@ Your Library: Patrons add to library collection

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The self-checkout system is up and has been running for a couple of weeks now. I am quite delighted patrons have been very brave in trying it out, discovering how easy it is and walking directly to it on their next visit with no staff guidance at all. I was surprised to hear several patrons describe their skill and mastery with the self-checkout at Wal-Mart so the library self-check was nothing new. I had no idea Wal-Mart had adopted self-checking. My shopping world is a very small one.

Not only have we entered the world of advanced libraries, soon we can claim Art Gallery status with a beautiful piece of sculpture coming into the library. The library collection of donated artwork holds a work by Margaret Moore, two large paintings by James McDowell, two works by Alison Masters, a Karen Arrowsmith painting, an Ute Bachinski work, a large needlework piece by Virginia Naeve, fabric art by Jean Swalwell, ceramics by Nancy Pridham, mosaic tile by Shelia Corcoran and a James McDowell and Sandy Kunze mural (you might not have seen because it is in the washroom). Oh, and we have the Lawrence Lavender Reading Garden in the back of the library, another form of art.

A loyal patron and volunteer who I think wishes to stay out of any limelight (would an update make that an LED light?) has purchased a smaller than his usual piece of sculpture from Stewart Steinhauer, a local artist whose work you might recognise. During the month of February, he had his large stone bears on display at the rec centre. The aforementioned patron does not wish to keep the piece of sculpture to herself but would like to share it with the whole community. The name of the work is Starwoman and the patron thought the library would be the ideal place for the work to be displayed. I saw it today and I know the library is where she should be.

Visual literacy is as important as being able to read words. We start off with picture books to teach a child to read. We can all use artwork to read the world, or in our case, our community.

Let’s get back to reading here for a minute. Similar to running a home these days, what it now costs the library to run over the last year has increased to a tipping point. Our bill for electricity for January was $2,100 alone. It looks like turning off our power bars at night was not that helpful. Unlike a business, we do not generate a profit so we have had to take stronger measures that will still enable us to provide the same level of library service while fitting library operations into our budget. What is going to suffer the most is collection development.

We have had, over the years I have been here, several library patrons well known to us for their donations of new and valuable to us library items.

One of these patrons requested several years ago that I make up a list of books I might like for the library and she would go through the list and use the Christmas gift certificates for books from my list that she was also interested in. She then reads them and donates them. I discovered with another patron, often the books she would drop off would be books I had just ordered. A third patron frequents bookstores I would like to live in and finds mysteries we might otherwise have missed.

To use these situations to the best advantage to the library, one of the aforementioned patrons suggested we do the same thing her small Alberta library did. They had an adopt-a-book program. The library would make public a list (in our case it would be a very long list indeed) of books, and even magazines and DVDs, they would like to add to the collection. Any patr ons who had purchased any of those items on the list for their personal use would then donate them to the library once they were finished with them.

I think we have reached a point where we may introduce a strategy very much like this to patrons. Patrons will know their books are being recycled and enjoyed by many others and help us out at the same time.

Ann Day is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public Library.