Dedicated spaces, more natural light and the ability to better organize the space are a few of the big improvements of the new space for Ponoka’s public library.
Dan Galway, manager of the Ponoka Jubilee Library, explained that committing areas to teens and younger children, while also adding new furniture and more computers has really helped attract more visits since they opened.
“We saw a lot of people visiting our old space. Now, we seem to be averaging about 1,500 per week,” he stated.
“Having these kinds of spaces as well as access to the classrooms for our expanded programs, and enough room at the front desk now for staff is super important for the library and we are seeing the results.”
The two age specific areas both feature books targeted to that age group alongside several computers, while the teen area also has a gaming station and some comfy furniture.
“The library also has device charging stations throughout, plus plug-ins and charging ports within many furniture pieces,” Galway noted.
“There are also many movable book shelves that allow staff more functionality inside the space by being able to reconfigure things to meet whatever is needed. As well, each subject area is now colour coded and is also marked in Cree, making it both easier for people to know where to look and keeping the library as inclusive as possible.”
And if not for the generosity of several donors, combined with some provincial grants, Galway added much of the new furnishings would not have been possible.
“The teen and kids areas were both made possible through funding that came via Ponoka Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) , while the furniture in the front lobby — some of which is still coming — was possible from a great donation by the Ponoka Kinsmen,” he said.
In addition, a Community Facility Enhancement Program grant was also matched by a contribution from the Town of Ponoka while funds were provided by Telus and other individual contributors.
A special donor sign has been created recognizing those contributions with room for more.
Galway also explained that bigger space has allowed the library to expand its variety of program offerings.
“With our ability to also access the large classrooms of Campus Alberta (Central), when not in use, has enabled us to nearly double the number of programs we can offer,” he said.
“We now have yoga story time for infants to five years, Maker Space STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) classes, Crafty Saturday for all ages and a Tagalog story time for everyone.”
As well, there are four different — Indigenous, documentary, children and classic — film events hosted at the library designed to further engage its visitors.
And, with funds from Servus Credit Union to defray some of the cost, the library is also offering free copying and fax services to new Canadians to assist those who may not have the resources during the immigration or work visa process.
“Ultimately, we want the library to become a community hub and with our expanded hours, we are seeing results,” stated Galway.