Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Reply to comment


Get to Know Literary Ontario, with Donna Bright of the Ajax Public Library

Ajax Public Library staff

Donna Bright, Chief Librarian at the Ajax Public Library, talks to Open Book about the role her library plays in collecting and documenting the community's local history. One of the ways the Ajax Public Library has made the shift to creating content rather than just collecting it is through the Durham Authors Database, a networking site for Durham's vibrant writing community that was launched this fall.

Open Book:

How long have you been a part of the Ajax Public Library, and how has the library changed since you first started there?

Donna Bright:

I have been at the Ajax Public Library since August of 2009. During the past year and a half (or so) the library has been engaged in a Master Planning process. The resulting Master Plan provides the library with a blueprint of recommended actions to undertake in order to effectively deliver services to our community for the next 15 years.

Over the last year we have given our local history services some focused attention. Any public library can offer the latest blockbuster best-selling titles, but it is generally only the local public library that collects information on the local history of a community or area. It is an important role. It was a departure for our library to create content, instead of just collecting it, but I am very pleased with the result. The information that we have collected for public dissemination is unique, and this makes it valuable not only to our local customers but to anyone who has Internet access and is interested in writing.


Are there any services or programs offered by the Ajax Public Library that you would say make your branch unique?


Like many communities in the GTA, Ajax is fortunate to be home to a growing population of relative newcomers to Canada. The library is very engaged in the development of services that will assist newcomers to settle into Ajax and into Canada.


Tell us about the online Durham Authors Database recently launched by the library.


The library was interested in showcasing the creativity of Durham Region?s authors. We wanted to make it simple for community members, students and researchers who might wish to read or study the literary works of other community members. We also wanted to support the area?s authors by providing this avenue for recognition. Some authors are fortunate to have a higher profile than others. We wanted to ensure that the talents of other authors are also recognized.

When we started collecting information we approached the living authors with whom we were familiar. Others heard of our project and provided their information for inclusion. Authors also have the option to enter their own information and update it at any time.


How does the Durham Authors Database help to promote and develop the literary community in your region?


I don't think that the library can take any credit for developing the literary community. However, I believe that our database can certainly help to promote it.


Can you name some of the local Durham authors who are listed in the database whose work you are particularly excited about?


I wouldn't be able to single out a particular author. However, I will say that I am amazed by the number of authors who live in Durham Region and, although I have not met many of them, their personal stories are of great interest. We asked the authors listed in our database about their own literary influences, their publication bibliography, their work history and their reasons for coming to Durham. I have read all the responses, and they are impressive. These authors' personal journeys are as interesting as their publications. Durham Region is fortunate to have such a rich pool of creative people living and working here and adding to our cultural history.


What other resources are available to writers in Durham region?


The Writers? Community of Durham Region is a very active group with a large membership base. They provide support, networking opportunities and many educational opportunities to writers and to anyone interested in literacy, in Durham and beyond, as membership is not limited to residents of Durham Region.


Would you give us a piece of trivia about literary life in Ajax that the rest of Ontario may not know?


I?d like to speak of some of our own library activities. We have, in the past, facilitated Spanish language learning classes for children. The students in the classes ultimately wrote a play in Spanish and submitted it for consideration in a Toronto contest. We have also facilitated a French Book Club for adults.Every summer we hold a writing contest for teens that is supported by the local newspaper and is endorsed by Town Council. We also have a popular Book Club/Film program for teens where the group reads a book, watches the corresponding film, and then discusses both. We host author readings individually and collaboratively with the other public libraries in Durham Region.


What do you enjoy the most about being a part of Durham's literary community?


I am proud that our library is able to enhance cultural education and appreciation by showcasing the richness of the Region?s literary community through our database and collections and through the author readings, book clubs and other programs that we host.


Donna Bright is a former teacher who has lived and taught in Ontario, Nigeria, the Northwest Territories, Lesotho and Botswana. She holds a Master's of Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario. Since graduating, she has worked at the Thunder Bay Public Library and the Cobourg Public Library, where she was CEO for over seven years. Donna Bright currently works at Ajax Public Library as Chief Librarian and Executive Officer. Her love of reading extends to writing as well, particularly children's stories.

For more information about the Ajax Public Library please visit their website.


  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Advanced Search