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Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library Newsletter

November 2020

First in-person book club meeting since February.
From Cathy's Desk
It’s been so nice seeing people back in the library and we’ve even begun some in-person programming.  Thanks to mobile shelving and high ceilings, we’re able to welcome residents back to the library safely, in limited numbers and wearing masks, for adult and children’s programs.  We understand some residents are vulnerable and others feel safer limiting contact so virtual programming also continues.  Take a look at our events calendar to see what works for you:

One program that hasn’t paused is the Books to Jamaica project.  It’s a more behind-the-scenes program that started over 15 years ago shipping children’s fiction and non-fiction weeded from the library to rural Jamaican schools.  The program began when Abe Epp, a local tender fruit grower and employer of migrant workers from Jamaica, visited the island with Uton Bell, a long-time employee of Epp Farms.  Mr. Bell introduced Mr. Epp to the principal of the Garden Hill Primary School who explained that books were so limited children weren’t allowed to take any home and had to remember on what page they stopped so they could continue reading at the next opportunity.

Mr. Epp approached the library about discarded children’s books and ever since that visit to Jamaica, he’s sorted, packed and paid for the books to be shipped.  Eight years ago, Dave Hunter, currently vice chair of the library board, broadened the project to include books collected from other Niagara Region libraries.  Last year, library board member Betty Knight, joined the project and brings her expertise in choosing culturally appropriate books.  As Ms. Knight explains, “Training teachers in Sierra Leone, West Africa, off and on over a decade sure gave me great insight into the importance of books being culturally appropriate. That's why non-fiction books are always my first choice to send, followed by picture books. This time we also have lots of board books to hook the children early, on the love of reading.”
Recently, Jane Andres interviewed the former principal of Garden Hill Primary School who remembered the very first shipment of books moved the student’s reading levels up to the national standard.  For Mr. Hunter, this drove home the importance of his work on the project; "Driving around collecting books from libraries here in Niagara is a long way from having any feel for what the actual impact of the books might be. It wasn't until I watched Jane's interview that all of a sudden the project really came alive. I mean we have not only raised literacy levels, we have actually helped young people toward careers that take them beyond their rural, impoverished villages."

Mr. Epp is now in his 90s and retiring from the project this year which has expanded to include the Pringle Home for Children, a charity that provides assistance to abandoned, orphaned, and street children.  We thank Mr. Epp for all the time, effort and money he’s put into a program that’s made such a difference in so many young lives.  We also thank Mr. Hunter and Ms. Knight for their continued.  If you’d like to contribute to Books to Jamaica, please contact me at 

Read on for more details about library programs, services and books that make a difference in our community and I look forward to seeing you at the library!

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are reserved for programming, and public computer and study space appointments.
The Library may be closed, but you can still access our many free e-resources.  Simply click here to become a member!
Access e-books and magazines, learn a new language or research your family history all from the comfort of your home.  
The COVID-19 pandemic is calling on all of us to work collectively in a way many of us have never experienced before.
Here is a list of resources if you want to provide help or are looking for support in our community.

Cyber-Seniors: Tech Mentors Helping Niagara-on-the-Lake Older Adults Navigate the Internet – Is it Working?

Larry W. Chambers*

Hanna Levy*

What is Cyber-Seniors?

Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) older adults, many experiencing isolation and loneliness, may also find it difficult to access information readily available online. Some may have received devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones but they do not know how to use them.

Cyber-Seniors is a NOTL program free to users that trains students to become technology mentors for older adults. This program is endorsed by the NOTL Community Wellness Committee and has a documentary film featuring Cyber-Seniors’ accomplishments. Nancy Siciliana manages Cyber-Seniors that matches tech-savvy students with older adults looking for help. The students gain practical experience while earning volunteer hours and developing job skills that enhance opportunities for future employment, as the seniors gain valuable skills to help keep them connected to the community.

Some of the tools Cyber-Seniors tech mentors can teach are:

-       Ordering groceries online

-       Video calling with family and friends (e.g. FaceTime and Zoom)

-       Booking transportation

-       Online banking

-       Virtual doctor appointments



How is Cyber-Seniors being advertised in NOTL?

The two main methods of advertisement used are flyers sent by e-mail to older adults in the NOTL community, and flyers given to retirement and long-term care homes. As well, a newspaper article was published on July 16, 2020 to raise awareness.

Help us determine the reach and impact of Cyber-Seniors!

The NOTL Community Wellness Committee endorses Cyber-Seniors. Cindy Grant, chair of the Committee, reports that her Committee wishes to determine the coverage of Cyber-Seniors in NOTL. Please call Cindy to share your thoughts and comments on the questions to help determine ways to improve access to Cyber-Seniors and find out its impact. The responses received back will be forwarded to Nancy Siciliana.

Call Cindy Grant at 905 468 7498


1)    Have you learned about use of the Internet from a Cyber-Seniors tech mentor?

a.    YES

b.    NO

2)    Would you recommend Cyber-Seniors to friends and relatives?

a.    YES     

b.    2 NO

3)    How did you find out about Cyber-Seniors? (check all that apply)

o   July 16 NOTLLocal article

o   A friend or relative

o   Notification in a retirement home or long-term care home

o   Other (please specify) ____________________________


4)    Where do you live?

a.    Niagara-on-the-Lake

b.    St. David’s

c.    Virgil

d.    Other (please specify) ______________________________

5)    What else should be done to help people learn how to use the Internet?

a.    Learning sessions held at the Library

b.    Learning sessions held at the Museum

c.    Additional advertisements in the local newspapers about CyberSeniors

d.    Other _________________


Seniors interested in receiving help from a tech mentor or students interested in becoming a mentor can call 1-844-217-3057.

To apply online to be a tech mentor, visit

There is no fee for the program. It is funded by grants and donations. 

*Larry W. Chambers has authored 175 articles and books concerning disease prevention (e.g. dementia), quality improvement in long-term care homes, and innovative approaches for continuing professional development. He is research director of the Niagara Regional Campus, School of Medicine, McMaster University. Hanna Levy is a medical student at the Niagara Regional Campus of the McMaster University School of Medicine.

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