Last week, the Friends of the North Grenville Public Libray honoured one of their founders and pillars, Pat Babin. Roberta Russell had the pleasure of presenting Pat with the Star of Library Award for his years of service. Roberta spoke on behalf of the Friends:
The North Grenville Public Library has no better Friend than Patrick Babin. About 20 years ago, the CEO of our library, Sue Higgins, was bemoaning the fact that she did not have what many other Library CEOs had – a Friends of the Library group. The action-oriented and community-spirited Library Board member, Dr. Patrick Babin, leapt into action.
He volunteered to research the subject. As a retired professor whose areas of expertise included project and curriculum design, implementation and evaluation, he was well equipped to take on the task. Eventually, a Friends of the Library group was formed with Pat as its Chair. He also filled in as Secretary in the early days. He had loads of ideas for useful activities we could be involved in, and it was not long before he had us marching in step to implement some of those ideas. Looking back on those days recently, it occurred to me that perhaps his early training in the military had equipped him for this role.
The Friends’ group which he and Sue set out to create was invaluable to the campaign for a new library. The Friends group, in various ways, made sure that the community was kept informed and could be involved. Friends of the Library was instrumental in laying the groundwork for community support of a new library.
From his Library Board colleague, Jim Armour, he got coaching in those early days on how to be more strategic and, when necessary, political. When the Municipality threatened to cut the Library budget, Pat soon had us circulating a petition which got a lot of community support and encouraged the Council to rethink the proposed cut. That early experience set the tone for a very focused Friends’ group.
One of the most successful projects that the Friends group organized for many years was an annual book sale. The Kemptville area is a community of readers. Each year, they donated books through the Summer months, and came back in droves to buy books at the Fall sale. Eventually, the book sale involved the processing of about 60,000 books each year, and raised about $12,000 annually. Any books not sold at the sale went to developing countries via various international agencies. Our aging backs gave out a few years ago, and the book sale has gone to a younger generation. The Youth Centre now organizes an annual book sale.
Pat is never short of ideas for things we could be doing. We rarely get a chance to catch our breath at the end of one project, when he comes to us with ideas for the next one.
In addition to the energy and creative ideas he brings, he is a very hard worker. For me, this lovely building symbolizes what a dedicated community and exceptional staff can accomplish; but there were a few key people without whom it could not have happened. Pat is one of those people.
It is my great pleasure to present this year’s Star of the Library award to our very deserving Founding Father Dr. Patrick Babin.