Friday, 03 May 2013 08:00

Brooks’ library continuing to offer unique programming

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Alberta Minster of Culture Heather Klimchuk and Brooks Public Library Board Chair Lisa Crosby discussing art in the library’s Gallery. Alberta Minster of Culture Heather Klimchuk and Brooks Public Library Board Chair Lisa Crosby discussing art in the library’s Gallery. Photo submitted

City of Brooks residents may have noticed a lot of changes at their public library the past year.


There have been renovations to the children’s area, a new logo unveiled and officials have moved away from the dewy decimal system, choosing to shelve non-fiction books by subject in a similar fashion to a bookstore. Most recently, the library’s membership cards have been completely re-done and prices dropped.
An individual membership now costs $10 while a card for those 17 years old and younger is free.
“The youth get to have ownership over something. It’s a different kind of belonging,” says Sarah McCormack, head librarian at Brooks Public Library, about free cards for youth.
There are some young people who maybe haven’t been members of the library before because their parents didn’t have the time or the means to head down to the building and purchase a family membership. McCormack has slowly been making her way around Brooks schools to sign up students for the free cards.
“I hope when (parents) see their children gaining so much from a membership, they may get one for themselves,” she adds.
The new cards feature various sayings and there are two choices for individuals and two choices for youth. In June, library officials will launch a slogan contest so when the next batch of cards is printed, the winning slogans thought up by members of the community will be used.
Getting youth more involved in the library has been a recent focus. A new Teen Advisory Board (TAB) has been created for youth ages 14 to 17.
“They get to help design the teen space and choose items for the collection,” explains McCormack. “What we add in terms of movies, books, CDs and DVDs.”
The best way to find out what a community wants from the library, can be by testing programs. That’s what library officials are doing this year with ideas such as a write a short story contest, a poker night for women, and a pumpkin growing contest later this year. Gallery space has been created in the library, for local artists to display their work even with wine and cheese opening receptions.
Other work set to be done this year includes finishing the mural in the children’s area and renovating the teen area. McCormack also wants
to see outside space improved including an area outside of the program room that could be used to run gardening type programs or an enjoyable space to sit and eat lunch or read a book.
The hardest part about offering programs, can be getting the word out to people in the community.
“Marketing is a challenge,” says McCormack. “People think they already know what a library is, but we’re evolving and changing and growing. My main goal is to have the library stop being seen as a book warehouse and be seen as a community space.”
McCormack, who hails from Ontario and attended grad school in Halifax, worked in larger libraries in Regina and Medicine Hat before heading to Brooks to take over the head librarian position in February of 2012.
She says there are different challenges and opportunities for a smaller library such as Brooks, compared to ones in larger centres. Funding often isn’t as much and the library serves a smaller population of people. That can be of benefit when it comes to spreading the word about programming as everyone knows everyone else.
The current library board is working on writing a new plan of service this year, but a big focus of it will be creating partnerships with others in the city. To that end, McCormack sits on various boards including the early childhood development coalition and the Chamber of Commerce.
She believes the library offers something for every person in the city and surrounding rural area, they just don’t always realize it.
“People are always amazed,” says McCormack, about the range of services the library offers.
Residents don’t know they can learn a new language through Mango and do it from their home computer, just by accessing the library’s database with their membership card. They can also read consumer reports, or find a range of e-books, including new releases. The library also loans CDs and DVDs.
The library website (http://brooks.shortgrass.ca/) features information about programs and is the portal to access many of the databases.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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