Librarians in Focus: Chris Thomson

October 16, 2014

Librarians in Focus: Chris Thomson

Chris Thomson, Programs, James McConnell Memorial Library, Sydney, NS

It’s all about connections. - Chris Thomson, Programs, James McConnell Memorial Library, Sydney, NS

Chris has been with the library for eight years and the Celtic Colours partnership is one of the programs she organizes. This is the library's 17th year hosting Celtic Colours--an international music festival that brings in talent and visitors from around the world. 

What do you love most about the library?

I’d have to say it’s the people--you get to meet a lot of the community in here. I’m responsible for setting up all of the programs for people of all ages. It becomes a busy community place. You never know who is going to walk through the door. There are regulars and visitors, but there’s always something new happening. 

What is the best moment you ever had at the Library?

It would have to be a Celtic Colours incident. About six years ago, we had two couples who make up The Sangsters from Fife in Scotland--they came and talked about Scottish music and poems from their part of Scotland. They started talking about a ship that brought people from Wales called the Lovely Nelly and I put my hand up and said, “That was my ancestors!” The performer went back to Scotland and wrote an article about Celtic Colours and meeting me. He traveled Scotland and found the cottage in which my ancestors had stayed and took a photo of it and sent it to me. It’s all about connections.

What has the library taught you? What lessons have you gained while working or being at the Library?

The variety of the people and the community in addition to the friendliness of the community. People are willing to go above and beyond for one another. For some people, the library is a way to get out and meet people. I host a weekly craft drop in--it’s more like a Community Centre. It’s really important to people in the community to have this place. 

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

I would have to say the Louise Penny series; I would recommend it to anyone. It’s a mystery series set in Quebec. The author used to work for CBC and has become a writer. 

What was your first memory of the library?

I actually didn’t visit the library much as a kid. But I remember taking my children to the library for story time and they really enjoyed that. My daughter is a big reader and we exchange ideas on what we’re currently reading to get feedback. As a child, I remember reading Nancy Drew and Charlotte's Web. When I had kids, I rediscovered reading and fiction. 

What are the connections that happen in Libraries?

It’s part of the lifelong learning idea. You don’t just go to school and stop, there’s always something new to learn. Not everyone has the resources to have a computer and subscriptions to magazines and new books. It brings people in to use those resources and while you’re at the library, you meet people in your community. 

What’s the power of a library to inspire?

Whether it’s fiction, genealogy, or history--there’s always a new idea waiting somewhere. If you take the time to look, it’s there. The more you learn, the more ideas you get and that’s where inspiration comes from.

Describe the library in three words:

Community. Open. Available.

What is the role of partnerships and the library?

We partner with Celtic Colours, Adult Literacy, Family Place Resource Centre, Cape Breton University, and Cape Breton Centre for Art and Design and many more. There are lots of partnerships and various community groups and volunteer groups which work with the library.