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How OPL is bringing communities together: One resident’s view


Ottawa resident Amanda Carver recently took to Twitter to show her gratitude to the people in her life and the community that has built up around her as a result of joining the Babytime group at Ottawa Public Library (OPL) seven years ago: 


The tweet reads: 

"Well designed and organized communities augment lives. When my 1st was born, I needed support and connection. So I went to Baby Time 2x/wk at @opl_bpo. 7 yrs later, we’re still sharing & supporting ea other. Gratitude for ppl I share my life w (& finally getting to try SUP yoga)."

As OPL’s vision is “To build community and transform lives,” this resonated very strongly with its employees.

The communications team at OPL was so touched that they reached out to Amanda directly to find out more about her connection to the library.

OPL: When did you start coming to OPL?

AC: I had been in to the library a couple times before having kids, but after my daughter was born, it was important to me to make connections and be out in the community. I wanted to make sure maternity leave didn't amount to me spending days alone at home with my baby. I started taking her to Baby Time each week starting when she was three months old. These days I still regularly take my kids to choose books at the local branch.

OPL: How did you find your parenting community at OPL?

AC: Many of us would hang back after Baby Time at the library. We would talk about challenges related to caring for a new baby and share solutions and resources that we read. This morphed into weekly coffee dates and play dates in the park. As the kids started daycare, we started mom's nights and now we enroll our kids in the same activities.

OPL: What did having those regular meetups mean to you as a new mom?

AC: As a new mom the meetups were a lifeline. None of my friends had children at that point  and I have no family in town so I really needed someone to lean on for support and learning. This became my parent network and still is. We now support each other as we face school challenges and other challenges of discipline and aging children.

OPL: On Twitter, you made the statement “Well designed and organized communities augment lives.” Where do you think public libraries fit in to that statement?

AC: A community should be more than a home. People need to broaden their understanding of what a library is: a library is more than a book repository. A library is a community hub. Your local library has courses and lessons on a broad topic range, which I have also benefited from. You can borrow more than books: museum passes were fabulous while I was on maternity leave and gave us a way to get out and learn without overspending our budget. March Break programming is amazing and keeps kids active and engaged when school is out. Libraries are an opportunity to connect with your community and come together.

OPL: Any final thoughts?

AC: Reach out to your local librarian or library staff and learn about what a modern library offers and how it can complement your life. It made mine so much better than I could have ever imagined.