Changing function and environment of libraries

My adolescent and young adult use of libraries was different from what it is now.

Dear Editor,

My adolescent and young adult use of libraries was different from what it is now. Then a library in many ways was an extended encyclopedia and a place where I would find good novels, without paying for a book I might never read again. It was often in a large room, where a sign somewhere might say ‘Silence is Golden’, and people would talk in whispers between shelves of books. Lighting was often poor and seating was limited.  Staffing often involved one part-time person.

Fast forward to 2014; libraries now have become a social hub, a place for conversation, bright lights and interaction with staff and others. It might involve group events where people would not only listen to a formal presentation, but partake, for instance, in a variety of food dishes prepared in slow cookers, taste different wines and meet people they would not meet elsewhere. During a potluck meal, I met a woman, a retired nurse, who was involved in establishing community care nursing in the region. I enjoyed a fascinating swath of history I might not have heard anywhere else. Recently, too, there was an exhibition by two regional artists who were both present, where some of their work could be viewed and copies of their work bought.

Larger communities with larger populations and larger budgets can of course be more expansive in what they offer, but thanks to town council, our library’s funding was generously increased by 14.5 per cent this year. A $5000 Telus grant has also been offered. One possible option involves extending the library’s use into areas called “maker places” where school age children, adolescents, even adults can be involved in creative projects. One example, for instance, involves assembling colour coded electronic components to develop computer apps for a specific need.

David Tremblay, the town librarian, mentions a plan to install a “story walk” along the footpath by the river. Young children would then follow the path and on posts along the path follow the story as it unfolds. Creativity, unfortunately, is not limited to humans. Beavers with no interest in literacy have used the wooden posts in many places to build a dam.

When you have the opportunity, talk to the library staff or pick up information about accessing e-books electronically or do a library search from your home computer or at the library to access books and resources from other libraries in the province. There is now a province wide ability to access resources not available regionally. And by the way on the 1st of January acquiring a library card will be free.

David Tremblay though is set to move to a new position in Terrace B.C. on the 19th of November. We wish him well and thank him for his innovations. We appreciate his creativity, energy and being accessible a lot of the time.

George Jason