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Hooray for volunteers!

April 16th, 2018

A photo of the AGO reading room outside of the Library and Archives.

The reading nook outside of the AGO Library & Archives. Image by the AGO.

At the AGO, we work with many wonderful, hardworking volunteers who are dedicated to engaging our visitors in all aspects of our museum. The Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives, located on the south side of the building on the Lower Level (Concourse), relies heavily on volunteers. A centre for art history research, the library is also responsible for programs like the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Report Reading Group, Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons, and more.

In honour of National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 15-21), we are shining the spotlight on volunteer extraordinaire Ruth Kenins, who has volunteered at the library for 10 years. We spoke to Ruth to learn more about her passion for the library:

A close up of volunteer Ruth Kenins.

Image courtesy of Ruth Kenins.

AGO:  What made you start volunteering?
Ruth: I have a passion for the arts and a deep attachment to the AGO. I’ve been a Member for many years. One of my favourite AGO exhibitions was The Shape of Colour in 2005. The exhibition was an explosion of colour, showcasing many renowned Colour Field artists and their works. I’ve also taken some art history and other general interest courses at the AGO. I have a passion for books and reading so the library was a natural fit for me.

AGO: What are some highlights from your time at the library?
Ruth: I love meeting the visitors. We have a constant flow of curators (both from the AGO and other institutions) looking for research on a specific artist and students looking at objects from the Collection. Members of the general public, sometimes looking for information on a painting they own, will use our artist and auction files. Sometimes we even get requests to help identify artworks. Every week brings new and interesting interactions.

AGO: Why do you think people should spend time at the library?
Ruth: I think it’s a bit of an undiscovered gem. Thankfully, the opening of the south entrance located just north of Grange Park has brought in many new library visitors. We have one of the best art-focused library collections in Canada and amazing resources. The reading room is a beautiful, light-filled, comfortable space that is welcoming to all visitors.

AGO: What’s a library event coming up that you’re looking forward to?
Ruth: The Library & Archives Unshelved series of free drop-in presentations, hosted by AGO archivists and librarians every month, are always enlightening, surprising and interesting. I also really like the Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon events. It’s great to share in the enthusiasm of attendees from so many backgrounds as they add online research and information on women artists.

AGO: What’s your advice to anyone curious about volunteering at the AGO?
Ruth: Find an area in the AGO that you feel passionate about and see if there are volunteer opportunities! It’s rewarding and fun. As a library volunteer, I always feel challenged and appreciated. That makes volunteering a pleasure.

Our new library programs are generously supported by The Volunteers of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Interested in volunteering at the AGO? Keep an eye on the AGO website for volunteer opportunities!

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