October is Canadian Library Month.
All month long, libraries and library partners across Canada are raising awareness of the valuable role libraries play in Canadians’ lives.
More than just a place to find books, libraries promote cultural awareness, engage in the community, provide educational resources, support freedom of expression and so much more.
This year, the Ottawa Public Library wishes to highlight stories & acts of Kindness in the library environment.
Here is what the Alta Vista Branch of the Ottawa Public Library has to share on the topic.
What is Kindness?
Kindness is a behaviour marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without having an expectation of praise or reward.
Although we’re not able to host activities this Fall, we’ve been thinking about some of the ones we’ve enjoyed in the past.
One that embodies kindness took place in the Fall of 2018, when the Alta Vista Branch together with Lindsey Barr from World-Changing Kids delivered a workshop entitled “Thanks and Giving” to young members of the community and their families. Focusing on acts of kindness, the workshop invited participants to make Bags of Kindness and fill these with treats such as gently used books. Community partners such as local high school student volunteers and OCISO adult volunteers lent their generous talents in making this activity a success. Once completed, the Bags of Kindness were donated to the Ottawa Food Bank located in Alta Vista to give to clients with children for Thanksgiving.
The “Thanks and Giving” workshop was attended by 75 people (33 adults & 42 youth) and together they made 45 Bags of Kindness. At the end of the workshop, children and their families were also given a worksheet entitled “Works of Kindness” to complete over the next two weeks. Among the 14 acts of kindness listed in the booklet, they could pick 7 (or more) or make up their own if they preferred.
To learn more about the “Thanks and Giving” workshop, you can watch Lindsey’s interview with the folks at Daytime that took place earlier that week.
That same month, the teen volunteers of the Alta Vista Branch created and handwrote kind cards for elderly residents of the Oakpark retirement home, which were then dropped off at the home just in time for Thanksgiving. Here is what one of the residents wrote back in response to that act of kindness : “To a special child : Received your beautiful Thanksgiving card with a lovely green bow and sparkles on it. I am 90 years old and when given to me, I had a tear of appreciation, it made my day -and I thank you so much for thinking of us elderly people. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving as well.”
Several other initiatives followed in 2019-2020, with therapy dogs being brought to the branch during exam season to help high school students in what is always a rather stressful time of the year ; and the school-aged “Reading Buddies” program which grew over time and consisted in February 2020 of 40 different children getting help with reading in English and/or in French -in the company of kind and patient teen “buddies”.
Acts of kindness have also taken place during early literacy programs, every time that staff have supported new parents and their children, as well as whenever newcomers would walk into the branch hoping to practice a language that is not their mother tongue language. Kindness has also been shown in helping seniors navigating new digital tools and in teaching special need young adults how to code and to build electrical circuits.
While the covid-19 current circumstances have drastically changed how we can interact with the local library community and have reduced the opportunities to offer intergenerational programming, they haven’t altered the objective of staff to show kindness whenever and wherever possible.
Stop by at your local branch during the month of October to get your own copy of the Ottawa Public Library’s Kindness Calendar - with 31 prompts on practicing kindness!
We’ll get through this together by staying strong and wise, and our daily quotient of kindness with these uplifting reads for a Library Month celebrating kindness:
Blog post contributed by Nathalie Blanchard and Kristina Roudiy from the Alta Vista Branch.