@ Your Library: Embracing technology keeps library current

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After hearing on CBC this morning what the library in Merritt in the Thompson Nicola Regional District library system offers for loan, I feel our libraries are somewhat kindred spirits. Along with encouraging literacy, education, information exchange and entertainment, they have decided to embrace what they referred to as extreme learning. This involves loaning out not only e-readers (yes, we have a Kobo and Sony Reader we loan out) but a bicycle, an electric guitar and a pass for their rec centre among other things. I only wish I had thought of some of these things. Coincidentally, their library and our library both have a geocache and — what a great idea — they now loan out a GPS. Along with the Kobo and Sony e-readers, we loan out two versatile little Flip cameras. One of them is currently being used for a sign language course where the student must make and post online a film demonstrating their knowledge of the coursework. We also loan out a home energy meter for measuring electrical use.

Merritt has the right idea: Don’t worry about technology making your library a wasteland; instead, make sure your library is part of the community and offers what your patrons can use. Mr. Dewey might be quite surprised to see what libraries need to catalogue these days and I think even the best cataloguer might be puzzled over how to classify an electric guitar complete with amp.

Not only do we give to patrons, we also receive from them. If you don’t know Rachael Beck, she is the herb queen of the valley and can be found teaching some very green courses at the college and she is also the current president of the Greenheart Herbal Society. She dropped in a week ago with a couple of generous offers for the library I accepted immediately. The first were some books she had received for Christmas — new, fiction and from an author very popular in this library. She had read them, checked our system to see if we had them and we didn’t.

The second offer was one the library has had previously and mutually beneficial to both parties involved. The herb society has a library and the question was, could we add their library to our collection so it would reach a wider audience and be more accessible to members of the group? We have the same arrangement with the garden club, the hospice group, Linda Stewart’s Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy and the MS society. Each group of material has its own location in the library with the exception of the garden club and only because we had already provided the gardening books with their own location before the donation.

If I were a betting woman, I would bet we receive the best donations of any of the Kootenay Library Federation and probably the Okanagan regional system. Almost daily I find quite amazing donations sitting on the designated shelf in the back of the circulation desk and all sections of the library benefit. I no longer can read fast enough to keep up with the new authors of mystery books coming from the U.K. whose books appear regularly as donations. We love it, thanks. Special thanks for the westerns still coming in; the section is looking quite a bit smarter these days.

With the great success of the self-serve hold and reserve shelf introduced a month or so ago, we are really going uptown with our services and will have a self-check station available for patrons in the next few weeks. This will allow patrons to check out their own items and hopefully reduce some of congestion that often happens around the circulation desk. We are waiting for a scanner and a receipt printer, and when those arrive, I will provide more information. Several of the board members and the Friends of the Library tried out the prototype and other than a small learning curve with the scanner, they were delighted with the results.

Thanks to those of you at the Pseudo Night at the Opera. The next opera will be The Marriage of Figaro at the end of February. I have just finished the last of the cookies that were left and I was kind of wishing there was something left over from the coffee flavoured beverage one of the viewers brought in.

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