Based out of City Centre Library

Word is there’s a new chief librarian in town

Surinder Bhogal takes over Surrey Libraries as leader Melanie Houlden retires.

Surinder Bhogal is Surrey’s new chief librarian.

A veteran of the Surrey Libraries system since 1997, Bhogal takes over from Melanie Houlden, her former boss, who had been at the helm since 2011 and retired last Thursday.

“I’m very proud to be here at this moment in my life,” says Bhogal, the former deputy chief librarian, at her new office at the City Centre Library. “In September, I will have been here for 20 years.”

Bhogal has worked for the Surrey Libraries as a branch manager at the City Centre, Strawberry Hill and Whalley branches, and as the Manager of Information Services at Guildford Library. She was instrumental in the planning and opening of both Strawberry Hill and City Centre libraries. Half a decade ago, she was part of the team that designed the unique North Surrey landmark.

Admitting to a personal bias, she calls it a “fantastic building” – not yet to full capacity, and a major gathering place ready to evolve with the needs of a growing community.

“We are extremely pleased to have someone of Surinder Bhogal’s calibre as the new Chief Librarian,” said Library Board Chair Upkar Tatlay. “She will bring significant strengths to the role, including a deep a commitment to Surrey Libraries, a passion for improving literacy, as well as a strong understanding of upcoming opportunities and challenges and the important role that Surrey Libraries plays in the City of Surrey.”

Bhogal was born in Tanzania and grew up in Kenya until age eight, when her family moved to the UK.

She got her bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Manchester and later a masters degree in Library and Information Studies from University College London.

Moving to Canada in 1996, one of Bhogal’s first jobs was at a Chapters store – she was curious about what Canadians read, she says.

She says she had familiar issues immigrants have in a new society, even though she spoke the language.

Twenty years later, she’s responsible for all of Surrey’s nine libraries.

“They’re all very different and very unique,” she says, adding she’s got lots of work to do to get acclimated to her new role.

“I’m going to eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

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