"Tales of pioneer hardship and deprivation have been told many times. Yet still we remember in wonder, that people accomplished so much with so little; that men and women with simple tools, their bare hands, and their own inventiveness cleared the land, drained the swamps, made their own clothing and provided their own food. Through all these difficulties God was with them and they wanted their children educated intellectually and spritually." from Norfolk Street United Church history

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Libraries across Ontario celebrate Culture Days

1911 Guelph Public Library

TORONTO, September 7, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Public libraries throughout Ontario have enthusiastically embraced the spirit of Culture Days. More than 100 public libraries in small towns, mid-sized cities and major urban centres in Ontario are taking part in Culture Days celebrations September 30 to October 2, 2011. Culture Days is a collaborative pan-Canadian volunteer movement to raise the public's awareness, participation and engagement in the arts and cultural life of their communities. Find out about Culture Days activities taking place in your community by visiting www.culturedays.ca

During the Aeroplan Culture Stories Contest, Canadians told Culture Days that their public library is a favourite place to experience arts and culture. As Catherine B. of Ottawa said, a library is

"more than books and dust; it's thriving, growing, cultivating - we meet, we share, we have a place that's purely for exploration. Libraries ARE community, and they burst with arts and culture."

The Elgin County Library is hosting a reading by Giller Prize winning author Bonnie Burnard and the Cambridge Libraries and Galleries is presenting storytellers Tongues Wagging Productions. The Stratford, Grimsby and Windsor public libraries are all holding "Human Libraries" during Culture Days. The public can check out "human books" including artists, writers and musicians who have volunteered for one-on-one informative and entertaining chats.

"Public libraries and Culture Days are a natural match because both are about inclusion and making sure that culture is available to everyone in the community," said Stratford Public Library CEO Sam Coghlan.

Beyond the literary world, many Ontario libraries are also hosting a range of arts and heritage activities, such as a bilingual demonstration by instrument builder Pierre Laframboise at the Greater Sudbury Library. The Innisfil Public Library is holding a dance workshop by the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers and the Whitby Public Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary by asking the public to scan their historic photos of Whitby into a digital photo collection.

"Libraries have obviously come a long way in 100 years," says Whitby Public Library CEO Ian Ross, "Back then we were inward looking. Today we are collaborative organizations, working with so many partners to achieve shared goals."

Several major urban library systems have offered their spaces to artists and cultural groups wishing to present Culture Days activities. The London Public Library is hosting activities at every library branch in London. Similarly, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is hosting 85 activities at 48 library branches for their program "Culture Days @ the Library." This large-scale partnership between TPL, Culture Days and the Neighbourhood Arts Network is an unprecedented opportunity for the public to engage directly with artists in their own neighbourhoods.

"The great variety of cultural activities in urban library branches - from music and dance to poetry, storytelling, painting, bookbinding and stone carving - is testimony to the artistic talents in our cities," said Toronto Public Library's Senior Services Specialist Miriam Scribner. "In opening up library spaces for Culture Days, we are connecting artistic creators with local communities, providing high quality cultural experiences that are not always easily accessible."

A complete list of participating Ontario libraries is available here and more information about the Toronto Public Library's involvement in Culture Days is available here.

About Culture Days

Culture Days is a collaborative, Canada-wide volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities. The first Culture Days event in September, 2010, swept across more than 700 Canadian cities and towns. The second annual Culture Days weekend will feature more than 1200 activities across Ontario this September 30, October 1 and October 2, 2011. Once again, the event will feature free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate "behind the scenes"—and to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, and designers, and more at work in their community.

Please visit www.culturedays.ca or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Culture Days in Ontario is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Ontario in recognition of Celebrate the Artist Weekend.

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