Vickery Bowles—“Public Libraries: Providing the Vital Ingredients for a Democratic Society”


Public libraries are a welcoming place for all. A place where anyone can follow their interests, learn more about any topic of interest. A place to come for storytime, a place to use a public washroom, and a place to meet friends.

According to Toronto Public Library’s City Librarian, Vickery Bowles, they’re more than that. On Saturday, June 8 at 2 p.m. she will give a talk at the Picton Branch Library entitled “Public Libraries: Providing the Vital Ingredients for a Democratic Society.” Libraries have recently been the centre of hot button issues: access to information, the freedom to read, civic engagement and equality, all of which this talk will cover. Vickery believes passionately in the difference public libraries make in the lives of individuals, in communities and cities.

Recently, Vickery won a trip to Prince Edward County and thanks to the Picton Rotary, Vickery connected with Library CEO Barbara Sweet and came for a tour of the newly expanded Picton Branch. “After the tour and learning that we were still raising funds, she was moved to offer this talk as a fundraiser,” explained Barbara. “We’re so grateful that she has offered to take the time out of her schedule as head of Canada’s busiest library system to visit our library and share perspective on these critical issues.”

Vickery took on the City Librarian Role in 2014, after 32 years working at TPL. In 2018, Vickery was awarded the Ontario Library Association Les Fowlie Intellectual Freedom Award in recognition of courage shown in defending the rights of library patrons to full access to information.

For many years a quote by Virgina Woolf has hung in the Picton Branch Library: “To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions—there we have none.”

Tickets for the fundraising talk by Toronto City Librarian Vickery Bowles are $20 and available to purchase online (below) or at any branch of the library.