BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Mary C. Moore Public Library is, as librarian Christina Petrisor describes, much more than bricks and mortar.
It is a valued community hub and home to a great number of both youth and adult programs.
Each month, hundreds of citizens utilize the space, enjoying programs and even coming together to bring more programs to light.
Petrisor has been with the library since 2008 and said her time in Lacombe has been filled with colleagues and citizens working together to build up the library.
“I’d like to think that we all work together to build this great pride in the place we live,” she said.
“I really can’t say enough good about this community. I have found a group of very community-minded people and we all share the same goal of wanting to be able to document the stories of the people who live here.”
The various library programs have been carefully built with time and dedication of the library board members and staff, the Friends of the library group and private citizens who simply care about developing their community.
From parent and child playtime courses, to community meetings, art clubs and of course, reading clubs, the Mary C. Moore library has cemented its legacy in Lacombe’s history.
As that history is being written into the future, the Mary C. Moore Public Library (MCMPL) continues to develop new and innovative programs that appeal to a broader audience in the community.
One such program is the new Four Eyes Film Series, a partnership between the library, Lacombe City Cinemas and the Toronto International Film Festival circuit.
“Independent, International, Illuminating and Imaginative” films are brought to the City on the third Wednesday evening of each month, with the exception of July and August.
This program is a re-vitalization of the ‘Reel Alternatives’ movie program that used to run through the Library.
“It’s giving people an alternative to the mainstream movies that are out. It gives people an option to get outside of their comfort zone. Our theatre gets many amazing films, they’ve got great popcorn, great refreshments, but sometimes people want to see something that’s outside the mainstream,” Petrisor explained.
She said an added benefit of this program is its accessibility. People may not be able to make it to the film screening, but can later come into the library and view the movies with their library card. This way, the independent films can be shared to an even broader audience.
The next film to be screened through this program is 20th Century Women, directed by Mike Mills on March 15th at 7 p.m.
Petrisor said it is a great program that reminds people the library offers much more than books.
Movies, music and social programs are also a large part of the library’s community role.
The other role of local libraries is often being a place for people to gather.
Petrisor said proudly that the MCMPL offers public meeting spaces and encourages citizens to come forward with their own ideas to utilize the space.
One such idea has recently turned into an official club, hosted at the library - Lacombe’s Genealogy Club.
“We had eight people at our first genealogy meeting, which was exciting to see. We’ve got the Red Deer society involved and we’re looking forward at enhancing services in this area. We’re even possibly looking at adding additions to the library to carry out some of the research and build the program,” Petrisor said.
The club utilizes the library’s public computer access to Ancestry.ca, and works with each other to discover more about their individual histories and the history of Lacombe.
The next Genealogy Club meeting will be held March 7th at 4:30 p.m.
These innovative programs are just a few recent examples of how the library is working to broaden their community appeal.
As well, the library is happy to host presentations from local groups such as the Lacombe Composite High School Robotics Club, who will be brought in on March 9th at 7 p.m. in the County Room in the LMC.
The Robotics Club works with the Friends of the Library, a group that is also responsible for the Local History and Armchair Travel events that happen each month.
On March 2nd and March 23rd, there will be two more presentations from these groups, respectively.
The Friends of the Library group is an independent governing not-for-profit board that works together with the library on new projects.
As well, Friends of the Library is a fundraising board for the Lacombe community hub, bringing in needed items and encouraging unique programs.
Petrisor said Friends of the Library is a critical component to Lacombe’s booming library success. She said both the Local History and Armchair Travel events are extremely valued and well-attended.
“The history lectures began about nine years ago, and in 2010 they actually won a Minister’s Award for Innovation in Public Libraries.
“The reason it was so interesting was that we had recorded history of people who were no longer with us. One of those people was Trevor Hopkins, who owned a butcher shop in Lacombe. We have that recorded piece of history, even though we sadly no longer have him with us,” she said.
“The legacy of that program is that we’re going to have recordings of people and events that will be able to carry on into the future. For example, Dr. Howard Fredeen who has already given us some amazing material. His recording archives are often accessed - people really want to hear about his role in the scientific community.”
She gave similar praise to the value of the Armchair Travel Series, where people share travel stories and photos from their adventures with others in the community. It began with the inspirations of Gary and Elaine Long, a resident couple who had the ability to travel to many locations worldwide.
All in all, the Lacombe library is a fascinating hub of energy, programming and new information.
It continues to grow and change thanks to the efforts of many community members.