Last week, Richard Bee began his new position as the chief executive officer (CEO) at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre (FFPLTC).
He officially began his permanent contract on August 2, 2023, and says things have been going well so far.
“Everyone’s been very nice to talk to. [They] fill me in on everything that’s happening through the year. It took a little while to find a place to live, but I did manage to find a place for myself. Housing is kind of tight in the community. But so far, things are looking pretty good,” he said.
Born and raised on farms in southwestern Manitoba, Bee took his first step into the industry at Brandon University where he received his undergraduate degree. Although the struggle to define where he wanted to be in life persisted for many years in his early life, his experience as a library assistant at Brandon University became a defining moment that revealed his ideal career path.
“As a kid, I did use our local public library quite a bit,” he said. “The town librarian, I think she was just very delighted actually that a teenager was coming into the library on a regular basis.”
“When I was at university, there was a job opportunity at the university library to work as a student assistant. So I applied, got the job. And I worked that for quite a while and I found I was enjoying the work, I was enjoying the people I worked with, I was enjoying the duties and responsibilities, I was enjoying some of the other projects that I was able to be involved with as well. So I felt that this was a really good career path for me to pursue,” Bee said.
Realizing his desire to pursue a career that involved working in libraries, Bee resigned from his 10-year post as library assistant at Brandon University to join a program called the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) in Edmonton.
“I recognized that once you attain this degree, it creates opportunities for myself to pursue a career path within librarianship, either in an academic setting or a public library setting. So that was a big defining moment for myself,” he said.
Once he graduated in 2017, Bee moved to Saskatchewan to work as head librarian for North Battleford Public Library on a one-year contract, then took up a similar post in Manitoba as head librarian for the Portage la Prairie Regional Library from December 2018 to January 2021.
Most recently, Bee completed an 18-month contract as community hub librarian at the Thunder Bay Public Library.
“I remember someone once told me that I will never be Bill Gates rich in terms of money, but I will be like Bill Gates in terms of experience,” he said, adding a positive outlook to his laborious years moving from city to city.
Despite gaining an abundance of experience from contract positions across provinces, Bee expressed a desire to settle down in one place.
“It’s difficult to settle down and put down roots anywhere,” he said. “It kind of weighs on you after a little while, but at the same time, too, it’s great in terms of being able to build up experiences, both professionally and personally. A lot of new people, you get to learn about so many different things, and get to see a lot of the country.”
Bee says he looks forward to learning more about Fort Frances and facing challenges that may appear in the future. He also looks forward to seeing the opportunities available for the library and for the chance to increase and expand upon the library systems that are currently offered.
He welcomes the community to visit the library and have a chat with staff to learn more about what is happening.
“Just come on in to the library, make use of our services, come in, have a chat, the staff can let you know what’s new and what’s exciting. If your membership maybe hasn’t been active for a while, make sure it’s up to date, or if you maybe haven’t had membership for a while, come on in and get yourself a new card,” Bee said.