After a long and distinguished 27 year career with the Milton Public Library, 22 years as Chief Librarian, Leslie Fitch announced her intention to retire effective June 30, 2018. Leslie has represented MPL in the community and led its growth from its previous home on Bruce Street serving a population of 30,000 to a modern, integrated Main Library and branch system that serves almost 60,000 patrons per year.
“Leslie has helped to shape our community as it has grown, and has helped foster a lifelong love of reading and learning for so many people, young and old,” said MPL Board Chair Brad Boehmer. “On behalf of the entire MPL family, I wish her the very best as she embarks on her next chapter.”
“Being CEO/Chief Librarian as Milton planned and then responded to such explosive population growth has been incredibly rewarding.” said Lesley Fitch, “The chance to work with exceptional staff as MPL developed into the system it is today has been a gift, and I’m so proud of what we have all accomplished together.”
Leslie recalled where her love for libraries originated: “One of my sisters would take my next oldest sister and me on the bus into downtown Victoria. We spent hours together in our journey to, from and at the library. I’ve always loved libraries.” Once she had finished her BA, she went back to University in London, Ontario to get a Masters in Library and Information Science, and has been in Ontario ever since.
“I like holding a book in my hand. I like finishing a book and giving it to a friend or family member to enjoy, or adding it to the University Women’s Book Sale bin as a donation. I love going into libraries, and book stores and used book stores, to browse and buy. Very satisfying.”
After retiring, Lesley plans to: volunteer with the Milton Horticultural Society; sing with the Milton Choristers; take courses; travel; help here and there where help is needed; take the time to just slow down at times by watching clouds drift from horizon to horizon; and READ
Mark Williams has served as the Deputy Chief Librarian for MPL since 2015. He said “I think the Town of Milton is one of the most vibrant, interesting and unique towns in Ontario. I love living here and am overjoyed that the honour of becoming MPL’s new Chief Librarian, later this year, has been bestowed upon me.”
When asked what had inspired him to be a librarian, Mark Williams described how when he was trying to decide what he wanted to do with his life, the Chief Librarian of Coventry, UK was looking for someone to work with vulnerable youth in an effort to break down barriers to public library access in a deprived urban setting. “The idea appealed to me so I applied for the job …which allowed me to work with kids in residential foster care homes, youth at risk of criminal behaviour, homeless youth and LGBT youth. And I LOVED it. I saw firsthand the power and positive impact public libraries have on the most marginalized in our society.” Mark has now had 18 years’ experience from public libraries in England, Toronto and Milton.
“Mark’s experience, skills and ability for public library service excellence, his vision for the future and his strong relationship building skills made him the clear choice to oversee the next chapter of Milton Public Library,” said MPL Board Chair, Brad Boehmer.
Mark Williams’ key plans are: “to undertake more community outreach to ensure we are meeting the needs of Milton’s increasingly diverse population. In addition, embracing new technologies will support MPL’s mission. I am determined to ensure that Milton Public Library will continue to champion reading and literacy, support lifelong learning, and enhance opportunities for creativity and collaboration.”
Both Lesley and Mark are “really excited about the opening in spring 2019, of a new and innovative Milton Public Library branch in the Sherwood Community Centre, in partnership with the Town of Milton where we’ll have a new and vibrant space for Miltonians to connect with MPL.”
Photos by Sarah Arfan