French-language books hidden away at new Mississauga central library, resident says


Published January 17, 2024 at 5:40 pm

Are French books hidden away at new Mississauga central library?

Some residents are claiming that French-language books at the newly renovated Hazel McCallion Central Library in Mississauga’s downtown core are being hidden away in the back shelves.

Ward 7 Coun. Dipika Damerla raised the matter at Wednesday’s Mississauga city council meeting, saying she received an “interesting” email from a resident.

“There was some concerns that the French-language books have been sort of put at the back of the bus,” Damerla told councillors and senior city staff, adding she promised to bring the resident’s concern to council.

“Apparently in the past, French-language (books were) much more front and centre, and now it’s been allegedly put at the back of the bus…(we should) see a way to make sure it’s not at the back of the bus, if that’s true.”

Responding to the councillor, Mississauga’s community services commissioner Jodi Robillos said her staff received the inquiry from the resident, who had a number of questions.

She added there was no intention to give the French-language book collection a less-than-ideal spot.

Ward 7 Coun. Dipika Damerla speaks at Wednesday’s council meeting.

“It takes some getting used to; customers are used to certain collections being in certain places,” Robillos said of the redesigned central library, which partially reopened to the public in December after being closed for more than two years for some $49 million in major renovations.

She continued, noting the reimagined library has seen many changes.

“I think the French collection, in particular, is an area that’s going to grow, so I’m happy to send that back (for consideration)…there were some questions around budget and other components…but I don’t think that there is an intention to put the French-language collection hidden somewhere.

“It does take getting used to when people are used to going to a certain location for their activities. But there’s a lot of logic to how the new library has been laid out.”

Damerla acknowledged the work that went into reorganizing the library’s massive book collection, adding “I guess where I’m coming from is there is obviously logic and practicality, but there is also symbolism, and French is one of two official languages (in Canada), so I think (the resident) raises a fair point.”

Ward 5 Coun. Carolyn Parrish, sitting in for acting mayor John Kovac for the last portion of the council meeting, said staff’s take on the matter sits well with her.

“I agree. I don’t think there was an intention to diminish the French-language books,” she said.

The renovated library is operating with limited services and hours, officials say, until its grand opening on Feb. 3.

The library had been closed for major renovations for more than two years in order to “meet the growing needs of our customers,” library officials said earlier, adding the new-look facility promises to inspire “literacy, creativity and lifelong learning.”

The library, renamed in February 2021 to honour the late mayor on her 100th birthday, had been closed since March 2021 when renovations began.

Mississauga’s community services commissioner Jodi Robillos, shown here at Wednesday’s council meeting, says there was no intention to place the French-language book collection in a hidden part of the library.

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