Posted: Monday, August 10, 2015 9:01 pm – Daily Courier, Kelowna, B.C.
Library’s storytime superstar reading his final volumes Barb Aguiar Kelownadailycourier.ca | 0 comments
After 15 years with the Okanagan Regional Library, David Finnis is retiring.
Finnis has been a familiar face behind the circulations desk at the Westbank Library, as well as a master at Storytime.
Finnis said he has been a library user ever since he was a little kid. He remembers biking with his family to the library to pick up books.
He was working at a church resource centre in May 2000 when he saw the on-call posting at the Okanagan Regional Library.
It touched a chord with him, he applied “and the rest is history,” Finnis laughed.
He started off doing preschool Storytime and the Summer Reading Club, which included visiting local schools to promote reading to elementary school children.
Finnis admits he was nervous about his first Storytime and prepared with resources from other branches and even the Summerland recreation department.
“It seems so easy now, looking back at it,” he said.
Not surprisingly, his favourite part of working at the library is doing Storytime and breaking the stereotype.
“You don’t see many guys doing Storytime,” he said with a laugh.
Finnis was committed to Storytime, once even donning a dress, stockings and red boots to transform himself into popular book character Lilly the Mouse.
While he reads with good expression and enjoys draw and tell, Finnis says he doesn’t sing.
Over the years, Finnis has enjoyed watching the children at preschool Storytime grow up. Some of his early Storytime patrons are now in high school.
Finnis also enjoys his annual visits to local schools promoting the Summer Reading Club.
Those visits put a human face on a brick and mortar building, he said. Finnis knows they work because children at the library often mention they saw him at their school.
Finnis acquired a reputation for wearing colourful themed ties including trucks, trains and even polar bears.
He admits he doesn’t know how the ties started, but noted ties are his chance to be funky and fun.
Women can wear different blouses and scarves, said Finnis, but clothing for guys is different. They are limited.
Finnis has found many of his ties in thrift shops. Others are gifts from library patrons who couldn’t resist bringing him a neat tie.
He has enough Christmas ties to wear from the beginning of December right through to Christmas.
“I do draw the line at ties that light up,” he noted.
His favourite is a hand-made tie with neon-coloured dinosaurs he found at a craft fair early in his library career.
For Finnis, libraries hold an important place in the community as a gathering place.
While some people just pick up their materials and leave, for others the library is part of their social life where they read the newspaper, spend time and chat.
The library staff greet them by name and make a connection with them.
“A lot of people feel uncomfortable in the library because they are not academics,” said Finnis. “They shouldn’t. The library is a public place where everyone should feel comfortable.”
While Finnis has enjoyed the Okanagan lifestyle of living near orchards and vineyards as well as swimming at the beach, he will be moving to Vancouver to be closer to his family.
He is hoping in his retirement to do more photography with his son.
Finnis’ last working day will be Aug. 20 and the Westbank Library will be hosting a Farewell Open House for him that day from
2 to 4 p.m. with a cake-cutting ceremony at
2 p.m. Everyone is invited to stop by for some cake and to say goodbye