a healthy form of escapism, others enjoy the more social aspects of reading and libraries, which the BPL fully supports.  Book Club kits, for instance, complete with several copies of a work and discussion prompts are available for loan. For those interested in learning new skills or simply being among people with similar interests, events such as “Stitching in the Stacks” have brought together community members around creative activities like embroidery.

The BPL is also part of a growing trend of loaning items other than books. Physical Activity Cards, which grant access to the local Sportsplex, are available for 5-day loan and are in high demand. Other materials available for loan include telescopes, LeapFrog kits or interactive learning systems for children, and board games. For patrons with (or hopes of having) a green thumb, there is a seed library available at the BPL which is supported by the Assiniboine Food Forest Initiative.

In addition to its extensive collection of print materials, the library also provides access to a range of quality digital resources. Interested in exploring the “world’s largest collection of international recipes”? Streaming classic cinema, documentaries and television? Learning about local history or that of your own family? Accessing over 56,000 eBook & audiobooks? These are just some of the eResources available to BPL members – available anytime, anywhere.

Believe it or not, the above are just some of the ways the BPL serves its patrons and makes Brandon a more inclusive and vibrant community. Its seemingly boundless approach to information, services, and programming would not be possible without its visionary leadership and passionate staff. The MLA would like to extend its gratitude to the BPL for being a source of inspiration, not only to its patrons, but to the community of library professionals as well.

Article and Photographs by Rustam Dow, MLA Communications Committee Member

Accepting Scholarship Applications NOW

Posted in Scholarships & Awards

Are you a Manitoba student enrolled in a Library and Information Studies graduate level program? The Manitoba Library Association is accepting applications for our three scholarships now!

Deadline for scholarship applications is June 1, 2024
Any questions? Send an email to the Scholarships committee at 

Read on for more information about our scholarships and apply today!

Jean Thorunn Law Scholarship

Available to eligible applicants who have worked in a Manitoba library and who choose to further their career by pursuing a graduate program in library and information science. Applicants must have been engaged in recent library work in Manitoba for twelve months.

John Edwin Bissett Scholarship

Available to eligible undergraduates of the University of Manitoba who are pursuing a graduate program in library and information science. Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba.

Marilyn J. Hernandez Scholarship

Available to eligible applicants who are residents of Manitoba and who are pursuing a master’s or PhD in an accredited library and information program.

Files (pdf):

Use the new online application form to apply and upload your documents.
Access the form here: Online Application
More information on our website.

Manitoba Library Worker Profile: Joan Ransom

Posted in Profiles

To showcase the interesting and important work being done by libraries across the province, MLA interviews one library worker every other month about the unique work they do in order to deliver library services to Manitobans.

Earlier this year we interviewed Joan Ransom, Branch Librarian at the Stonewall Branch of the South Interlake Regional Library. Through her responses we learned everything from the importance of strategic planning, to how she finds delicious taco recipes! Read on to find out more about SIRL’s upcoming projects, including their four StoryWalk routes and the training session, “Accessible Audiobooks Made Easy”, happening on April 29th at the Stonewall Library. This free workshop is open to interested public library staff  – call 204-467-5767 or email to register!

South Interlake Regional Library Staff (L to R): Kelsey Dingwall, Joan Ransom, Stella McAuley, Tara Glaspey
South Interlake Regional Library Staff (L to R): Kelsey Dingwall, Joan Ransom, Stella McAuley, Tara Glaspey

Can you tell us a bit about your library system or branch? Is there anything unique or unusual about it?

Our regional system consists of 2 branches and a bookmobile. My branch – the Stonewall Library – is the larger branch in the system and has a staff of myself, plus 1 full time and 6 part time staff. We are a fun bunch of people who truly enjoy working with each other and we love to do activities together away from work – like flower picking and aerial yoga!

Our Branch takes great pride in our I Love to Read month celebrations and our Summer Reading programming. We enjoy planning activities that go with our theme. This summer’s TDSRC “To the stars” theme is going to be epic as we have been planning our space programs and decorations.

Another big project we are doing this year is StoryWalk routes. We will manage 4 routes in various communities throughout our catchment area and are excited about combining literacy and outdoor walks. This is our 3rd year doing StoryWalks and we will rotate the stories every 2 weeks through the 4 routes. Project management software is very helpful as we keep the titles flowing through the routes.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about your work or your library?

The 2022 strategic planning session that our Director Clint Curle, our Board of Directors and our Branch Managers participated in was such a significant event in the lives of our libraries. It brought us together and really helped us focus on our goals, values and mission. Because of that we have a clear plan forward for the next few years. It was the first time I had been involved in a strategic plan and I found it to be an amazing experience.

