Library Board

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Avnish Mehta

Board Chair
Committee Membership: Audit & Finance, Governance, Strategy & Community
Community Library: Fish Creek, Memorial Park
Term End: 2021

Avnish believes that libraries are the great equalizer because, as he says, “By their very nature, libraries remove barriers and allow for anyone and everyone to find information of any topic they want to explore.” Born and raised in Calgary, Avnish believes our city is becoming the city that so many dreamed it could be. “Calgary Public Library is creating the best library system in the world — the system that Calgarians deserve; a system that will challenge Calgarians to strive even further, as well as support them with the resources that they need to meet those goals. We want a system that is embedded in one's life, so that no matter where a person is at, they can always find value in the Library and the Library can bring value to them. That’s why I’m so committed to bringing the Library into the lives of more and more Calgarians.”

Shereen Samuels

Board Vice-Chair
Chair, Governance Committee
Committee Membership: Audit & Finance, Governance
Community Library: Forest Lawn, Southwood
Term End: 2021

For Shereen, bringing the Library into more people's lives is not just about physical buildings in new neighbourhoods. Shereen knows first-hand how invaluable the Library can be. “As my wife and I embarked on our parenting journey, the Library was our touchstone. Through the myriad books we checked out, we found community, support, wisdom, challenge, escape, inspiration. As a queer multi-racial adoptive family, we found proof of others like ourselves. I truly don't know how we could have survived those days without the Library.” She believes that the Library is vital to the future of Calgary. “In this 21st century environment, libraries are uniquely poised to be the new public sphere, a space where citizens gather together to generate ideas and discussion about who we are, and where we see ourselves going. The Calgary Public Library has the potential to be at the forefront of shaping that vision.”

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Isaac Elias

Chair, Strategy & Community
Committee Membership: Strategy & Community
Community Library: Signal Hill
Term End: 2020

Although he remembers reading under the covers each night as a child, it was only as an adult that Isaac came to understand the power of the library, and realize the diversity of programming, resources, and physical space that it provides. Isaac has worked as a pediatrician at some of the largest children's hospitals in Canada and has seen first-hand the difference that library connections can make in the lives of children and families. "Some of the most memorable moments I have had working in hospital environments have been connecting families to the resources available at their local library. It is the only place that families of all languages, backgrounds, and abilities can find access to free resources to support their learning, curiosity, and well-being."

Councillor Druh Farrell

City Councillor, Ward 7
Community Library: Louise Riley
Term End: 2021

Druh Farrell is a lifelong Calgarian who brings a depth of experience to Calgary City Council and to the Calgary Public Library Board.  Instrumental to the Central Library project, Druh co-chaired the advisory committee and steered the project through council approval. Druh helps communities respond to change with resiliency and foresight by championing initiatives that promote a liveable, walkable city and sustainable, fiscally responsible growth. Druh combines long-term vision with the tenacity to get things done.

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Debra Giles

Committee Membership: Governance
Community Library: Central, Crowfoot, Bowness
Term End: 2019

Debra reads avidly. “I use the library’s electronic services to download books on my phone so I have a book with me all the time.” But she recognizes that reading isn’t all the Library has to offer. “Library services have made a big difference in the life of my husband, who is a recent immigrant from Honduras. To prepare for his citizenship exam, he attended citizenship classes provided for free at Calgary Public Library. These sessions helped him pass his exam.” With her personal experience, Debra feels passionate about the services the Library provides to new Canadian families. Debra also believes in the crucial role the Library plays in early literacy. “The Library’s strategic plan to bring the Library and literacy into the lives of children, especially children of immigrants, falls into my passion of educating girls,” she says.

Janet Hutchinson

Committee Membership: Governance, Strategy & Community
Community Library: Giuffre Family, Shawnessy
Term End: 2020

Janet has always loved libraries. “I worked very hard at learning to print my name — that was the criteria for getting a library card in my hometown — and once I had it, I felt like I was somebody,” she says. The strong, positive impression that libraries made in her childhood has lasted her entire life. Because of these experiences, Janet passionately believes in early literacy. Janet also recognizes how important the Library is for people of all ages. Whenever we talk about being the best public library in the world, it gives me shivers. Calgary is growing into such an incredible community, and the Library should be at the centre of it all — inviting people in, building community, and giving everyone what they need.”

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Robert Macaulay

Committee Membership: Audit & Finance, Strategy & Community
Community Library: Judith Umbach, Saddletowne
Term End: 2020

Robert’s love of libraries stretches back to childhood. “My earliest memory of a library was the magic of visiting a bookmobile at night on our single-street mining township in northern Ontario — being outside late, entering this very strange vehicle that was full of books which I could pick from myself!” Today he feels that “there is no other public institution that is as open and available to all citizens as the public library. Calgary’s Library system is as interesting as the city itself; its community libraries are as diverse as the neighbourhoods they serve,.” Robert is focused on strengthening neighbourhoods in Calgary, and he sees the Library as key to building community and thereby improving the quality of life in Calgary.

Jocelyn Phu

Community Library: Central
Committee Membership: Audit & Finance, Strategy & Community
Term end: 2021

Born and raised in Calgary to refugee parents, Jocelyn credits the Calgary Public Library for helping her family settle into their new community and adapt to Canadian culture. Thanks to the librarians and clerks who encouraged her to share her love of reading with others early on, it was  at the Library that Jocelyn developed a lifelong passion for volunteerism, knack for storytelling, and deep interest in place making. She considers libraries as essential components in all communities because they are spaces where ideas are born and grow; most importantly, libraries are versatile institutions that serve all of society regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background. Jocelyn is a fierce advocate for the right for accessible digital literacy education in Alberta and strongly believes that knowledge should be democratic, free, and open.

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Andrew Rodych

Chair, Audit & Finance
Committee Membership: Audit & Finance, Governance
Community Library: Sage Hill, Signal Hill
Term End: 2020

Andrew’s love of reading stems from his parents’ passion for education, including early memories of his father reading bedtime stories and his mother’s work as a library technician and volunteer. Now with young kids of his own, he feels there is no better place to grow their own love of reading and learning than the library. In the fast-changing information landscape, the library has evolved too, continuing to offer critical paths for learning and opportunity. Whether as a student, a reader, or a father, Andrew has been able to experience the wide opportunities of the Library system and see how Calgary’s libraries are diverse institutions that help shape the communities where they are located.

Councillor Evan Woolley

City Councillor, Ward 8
Community Library: Central, Nicholls Family, Rocky Ridge
Term End: 2021

Evan’s relationship to the Library goes back to childhood. "Giuffre Family Library has a grassy, sloping roof. When I was a kid, we would take out books after my soccer games in the adjacent field, sit on the roof, eat oranges, and read. It was awesome." He believes that the Library is one of our city’s most important resources, one that is vital in building community across Calgary as foundations for strong, resilient, and livable neighbourhoods. Evan knows that Calgary Public Library has changed lives. He sees the Library playing a key role in helping this diverse and growing city fulfil its boundless potential. "The future I want to build," he says, "includes a popular, robust, world-class, and totally accessible library system of which all citizens will be proud."

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