Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.
Name: Peggy Malcolm
As many of you know, I have worked for the OLS and its predecessor for many years. In fact, I started working at the Ottawa office of the Southern Ontario Library Service in early 1991, and was hired to write for the EXCEL distance education program and to create resource books called Sourcebooks for Small Public Libraries. We have come a long way from those green-covered printed booklets – but I am quite proud of the fact that the Ontario Library Service continues to provide resource materials for staff, volunteers, and board members at Ontario public libraries through the OLS website.
What do diversity, inclusion, and connection mean to you?
Throughout my life, diversity, inclusion, and connections have played a significant role. A little-known fact is that I was born in Taiwan and lived the first few years of my life in a village called Miaoli. Back in Canada, our home always had a steady stream of visitors from around the world, and at the time, I thought everyone had overnight visitors from New Hebrides and dinners with Hakka-speaking international students from McMaster University to name a few. Reflecting, I realize that these experiences shaped my understanding of diversity, inclusion, and connections especially as I listened, observed, and absorbed everything I could.
I got another chance to experience this after university (undergrad in Geography at Laurier; graduate library degree at Western; HR at Toronto Metropolitan U) and a few years at the Pickering, Ajax, and Whitby Public Libraries. In the late 1980s, through CUSO, I accepted a job in the Library at a United Nations Agricultural Research Station in Bogor, Indonesia (the photo above is of the Centre’s two librarians – Yuni and myself). While interesting work, this location allowed me to be surrounded by a different culture and language (after 2 months of language training, I was better, but always humbled in speaking Indonesian). Several times throughout the three years, we travelled through Indonesia and Southeast Asia, always finding our way by local bus, on foot, boat… meeting people, asking questions, visiting sites, listening, and learning.
I believe that the tone was set for my understanding of diversity but also of inclusion and connections to others. In everything I write or create for the Ontario Library Service, I consider whether the reader would understand the words, especially if English was not a first language or literacy skills are not strong. I am very proud of my 25 years working on the EXCEL distance education program. I know that the explanatory notes and information pieces have helped to shape many working in Ontario’s public libraries. I am proud of the years of consulting work helping people to navigate through legislation, operational questions and personnel issues.
As a side note, while I was in Indonesia, I hit several items on my bucket list including a visit to the fabled Spice Islands, famed for nutmeg. To explain, you might want to read: Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History by Giles Milton. In 1993, Canadian author, Ernest Hillen wrote a memoir called The Way of Boy: A Memoir of Java, and we were so fortunate to be a part of the book as we sent a package via Ernest to Indonesian friends who turned out to be key to unlocking his past.
One never knows what will happen when you listen carefully, observe, and make connections.