Burnaby Public Library Board member profiles

Jeffrey Yu, Chair

Serving the Board since 2016.

Jeffrey YuThe Library is a place for knowledge; it also plays an important role in creating a healthy and flourishing community. Burnaby Public Library has tremendous collections and amazing programs that progressively meet the needs of the community. As an active volunteer on community boards involved in seniors, education, and community service for the past 15 years, I am delighted to join the dedicated Burnaby Library Board and contribute to the community in this new role.

Gene Blishen, Vice Chair

Serving the Board since 2018.

Gene BlishenOne of the first things I did when I began grade one was to walk up to the Vancouver Public Library Book Bus on the Saturday morning when it was parked at Argyle and Victoria Drive and get my prized library card. Thus began my passion for libraries, books and reading, which has been an essential part of my life. Wherever I have moved in the world, one of the most critical necessities has been the close proximity to the library.

It is an honour to be a trustee of the Burnaby Public Library. My previous experience as a trustee in the Fort St. John Public Library in the ’80s will hopefully help. Our libraries are such an essential part of our communities, and engaging the citizenry in understanding what a library offers and how it can move our common and progressive understanding of what we want our library to be are vital. It is remarkable that BPL’s vision is about community “where all people are informed, literate and entertained.”

Surena Bains

Serving the Board since 2018.

Surena Bains

I am delighted to become the most recent volunteer to serve on the Burnaby Public Library Board. I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective to the board, while building on the many traditions of Burnaby’s rich history. 

I have used Burnaby’s public libraries since 1994, when my family and I moved from East Vancouver. The public library has played an important role in my development, as I recall it being a place that gave my family and me a sense of community, an opportunity to engage with other families and a chance to explore our immediate world and the world at large. I have numerous childhood memories of practicing reading with my Dad at the library – a critical skillset. 

 I have been an active leader and volunteer in my community for many years and feel very passionately about activism and combating social issues. I am a full-time Masters student at Simon Fraser University studying Criminology, while being employed as a full-time Business Analyst with the Federal Government. 

 As a young, South Asian woman, I believe it is crucial to have a diversely represented Public Library Board. The diversity, values and ethics that are represented so vibrantly in Burnaby’s community should be reflected on the Board. I feel that people should feel connected to their communities and that public libraries should be more than a place where one comes to borrow books. 

 Libraries play a fundamental role in society as they promote the progress of knowledge, and provide accessibility to information and services. I understand the role of public libraries to be evolving and the importance of adapting to meet the needs of our citizens in a diverse and thriving community. 

 I look forward to serving on the board.

Chris Dong

Serving the Board since 2017.

Chris Dong"Where are you living?"

"I am living in the library."

This dialogue happened in the early days after we moved to Canada in 2010. It felt like we broke all links with our familiar past and opened new windows when we landed at YVR. My wife and I have no relatives and few friends in Canada, and we suffered, obviously depressed and frustrated. One day, I wandered into Burnaby Public Library, Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch, and I got my first non-government-issued card: a library card. Since then I have been staying in the library from morning to night. For me, the library is like a bright door and makes me feel at home because I was an academic researcher and journalist in China. The library is my second home, and my colleagues call me a bookworm. Books give me connections and confidence in the new place. My wife and I are continuing our professional careers in Canada. When I became 50-years-old, I applied to be a Library Champion and invited more newcomers into the library to return their confidence to them just like it had done to me. I am quite honoured to be one of the members of the Burnaby Public Library Board and to have more opportunities to help others find their lives and careers in the diversity of Burnaby. I think to be involved with the library is my fate.

Matt Foley

Serving the Board since 2016.

Matt FoleyTo be able to be a part of the library board is a great pleasure, as it is an honour to contribute to the community I was born and raised in. Living in Burnaby all my life has given me the opportunity to watch Burnaby grow into a strong, diverse, family community that I am proud to call home.

As an ardent reader, I cherish the memories of my earliest visits to the library, where a new adventure would arise between the pages of a new novel. Having volunteered on other boards for the last twelve years, I am extremely pleased to be on this board. I believe that libraries are a key resource for knowledge, learning and sharing, and they play a paramount role in education and growth for all.

Take time to visit our libraries.... and let yourself get lost in a book!

Ernie Kashima

Serving the Board since 2018.

Burnaby Public Library Board Trustee Ernie KashimaI am honoured to be appointed to the Burnaby Library Board. I have spent the last 52 years in Burnaby and believe in my community and doing all I can to make it the best place to live.

I have been in and around libraries all of my life and spent much of my youth on the lower floor of the old Kingsway Branch immersed in books. As a school teacher and administrator in Burnaby for 34 years, I strove to make the school library the heart of the school and had the pleasure of working with many wonderful teacher-librarians, along with the wonderful staff of our public libraries. I am currently the chair of the board for Burnaby Neighborhood House and am on the board of directors for Bonsor 55+ Seniors Centre. I cherish the opportunity to help continue the wonderful tradition Burnaby Public Libraries have of being the heart of our community.

Lorraine Shore

Serving the Board since 2015.

When I was a young child, we lived in South Burnaby, which did not yet have a library. My dad would take me to the library in New Westminster, which was a busy port in those days. After we got our books, we would walk along the docks and look at the ships from faraway places. This is still one of my favourite memories. Those trips to the library turned me into a lifelong reader and a supporter of public libraries.

I have used libraries all my life: as a student at UBC, when I worked as a lawyer and before that as a journalist, and as a place to get books that would provide a "good read". I am now retired, and I am very pleased to be a member of the Burnaby Public Library Board at a time when libraries are evolving to meet the needs of all of our citizens in our multicultural community. I think libraries are a fundamental part of our democratic society, a place where people can educate themselves and be exposed to new ideas. I am happy to be part of this.

Mandy Yang

Serving the Board since 2020.

Councillor Dan Johnston, City Council Representative

Serving the Board since 2020.

Councillor Dan Johnston 

Beth Davies, Chief Librarian and Secretary to the Board

Beth DaviesI joined Burnaby Public Library as Chief Librarian in 2016. I've worked in public libraries since 1999, serving as Neighbourhood Services Manager and Head of the Carnegie Branch at Vancouver Public Library. Throughout my career, I've been a strong advocate for the role of public libraries in making our library spaces accessible to all community members, and in meaningfully connecting with community members outside our walls.

I am honoured to lead the staff at Burnaby Public Library in providing caring and expert service to the citizens of Burnaby. We believe that all people are readers and learners, we take pride in connecting people with the information they need, and believe in the power of a story to change lives. We are very lucky to work with a Library Board and City Council who understand the critical role that a public library can play in building an inclusive community that welcomes and encourages the ideas and aspirations of all citizens.