Jill Pineau (photo from Waldman Library)
The Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library welcomed Jill Pineau as its new head librarian in August. She takes over the position from Maiya Letourneau, who is now a teacher/librarian at King David High School.
“It’s been a lot of fast-paced learning. Maiya has helped to make the transition as seamless as possible and I really admire the way she ran the library for the last two years,” Pineau said in a recent interview with theIndependent.
“The library’s staff, Megan Rodgers and Anita Brown, our dedicated volunteers and all of the staff at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver (JCCGV) have also been very supportive,” said Pineau. “The Waldman Library is well-loved and well-used by community members and managing it is a big role for anyone to take on, but I’m so happy to be in a role that I know will challenge me to learn something new every day, and I’m really enjoying the work so far.”
As she settles in, Pineau will be drafting a strategic plan to work on priorities for the next year. Fundraising, she noted, remains a continual project for the library, as it relies on donors to provide resources and services to the community. Each year, the library runs a telethon in August and a book sale in February. To this, Pineau hopes to add a third fundraiser in an effort to sustain a steady stream of donations.
Further, she intends to offer compelling programs and services that meet the needs of library patrons. She would like to expand the library’s collection with titles by Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ authors, along with more children’s books for the library’s storytime programming.
“I also want to focus on marketing and outreach efforts geared towards the wider public to attract new users into the library,” said Pineau, who is currently arranging to have a few fall events up and running. “Waldman Library could be a great resource for non-Jewish Vancouverites to learn about Jewish history and topics, and I’d love to see it used that way a little bit more in the future.”
Born in Alberta, Pineau grew up in Mattawa, a small town in northeastern Ontario. She moved to Kingston, where she studied at Queen’s University before moving to Vancouver in 2021 to attend the University of British Columbia.
“I was attracted to UBC’s Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program because I was looking for a way to get into the information field, and I really wanted to try out life in BC. I love research, project management, connecting with people and having autonomy in my day-to-day work, and the program was very in line with these interests,” she said.
Though still early in her career, Pineau brings a range of skills and experience to the job. She has held research assistant positions for various nonprofit organizations and the City of Kingston. While pursuing her MLIS degree, she worked in two special libraries, spending a year managing projects at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Library in Victoria and completing a practicum credit at Lululemon’s Raw Materials Library, a library of fabric and related items.
“Special libraries are unique because they serve a specific user group or purpose, often through a special collection,” Pineau explained. “That focus allows for interesting projects and interactions.
“I love Waldman Library, and I would classify it as a special library because about 90% of its holdings are by Jewish authors or relate to Jewish history and topics. We also have a large collection of Hebrew books. But the library is still very much a public library, open to all and aiming to serve its community thoughtfully. In this way, it’s a very dynamic and exciting place to work for me.”
Pineau also has spent time as a journalist, first with the community paper in Mattawa, then with Queen’s Journal while in university. When the pandemic started in 2020, she freelanced for the Kingston Local and the Kingstonist.
“I loved the autonomy that type of work afforded me, but I had a mind to continue developing and focusing my career and that’s what ultimately brought me to graduate school,” she said.
Established in 1994, the Waldman Library is located on the second floor of the Vancouver JCC and is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library maintains six computers, which are open to users.
In the past 12 months, more than 4,500 visitors came to the library to read, study, work, play and socialize, said Pineau. During this period, close to 3,600 books, DVDs and other materials were checked out, and the library added 475 titles to its collection. Overall, the library has more than 15,000 titles in its collection.
In acknowledging the support of the community, Pineau said, “I want to say thank you to all of the library’s patrons, who have been so kind and welcoming over the last few weeks. It’s been lovely connecting with a new community – I’m very happy to be here.”
Sam Margolis has written for the Globe and Mail, the National Post, UPI and MSNBC.