Libraries and literacy are a huge part of the Schmidt-Drake family’s life.
It’s kind of unavoidable since both Gwen Schmidt and Jim Drake work at the Frances Morrison Branch of the Saskatoon Public Library.
“Literacy and the work of libraries is fully enmeshed,” says Gwen. “Literacy has a huge impact on the daily lives of people, and the Library plays a big role in facilitating that.”
It would also be unavoidable that they would work closely with READ Saskatoon on many different projects.
“I started working with READ Saskatoon as the Library’s Literacy Librarian, and then became a tutor, a volunteer, and a board member,” says Gwen. “Jim was on the board for a few years, too, and works with READ regularly as part of his job in the Children’s Department.”
If you’ve ever been to story time at Pooh Corner, you’d know Jim. He is a fan favourite – with young kids and their parents alike.
Gwen and Jim both have a lot of passion for their work, and are big fans of the work READ Saskatoon does.
“It is hard not to get excited about the good literacy work that READ Saskatoon does in our community,” says Jim.
Their passion for reading and learning has always been a big part of their home life, too. Their 12 year old son, Henry, is an avid reader, and also does a lot of volunteering at a variety of Family Literacy events, such as the Children’s Festival and the Summer Reading Program.
“He spends hours talking to other kids about the Library’s programs and activities,” says Jim. “He does a great job of this, and so these are very proud parenting moments.”
Jim also has a grown daughter who is married with children, living in Vancouver. When Henry was just little, they took him on his first airplane ride to visit his sister. After they returned home, they turned photos and memories from their vacation into a story book that they would regularly read at bedtime.
“Henry liked a book that starred him in the main role!” says Gwen.
As a busy family, literacy plays a central role in how the Schmidt-Drakes bond and stay close.
“We like learning new things, and we as parents want this value to become important to our son too,” says Gwen. “Knowing the many tools available to you to accomplish your goals, and having the critical thinking skills to go with those tools, are both key to success.”
“Learning together gives us the joy of being together in a busy household,” Jim adds.
This kind of togetherness is important for all families to find, in whatever ways they want to come together. And READ Saskatoon, alongside great partners like the Saskatoon Public Library, are making the joys of family learning accessible.
“READ Saskatoon is impactful and dynamic. They seem always to get to the nugget of what needs to happen, without building a lot of bureaucracy. READ Saskatoon seems to have a people-first strategy, and that sort of successful focus attracts attention and support,” says Gwen. “READ Saskatoon also treats us really well as volunteers and partners – they always take time to make sure we feel appreciated.”
“We cannot help but suggest that other people make sure to use the library,” says Jim. “Everything is free, and story time happens almost every day. Have fun while you learn, and then stay afterwards to play with the toys and borrow some books!”
The Schmidt-Drakes are immersed in literacy, and recognize that the power of literacy on each and every family in our community cannot be underestimated.
“Literacy is everywhere,” says Gwen. “How to take the bus and read the schedule, how to cook from a recipe, how to mow the lawn, how to buy milk at the store and come home with the correct change.”
Jim and Gwen work every day to encourage people in our community to find themselves in literacy by losing themselves in a book.
“There are a million stories waiting for you at the library.”