One of Lois Hole’s grandchildren took a page from her late grandmother’s book when she spoke in support of a branch library last week, a library supporter says.
Kate Pearce “sounded a lot like Lois Hole,” said Charmaine Brooks, chair of the vote YES for the Library Campaign Committee. Brooks was one of the organizers of the event.
Pearce spoke at the Enjoy Centre to about 75 people on Oct. 3 at the event named Kate Pearce (Hole) – What would Lois Do? Pearce is granddaughter of Hole, the former Lt. Gov. of Alberta who was a supporter of public libraries.
Originally Pearce was slated to present statistics and literacy rates, but instead spoke strongly about libraries being a human right and a foundational necessity for healthy communities.
“When we ask ourselves ‘What would Lois do?’ the fact is that, instinctively, all of us know the answer; and the answer is, simply put, the right thing,” Pearce said from the podium.
“The ‘right thing’ is, and will always be, the choice that champions inclusivity and universal access to information. It is the choice that defends the importance of community engagement, freedom of learning, and societal growth. It is the choice that looks towards our future generations and says, ‘this matters to us because we know that it will be crucial for you.’”
Since their kickoff party on Sept. 16, Vote YES for the Library has made their campaign slogan ‘what would Lois do?’. Brooks says Lois Hole, who is a former Lt.-Gov of Alberta, was a strong advocate for libraries.
Vote YES for the Library, however, has been criticized on social media for using Hole as the face of the campaign. Posters say the former Lt.-Gov wouldn’t want tax dollars spent on a new branch library.
Brooks says when she first read the comments, she was taken aback.
“I hadn’t anticipated that,” she says. “As a team we bulleted all the things that might be raised as opposition, but not in a million years did we think of that.”
Brooks says the criticisms contradict what she believes Lois Hole represented.
“Her identity, that’s what she talked about, gardening, libraries, public education and public health. That’s who she is and that’s what she represented so I don’t understand the criticisms.”
She adds that she understands people’s economic concerns, and the campaign group has done their best to address it by pointing to the city’s capital reserve.
The branch library, which has an estimated construction cost of $19.5 million and an estimated annual operating cost of $1.26 million, has been a contentious topic in St. Albert. Whether the branch library should move forward will be one of three questions put on the ballot on Oct. 16.
A Facebook group called St. Albert Library Petition formed in April. In June the group presented a petition in council with 6,696 signatures opposing a borrowing bylaw for a the branch library. A total of 588 signatures were deemed invalid, putting the petition below the 10 per cent threshold it needed to succeed.
In the beginning of September Vote YES for the Library made their first appearance in council. The group is made up of about 40 volunteers. The main steering committee is made up of seven members.