Libraries offer much more than meets the eye

Technology, community space, clubs, meetings and programs are all common factors of extended library amenities that are now available

Technology, community space, clubs, meetings and programs are all common factors of extended library amenities that are now available in most libraries.

Alberta libraries have been growing and changing with the demands of the public – most now offer access to e-books, magazines, movies and music online. There are so much more to libraries than just books; they are an important community resource.

For Blackfalds, the library is a popular space. Carly Binder, branch manager, said that their demographic is quite young, so most of the programs run through the library are directed towards that age group. However, a number of adult clubs and groups also utilize the space at the library.

“We have quite a few groups that meet here, such as a Bible study in the evenings. If anyone needs a meeting space, we try to allow space for it. It is a hub where a lot of things happen,” said Binder.

“We have inter-agency groups we meet with – either run by the Town or are private – just to make sure that we are utilizing the spaces here, and helping each other out. We let people know that they can come here and use our space.”

Most libraries have a similar connection to their community. Libraries offer a place to gather information, to share that information and to explore new things.

The Blackfalds Library has a great focus on youth programs, with the major ones being a kids’ program that runs from January to June and then halts as the Summer Reading Program picks up.

The Blackfalds Library also has a special connection to the local food bank in that during the month of October, as well as other times throughout the year the library promotes the bank by collecting donations as admission prices to events.

Currently, Food For Fines is a program running out of the Blackfalds Library where members can bring in a donation for the food bank and their late fees will be wiped.

“It doesn’t matter if you have $50 in late fees; you can bring in one item or 50 and it will clear your fees. The majority of our patrons clear their account fees with this program.”

The Blackfalds Library also offers events such as movie nights and senior tea parties, and is also a place where people can learn languages for free using the Mango Languages program.

The Mary C. Moore Public Library (MCMPL) in Lacombe offers children’s programs as well, and much like Blackfalds, hosts a number of community events. Three of the most well-known and well received programs at the MCMPL include children’s programs with Miss Mary, the Armchair Travel program and the award winning Lacombe Local History lecture series.

“We won an Alberta Government Municipal Affairs Minister’s Award for Innovation & Library Public Service in 2010, and that was huge for us. The Friends of the Library organize speakers for us and collect donations, which they are great for because they always give back to the library,” said Connie Schiffner, library technician at the Mary C Moore.

Both libraries are part of a province-wide program that connects libraries all over Alberta.

It is called a Me Library Program and begins with new library cards thatare registered online to an email address. The Me card allows users to travel between participating libraries, checking out and returning products to multiple locations.

The Me Program also works for access to online content. Users are subject to the rules for whichever library they are attending at that point – limits of amounts to take out and late fees, etc.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com