Jeffrey Yu
Jeffrey Yu, Chair

Jeffrey Yu, Chair

Serving the Board since 2016

The 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
Gene Blishen, Vice Chair

Gene Blishen, Vice Chair

Serving the Board since 2018

One 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
Surena Bains

Surena Bains

Serving the Board since 2018

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.

Sarah Bartnik 3
Sarah Bartnik

Sarah Bartnik

Serving the Board since 2021

Visiting the library is something I have done for as long as I can remember. As a small child I can remember standing at the book check out and watching the library staff use a magical lighted pen to scan the bar codes of the books I selected to borrow – I was fascinated then and right there I had hoped one day to possibly work at the library.

While I never achieved the goal of working at my hometown library, I have spent a lot of time at libraries all through my life. I have always had a library card for the cities I have lived in, including when I moved Burnaby in 2011 with my husband and young child. Throughout my life, I have visited the library to find a great book (or 10!) to read. While I was a student in high school and then university, I spent hours of my time at libraries, either studying or using the indexes to do research. As a mother, I bring my children to the library to share my love of books and my commitment to lifelong learning. And during these times when we are asked to stay home, I have used the digital library resources to keep discovering new stories and learn new things safely at my home.

I have always admired how libraries can be one of the drawing points of a community. I have seen this at the Burnaby Public Library as well – and I have been impressed at how the library programs support people who want to learn and share knowledge. Whether it is the mobile library at the community park or the programs and clubs that hold their meetings at the library, there is something for everyone going on at the library.

I am honoured to now be able to join the other Burnaby Library Board members to support the work of the library’s team. I look forward to using the skills and experience I have gained already in my professional and volunteer life and to learn more (of course) as board member. I believe the library is a resource that is essential for people of all ages. Information and knowledge are a critical part of the world, and library access is a gateway to that knowledge for many people, as I know from my own experience. We also need space for imagination, stories, and artistic adventures, and I aim to promote the library’s goals of community connection, innovation, and creative exploration, along with so much more, while I serve on the Burnaby Public Library Board.

Chris Dong
Chris Dong

Chris Dong

Serving the Board since 2017

"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
Matt Foley

Matt Foley

Serving the Board since 2016

To 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
Ernie Kashima

Ernie Kashima

Serving the Board since 2018

I 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.

Mandy Yang
Mandy Yang

Mandy Yang

Serving the Board since 2020

When we first moved to Canada and lived on Willingdon Avenue, my family's favourite pastime was going to the library down the street. I enjoyed spending an entire afternoon at the Metrotown Branch, reading magazines, while my parents skimmed the newspapers. In high school, the library became my study room and research central. By the time I started university, the library still remained my favourite place to study. There was always someone sitting nearby that never took a stretch or study break. They kept reminding me that I should not be slacking off. After I started working full time, I had more time to read leisurely. The library became my favourite place for borrowing the most diverse and interesting collections of books, not to mention the DVDs! I really enjoy the rotating collections of books at the library and I also love attending many of the in-library events. The library is part of my life and it is my honour to serve on the Burnaby Public Library Board. I would love to share my ideas and make our city libraries the best in the world!

Councillor Dan Johnston
Councillor Dan Johnston

Councillor Dan Johnston, City Council Representative

Serving the Board since 2020

Beth Davies, Chief Librarian
Beth Davies, Chief Librarian and Secretary to the Board

Beth Davies, Chief Librarian and Secretary to the Board

I 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.