Ask Nancy Mohamed (Warwick) what she will miss about Squamish and her eyes immediately fill with tears.
Mohamed, who is in charge of adult programming and marketing at the Squamish Public Library, is leaving town after two decades here, to start a new life in Vernon at the end of next month.
Her last day working at the library is Oct. 31.
The Chief sat down with Mohamed, who turns 51 in a few weeks, in the library for a chat about her time at the library and what she sees for the future.
What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Q: When did you start here?
A: I am in my sixteenth year of working in the library. I was a board member for four years before that.
Q: Why did you come to Squamish?
A: We came here for my former husband to take a job at Squamish Terminals. I feel like I almost grew up here.
I came here in my 20s and I am leaving in my 50s.
Q: Why are you leaving? What is next?
A: I have recently gotten remarried and I am moving to Vernon where my husband is. It is quieter and is the oldest town in the Okanagan and so I am sure I will notice a big change. It feels like Squamish 20 years ago.
Q: Congratulations! Over the many years you have been here, the way the library operates has obviously changed. Can you tell us a bit about those changes?
A: When this library was first built, we weren't thinking of WiFi access and all of that. When I first started, it was really quiet here. People weren't using it as the community space and gathering place they do now.
Part of my job is running adult programs and that has been wonderful. I have been able to be innovative and create programs that bring people into the library.
I also created a lot of outreach for seniors. I go up to The Manor, Shannon Falls Retirement Residence, Hilltop House and The 55 Activity Centre. So, just as the community grows, and technology has changed, we are changing with it. The library is a real community hub.
Q: Locals alerted us to the fact you are leaving because you meant a lot to them over the years in your role at the library. The people you have met must have also impacted you. Can you reflect on that a bit?
A: I don't even know where to begin. Everyone from our patrons from Squamish Helping Hands — I have watched little children grow up — it has been wonderful.
I have laughed with a lot of patrons, cried with a lot of patrons — people have grown up or passed away — I have felt like this has been a big family.
Q: Can you reflect on how Squamish has changed in your time here, too?
A: Yes, I was driving the highway before it was changed for the Olympics. There's a new vibe in town and it is wonderful — lots of young people coming into town and raising their families here. There's lots of outdoor enthusiasts now. Before, you'd be walking the trails and you wouldn't see anybody. That is not the case anymore.
It is very busy. There are a lot of good changes and some growing pains as well, but I feel like everyone is doing their best to try and accommodate the new people.
I am happy for Squamish. Before you would say you were from Squamish and people would ask where that was. Now, it is a destination — a go-to place.
Q: Where do you see this library, and libraries generally, heading in the future?
A: Definitely digital. But as our dwellings get smaller, people are needing spaces to meet. They need gathering places and that is where I see all libraries going. They are an integral part of communities, just like parks — you can't have a town without a library.
Q: Say a bit more about what you will miss when you leave?
A: We have a few special volunteers who I started bringing in from Sea to Sky Community Services. I will miss them.
It has been a pleasure to work with our special needs community. Also, our seniors. We have the best seniors in the world and they make me laugh and cry and they are just wonderful.
I will miss being on Mountain FM. Darren McPeake has allowed me to come on and sit and talk about library stuff for years. My last time on-air will be Oct. 3.
Q: What else would you like to say about Squamish?
A: I am going to cry. It has been a great place to raise a family. I am going to miss it.
The Squamish Public Library staff, including Mohamed, are asking locals to weigh in on what they want to see for the library's future. Fill out the survey at the library or on online at https://squamish.bc.libraries.coop.