Like several of the people involved with Twice Upon a Time, I am a librarian. When I was six years old, my public library branch in my hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario had a visit from Polkaroo. This was the ’80s, and I don’t think anyone was more popular with the six-year-old set than Polkaroo. Not only did I see him in the library, but when he and his handler (yes, he had a handler) left, I caught a glimpse of them outside the library walking away. No one else was around and I felt like I had had a special audience with Polkaroo. I like to say I became a librarian because – obviously! – a library was where you could have Polkaroo at your job.
Books and reading are why I am where I am today and have informed so much of my life. Libraries and bookstores are easily among my favourite places in the world, and a book given to me to keep was always a treasured item. I wasn’t great at sports, and I had no musical talent to speak of, but I was that kid that loved to read. That love of reading informed my entire upbringing, and I am very fortunate to have been able to turn that passion into educational success.
After completing a Bachelor of Education program, I changed paths and entered librarianship. I found that my love of research and the immense satisfaction I got from helping others were both met in the library field. It is through librarianship that I met Alexandra Yarrow, and when she announced she was starting this project, I was immediately excited to lend a hand. In a volunteer literacy organization I worked with previously, we would end each year with the children receiving a free book, picked out for them by their reading tutor. The book presentation ceremony was always a highlight of the year, and it was truly wonderful to see each child’s reaction to having a book of their own to take home.
I think access to books and a supportive environment that creates and nurtures a love of reading is of critical importance to young minds. Literacy opens doors and takes you places. Twice Upon a Time will occupy a very special place in the community – a non-commercial, fun, inclusive, and caring place for kids to start their own love of reading with books of their very own to read, re-read, and cherish with no strings attached. I am very excited for what the future holds for our program! — Jennifer Walker