Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, opining on the nature of artistic license and waxing poetic with regards to creative inspiration and originality, once remarked that, “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
It’s a sentiment that Pat Cumming of the West Vancouver Memorial Library, along with her contemporaries at North Vancouver City Library and North Vancouver District Public Library, can relate to having been inspired by a Greater Victoria Public Library initiative and then endeavouring to put their own unique North Shore spin on it.
Noting North and West Vancouver’s burgeoning community of talented authors and writers, representatives from North Shore libraries recently announced a new partnership to establish the North Shore Authors Collection with the goal of shining a light on the writers that live over here. The program will mean that selected local authors will have the opportunity to have their works showcased and displayed at North Shore libraries for one year starting this fall, with a new cohort of local authors added every year going forward.
Cumming, who’s the head of customer and community experience at the West Vancouver library, was at a library conference in Victoria two years ago when she first learned of the provincial capital’s own local authors collection and thought it was “a really great idea.”
“I approached the other two libraries, just to gauge their interest, and everybody was pretty enthusiastic about it, so we put together a working group and spent some time thinking about how we would take the original model that Greater Victoria had and tweak it for our context – it’s a little more complex because we have three systems,” says Cumming.
The creation of the North Shore Authors Collection was announced during last month’s North Shore Writers Festival, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary, says Cumming, adding that there have been almost 40 applications so far.
Noting that there’s a “general preference for recent works” when it comes to North Shore readers’ book choices – and that the goal of the Authors Collection is to give publicity to local writers who may not get the exposure otherwise – Cumming says one of the criteria for the pilot program is that all submitted works must have been published during the last 10 years.
“I think it gives authors a way to connect to local community, it gives them a chance to have their books discovered. It also gives people in the community a chance to discover books by local talent, to know who’s in their community that’s perhaps writing things,” says Cumming.
In other words, don’t expect books from the likes of local pop artist Douglas Coupland or Modernist luminary Malcolm Lowry to be on display – this project is meant for the up-and-comers.
Authors of any age who are residing on the North Shore, or who lived here during the year of their work’s publication, are encouraged to submit their books for consideration, says Cumming, adding that books can be traditionally published, self-published, or independently published.
“We’re fairly lenient in the sense that we’ll accept pretty much any book as long as the people live in the area … and meet the basic eligibility requirements,” says Cumming, who mentions that books can be in any genre or language, but must be professionally bound for public borrowing, and must have been published between 2010 and 2019.
Cumming says it’s the hope of North Shore libraries that the Authors Collection will help give back to both writers and readers in the community.
“Supporting the creative aspirations of people in our community is really part of what we do. We feel that that’s an important part of the role that libraries can play,” she says.
North Shore authors are invited to submit their applications to be considered for the inaugural collection, which is set to launch in the fall of 2019, by June 30. More information and eligibility guidelines can be found by visiting northshoreauthorscollection.com.