Monday, November 3, 2014

I’m Mad! Can we talk? Mediate BC Events in Public Libraries


Mediate BC Executive Director Kari Boyle at VPL Central
Continuing on our theme of partnering with other community groups, the LawMatters program collaborated with Mediate BC for its province-wide Conflict Resolution Week October 11 - 18. Public libraries in seven communities around the province signed up to host a public event about mediation, including Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, North Vancouver City, White Rock, Ladysmith and North Vancouver District. Other events may still take place after the week in various communities.

The launch for the week was held at Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch, where Executive Director Kari Boyle demonstrated how mediation is effective, affordable and timely. Her slides are available here, and include a slide showing a useful cost comparison, see below.                                            
Attendance numbers for the events were not high, but organizers gathered some valuable learnings, such as:
  • Ladysmith Library was able to draw the largest audience, with 12 members of the public attending their event. Library Manager Stephen Warren commented that "The response was very good and we would welcome the chance to host again in the future. We prepared a press release for the local paper to announce the event – I think this had the biggest impact as most attendees were not regular library users." 
  • The mediator presenter in Ladysmith also posted the event to a number of publications, which likely helped to drive attendance.  
  • Public libraries need lots of advance notice to host events; some explained that 2 - 3 months or more is preferable. 
  • Even with a small attendance, considering this is the first year this initiative was launched, the mediator presenters felt the sessions were very worthwhile to do.
Mediate BC hopes to repeat the Conflict Resolution Week again next year, and plan to incorporate what they have learned, including a sample promotional piece all libraries can use.