A funny thing happened on the way to the library…
Or so Patrick Siebold’s story goes.
Patrick is the librarian at the Comox Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library.
It only took him two decades to get to where he was always meant to be.
Patrick was born and raised in Regina, Sask., the son of a librarian.
“I’ve always loved books, and reading in libraries. I have fond memories of growing up ‘in the stacks’. She was a single mom and she would actually take me to work. I remember running around the … stacks of books, and it was lovely.”
He moved to Vancouver Island immediately following high school, for his post-secondary education at UVic.
“I tree-planted my way through university, then wound up working in forestry for almost two decades, supervising forestry camps.”
During his time in forestry, his mom switched careers, moving into the consulting business.
“I would work with her on various writing and editing projects during the winters – the forestry work was seasonal. I eventually burnt out and went back to school. I’ve been with Vancouver Island Regional Library for three years now.”
His first posting was in Haida Gwaii, then over to the Campbell River branch for two and a half years, before transferring to the Comox branch this summer.
“It really is where I should be. There’s a certain amount of idealism that I think my mom really bestowed on me. Public libraries are these wonderful depositories of information that really break down barriers. They really democratize information. So I always carried that around with me. And also, working around small towns, in Alberta (during his forestry years) I always found the public libraries to be a bit of a refuge for me. I would always find myself there on my days off, until one day, I finally thought, ‘you know what? I’m going back to school.’”
Patrick recognizes that a male librarian is somewhat of an oddity.
“It is a female-dominated profession, in North America. I would guess 60:40… OK, maybe 70:30,” he said, of the ratio, but explained there is a good reason for that.
“Melville Dewey (American librarian and inventor of the Dewey Decimal System of library classification) started the first library schools in North America. He was also a notorious skirt-chaser. So he started the tradition of library schooling in North America, and also started the tradition of the female domination in the schools.”
It was also the early 1900s, where many North American men were going to war, not school.
The trend of female librarians stuck.
Patrick is particularly looking forward to developing relationships with the seniors in and around the Comox Valley.
“It’s a big part of our client base, our customer base, and they are often under-represented, I think. So I am planning to spend time at the long-term care facilities, the assisted living facilities.”
Patrick’s partner, Jess, is a nurse in Campbell River.