People, place and books

(Posted April 15, 2024)

By Courtenay Griffin 

What do comets, woodworking and sushi-making have in common? 

It’s just a sample of topics a public librarian may be asked to find information about on any given day.

Sarah Papple is used to connecting people with information, no matter how arbitrary or unrelated the topics may seem. 

“We see so many incarnations of how that person is going to take all of those things and make one thing,” she said. 

As Labrador Campus’s first academic and public services librarian, Ms. Papple is excited to use her 20 years of experience with multidisciplinary learning in public libraries to support interdisciplinary learning in her new role. 

“I find the same thing is happening with our students here,” she said. “They’re formulating unique and interesting questions, and because our campus focuses on interdisciplinary learning there is involvement of different sources of information, including the land, waters, knowledge keepers and elders.” 

As a librarian, understanding how to bring it all into the library’s knowledge base is an exciting challenge for Ms. Papple. 

Supporting the North

Starting the role in November 2023, Ms. Papple began by working with people in Labrador and Memorial University Libraries to assess the books and archives already in the library’s collection.

Through this work, she is developing a plan for how they will collect and use materials and support the community. 

“The focus at our campus is to keep people at home, support the North and really celebrate what exists here, so I have the wonderful role of showing the community what they have already,” she said. “The cultural wealth here is incredible.” 

Having moved to Labrador from Ontario, Ms. Papple is eager to get to know the people and the land. 

“I want to meet the people that make this place so special because you do have a feeling when you move here that this is a unique place to live.”

Part of Ms. Papple’s mandate is to engage the town and community within Labrador so that people who come to the library see themselves in it, either as community members, scholars, or somewhere in between.  

“Libraries are best when they’re full of people, as well as books,” she said. 

Community programs

Her plans include shining a light on Labrador’s treasures and engaging community members by offering interesting programs that showcase information and people from the area.

The new and improved space officially launched on March 20, with a “Spring into the Library” themed open house.

The event included the library’s first adult story time with a reading from Mina Campbell, a well-known Inuk woman, artist and knowledge keeper from North West River.

Adult story times will be held monthly and host guests from the community who will read to visitors. 

“I don’t know what kind of magic lives here in Labrador, but there are so many fascinating people and storytellers,” Ms. Papple remarked. 

A monthly Farm Fridays program kicked off on March 1 and aims to draw out seasoned farmers and backyard growers alike, with resources and discussions about farming and related topics including how to grow food in the North and food sustainability and security.

A new seed library has sprouted, thanks to a collaboration with the Pye Centre for Northern Boreal Food Systems.

It allows members to take seeds for free, with instructions on how to grow them. 

“By providing these programs we are building our knowledge base,” Ms. Papple said. “Farm Fridays will help us see what’s being grown and what works. It’s a way to exchange information with the community.” 

A Labrador cookbook club is another monthly community program that involves selecting a cookbook or recipes from archives.

Participants will then make food and bring it to the library for others to sample while they tell stories and share ideas about local recipes. 

A monthly crafting club — Pins and Needles — plans to host local crafters to lead participants through different crafting techniques, including beadwork, crochet, sewing and knitting. 

For information about the library, its resources and the new programs offered, or to contact Ms. Papple, visit the library’s web page.