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!