Our work now is focused on meeting the goals outlined in the plan and it has given us a real sense of purpose as we use that filter to prepare and prioritize the work we do at the Branch. I find that our staff has a better sense of the big picture and take pride in the professional work we do in our communities.

What is something happening at your library that you’re excited about?

At the end of April we are launching a new program called “Accessible Audiobooks Made Easy” and I am so very excited about it. We were awarded a large grant through the Province of Manitoba Accessibility Fund and were able to purchase 11 Victor Reader4M Stratus machines. We have pre- loaded them with titles from CELA in various genres. Not only will we be able to lend them to our patrons, but we are making them available through ILL for any rural public library to borrow for their patrons.

The folks with lived experience that are testing the program have given us such great feedback and have cemented our commitment to this program. When they tell us it is ‘life changing’ and the ‘best thing that has happened to them’ – we know we are making a difference in their lives. We hope that this project increases accessibility to library material for patrons who have print disabilities and are so happy to be sharing these devices and titles with all Manitobans.

We are hosting a free library workshop on April 29 for rural library staff to come and learn about the project and try the machines out. We are excited to host Jessica Desormeaux from CELA who will be speaking about their services. We are taking registrations and hope to welcome many of our peers to the Stonewall Branch.

What is a challenge you’re currently facing?

A challenge I think many of us face is keeping all the balls in the air. We are making a difference for our patrons and bringing quality programs to our communities, but managing staff time is one thing I continually work on. I also feel that staff care is a priority for me. I took an excellent course called Cultivating Civility, Resilience, and Reflection in the Library Workplace through ALAeLearning last year that resonated with me. I strive to ensure that my staff feel heard, respected and valued.

What are you reading/watching/playing right now?

I usually like to have a fiction title and a non-fiction title on the go at the same time. The novel on my nightstand right now is The Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson. I enjoyed her book The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and this novel is a sequel that continues the themes of sisterhood, justice and the power of books.

I am an avid knitter and the non-fiction title I am reading is Patty Lyons’ Knitting Bag of Tricks by Patty Lyons. It is chock full of helpful hints and I am getting a lot out of it. YouTube has recently taught me how to knit in the continental style and I am getting faster with less errors as time goes on!

We are glued to CBC on Thursday nights to cheer on our hometown potter Jen Sonnenberg as she competes in the Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down. It is old school tv watching as you cannot binge all the episodes and anticipation is part of the fun as we wait to see what happens each week. My husband and I recently binged the Netflix documentary series “Taco Chronicles” and have since been cooking many different varieties of tacos. Not only was this an interesting series – it has proven to be delicious!

We’re always looking for more library workers to feature! Are you doing something interesting at your library that you want to share, or do you know someone in the province that is? Reach out to us at

New Award announcement! Human Rights Book Award

Posted in Membership, and Scholarships & Awards

MLA and the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers are pleased to announce a new award in support and recognition of Manitoba libraries hard work to uphold library values of intellectual freedom while at the same time reflecting their community’s need for inclusive and diverse library spaces.

This annual award will give 15 books from Manitoba publishers to an individual or library whose service, passion, and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is outstanding among their peers. 

This individual or library will have demonstrated strong resolve in upholding human rights, inclusivity and equity in library access for their library or in the library community at a local, regional, provincial or national level.

The Award will recognize ongoing work or an outstanding accomplishment at a point in time.       

How to Make a Nomination

  • Nominations should be submitted using the MLA Award Nomination Form
  • A letter of nomination must accompany the form and should illustrate why the nominee should be considered for the award. 
  • Members can self-nominate. 
  • All submissions need to be received via email to 

All nominators should be members of the Manitoba Library Association.

The deadline for the 2024 award is May 1, 2024.

Annual General Meeting – join us!

Posted in AGM, and Board

The Manitoba Library Association is pleased to invite members to its Annual General Meeting:

Thursday, April 18, 6:00 PM Central Time, online over Zoom

This meeting will be followed by a meeting of the incoming and outgoing Board members at 7:00 PM Central.

Please register for receipt of AGM package and Zoom link. Only registered members are able to vote, please visit our website if you need to renew or purchase membership.

We will be electing for the following Board positions:

    • Vice President
    • Treasurer
    • Membership Director
    • Director at large- Advocacy
    • Library Technician Divisions Chair
    • Trustee Division Chair

Check out more information about the board positions here:

Register for the AGM here:

Call for Nominations for the MLA Board of Directors

Posted in AGM, and Board

These are important and challenging times for libraries in Manitoba – your peers need you!  Get involved as a member by putting your name forward for the board, by joining a committee, and/or by supporting the work of the MLA with a membership as we continue to promote and support our incredible libraries and library staff members in this province.

