Tell us about yourself and your position at EPL!
My name is Cassidy Munro, and I am the Community Librarian at the Strathcona Branch of the Edmonton Public Library! I’ve been a Community Librarian with EPL for almost 7 years now. As a Community Librarian, my role is to connect with the community and find out more about their needs and the barriers they face and work with them to see how the library can support them. It also includes working closely with community partners like YESS.
I love working at the library because we do offer so much to so many different people. Truly everyone can and does use the library, and I love helping make that possible. One of my favourite parts of my job is surprising someone with a service or resource they didn’t know we could offer. I also get to come out into the community and connect with people where they’re at—like YESS youth.
How do EPL and YESS collaborate to create safety and community for people who need it most?
EPL and YESS have collaborated in a number of ways over the years. Some of this work has been looking at policies and procedures and sharing that research widely with the youth-serving community so that youth can feel welcome and included everywhere they may go. It has also looked like offering programming both at YESS locations and in the library. Sometimes programming meets specific needs, and sometimes it’s a fun way to explore a library resource while allowing EPL staff to connect with and build relationships with those who YESS serves. Button making and, more recently, robotics have been really popular. By building these relationships where young people already feel safe and have community, we are able to support them better with safety and community when they do come to the library to use a computer, borrow something, or just hang out. [possible blockquote] I’ve had young people tell me that they never would have felt comfortable coming to the library and asking for help from EPL staff if we hadn’t met previously at YESS’ Armoury Resource Centre.
What is one thing you wish the wider community knew about people who access resources like YESS?
Asking for help is HARD. Even though it is absolutely not a weakness to need help, asking for it can feel so vulnerable. I wish people could see the true strength of people who access resources like YESS because they are doing hard things every day just by being open to support and help.