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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