Author Tags: Local History
CITY/TOWN: Salmon Arm, B.C.
DATE OF BIRTH: February 27, 1919
PLACE OF BIRTH: Toronto, Ontario
ARRIVAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: 1947
EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING:
Librarianship at various places: Fraser Valley Regional L, 1951-54; Middx. County L, London, ON; E. Kootenay branch, PLC, Cranbrook, 56-58; Peace R branch PLC, Dawson Creek, 58-72; FVRL, 72-81; Yukon Regional L 81-84.
Book Guy: A Librarian in the Peace. TouchWood Editions (Victoria: Horsdal & Schubart 2001)
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS: Radar Mechanic, RCAF, 1941-45; Bachelor of Arts, 1946; B. Library Science, 1951; both from U. of Toronto. Married Clara Spall of Kelowna, 1948; four children (3 boys, 1 girl)now adults. Library columnist Peace River Block News, Alaska H. News, CJDC radio ("Peace River Library News") and TV host ("The World of Books")1958-circa 1970. Lead role in NFB documentary Journey From Zero 1962 and NFB Photostory 334, 1963. Founding editor of The Racer, newsletter of Can. Amateur Speed Skating Assoc (now Speed Skating Canada)1965-72. Winner of Can. Amateur Sports Federation award for "outstanding contribution in the sports bulletin field" in 1968. Ed. of BCLA [Library Assoc.] Reporter 1972-77. CASSA Hall of Fame member with wife. Track and field competitor at BC Seniors Games, 1989-92, 94-95.
At age 96, Howard Overend was working on another book while livinig in a retirement home in Mission.
[BCBW 2015] "Local History"
Book Guy: A Librarian in the Peace
Letter to editor
Thanks to B.C. BookWorld for being the first media outlet to take my book seriously. Everyone told me there was no way I could sell a book about Peace River libraries; I’m happy to report otherwise. This spring my son and I landed at Grande Prairie, rented a car and went on a tour to visit public libraries and sell Book Guy: A Librarian in the Peace. It was awesome. I spoke eight times in four days. A CBC Daybreak North interview caught me in pajamas at 06:41 in the home of a library supporter in Dawson Creek. The mayor gave us a book and we made the front page of the Alaska Highway News (“Book Guy Returns”). We also had radio and TV interviews at Dawson Creek and Chetwynd, apple strudel at Tomslake, and by Fort St. John, we ran out of books. At Hudson’s Hope, 15 people signed up and paid for books I promised to send later. Best of all I got a thrill of happiness meeting men and women I hadn’t seen for some 30 or 40 years since I provided the mobile library service. The Peace River people have changed over the years, but their hearts have not.
I salute them.
[BCBW AUTUMN 2002]
Book Guy, A Librarian in the Peace,
I remember feeling that life was real and earnest in those far-off P.R.A.L. days, yet it had its lighter moments too. I suppose someone who had driven 50 miles on the Alaska Highway on a dark January night to attend those meetings might think of them as dry and too businesslike, but we were all learning then and growing with the organization - the Peace River Associated Libraries – we were all so proud of. If our minds seemed too much filled with statistics of books in stock and books circulated and how many more people read them this year than last, and with the presentation of annual reports and treasurers’ reports and accounting for revenues and expenditures, and the details of every public library activity one could imagine, it was because that was the way we saw ourselves. We did what we thought had to be done and did not realize that it was all part of coming of age, a preparation for the day we could build a better mousetrap, forever and ever, amen.
Anita McWilliams was vice-chairman of the P.R.A.L. for half of 1969 and all of 1971. She was chairman for the latter half of 1969 and in 1970, ’72 and ’73. At the very end of that farewell address in April the following year, perhaps feeling the emotion of the moment, Anita faltered. Intending to finish her talk to the dinner guests from around the Peace country by saying “and all good success to you!” she stumbled over the words and said “and all good sex to you!”
Realizing her mistake and too shaken to ignore it, Anita blushed scarlet and gasped, “Oh, my God!”
Looking around at the blur of delighted faces, she sat down in confusion, amid prolonged applause and cheering.