Meet the Local History Librarian – Becky George, Pickering Public Library

Up next is Becky George, Local History and Genealogy Librarian for the Pickering Public Library.

Headshot2What do you do at the Pickering Public Library ? 

I am the Local History and Genealogy Librarian. The Library has a wonderful collection of photographs and documents relating to Pickering’s history as far back as 1811. It is my job to collect, preserve and promote Pickering’s heritage. This includes not just old records but also making sure that the community’s activities today are captured in a way to ensure our history is preserved for future generations too.

Why did you choose this career?

It combines two of my passions, Ontario’s history and civic pride and engagement. By helping preserve and promote Pickering’s history I help foster community building since all of us living in Pickering share our local history. I like to get people excited about where they live and help them find connections with their neighbours and local government.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love to help people and each question I get is a chance to solve a mystery and enhance someone’s day.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping up with new forms of communication is a challenge. It is relatively easy to collect and preserve paper-based records but it is not as easy with electronic records. There is so much content being produced by the people and businesses of Pickering including email, websites, and video which is hard to capture and preserve reliably and I worry that we may lose many of these important records in the future.

How did you get into the field? 

I first studied and worked as an archaeologist in Ontario but discovered that I preferred learning about people based on their writings and photographs rather than their garbage. This led me to pursue my Masters degree at the University of Toronto to become an archivist. When I graduated I was lucky enough to find a job at the Pickering Public Library. I grew up in Pickering so taking care of the Local History Collection here is a dream job for me. My connection and experience with the history and geography of Pickering is a great asset in my work.

What is your favourite memory of the library?

Pickering celebrated its bicentennial (200th birthday) in 2011 and we were able to organize a number of memorable events. We displayed the Township’s original Council minute book from 1811 in our City Hall and hosted a play based on early civic life in Pickering for local school children. We also completed a family history project and featured a written history and display of ten families who influenced the development of Pickering. Conducting the oral history interviews for this project was so much fun for me. Hearing history first hand from those that lived it is thrilling for me.

Do you have a favourite artifact/ collection?

Our map collection is my favourite. We have land-owner maps of Pickering dating back to 1860. Whenever I am talking or thinking about an historical event I always like to visualize what Pickering looked like at the time and maps help bring that to life.

To see some of our cool maps and other items in the Pickering Local History Collection, check out the Ajax-Pickering Digital Archive at www.pada.ca.

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About durhamregionareaarchivesgroup

DRAAG is the professional group for archives and repositories of the local history of Durham Region and surrounding areas.
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