How honoured I was on September 18 to preside over a historic ceremony in the history of Côte Saint-Luc.
In 2007, two years after I was first elected to city council, I brought forward a naming rights proposal which was approved. Over the years we named events, programs and benches after individuals and companies in return for financial gifts. But the confirmation of the Bibliothèque des jeunes Max Margles Children’s Library, thanks to a $500,000 gift from Roslyn Margles in honour of her late husband, far and away entered into our record books.
The unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony took place many months after myself, Library Director Janine West, Treasurer Angelo Marino and Legal Counsel Andrea Charon began discussions with Ms. Margles. I was pleased to see Simon Bensimon from Ben-Gurion University Canada on hand for it was he who called me last winter and set up my initial meeting with Roslyn. Former Mayor Anthony Housefather, now our Federal Liberal Member of Parliament, was with us as well. Thank you Anthony for allowing me to bring this concept to our city when you were mayor. We hope that there are more individuals out there who like to attach the name of a loved one or a corporate entity to enable us to use this money for items not in our annual budget.
At the library, we will now seek a naming rights donor for our beautiful art gallery. There is also our Aquatic and Community Centre and Arena, as well as possibly Wiffle Ball Field.
The ceremony was attended by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, members of council, former Mayor Robert Libman, library and city staff as well as friends and family of Ms. Margles. It is wonderful to see the name of Max Margles adorning the outside wall of the building as well as the interior entrance to the children’s library. There is also a new book stamp with Max Margles’ name, a suggestion that came from Councillor Lior Azerad.
We heard from Rabbi Asher Jacobson of Chevra Kadisha Congregation and Melissa Margles, Max and Roslyn’s niece. She had a very close relationship with her uncle. After the ceremony, there was a nice reception catered by Pizza Pita, face painting and magic for the kids and lots of reading.
“Every year, like many others, I am faced with the decision about which causes to support,” Roslyn Margles said in her address. “There are a multitude of worthy projects and organizations, but several factors were instrumental in choosing a Children’s Library is foremost, an everlasting memorial to honour my late husband Max, an avid, dedicated reader, who loved reading and the value it brings to our lives. In this digital age, the time spent by children exploring micro-electronic media may develop computer literacy, but it does not imbue children with the values that books can. Tik-Tok, Snapchat, texts and videogames are not substitutes for books.
“Reading and sharing books create personal face to face interactions where children learn to read emotional cues, develop social skills and connect. Stories are essential for children’s formative years. During challenging social times, it is not uncommon for philanthropic efforts to shift to medicine, poverty and war relief, leaving the cultural arts at the bottom of the list. I, however, prioritize the gift of literature, of storytelling......of the power of the written word. I believe the saying that ‘Children who read books today are our future leaders.’ I believe that books shape who we are and what we become. Books can transport the reader to a land of wonder and surprizes, like a Magic Carpet. Stories give children a deeper understanding of the world around them and of cultures that are different from their own.”
In reading a well written book, Ms. Margles noted, you become part of the story and suffer the pain or enjoy the happiness of the characters. “Ideally, you become more aware of how events affect other people and improve your ability to empathize - a very important and useful quality,” she said. “It will serve us, and our children well!”
Ms. Margles hopes that her donation will enable the Max Margles Children’s Library to provide additional programs and experiences to encourage children and teens to cultivate creativity, curiosity and imagination and to broaden their horizons.
The donation includes $200,000 to be used by the public library as needed, and $300,000 portion to be used to create an endowment fund, which will be used exclusively to further literacy for children and young adults including a children’s writing contest to be named the Roslyn and Max Margles Literacy Contest. The endowment fund will be administered by the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal.
Concluded Ms. West: “Children and teens make up approximately 26 percent of our library membership and check out 41 percent of the library’s total circulation. This generous endowment from Mrs. Margles will ensure that our literacy programming for children and teens will flourish, enabling us to offer more impactful and engaging activities that will foster a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.”