A week for writers and lit lovers

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Sheila Burnford Award

Last Saturday, the Northwestern Ontario Writers' Workshop announced a new award to be given to an organization which has supported the local writing community. The first award goes to The Thunder Bay Public Library. Good choice!

Below is Barbara Philp's acceptance speech on behalf of the library.

It certainly is an honour to be recognized in this way. The CEO/ Chief Librarian Gina LaForce and the library Board truly value its relationship with NOWW and the entire writing community in Thunder Bay.

The library has endeavored in every way possible to support local ventures from every writing group – be it the Writer’s Circle, NOWW or Sleeping Giant Writers’ Festival. I must acknowledge the great work of Barbara Koppenhaver – she started it all with the founding of the writer’s circle, writers in residence, and the rites of Spring and fall. She set the stage on which the library built its future involvement with all the ventures of each group. Every one of those ventures has been a joy to help out with.

It has been a pleasure to watch the community of local writing talent grow and prosper over the years – I smile with pride every time I see a local talent doing great things “away” - seeing Charlie’s name while perusing the LRC (Literary Review of Canada), having Holly bounce up to say hi at the OLA (provincial library association conference) as she goes off to read at the booth of the independent publishers group , hearing Weller, Pendziwol winning GG’s and having provincial colleagues ask about them on the email listserv – all these things point to the strength of the local writing community.

Thunder Bay is becoming a literary destination and the library is proud to have played a role and to continue to play a role. The library sees the writing community as an investment in our future. Again as I’ve said at many a Festival gala night, libraries need their readers, and readers need their written material no matter it’s format –paper or screen . So it is a true symbiotic relationship – writers, readers, libraries – the holy trinity!!

What is truly special about this trinity is that it is local writers, feeding local readers using their local libraries. Just as the global economy shrinks back to its local roots, and the Eat Local surge focuses attention on local farmers , so too can the writing community promote Reading locally. We are ready and able to meet their needs.

Thanks to the efforts such as NOWW, the local writing community is strong and vibrant and I’m very proud to have played a role. Thank you again for this wonderful award and may it encourage other organizations and businesses to support local writers!!

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