AGM: Li­brary use con­tin­ues to grow in Swift Cur­rent

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­[email protected]­

The pub­lic li­brary in Swift Cur­rent has ex­pe­ri­enced another busy year with an in­crease in pro­gram at­ten­dance and in-branch cir­cu­la­tions.

Li­brary ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing 2019 were dis­cussed at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing of the Swift Cur­rent Branch Li­brary board, March 4.

“We’ve had a very busy and pos­i­tive year,” Branch Man­ager An­drea McCrim­mon said af­ter the meet­ing. “The li­brary has been used more than ever. Our cir­cu­la­tion – phys­i­cal ma­te­rial, eBooks and eAu­dio­books – is at an all-time high and our pro­gram at­ten­dance is also at an all-time high. Pro­gram at­ten­dance is up slightly over last year, but over the past six years it’s up 58 per cent.”

The li­brary has 12 staff mem­bers and she ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion to­wards them for their ded­i­ca­tion to pro­vide a ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

“We serve a re­ally won­der­ful com­mu­nity here and I think I can speak for ev­ery­one where we find our jobs very re­ward­ing,” she said.

There were 102,204 in-per­son vis­its to the li­brary in 2019, which was a slight de­cline com­pared to the 104,484 vis­its in 2018. How­ever, the in-branch cir­cu­la­tion of li­brary ma­te­rial in­creased from 122,235 in 2018 to 123,633 in 2019.

The eBooks and eAu­dio­books cir­cu­la­tion con­tin­ued to in­crease from 17,763 in 2018, rep­re­sent­ing 13 per cent of to­tal cir­cu­la­tion, to 20,282 in 2019, which was 16 per cent of to­tal cir­cu­la­tion.

“More peo­ple are us­ing eBooks and eAu­dio­books, and we’ve done a lot of work over the past year or two to show peo­ple how to use our new Libby App, which lets peo­ple ac­cess our dig­i­tal col­lec­tion over their mobile de­vices,” she ex­plained. “I think the in­crease is partly that and partly that peo­ple are hav­ing more de­mands for eBooks and eAu­dio­books.”

Dur­ing the year the li­brary was open to the pub­lic for 3,360 hours. There were 1,181 li­brary pro­grams and 12,402 pro­gram at­ten­dees, 399 one-on-one tech­nol­ogy help ses­sions, and there were 11,636 pub­lic com­puter uses as well as 8,035 Wi-Fi users.

The li­brary be­came more ac­ces­si­ble dur­ing the year af­ter the Chi­nook Re­gional Li­brary ap­proved an in­crease in open­ing hours for the Swift Cur­rent Branch Li­brary, which started in June 2019. The li­brary is now open on Sun­days through­out the sum­mer and also on Sun­days dur­ing hol­i­day week­ends.

“Peo­ple are on sum­mer hol­i­days or par­ents are off work on Sun­days and want to bring their kids down, and also peo­ple who are us­ing the li­brary on a daily ba­sis still need the li­brary on Sun­days,” she said. “We did a pa­tron sur­vey a cou­ple of years ago and found out that peo­ple re­ally wanted their li­brary to be open more of­ten and have more reg­u­lar hours, and be­cause our li­brary keeps grow­ing in Swift Cur­rent, it was a good time for us to in­crease our open hours.”

These changes will add an aver­age of 63 ad­di­tional open hours per year. Ac­cord­ing to McCrim­mon there has been pos­i­tive feed­back from the pub­lic about the changes to li­brary hours.

“It’s been re­ally pos­i­tive and our vis­its are very steady on Sun­days,” she said. “It gets busy on Sun­days once in a while too.”

From a financial per­spec­tive there is not a sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional ex­pense to have the li­brary open to the pub­lic on Sun­days.

“In terms of the fi­nances it wasn’t a huge financial com­mit­ment,” she said.

“So we thought it was a re­ally good use of our staffing bud­get to in­vest that in ex­tra open­ing hours.”

Chil­dren’s pro­grams at the li­brary con­tin­ued to be well at­tended. The sum­mer was a busy time for the li­brary and 538 chil­dren reg­is­tered to par­tic­i­pate in the TD Sum­mer Read­ing Club.

There were sev­eral suc­cess­ful teen pro­grams dur­ing 2019. The Sage Hill Teen Writ­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence took place at the li­brary for a fourth year. There were 10 par­tic­i­pants last year and it was pre­sented by Val Marie au­thor and per­form­ing artist Madonna Hamel.

An out­come of this week­long writ­ing camp was the cre­ation of the Young Writ­ers’ Inksti­tute that meets once a month un­der the guid­ance of Hamel to give par­tic­i­pat­ing teens the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue to de­velop their writ­ing skills.

The li­brary started a new teen book-to-film club in 2019, which is spon­sored by the Swift Cur­rent Ki­wa­nis Club. Par­tic­i­pants re­ceived their own copies of four pop­u­lar books that were made into films and they met five times over the sum­mer to dis­cuss the books and watch the films. It was the first time that some of these teens par­tic­i­pated in a li­brary pro­gram and some were new­com­ers to Canada.

