Nope, William Vander Zalm isn't the only B.C. premier to have published a book. Both Michael Harcourt and Dave Barrett have published their memoirs. Way back when, B.C.'s second premier, Amor de Cosmos, was a newspaperman and prolific journalist. But none have been as enthusiastic about books and reading as Gordon Campbell. In 1995 Campbell published a children's book, Tuaq: The Only One, about a baby beluga that was born in the Vancouver Aquarium. It was originally written for his own children.

As mayor of Vancouver, Campbell spearheaded the building of the new Vancouver Public Library main branch on Georgia Street. He declared a Library of the Future Week in preparation for the November 1990 civic referendum that gave assent to moving the headquarters from its cramped quarters at Georgia and Robson. "We live in an Age of Information," Campbell said, "where knowledge doubles every two years. I recently read that one copy of the New York Times contains more information than the average person a century ago would acquire in a lifetime." An eight-month $300,000 study was undertaken to hear the general public's views and to secure funding. Private sector partners included Cominco, Placer Dome, Teck Corporation, Weldwood, Thorne Ernst & Winney, and Touche Ross & Co. "The planning process for our new library will be the most important thing I ever do as a librarian," said City Librarian Madge Aalto, who had taken over from Aileen Tufts. Aalto was replaced by Paul Whitney in 2003.

Also in 2003, after ten years of failed lobbying, Access Copyright, the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency, served notice to the government of B.C. that it was going to the Copyright Board of Canada to gain a tariff to license photocopying of books, magazines, newspapers and journals by government staffers--but Campbell himself had earned the respect of B.C.'s publishers by introducing a $2 million loan program that same year to boost the industry-a major step forward. When Campbell tours the province, he often detours from politics to visit the local bookstores. Having taught with his wife Nancy in Yola, Nigeria for CUSO, Campbell has remained a staunch advocate of literacy programs. In 2004 he launched his own website at to offer commentaries on books he has read and enjoyed.

[BCBW 2004] "Kidlit"