Welcome to the library, Carolyn, we’re so happy you’re here!

Can you tell us a bit about your connection to New Westminster?

New West is a special place for my family! My parents got married here and my mother spent most of her nursing career here as well. And I had one of my first postings as a librarian here!

Oh really? When was that?

Yes! After my degree in archive and library science, I worked in archives for a few years. Then I switched to libraries and worked at NWPL from 2008-2011 as an auxiliary librarian.

That’s so great! I’m sure there are some staff in the library who you remember and maybe some specific events?

Yes, that’s one of the things I am excited about with the NWPL – there are quite a few long-serving staff members which indicate a sense of stability and that the organization must be doing something right! I’m really happy to see some familiar faces here. When I worked here previously I often did storytimes in the children’s department, which I know are ongoing today. I remember one storytime in particular during the 2010 Olympics when there was so much excitement about the Games. We read sports stories, acting out the different winter sports, and energy was so high and so positive. That’s the kind of connection the library is all about.

That’s wonderful. Have you always had a passion for libraries?

I’ve always been a reader and a user of public libraries from a young age. My parents always encouraged the seeking and gaining of knowledge and the public library was a big part of that. I also consider giving back to the community to be an important part of everyone’s responsibilities, and libraries are a great way to engage in that. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a librarian, but when a classmate at university was accepted into library school at UBC, I thought I could do that too!

What has brought you to this point in your career of leading a public library?

I have worked all through the library and archives sector in special collections, archives and public and academic libraries. Just before I came to NWPL, I was the Assistant Head and User Services and Engagement Librarian at SFU Fraser Library (that’s the SFU library at their Surrey campus). The through-line of all these organizations is that they are all about community and connection. The institutions have meaning to and are in service of communities, bringing their stories and interests together. I’m excited to bring my professional experience together to help the NWPL meet its mission and vision and to be the library it’s meant to be.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing libraries in Canada?

There is definitely a tension between different visions for what libraries can be. There are great needs in our society, and sometimes there’s conflict between those different needs or between those needs and traditional library service. Navigating a course between these competing needs and visions is a challenge for organizations and for staff.

What are your hopes for the NWPL? What are you most looking forward to?

The vision that was laid out in the NWPL Strategic Plan (from 2021) is really exciting – as a Filipina Canadian, it is exciting to see myself personally reflected in a strategic plan with a radical vision of inclusion and diversity! I look forward to continuing to bring the vision of this strategic plan to the people of New Westminster, and I hope that this will help us become a model for other libraries.

What are you reading right now?

For me, reading serves different purposes. At work, I read to get up to speed and for professional development. It’s a time of intense learning and transition for me. But at home, I need to relax, and so it’s cozy mysteries all the time! Particularly ones that feature feisty library directors who solve all the crimes! I also love listening to audiobooks of middle grade fiction (aimed primarily at kids in grades 4-7) as they have super fun stories and amazing narrators.

What’s your favourite place to read?

Wherever there’s a chair with enough room for me and my dog, Coco, and enough light, I will happily read a book.

Thanks for sharing with us, Carolyn! We look forward to working together!


Joining the ranks of several libraries across Canada, the New Westminster Public Library is thrilled to announce the launch of a Seed Library, beginning February 11, 2023.

“We hope people will take some seeds, grow a garden however and wherever they are, then bring some of the seeds they produce back to us for sharing,” says Caitlin MacRae, librarian at NWPL and coordinator of the Seed Library. “Saving seeds is actually fun, free, and a great way to expand your knowledge of gardening while being a part of a larger community effort to go green.” Users will have free access to a variety of seed types including vegetables, flowers and a variety of herbs.

The idea of a seed library is not new for libraries but is for the New Westminster Public Library. “It’s one thing to loan out books about gardening” says Christopher Koth, Manager of Community Programs and Engagement, but after being approached by local members of the community “we realized there was an amazing opportunity to support city-wide efforts to promote issues around climate action and food security by offering this kind of a service”. The library’s 2021-2025 strategic plan emphasizes the City’s Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action as a priority, and Koth notes this is one way of lending support.

Starting Saturday, February 11, gardeners of all types can come to the Main Branch of the Library, fill out a short registration form, and then ‘check out’ some seeds. There are also a small number of gardening tools and planting templates available for loan, whether folks are planting a small container on a balcony or starting their own garden in a backyard. Details about this unique collection are available at: www.nwpl.ca/seeds

To launch the service, the library has partnered with FarmFolk CityFolk and Gardens4Kids to offer an all-ages celebratory “Seedy Saturday” event, February 11 from 10am to 2pm. The day will feature a range of programming including a number of gardening talks like how to build a container garden, and how to support pollinators, while also offering a special seedy storytime & activities for kids. There will also be an ask-a-gardener booth, a garden gear swap, and, of course, an introduction to the seed library! Some of New West’s favourite food trucks will also be on hand outside the library, with some door prizes to be won.

