Vancouver Public Library Board Chair Joan Andersen has announced that City Librarian Paul Whitney will be retiring from the Library effective December 31, 2010. Andersen stated that “Paul has had an exemplary 36 year career in public libraries in BC. Over the past seven years he has guided so many positive changes at VPL, making it a more inclusive and accessible library.”
Under Whitney’s leadership the Library has received national and international recognition for initiatives in fostering community development work with marginalized individuals, outreach to pre-school children and service to the print disabled. During his tenure as City Librarian, in an environment that has been at times financially challenging, two new library branches have opened and two are in development, a new website was launched with improved virtual services and e-collections and the Writer and Storyteller-in-Residence programs were launched as was an extensive public art program.
Whitney’s impressive career began in 1974 with a Masters of Library Science from the University of British Columbia. Throughout his career he has worked as a public librarian in the Lower Mainland. He served as Chief Librarian at Burnaby Public Library prior to joining Vancouver Public Library as City Librarian in 2003. Whitney is a dedicated professional, serving as President of the Canadian Library Association and the British Columbia Library Association. At present, he serves on the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Governing Board and is the liaison to the IFLA Copyright and Other Legal Matters Committee. He also chairs the Library and Archives Canada Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians and the Vancouver Learning City Initiative. Whitney shared his expertise with new library professionals through teaching courses on public libraries and collection management from 1983 to 2002 at UBC.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Whitney received the Canadian Library Association’s Outstanding Service to Librarianship Award, the British Columbia Library Association President’s Award and the UBC School of Library, Archival and Information Studies Alumni Service and Leadership Award.
“I have been privileged to work with so many talented people over the years to deliver the best possible public library service for our community,” said Whitney. “In four decades I have witnessed dramatic changes in library service delivery and the expectations of our users. What has not changed is the fundamental importance of the public library for the wellbeing of society. I leave my position with a degree of regret, knowing the exciting initiatives underway in Vancouver but I also look forward to contributing in other ways to this City and libraries.”
City Manager Penny Ballem stated “The Vancouver Public Library represents so many positive attributes of our city. It is inclusive, innovative and a source of pride in our communities. Paul Whitney has been a strong advocate for library service and an effective leader with the City of Vancouver. He earned a reputation for diplomacy and collaboration and he will be missed by his City colleagues and Councillors.”
The Vancouver Public Library Board with the support of the City has begun the process of recruiting a new City Librarian.