The Book Drop: Community input helps Creston library evolve

Web Lead

Looking out the window at this beautiful weather, it’s hard not to get restless sitting in front of the computer, writing up reports and budgets and all of the other tedious tasks that librarians sometimes have to do.

Sure, we get the first peek at all of the new books coming in — it feels like Christmas opening up those boxes of shiny new books every week! But in this weather, who wouldn’t rather be at the beach?

Luckily for me, being a librarian is not only about writing reports. It’s also about building community, and I plan to take advantage of the warm weather to get out of my office and into the community this summer.

Once a month beginning in May, I’ll be at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, making library cards, giving away free books and talking to you about the library. I might even waive your overdue fines if you are nice. I’ll also be doing some special story times for the younger crowd at the market — check our Facebook page for days and times.

We’ll also be at the Creston Valley Blossom Festival, helping out the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy and our other community partners with kids’ activities, and, on the same weekend, we’ll be at the Yaqan Nukiy Powwow with books and library cards to distribute.

I’ve recently begun attending the Trinity United Church Wednesday lunches, as well. I want to make sure that folks who don’t use or know about the library have a chance to find out what we’re all about and, hopefully, be tempted to come and visit once in a while. And I want to learn more about what you would like to see in the library.

Last month, one of our staff members attended the Lower Kootenay Band’s career fair and talked to almost 40 young people about careers in public libraries. It’s a fact that First Nations are underrepresented in Canada’s public libraries, so there are a lot of opportunities for First Nations youths who decide to enter the field.

Speaking of the Lower Kootenay Band, I had a wonderful time at their recent open house. The singing and drumming was awesome, and I finally had a chance to corner the Regional District of Central Kootenay directors to talk about our landscaping plans for the front of the library.

Later this month, I’ll be heading over the pass to attend a Kootenay Library Federation meeting in Grand Forks. We are working on a number of resource-sharing initiatives with our neighbour libraries, and I hope to come back with some new ideas and fresh perspectives.

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I drove up Kootenay Lake to attend the Riondel Community Library open house. The volunteers there do a wonderful job of keeping the library stocked with new titles and we hope to support them in any way we can.

Every month, I try to get out to Family Place and First Steps daycare to present a special story time for the young ones. I’ve always believed that being around and engaging young folks helps keep me feeling young, too.

Spending time in the community, talking to people and supporting other community organizations are not just great excuses to get out of the office. They are necessary to ensuring that we are responding to what this community really wants and needs.

I believe in the “community-led” approach to librarianship. This means that the community identifies its information needs, and library staff and the community work together collaboratively to create and deliver programs and services. It means that, when it comes to community needs, you are the expert, not me. And it means that this library will be unique because this community is unique. We will evolve in different ways than the Cranbrook, Nelson or Vancouver public libraries.

Now, if I could only find a way to spend the day at the beach and call it working, life would indeed be perfect!

Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public Library.