Library Moments: National Mining Week

Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

The week starting the second Monday of May every year is “National Mining Week”. According to the royal proclamation establishing this week, mining has made a significant historical and economic contribution to the development of Canada; minerals and metals mined in Canada contribute significantly to Canada’s economy, including international trade; and a prosperous mining industry committed to sustainable development will continue to play a major role in job creation and in the economic well-being of all Canadians. That said, not all with mines means rosy economic boon. Mines are dangerous places and accidents happen. Sometimes the people who work in mines are doing so because their employments choices are limited.

Today on library moments Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about novels where mining plays a significant role in the plot.

MiNRsErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: There are environmental and political concerns when it comes to mining, and both aspects are explored in Kevin Sylvester’s junior sci-fi novel MiNRS. In the future, Earth has depleted all of its resources, and the Melming Mining Company has looked to unlock the precious resources of space. They terraform and colonize the asteroid Perses, mining it for minerals and ore to send back to Earth. Christopher is one of the colony’s kids, his mother a teacher and his father a supervisor in the mine. When Perses orbit with Earth is about to result in a two month communication blackout between the colony and Earth, Christopher and his friend Elena want to throw a party to keep spirits up. But when communications go down, bombs start falling.

Under attack and with many of the colonists dead or severely injured, the kids head down into the winding maze like tunnels of the mine for cover. But whatever is after them is eager to follow. What’s worse, the idyllic life that Christopher thought he was leading on Peres turns out to have a dark side, so now on top of it all, the kids need to come to terms with their world not being as utopian as they were led to believe.

twenty-sixBessie: An explosion on May 9th, 1992 deep inside the Westray Mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia killed 26 underground miners. The mine had been open less than eight months and had provided badly needed jobs in the area. In 2003 Leo McKay wrote a debut novel centred on the Westray mine disaster by writing about a fictional small town in Nova Scotia. The novel, entitled Twenty-six examines the lives of characters before and after the tragedy, and probes deeply into family loyalties, survivor guilt, and key issues (personal choices, economic pressures, family expectations) surrounding the very worst-case scenario of workplace safety: death on the job. Twenty-six manages to face the darkest depths of human tragedy while remaining an essentially optimistic book.

Libraries have an obligation to provide information from all angles of an issue. For non-fiction books on mining itself and for the books mentioned today, visit any branch of the Haliburton County Public Library. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM May 7 – 13, 2017.

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