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MacFarlane leaving Coaldale Public Library in the new year

Posted on December 27, 2023 by Sunny South News
Sunny South News Photo submitted FAREWELL: Dothlyn MacFarlane (far left) is celebrated by Coaldale Public Library.

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On Dec. 8, Coaldale Public Library held a party to say goodbye to Head Librarian Dothlyn MacFarlane. She departed from her position at the library on Dec. 15, 2023 after six years to take a position as Associate Director at Chinook Arch Regional Library System.

“It has been six wonderful years with some really good, great staff and support from both the library board and the Town of Coaldale administration, so it’s bittersweet, but I am also looking forward to the new challenge that the new position will bring,” said MacFarlane. “Bearing in mind it will give me the opportunity to maybe have a greater impact on southern Alberta. “

MacFarlane says that she started at Coaldale Public Library in September 2017 and since that time, she has been able to modernize the library’s financial system and stablize staffing as well as install a new customer-focused circulation desk along with creating more quiet reading space. A new designated programming coordinator was added as well, allowing the library to increase their programming tremendously. The library, MacFarlane says, also survived COVID through adaptive programs including book delivery, curbside pickup, and other methods.

“We just found ways to continue to engage the community during that time and have, kits the persons would take home and work on,” said MacFarlane. “So that was how we were able to do our programming during that time. And as a result, as soon as the restrictions were lifted, people were happy to just come back in the building and participate in programs.”

As a result of all the work she has done with the library, MacFarlane admits that people are saying that they are sad to see her go, but happy for her at the same time. 

“I’m just appreciative of everybody and the community and their love and support and their kind words and gestures,” said MacFarlane.

Originally from Jamaica, MacFarlane’s experience in libraries began in the Cayman Islands when she worked in the Cayman Islands public library service as a community librarian for three or four years. MacFarlane says that she also has a Bachelor’s of Library Information Studies from the University of West End in Jamaica and a Master’s of Library and Information Studes from the University of British Columbia.

“I have a passion for libraries and a passion for people,” said MacFarlane. “Libraries are an awesome opportunity to make that impact on people or to reach people. I just always believe in the value of public libraries and how much they can offer to communities. Normally for me, the first place I go when I move is try to find the local library ‘cause I know it can connect me with so many resources.”

MacFarlane says that although she worked as a student librarian at the University of British Columbia, her time at the Coaldale Public Library was her first official professional library job in Canada. McFarlane and her husband Chris came to Canada for the opportunities it would offer them.

“When I started this position, I felt overwhelmed, and there were times where maybe seemed as if I wasn’t capable,” said MacFarlane. “And then there came a moment where I reflected on my life. I reflected on my days as a child going to church and going to my church business conference. I reflected on being a leader within my church and figuring out stuff and figuring out how to raise money to support the youths, and my education, my upbringing, and then that was the moment of, “You know what you’re doing, trust in yourself that you can do it.” So I feel like my entire life has built on it over the years to become who I am today.” 

MacFarlane says that she is looking forward to being a part of the Chinook Arch Regional Library system and being able to contribute so much more to support libraries in what they do in the region. She knows quite a few of the library managers, because they work together in the system, and is looking forward to see how switching roles will play out and how she will be able to support them and all the awesome stuff that they are all doing individually in their communities. 

“I feel like it’s important to know yourself: know who you are and know your values, and then also respect the values of your profession as well, and how those can work together to accomplish what your responsibilities are,” said MacFarlane. “And at the end of the day, I thought if for me, public library principles and what it’s done for me, sometimes it outweighs my personal belief and conviction because it’s such a bigger public library community that needs to continue to provide a safe space for everyone to be a part of.”


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