The event is planned to take place indoors and outdoors, rain or shine. As with all library services programming is free and open to all. “Above all, we want to encourage people to exercise their curiosity about local gardening of all types, and connect with others who share these interests” notes MacRae.

Anyone wanting more information about the Seed Library or the Seedy Saturday launch events can contact the library at 604-527-4660, email askus@nwpl.ca or check out the website at www.nwpl.ca/seeds .

Contact: Caitlin MacRae at 604-636-3541 or cmacrae@nwpl.ca

There are two construction projects currently underway at the library. We have provided some details and information related to each below:

Building Envelope Repair

When will the construction occur?

  • November 15 – January 2022

What is being done?

  • Work will be done to repair a leak into the lower level of the library and apply waterproofing to that same area.

How will this affect me?

  • Fencing and construction equipment will be set up in the area around the library parking lot as well as along the Ash Street Plaza. The pathway itself will remain open.
  • Landscaping has been temporarily removed from the area concerned and will be replaced once the project is complete.
  • Construction crews will be digging and at times drilling so there may be noise during their working hours of 7:30am – 4:30pm (though start times may vary according to weather).
  • As waterproofing is applied to the exterior area, there may be some smell from the material that is being used.


DVD Shelving Installation

When will the construction occur?

  • November 15 – 21

What is being done?

  • The shelves that house our DVD collection are being installed throughout our multi-media collection. They will prevent units from dropping behind the shelving, and reduce the amount of missing or lost items as a result.

How will this affect me?

  • DVD’s have been temporarily relocated, and there may be some disruption to accessing these and some CD’s during the week of November 15 – 21.
  • There may be noise in the library while the shelving is being assembled.

Questions? Please write to us at AskUs@nwpl.ca

We are thrilled to welcome our new Chief Librarian, Jorge Cardenas, who started at NWPL just after Thanksgiving. Jorge comes to us from Burnaby Public Library where he was the Manager of Community Development. So who is Jorge and what does he have planned for the NWPL? We wanted to know as much as you do, so we sat down to ask him!

What would you like the community to know about you?

I’m an immigrant in Canada who is still trying to understand the different communities and cultures around here. I love biking, reading and sports. I’m passionate about community development, anti-racism, and finding solutions for the climate crisis.

Where does your passion for libraries come from?

I have been a library user since I was a kid. Oaxaca (Mexico), my hometown, has many amazing libraries with great spaces, many books, movie screenings, and activities… it was easy to become a regular and to take advantage of the free and welcoming environment. It wasn’t until I came to Canada, however, that I thought about working in a library because as amazing as libraries are in Oaxaca, the concept of the library here includes things I wasn’t aware of: intellectual freedom, digital services, information hubs, support for immigrants and businesses and many more. Discovering that brought my passion to a new level.

What can you tell us about the Library’s new Strategic Plan?

I’m very excited about it! For me, the NWPL’s Strategic Plan both reflects my vision of what libraries should be and do, and it aligns with my career trajectory, so it’s a great fit. I’m looking forward to the work ahead where we figure out what this means for our day to day operations.

What’s the most pressing issue for libraries in Canada?

There are several things that are pressing, but as we emerge from the emergency phase of the COVID pandemic, one issue that I’m concerned about is how to recreate the library as a vital public space. When libraries were shut down because of the pandemic, one of the only types of public spaces that is open to everyone disappeared. It’s pretty clear how important that space is to inclusive and engaged communities, and its importance is even greater now as libraries provide resources for virtually-employed community members without a home office. I’m looking forward to seeing how library space can play an even more crucial role in Canadian society going forward.

What’s the thing about New Westminster that most piques your interest?

I am trying to eat my way around New West. I’m sure I’ll find great food of every kind but I’m trying to find excuses to talk to people and get to know the community better, and talking about what you eat or your next best meal are great topics and conversations starters.

I know you’re a cyclist, where do you like to ride in New West?

Before working here, I used to bike to the Quay and along the Waterfront, to Steel and Oak the local brewery, and a few times took the bike path that follows the Skytrain. Now, however, I want to bike every street of New West, every neighbourhood is beautiful and I think the city is very bikeable despite the terrible hills!

What have you been reading lately?

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard and Inventario by Jose Emilio Pacheco. I always try to read one book in Spanish and one in English – I don’t want to lose touch with either my current reality or my heritage.

Where’s your favorite place to read?

Anywhere, really, but I tend to read more in bed.

What are you looking forward to most about your role?

Getting to know the people I work with and the different communities in New West. This means also trying to find new and collaborative ways to understand  community needs and to solve those needs using the expertise library staff has.


Thanks so much for helping us get to know you a bit better, Jorge. A warm welcome from all of us here in New Westminster!