The Adopt- a-Library Literacy Program began in 1995 as a way to assist public and school libraries to obtain books and other materials. The purpose was to provide materials for the staff of these libraries to use as incentives to get children excited about reading. The program began around the kitchen table after then Cst. Kennedy arrested two young people who could not read or write. These boys were in grade nine. John asked his two sons at the supper table one night if they were learning to read in school and his sons Chris and Ryan told him the teachers were teaching them but there really was nothing to read in the classrooms or the library.
John asked his wife Karen about the Library and she said the boys have trouble finding any recent books at the library in town. John never really went to the library, so the next day while working he stopped into the library in both the school and the town. That night John told the boys that he stopped into the libraries and they had lots of books. Both boys then said at the same time, yes, but nothing we want to read. So back to the libraries he went. He spoke with the librarians and looked around more thoroughly. He noticed that almost all the books were held together by tape, some with scotch tape, some with masking tape, some with packing tape, but most were old enough that they were taped together. He asked the library if they could use some help and the librarian jumped at the chance for help.
That night, again at the supper table, the discussion came around to the libraries and John said to his sons that he went to the libraries and that the boys were right, there wasn't much recent reading material. He asked the boys if they would like to adopt the Library and they said yes and so The Adopt-a-Library Program was born. The program ran well in N.B. until 1999 when John was transferred to N.S. John set up shop in New Glasgow, met with staff at the New Glasgow Library, explained the program, and they were quick to agree to restart the program in New Glasgow.
Over the next 20 years the program has spread to numerous libraries and schools around the world and has brought in over 20 million dollars-worth of books and other material for libraries and schools to promote literacy. The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library developed a website, did research into the correlation between illiteracy and crime, and found that 65 % of inmates entering Canadian jails for the first time have difficulty reading. With the information to show that literacy and crime were linked, John and the staff of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library built the first crime prevention/literacy program in the world.
From the Kennedy's living room to warehouse space, the program evolved into a long-term crime prevention/ literacy based program. The concept is that if we teach our children to read today we can keep them out of jail tomorrow. John has since retired from the RCMP but continues to work on this program and promote literacy and crime prevention and has developed the World Literacy Championship otherwise known as the WOW! Reading Challenge, as everyone he explained the program to said, “Wow, what a neat idea”. So it continues today. John builds partnerships and libraries benefit as it allows staff to develop programs as they have materials to work with that they otherwise wouldn’t.