Brain gain: Library draws talent from Trump-led U.S.

The Prince George Public Library has a new public service manager and to some extent Donald Trump can be thanked for the acquisition.

Prior to taking on the position at PGPL, Ignacio Albarracin and his family lived in San Antonio, Texas where he had been the digital services coordinator at that city's public library for five years.

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That such a controversial and polarizing figure holds the highest office in the United States was not the sole reason Albarracin is now residing well north of the 49th parallel, but Trump's election as president helped close the deal.

"Trump is part of the picture, absolutely," Albarracin said. "If Hilary Clinton were president today, I don't know that I would be here. The bottom line is at this point in time, I feel that Canada is a better place to raise my kids than the U.S. as it is today."

Albarracin was born in Argentina but his family moved to the U.S. when he was less than one year old and is an American citizen.

"But I grew up as an immigrant. I grew up in a household where we spoke Spanish and in a household of immigrants," Albarracin said. "My mom was born in Uruguay, my dad was born in Argentina.

"Apart from being throughout the U.S. - I've lived in Miami, I've lived in Pittsburgh, I've lived in Texas, I've lived in Washington, D.C. - I was a Peace Corp volunteer and I lived in Honduras. My wife is Honduran."

Trump's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border is just one of the reasons the Albarracins were looking north.

Another is that in Texas, police have the authority to ask people for their immigration papers, something Albarracin said could be particularly troublesome for his wife. Even though she's a U.S. citizen, she speaks with an accent.

"The possibility that she would have to experience being stopped for whatever reason, because any excuse can be used...to me that not a welcoming environment," he said. "The message that sends to me is this particular population group is not welcome."

Conversely, he said Canada is more welcoming and opening.

"Frankly, it's an example I think my compatriots could learn from," Albarracin said.

Another concern is a pervasive state of fear as made apparent by Texas's open-carry law with respect to firearms, the presence of armed security and guard dogs at supermarkets and the fact that San Antonio Public Library staff received training in battlefield medicine.

"It's gotten to the point where we're so afraid of active shooters or terrorist attacks, that we were trained, as library staff, on how to apply tourniquets, apply patches to people's chests," Albarracin said.

There were some pull factors to go along with the pushes. Albarracin said his long-term goal is to become an assistant director or director his new job at PGPL is a step in that direction.

"This job really hit a sweet spot in terms of what I was looking for professionally," Albarracin said and later added he plans to be in Prince George for while.

"I'm not someone who's just passing through," he said and noted the family was invited up on February, the coldest month of the year, to get a sense of what life in Prince George is like.

He will be responsible for overseeing the public service department including adult, youth, and branch services. In 2015, he won a Mover and Shaker award from Library Journal for his work in launching a digital checkout kiosk at the San Antonio International Airport.

His wife, Gloria, and their two children will arrive in Prince George later this summer - on July 4 in fact - once school is out. His wife just completed an associates degree in early childhood development and may continue studies at University of Northern British Columbia.

Albarracin still holds out hope for the United States.

"I do have faith that things will improve just because they have to," he said.

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