Thursday, 03 September 2015 08:00

Irvine library joins Shortgrass regional system

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Irvine residents will be able to celebrate the fact their community library is now a member of the Shortgrass Library System at a special event Sept. 5.
That is also the weekend the community celebrates its annual 20-Mile Post Days.

“The Irvine Community Library has officially become a fully-participating member library in the Shortgrass Library System and we couldn’t be happier,” says Petra Mauerhoff, executive director of Shortgrass.
To celebrate the occasion, welcoming remarks will be made by some dignitaries at the Irvine library on Sept. 5 at 10:30 a.m. There will also be cake served to the public.
There are a lot of advantages for southeast Alberta residents to have the Irvine library as a member of Shortgrass. One of them is that any books requested by patrons in the southeast corner in or around the community, can be picked up in Irvine at the library.
“The items in the Irvine library are already in our catalogue and the Irvine library is now one of the options that comes up when people choose where to pick up their holds,” explains Mauerhoff. “We are hoping that for those folks living in the far southeast corner of the region, the Irvine library will be an ideal pick-up and drop-off location for library materials.”
Cypress County is already a member of the Shortgrass Library System, paying a portion on a per capita basis. All county residents can use libraries in Medicine Hat, Redcliff or Ralston and funds received were divided between those libraries. Now that distribution changes slightly with some of that funding being allocated to Irvine so its library can provide services.
“Anyone visiting the Irvine Community Library will receive the same valuable services as our other member libraries, including online resources such as ebooks, online magazines and newspapers and our fabulous new resource called hoopla (movies and T.V. series),” adds Mauerhoff.
The Irvine library will also offer free wireless internet access to anyone with a library card.
“A wireless hotspot is a great addition to the community, especially since it is located conveniently close to the highway,” points out Mauerhoff.
Joan Cote, Irvine library manager and chair of the Irvine library board, is excited about becoming a member of Shortgrass.
“We noticed that our membership was dropping off a little and I talked to some of those members who were no longer coming to the Irvine library,” says Cote.
She found those people were placing holds on books in the system and picking them up at the Medicine Hat Public Library. She hopes now they will instead return to using the Irvine library to pick up their holds.
Cote is also excited about the fact patrons will be able to access magazines and ebooks and the library now has a web presence through Shortgrass.
“I think it will be a real draw,” she adds. “The access to the extra services — I really think it’s the way of the future as far as libraries are concerned.”
The Irvine library also now houses a computer for use by the public.
Cote is also excited the library has become more electronic. Prior to joining Shortgrass, books were taken out by filling in a card by hand.
“Now we are able to do electronic checkouts. It’s a step in the right direction,” she adds.
The library in Irvine is only open limited hours. That is because it is completely volunteer driven. If more people will step up to volunteer for a few hours to work in the library, then the facility can be open for additional hours. Volunteers are also being sought to sit on the library board.
Cote is grateful for the support the Irvine library has received from Shortgrass staff and individuals with Cypress County.
“It’s been a real co-operative effort to get the library up and running the way it is now,” she adds.
She hopes the celebration Sept. 5 will draw in some new people who haven’t been in the library before.
“The library (in Irvine) has been operating for 25 to 30 years now, but a lot of people don’t realize the library exists. We’re trying to make ourselves more visible.”
Events taking place for the 20-Mile Post Days weekend include a craft fair and commercial displays in the Irvine Sports Complex on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Wanda Woodward Memorial Bench show features crafts and horticultural competitions.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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