Supporting the MLA helps our ability to support libraries and library workers in our province, we are all the stakeholders!

Being a member of the MLA Board provides excellent opportunities to:

  • meet and network with others in the community,
  • gain valuable skills,
  • build your professional portfolio, and
  • contribute to your profession.

The Manitoba Library Association welcomes nominations for the following positions on the Board:

  • Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Membership Director
  • Director at Large – Advocacy
  • Library Technicians Division Chair
  • Trustee Division Chair

Position descriptions are available online.  Additional information on position responsibilities, expectations or benefits of serving on the Board is available by emailing

Nomination Process:
You may nominate someone who is willing to stand as a candidate for an above position, or you may nominate yourself. Please send an email to and include:

  • Name of nominee
  • Contact information of nominee

Election Process:
Elections will take place at the Association’s Annual General Meeting on April 18, 2024.  The roster of nominees will be presented to members and there will be a call for additional nominations from those present at the meeting.  Voting will take place after which the Association’s members will accept the slate of new Board members

We’re hiring!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Manitoba Library Association is looking for an Office Manager. The position description can be found below and the deadline for applications is April 8, 2024. We are excited to hear from all of those interested in joining our organization!

Office Manager – Description

The Manitoba Library Association provides leadership in the promotion, development, and support of library and information services in Manitoba for the benefit of MLA members.  MLA membership is open to the library and information community and the citizens of Manitoba. The guiding principles by which we operate are to create opportunities for collaboration & partnership, inclusivity & acceptance, active dialogue with all stakeholders and a sense of community.  We are a strong and proactive organization that effectively serves the professional interests of its diverse membership.  

Reporting to the board of directors and working collaboratively with the board, staff, and various committees, the office manager is responsible for maintaining and optimizing the administrative operations of MLA and general office management. The incumbent would also provide administrative support to committee members and the program coordinator to actualize the work of workshops and conferences. The Office manager will work in accordance with the policies of MLA and in support of the outcomes as defined in the Strategic Plan. Supporting, facilitating, training, and liaising with committee members, and partnering with other organizations is critical to a successful organization that benefits its general membership.  So too is the need to work in close collaboration with the board of directors on all operations, including program and project activities as they relate to the current strategic plan.

Duties of the Office Manager

Administrative Support

  • In collaboration with the Secretary, manages and maintains association records, meeting minutes, memberships, correspondence, official documents, and reports. 
  • In collaboration with the Communications Committee and Webmaster, manages facilities, equipment, and communication platforms. 
  • In collaboration with the Board, regularly updates the association’s handbook and website. 
  • Attends the physical office at minimum twice monthly, and ad hoc as needed, for mail collection or meetings. 
  • Provides administrative support organizing events and conferences. 
  • In collaboration with the President and Vice-President, coordinates scholarship and awards selection process, and ensures disbursement. 
  • Works in close collaboration with the MLA Executive to sustain operations of the association.
  • Builds a positive culture and member focused association in collaboration with the board. 


  • Manages and reports on the association’s financial resources and prepares for an annual audit. 
  • Supports banking, insurance, and financial management processes to ensure efficiency. 
  • In collaboration with the Board Executive, administers grants, sponsorships and funding from a variety of sources. 
  • Develops, with the treasurer, an annual budget.
  • Assists the Treasurer in pursuing new funding opportunities. 


  • Serves as primary contact point for MLA members, relaying messages to the Membership Director and other members of the Board as required. 
  • In collaboration with the Board, ensures that the general membership is informed of important/relevant issues. 
  • In collaboration with the Membership Director, manages donor and member databases. 


  • Proven experience as an Office Manager or in a similar role
  • Proven experience with Microsoft Office and Google Workspace
  • Experience with reporting, budgeting and bookkeeping 
  • Proficiency with QuickBooks is an asset
  • Ability to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Attention to detail and accuracy in data entry and record keeping
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision, and the ability to work as a team
  • Interest in and/or knowledge of libraries 
  • High level of professionalism and integrity
  • Willingness and ability to join the Manitoba Library Association

This is the equivalent of a part-time position at 21 hours per week and 48 weeks of work annually (to be performed consecutively or non-consecutively), with four weeks paid vacation. The regular working hours are flexible and can be set by mutual agreement between the incumbent and the employer. Apart from necessary tasks in the Manitoba Library Association office, work can be carried out remotely. The Office Manager, members of the Board, and other agents of Manitoba Library Association (i.e. Program Coordinator) will make every effort to negotiate meeting times in a mutually agreeable manner and with reasonable notice. This is an annually funded position subject to annual funding grants and operations. 

