SASKATCHEWAN LIBRARY TRUSTEES' ASSOCIATION
Honourary Life Membership in
History of Involvement Mark Williment appeared on the library scene in 1999 as the Chairperson of the Dave O’Hara Community Library. The Dave O’Hara Community Library is a school-housed public library sharing the Ducharme building of the La Loche Community School.
When Mark arrived in La Loche, a small Dene community, he had a rude awakening — not one of his grade-four students had any books at home. Clearly, La Loche’s challenge was to improve literacy in a town where many of the students enter school speaking little English. As former assistant principal and public library chairperson, Mark made literacy his priority.
Mark organized a Story Sack Workshop, and got Family Literacy Nights started. Come Read With Me programs were held once a week. Every family that attended received a copy of the book that was read. There was a follow-up activity that the parent and child did together. Library Craft Night was also started, where participants read a story and did a related craft. Mark also arranged to send community members to Family Literacy Training.
Other programs included “Cooking With Your Parent nights, when parents and children make cookies related to a book that was read together, such as Robert Munsch Cookies. Because of these efforts, the Dave O’Hara Community Library and La Loche Community School won the “Readingest Community Award”, part of the Pahkisimon Nuye?áh Library System’s Northern Reading Program, for the most minutes read in both 2004 and 2005. Literacy Carnivals at school where all prizes were books. Mark also sponsored monthly book give aways to students at assemblies. One of the more innovative programs, he introduced was, each spring and fall, the school holds a literacy carnival. Classes are cancelled for the afternoon and kids play games (for 25 cents a time) to win coupons to “buy” new books purchased for the event.
The literacy program is involved in a number of community activities including selling books at bingos; Literacy Carnivals; "Come Read with Me" parent nights at the library; and a bookstore at the public library. Mark started a guided reading program in La Loche, which as a superintendent of education with Northern Lights School Division, his current position, he's expanded this to all Northern Lights School Division schools. In acknowledgement of his hard work to improve literacy in his community, he received several awards: Great Schools 2005: Passionate Principals (Today’s Parent Magazine); First school administrator to receive the Saskatchewan Reading Council “Administrator’s Award” in 2003; and the International Reading Association Exemplary Reading Program Award in 2004.
The experience in La Loche connected him with the SLN and the literacy community of Saskatchewan. Mark has served on the SLN board for two terms including serving as president.
As Chairperson of the Public Library Board, Mark encouraged the public library to be more active in the community. As well as expanding opening hours into the evenings for family literacy events, he built stronger relationships with both the La Loche Town Council and the Northern Lights School Division #113, which resulted in both institutions paying back money owed to the library. In 1999, he represented Dave O’Hara on the Pahkisimon Nuye?áh Library System Board, sitting as an Executive Committee member, Human Resources Development Committee member, International Indigenous Knowledge Centre Subcommittee member, and Standards Subcommittee member. This contribution led to him being elected as Vice Chairperson from 2003-2005 and Chairperson in 2005, which he unfortunately had to resign when he changed jobs. Mark was also an active member of the Saskatchewan Library Trustees Association during this time.
Mark Williment continued as Chairperson of the Dave O’Hara Community Library until he took his new position as superintendant in 2005 and moved to La Ronge. In this new position he continues to contribute to literacy focused efforts in strategic planning, instructional improvement and community development and maintains the public library focus that he gained in his experiences with Dave O’Hara and PNLS. Mark still contributes his expertise to the overall goals of the Library System as a member of the PNLS Standards Subcommittee and International Indigenous Knowledge Centre Subcommittee.