The force was with David Tremblay when he and wife decided about a year ago they wanted to move back to Ontario from their current home in British Columbia.
Tremblay started his new position as the Huntsville Public Library CEO on May 4.
“My wife and I had a child just over two years ago and we started having thoughts around family and being closer to them. It was at the forefront of our minds the last couple of years,” said Tremblay, who was born and raised in North Bay, while his wife was in Thunder Bay. “We’ve lived outside Ontario for eight years. We’ve done the city thing and loved it but aren’t into the daily grind. We love small towns and the access to the outdoors and being closer to both sets of grandparents.”
Tremblay said he would share job postings that came up with his wife and the locations didn’t appeal to her. She started looking into various communities and settled on Huntsville, asking Tremblay to keep an eye on postings in the area.
When the CEO position with the Huntsville Public Library was posted, the family had already had a trip planned to come back to Ontario. Tremblay contacted the library board and asked if they could meet while he was in the area. He said the opportunity to meet allowed him to decided whether he wanted to spend time on his vacation applying for the position.
“I’d done my research but my wife started looking at the social media feeds of Huntsville and said they were doing some great things. I went over some of the annual reports and seeing how progressive and amazing of a library it is really spoke to me and seemed like they had forward-looking initiatives,” said Tremblay. “The visit with the board went really well, they were lovely and friendly. Part of the position of a CEO or chief librarian is the relationship you do have with the board and I think it’s a very important relationship. I could see after having a discussion with them that it could be a good fit for myself.”
Tremblay said the library adapted quickly to the changes that were necessary to make when the COVID-19 restrictions came into place.
“Since the premier’s announcement on curbside pickup there are a few key pieces on health and safety we need to get in order,” said Tremblay. “One of them is on March 31 the janitorial contract expired so we need to have a contractor that will clean and disinfect. That’s a major piece. We were grateful to work with the Town in securing a stable supply chain for PPE (personal protective equipment). We have an order in and we’re waiting for that. What we’ll be phasing in first is some book returns and then some semblance of curbside pickup.”
Tremblay said libraries rely heavily on a rotation of physical items.
“We can’t take everything back all at once,” he said. “We have around 5,100 items out or so.”
He said they’ll be phasing in some returns for a couple of weeks, while also determining how long they will quarantine the materials for and where, based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
Stepping into a new position during a pandemic has been interesting, said Tremblay.
“It’s not something I ever would have expected,” he said, noting that trying to arrange moving plans has been a challenge and his family is still working on determining the best plan.
Tremblay has a Masters of Information Studies from the University of Toronto and an Honours BA from Trent University in Peterborough. He has been working in libraries for the past decade, having spent the past seven years in positions of oversight and management of public libraries. Prior to that, Tremblay was a librarian with the Toronto Public Library, and was employed at George Brown College as an information specialist.
Tremblay’s professional activities also include serving as a library director mentor at a director bootcamp; a board member for an adult learning organization; and as a director on advocacy and intellectual freedom committees of the Library Association of Alberta.
“It’s exciting and has been wonderful thus far. It’ll be nice to be back in Ontario and be able to enjoy the lakes I’m used to and hiking, and get acquainted with the town and the wonderful opportunities available,” said Tremblay. “I’ve heard such great things about the community and seen great news stories about the community helping each other at this time.”
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