Salary: $25.00 – $30.00 per hour; 21 hours per week.

How to Apply: 
Please email Cover letter and resume to by Monday, April 8, 2024.


MLA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to employment equity and diversity, including an inclusive barrier-free recruitment and selection processes and work environments. MLA invites applications from all qualified individuals and welcomes applications from racialized persons, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity. Feel free to self-identify on your cover letter. Preference will be given to candidates from equity-deserving groups above.

Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process. Please email for any questions and concerns regarding application and accommodations. Any information received relating to accommodation measures will be addressed confidentially.

Library Spotlight: Carberry/North Cypress Library

Posted in Library Spotlights

“You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind”

-Fred Rogers

The process of cross-pollination in the natural world can help to produce bountiful gardens and crops required for healthy living. Communities can also benefit from this process, but rather than pollen, insects, and wind, it is libraries which act as a hub for exchanges that promote healthy social living. The Carberry/North Cypress branch of the Western Manitoba Regional Library is a prime example of this, where a conscious effort is made to promote a web of interaction between age groups, local organizations, and types of information.

One of the first things visitors may notice upon entering the library is the hum of a 3D printer transforming patrons’ imagination into reality. There is a steep learning curve associated with 3D printing and the library’s knowledgeable staff is eager to offer their support. This piece of technology, which was funded by the Carberry and Area Community Foundation, was intentionally placed near the entrance to educate the public that “libraries aren’t just dusty rooms full of old books,” in the words of branch supervisor, Laurie MacNevin. According to the library’s records, over 1000 3D prints were made last year alone. Conventional printing is also a popular service offered by the library. Other technologies available to patrons include telescopes, language translation devices, and even home radon detectors.

The library is anything but a dusty old room full of books. Large windows fill the space with natural light, making it an ideal environment for keeping plants. Some patrons will even winter their plants in the library and there is an array of permanently housed plants throughout the space, giving it a home-like, welcoming feel. The natural elements of the library are complemented by local works of art, which not only beautify the space but work to support connections to and within the local arts community as well.










With gardening being a popular pastime amongst patrons, the library, in collaboration with Carberry Garden Club, has setup a seed library where members from the club and the community-at-large can donate and exchange seeds. On occasion, the club also holds talks on topics such as no till gardening and winter sowing. An advantage of this form of knowledge exchange over generic information on the topic is that it is based on locally tried-and-tested methods. Gardening in the Carberry and surrounding area, for example, is known for its highly sandy soil composition, which poses a variety of challenges in terms of nutrients and drainage.


Another element of this library is its focus on nurturing critical life skills amongst the community’s younger generations; for instance, teamwork, confidence in using new technologies, communication, logic, and problem solving. Patrons have access to “Micro:bits,” which are small programmable circuit boards designed for teaching the fundamentals of coding. Like the learning curve associated with 3D printing, the library’s friendly and knowledgeable staff is keen to support patrons (typically 9 to 12-year-olds) with their exploration of these devices. How to Solve a Rubix Cube is a popular program which encourages both collaboration around problem solving and confidence in one’s own problem-solving abilities. Access to games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, also provides opportunities for developing verbal, numeracy, communication, and teamwork skills.

In addition to sowing the seeds of critical life skills amongst youth, the library also provides programs tailored towards the community’s seniors. The Reader’s Teas for Seniors provides a warm social atmosphere for patrons to enjoy refreshments while listening to a story read aloud.

Though some programs are tailored to specific age groups, they are not intended to divide them. For the most part, they all take place in a central, common area to encourage a community-of-one atmosphere. A notable exception is the all-ages Chess Club, which has helped to build bridges across generational divides in the community in a way that few other activities can.

Whatever the purpose of their visit to the Carberry branch of the WMRL, patrons are likely to discover new aspects of their community and of the information world – an experience that branch supervisor Laurie MacNevin describes as “breaking the algorithm,” which is a reference to the highly addictive echo chamber of information that is fed to us on social media based on clicks and likes.

Laurie MacNevin, Branch Supervisor (Left) with Mackenzie Altenburg, Library Assistant (Right)

The MLA would like to extend its gratitude to Laurie MacNevin, Branch Supervisor and Mackenzie Altenburg, Library Assistant, for their passion and commitment to creating library experiences that challenge and advance the notion of what a library is while strengthening bonds in the community.

Article and Photographs by Rustam Dow, MLA Communications Committee Member