Oct 03, 2016

Get to know Library Workers in BC - October is Library Month

BURNABY - Across Canada, October is celebrated as Library Month to recognize the dedication and hard work of library workers and to emphasize the important role libraries play in education, research and literacy in our communities.

This year to celebrate library month CUPE BC will be featuring several of our library workers from various sectors and regions of the province each week so you can learn a little bit more about them and their passion for the important services they provide.

CUPE represents more than 4,500 members who work in academic, public and school libraries throughout BC and provide vital services in our schools, communities and college and university campuses each and every day. CUPE represents a wide range of library workers including librarians, library technicians, clerical workers, pagers/shelvers, graphics technicians, disability services workers, IT workers, building service workers, and drivers.

“Libraries are the heartbeats of our communities and institutions. CUPE members provide a wide range of services and with an ever-changing world library workers are continuously being asked to provide new services. Everything from helping graduate students navigate complicated databases, to cataloguing indigenous materials, to teaching seniors how to use social media, to assisting newcomers to settle in their communities to running reading clubs for kids,” says CUPE BC General Vice-President and Library Committee Chair Karen Ranalletta. “Library work is as diverse as our members are and there’s no question that the contribution CUPE members make to their communities is invaluable.”

This year the CUPE BC Library Committee has been working on a number of projects.  Earlier this year the committee released a report on health and safety in libraries which highlights the challenging working conditions library workers face, and the committee has also updated the progressive adults, kids and film lists for locals to use as resources.

“The committee has really focused on encouraging locals to affiliate to the BC Library Association (BCLA) and we are happy to report that this year we had the biggest turnout ever of CUPE members at BCLA’s annual conference. It is really important for CUPE members to be part of the broader library community and we are so pleased to see CUPE members engaging with the BCLA,” notes Ranalletta.

CUPE National is also celebrating Library Month – they are inviting all locals representing library workers to participate in a visibility campaign. You can find more information on their campaign here.


Name: Karen Dykes
Local: CUPE 951
Employer: University of Victoria

How Long have you worked at the library: Since February 2010.

Job Title: Supervisor of the Curriculum Library at the University of Victoria and San Jose State University School MLIS Student.

Tell us about the work you do or an innovative service or program you support:

The Curriculum Library supports students in the faculty of education at UVic with materials to help students learn how to be a teacher and materials that they will use in classrooms. A few interesting and unique collections we hold are historical textbooks of B.C. dating back to the late 1800’s, BCTF newsletters, and over 80 puppets.

What does being a CUPE member mean to you?

Being a union member means the opportunity to collaborate and share with amazing people from across the province and country who have similar yet diverse experiences and values. I love learning and being a CUPE member provides ample and meaningful learning opportunities to take advantage of.


Sarah_Bjorknas.jpgName: Sarah Bjorknas
Local: 23
Employer: Burnaby Public Library

How long have you worked at the library? 23 years.

Job Title: Senior Clerk 2.

Tell us about the work you do or an innovative service or program you support:

We serve an incredibly diverse population in Burnaby in terms of culture, language, socio-economic status, age, and ability. We get to challenge ourselves to reduce barriers to using library services by going out of our buildings to tell folks what we have to offer them and how they can access the service. Once they do come to see us, we work on how we can amend and tailor rules and expectations around such things as having identification, having a home address, translation, and understanding library etiquette. We want everyone to be able to use their public library to learn and grow, so it is no longer the place where you have to be quiet and follow a long list of strict rules. You just have to know that you are sharing your community resources with many other lifelong learners.

What does being a CUPE member mean to you?

 Being a CUPE member is an opportunity to be part of a diverse and interesting family. We benefit so much from those members who came before us and worked so hard to achieve the collective agreements we have and we have amazing opportunities to learn and grow and become leaders in our workplaces, our locals, and our communities. Union membership enhances our work lives, broadens our horizons in this age of constant change, and connects us to each other in powerful ways.


Leanna_(Lana)_McBurnie.jpgName: Leanna (Lana) McBurnie
Local: 3500
Employer: School District Number 73 (Kamloops/Thompson)

How long have you worked at the library? Employee for 18 years.

Job Title: Library Assistant.

Tell us about the work you do or an innovative service or program you support:

Libraries have come into the tech world. It is still a pleasure to be part of the early reading skills we develop in our students however, it is very exciting with programs like Read Around the Planet. Through this program our students learn about other students around the world and take pride in sharing their own lifestyle and culture with others.  We are also capturing students that would have previously passed on a book exchange with the introduction of graphic novels. Now students are able to find something that interests them and matches their reading level. Our library has introduced early reading books that students select according to their reading level rather than their reading grade.  The students develop and grow at different rates. This program allows something for everyone and is a step program eventually introducing them into novels and graphics. We have students that prefer to feel the pages of the book they are reading vs. the eBooks. Both of these are choices they are now able to make in our library.

What does being a CUPE member mean to you?

Our CUPE local is very much involved in our employee’s lives. They encourage us to better our education and skills with their support. They are active in our professional development days and they are always looking for new and exciting opportunities for us to take.  We have many community events such as our Labour Day Picnic, Fishing Derby/BBQ, bowling and more. I find it a comfort to know CUPE is behind us not just in the good times but when we face the difficult time such as labour disputes, job clarification, safety, job postings, bumping, disputes in the work place, questions in the workplace and when one of our members face hardship. The continuing training, conferences, and workshops for members are an important part of our members having the most current information. From the day an employee starts their new job until the day they retire, it is really nice to know we have CUPE as our partner. Our CUPE elected members are amazing. They are part of our work force and in touch with our needs. They are available to us for questions, concerns or ideas. I appreciate their endless energy and commitment they give us.


Member profiles week one.

Member profiles week two.

Member profiles week three.


COPE 491