John Pateman says Thunder Bay is ahead of the curve when it comes to its libraries.
Pateman, who on Tuesday was officially introduced as the Thunder Bay Public Library’s latest chief librarian and CEO, said it was Canada’s forward thinking that enticed him to cross the pond from his native England.
“I’m aware that Canadian libraries have a great reputation in the UK for being progressive and for taking on new ideas,” Pateman said.
“When I first walked in to the Waverly Library it looked pretty much like a UK library. But when I started talking to the staff and learning about the programs being offered … I think we’re pretty ahead of the game here compared to the UK.
“There are things I can try here that wouldn’t happen in the UK.”
Pateman, who starts his new role on Oct. 9, started his career in public libraries in 1978 and worked as head of libraries and inclusion at Lincolnshire Country in England, where he oversaw 48 library locations and 15 mobile libraries.
He takes over from interim chief librarian Barb Philp, who assumed the role after the TBPL parted ways with former head Gina LaForce.
Pateman said he’s excited about the opportunity to work in Thunder Bay, and while he’ll certainly face challenges, he also sees plenty of room for growth.
With a smaller network to handle, he said there are bigger opportunities to make positive changes.
He said with his 30 years of experience there’s not much he hasn’t seen, but is thrilled with the chance to move the library forward.
“There’s always a long list of immediate issues to sort out,” he said. “The reason I’m here is to develop the service, move it forward and make it sort of one of the market leaders in public library services.”
Helping his wife and children adjust to their new home in Canada will be his top priority before starting his first day on the job, he added.
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