The Library Effect Project

Jun 16, 2013

Last fall, Parkland Regional Library put out a call for stories in a writing contest, offering an iPad to the grand winner and five Kobo eReaders as other prizes. Contestants in central Alberta were invited to write a story about how their local library has touched their lives in a positive way. And write they did! Within in a few weeks, over 150 entries had poured in, stories about how libraries in small towns and villages had helped children become readers, helped newcomers feel welcome, helped families save money, helped seniors become computer savvy, helped people feel less isolated.

The winning story described how a display of dog books at the library, and one book in particular called Love Heels:Tales from Canine Companions for Independence, started a process that changed a family forever. The family’s autistic daughter was eventually matched with a guide dog named Illy and as mom writes: “Not only has Illy drastically improved the quality of life for our daughter, he has had quite the effect on all of us, including her school. He has brought a lot of love and laughter into all of our lives, something we didn’t even realize was missing. With his magic touch, he breaks down barriers for our daughter wherever they go. The power of a single book can be very profound indeed.”  

The contest was just the first step in a project called The Library Effect: Changing lives one story at a time. This June, I’m delighted to travel to libraries throughout central Alberta to show how library staff and Boards can use the storybank’s riches to create compelling advocacy materials. Stories are the absolute best way to show how libraries transform lives and make our communities stronger. A good story, like a good book, can inspire and engage people and change the way people think. And this project is helping to prove it. 

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