ST. JOHN’S, NL — In his famous TED talk Start With Why, Simon Sinek encourages business leaders to find a central mission that can guide their decision-making.

This guiding principle will, in turn, enable them to offer better products and services to their customers. It’s a great exercise in understanding what motivates you to do what you do and how you can better serve the people who care about your business.

Thinking about the library, I know many of my friends and family often imagine childhood afternoons spent looking at books with parents and caregivers and I’m glad the library holds a place in their hearts. as a cherished institution with happy memories.

However, I would like to ask you a question: in the age of information and Google, why do we have libraries? What is the purpose of the library?

In our current historical moment, we see a variety of new challenges emerging, including rampant inflation and feelings of displacement, disconnection and loneliness. There have been fewer gatherings, parties, and celebrations over the past two years — all those things that help us feel fulfilled and connected to those around us.

Although I don’t mean to say that libraries are the answer to these problems, they can be a good starting point.

Entrance to the library is and always has been free. Spending a morning, an afternoon or a whole day in our agencies does not cost a penny.

At a time when daily costs are higher than ever, having a place to go outside your home for an hour or two is a godsend. I find it hard to think of other places where I can go sit, drink my coffee and relax on my own that doesn’t cost me anything.

As the coming home year approaches, I know that many families across the province will be returning for the first time in a long time and locals will be eager to get out of town for a night or two. With rising prices for gas and everyday goods, browsing the local library while on vacation can also be a great money-saving measure. You can also borrow a book, DVD, board game or a host of other local special collections from across the province to enrich your vacation.

One of the things the pandemic has done is highlight the need for community – to get to know the people around you and to connect with others. One of the main functions of our libraries is to provide province-wide programs to their communities. This is part of our service model. Although branches can vary greatly in size and staff, the library can be a place where people can gather in a safe and free environment.


As the coming home year approaches, I know that many families across the province will be returning for the first time in a long time and locals will be eager to get out of town for a night or two. With rising prices for gas and everyday goods, browsing the local library while on vacation can also be a great money-saving measure. You can also borrow a book, DVD, board game or a host of other local special collections from across the province to enrich your vacation.


You can use our spaces for many things: study, read, do research, meet friends, attend a program or just hang out. You can also get involved as a volunteer by joining a local library board and helping make decisions on behalf of your community branch.

Library space is not necessarily the library’s greatest asset, but those of us who work at the library know that our branches have great potential to serve as gathering places and community centers.

In other parts of the country and the world, this is very often the case.

One of the most important things we do is provide ways for people to stay connected. This includes a variety of sources of information, although, perhaps most notably, all of our sites offer free public Wi-Fi and computers for your use.

Public internet access is crucial, especially given the number of government and public services that have shifted primarily to online rather than in-person models since 2020. Being able to access high-speed internet and our libraries make this possible for thousands of people. people from Newfoundland and Labrador every day.

Even if you don’t plan to use a computer or access the Internet, our staff is waiting for you at all of our locations. Face-to-face connection is also important and we are happy to serve you in person.

Of course, we also provide tens of thousands of articles, including print and digital fiction and non-fiction titles, audio and e-books, local, national and international newspapers via Pressreader and many other types of documents in our print and digital collections.

Our libraries exist to meet the needs of the people of the province. Yes, everyone, including you.

When I think of the library, I think of my community. I think of all my neighbours, the people I pass on the sidewalk on my way to work and the people I stand in line with at the grocery store.

I encourage you to get out and use your public library this month, whether it’s to attend a program, borrow an item, get a map, meet someone new, or just enjoy our space.

After all, the library should be a reflection of its community, because the why of the library is the people.

It’s us.

It’s you.


Sarah Bartlett is the Eastern Regional Librarian for Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries.