Building connections to community through
collections, services and events

How Red Deer Public Library leveraged its Russian children’s book collection
to bring the community together

—Tatiana Poliakevitch, Manager, Dawe Branch, Red Deer Public Library in Alberta, Canada

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Originally from Tomsk, Russian Federation, I am fluent in English and Russian, and I also have basic knowledge of German and Slavic languages. I graduated from the University of Alberta Library and Information Studies School in 2005, and I accepted the position of Community Development Librarian at Red Deer Public Library in October 2006. Earlier this year, I became the Manager of Red Deer Public Library’s G.H. Dawe Branch.

When I started in my role as Community Development Librarian, I was responsible for identifying and leading library services, programs and collections for many segments of our population: seniors, immigrants, aboriginal people and people with disabilities. One of the programs that I was running at the time was our Russian Story Time. At the time we were getting some books in multiple languages on loan from Alberta Multilingual Book Consortium, but we didn’t have much flexibility in terms of the types of materials that were coming to our library. Because of my background, I knew of a great publisher in Moscow who is passionate about publishing high-quality children's books. I discussed this idea with our Children’s Librarian and she approved the purchase of a small collection of Russian picture and juvenile fiction books for our library.

Today, we have 28 Russian picture books that are available for the general public to borrow. While modest in size, the collection has some of the best contemporary books in Russian for children as far as artistic and literary qualities go. At the same time, these picture books are approachable for small children who may speak more than one language. A few of the books are translations of the best American picture books. I have created a list in WorldCat that you are welcome to use as a resource if you are interested in starting a similar collection. The transcribed portion of cataloging information is in the notes to the records.

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Tatiana Poliakevitch

At Red Deer, our vision is to provide a welcoming environment where everyone can discover, share, develop and value our services. So this collection demonstrates how we can enhance and impact the community by providing materials that reflect and support local cultures. We have Russian Club at the library and host monthly Russian Story Times at the Dawe Branch. We also host the Annual Russian Children's New Year Party—a big event for the local Russian community that draws about 100 participants each year. Developing this collection and connection with the community is one of many positive outcomes of implementing our library’s strategic plan. This collection also complements another unique audiovisual collection I started at the library–the Foreign Film Collection.

We continue to focus on using a community development model to ensure we are meeting the needs and interests of our members and stakeholders. We collaborate with and support a variety of community groups. We deliver and/or co-sponsor a wide variety of interesting and informative programs and services for our members. Our next big event will be the International Mother Language Day celebration that will take place in both of our branches.

Here is our 2007 report to the community, which outlines additional initiatives we’ve implemented to improve services, collections and programs for New Canadians at the library.

More about the history of Red Deer Public Library »

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