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Fraser-Hickson Institute partners with NDG YMCA

Management, friends and supporters gathered in the basement of the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce YMCA on Feb. 14 to acknowledge the new partnership between the Fraser-Hickson Institute and the NDG YMCA.
When the Fraser-Hickson Library closed its doors on Kensington Ave. in 2007 due to financial reasons, 100,000 books were stored in a warehouse, much to the disbelief of the library’s 12,000 members.
The library had been privately financed for its entire existence until the final three years, during which it had a partnership with the city and the borough.
As president and chairman of the board for the Fraser-Hickson Institute John Dinsmore explained to Les Actualités, the end of that partnership was a devastating blow.
“They decided not to continue, so we were just not financially equipped to maintain a very large building and provide a full service library as we had been doing traditionally,” he said.
Six years later, those 100,000 books will now be resurfacing in the community. The Fraser-Hickson Institute has started a partnership with the NDG YMCA that will give members access to its vast collection.
The institute will equip the YMCA with “micro” library units, providing age-appropriate books for the different reading programs offered through the YMCA.
Lindsey Whitelaw, coordinator of the YMCA’s daycare, senior and homework programs, thinks that the partnership will benefit the YMCA on a variety of levels.
“It’s all about promoting literacy and getting the community involved in a project together,” she said. “The collection here will be made available to our preschool program, our homework help and tutoring programs, our teen zone program and our rendezvous program for seniors.”
Fraser-Hickson library director Frances Ackerman has been with the library for more than 30 years. She’s excited about the possibilities that the new partnership can bring.
“When we originally closed down in 2007, we knew we had to find a way to keep serving our 12,000 members, “she said. “This partnership is a perfect fit. We share the same philosophy and mission. Everything matches.”
NDG YMCA executive director Ross Chechile echoed the sentiment.
“We’ve always placed an importance on education, so Fraser-Hickson fits very well with us,” he told Les Actualités. “Reading is key to advancing in life, and I know that this partnership will only get better in the future.”
Dinsmore added that the partnership is a new way for the institute to reach readers. “It’s a way of making real our conviction that reading is essential in our community. We have 100,000 books sitting on shelves that are not being read. We want to get them out in the community as much as we can,” he explained.
Dinsmore said that, with the advancement of technology, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get people to come to libraries, given that so much can be done from a computer at home. He hopes that the new partnership will serve as an alternative.
“It’s become more likely that you can intersect people where they go rather than trying to get them to come to your front door at the library,” he said.
“We can popularize reading by making it available at places where people get together, such as the YMCA, penetrating deeper into the minds and habits of the community,” he added.
Now that the partnership is underway with the NDG YMCA, the institute will be holding a meeting at the end of March to discuss other potential partnerships, including expanding internally throughout different Montreal YMCA locations.

Jesse Feith
Photo: Jesse Feith

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