A va­ri­ety of adult pro­grams were pre­sented at the li­brary dur­ing the year and se­niors con­tinue to be ma­jor par­tic­i­pants in these ac­tiv­i­ties. Events that pre­vi­ously took place at the Se­nior Cit­i­zens’ Ac­tiv­ity Cen­tre, which closed two years ago, are now lo­cated at the li­brary, for ex­am­ple weekly gath­er­ings to play var­i­ous games such as Bridge, Whist, Scrab­ble and Crib­bage.

Bob Fletcher, who co­or­di­nates the ar­range­ments for these games, at­tended the li­brary’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing and ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion to­wards li­brary staff.

“I love the li­brary,” he told the Prairie Post af­ter­wards. “The at­mos­phere is so good, there’s a lot of win­dows, you can see good and it’s a big enough place for us. We got to make a lit­tle ex­tra room once in a while, but we get by very well.”

The age of the play­ers will vary from 40 to 80, but most are se­niors. They play on Tues­days and Thurs­days, and they have any­where from eight to 11 ta­bles with four play­ers per ta­ble. Par­tic­i­pants will pay $2 to play, and 50 cents from this amount per player is do­nated to the li­brary.

Fletcher felt it was im­por­tant to at­tend the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing to hear how the li­brary is do­ing.

“I don’t want to ever see the li­brary close,” he said. “It’s too im­por­tant to a lot of se­niors.”

He noted that games par­tic­i­pants will also spend ad­di­tional time in the li­brary dur­ing their vis­its to read or to visit with each other.

“Lots of them who come in, they’re read­ing a book while they’re wait­ing to play cards,” he said. “There’s one guy in par­tic­u­lar, I got to go get him all the time, be­cause he’s in the books and when it’s time to play he’s not there yet. So I know where he is.”

McCrim­mon felt the li­brary plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the com­mu­nity to pro­vide ser­vices to a va­ri­ety of users with dif­fer­ent needs.

“We have an im­por­tant role in the com­mu­nity, first for life­long learn­ing, for help­ing peo­ple ac­cess in­for­ma­tion and ser­vices that they wouldn’t be able to ac­cess with­out the li­brary,” she said. “We have an im­por­tant role in peo­ple’s re­cre­ation lives. So we help peo­ple have fun in their down­time, whether it’s through read­ing trashy nov­els or bor­row­ing DVDs or play­ing com­puter games, but we also help peo­ple with re­ally im­por­tant skills in their lives, like learn­ing how to use their com­puter or smart­phone, how to write a re­sume or send out job ap­pli­ca­tions or ac­cess im­por­tant gov­ern­ment forms on­line. So we play a re­ally im­por­tant role in so many dif­fer­ent as­pects of peo­ple’s lives.”

There is a se­nior’s out­reach pro­gram to bring li­brary ser­vices to about 100 home-bound res­i­dents around the city. Se­nior out­reach staff and vol­un­teers will make monthly trips to eight care homes and re­tire­ment com­mu­ni­ties in Swift Cur­rent and they check out over 400 items each month.

Lack of space in the li­brary for col­lec­tions and pro­grams can be a chal­lenge. Li­brary pro­grams can be crowded and there might be a short­age of quiet work and study space for the pub­lic.

“We are work­ing to make our fur­nish­ing more flex­i­ble and get ev­ery­thing on wheels and light­weight so that we can move things around as we need to,” she said. “Of­ten we’re us­ing one space for mul­ti­ple pur­poses, which in­volve a lot of mov­ing fur­ni­ture. Also, our li­brary users are learn­ing to share the space bet­ter and not ex­pect that the li­brary is quiet all the time.”

The re­lo­ca­tion of the Chi­nook Re­gional Li­brary’s head­quar­ters to a larger build­ing in the near fu­ture might help to al­le­vi­ate the space short­age, be­cause there will be ad­di­tional pro­gram­ming space avail­able at the new lo­ca­tion.

“We’ll have to wait and see how it works out for peo­ple, be­cause it’s not cen­trally lo­cated, but we’re ea­ger to give it a try and see how our li­brary users like it,” she said.

McCrim­mon felt pos­i­tive about the way things have been go­ing for the Swift Cur­rent Branch Li­brary dur­ing the past few years.

“We’ve seen year af­ter year of in­crease in li­brary users,” she said. “We’ve also had a steady source of fund­ing over the last two years. So we thank the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment as well as the City of Swift Cur­rent for rec­og­niz­ing the im­por­tance of the sta­ble source of fund­ing for the pub­lic li­brary and I think we’re in re­ally good shape to carry on into the fu­ture and adapt­ing to the needs of the peo­ple of Swift Cur­rent.”

Note: The Swift Cur­rent Branch Li­brary and all other Chi­nook Re­gional Li­brary branches have been closed since March 16 un­til fur­ther no­tice due to con­cerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Li­braries across the prov­ince are waiv­ing late fines dur­ing this pe­riod. A va­ri­ety of on­line ser­vices, in­clud­ing the prov­ince-wide Li­brary2go col­lec­tion of eBooks and eAu­dio­books are avail­able to pa­trons.

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Swift Cur­rent Branch Li­brary Man­ager An­drea McCrim­mon (at the head of the ta­ble) presents her re­port dur­ing the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, March 4.

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