The Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library’s (FWPL) Instagram profile is receiving some love thanks to Mahi Paantha, its new Instagram admin and one of its volunteer board of directors.
FWPL, a charitable organization that has existed for over 30 years, raises funds and makes donations once a year to the Winnipeg Public Library (WPL). Paantha joined FWPL’s board of directors this past summer.
Paantha has volunteered at libraries since elementary school, spending their recess periods doing various tasks such as scanning books and putting protectors on book covers.
“The library is just a really nice comfort place for me, and one of the few places where I can just unwind and chill by myself — read, draw, basically do whatever I want,” they said.
Paantha had sought out volunteer positions at the WPL in the past, but the arrival of COVID-19 and the lockdowns that followed made finding a position impossible. This year they tried again and reached out to FWPL about a position that ended up being unavailable, but they were offered an opportunity to work with the FWPL board and accepted.
As a full-time student at Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech), Paantha has been unable to attend board meetings since the start of September due to scheduling conflicts. However, they still wanted to contribute despite this, so they came up with the idea to manage the Instagram page for FWPL.
“I saw the Instagram was kind of lacking,” Paantha said.
“It seemed kind of empty so I was like, ‘You know what? I can post on social media all the time, I really want to still be involved with the board, I’ll just go on there and I’ll help out with designing stuff.’”
Paantha is in the Digital Media Design Program at RRC Polytech, which provides them with relevant design experience for the job.
Being a part of an organization that does integral work for public libraries is something Paantha feels strongly about.
“Honestly, it’s so great,” they said. “I finally get to be involved with the library in a more direct way, because I was always just the person that would put books away.”
Their desire to be involved is also motivated by their passion for social services and accessible libraries for all kinds of patrons.
“Having [libraries be] accessible is honestly so important to me as someone who did grow up around libraries myself,” Paantha said, adding that they want public libraries to “continue being accessible for the city,” so that kids can have positive experiences just like the ones they had in their youth.
For Paantha, working on the board and helping to raise funds “for the library directly” feels like giving back.
“It just makes me really happy that finally I can give back to the library, at least a little bit,” they said.
FWPL’s next event is a book sale at Grant Park High School on Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Oct. 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The organization will be accepting book donations during the event. See @friendswpl for more details.