A “library of things” such as musical instruments, cookware and electronics could become part of the Cariboo Regional District’s libraries.
The possibility of lending popular and useful items besides books and DVDs is already being done in bigger cities such as Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto and has recently popped up on the CRD’s radar. CRD manager of Library Services Wanda Davis said adding new lending items may be on the horizon here as libraries continue to evolve, although this likely wouldn’t happen until at least 2023.
“I think libraries have changed a lot over the years. Once upon a time libraries were mostly just about print books but then other formats of media have been added over the years,” she said. “We still lend quite a few DVDs out to people just because we don’t have access to the streaming services they have in the larger cities due to poor or non-existent internet connections.”
Over the years, demand for the libraries’ physical collections has been dropping while requests for digital services are on the rise. While the CRD will never abandon its print collections, Davis said more people are now reading e-books and she is considering finding a way to offer access to streaming services through the library.
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“We’re still seeing a lot of physical material going out but we’re also seeing an increase of people coming in with a smart device or actual e-reader just looking for set-up tips or troubleshooting,” Powell said. “There are a lot of patrons that use the majority of their library card to check out e-books.”
DVDs are a popular part of the collection in the 100 Mile House area, where area librarian Shelby Powell also preserves as many TV shows as she can to meet the demands of her patrons. Audiobooks on CD are also popular, especially for those who live far away from town and can’t pick up radio stations.
Powell considers the library’s collection as being community-owned and welcomes suggestions from the public on how best to grow it.
“I want what’s on the shelf to represent them,” she said. “Once we can offer in-person programming again I want the library to be a place people can come together as a community.”
Powell noted cookbooks are a popular item in 100 Mile House and it would likely make sense to add items like cake pans and other cooking equipment to their collection. Electronic devices like e-readers, tablets and laptops would also be an option, although Powell said keeping them within the library to augment their public computers would be ideal.
“In terms of general use of the library, we’re definitely getting more steady. We are seeing patrons coming in more and bringing in their own devices to use the wifi. We still have only one public computer available but it’s in use like a revolving door,” she said.
While in-person programming remains on hold, Powell and her team continue to run a virtual lego club, a live-streamed weekly storytime and have given Dex the Dragon his own reading club that runs during the winter months. Powell is looking forward to the return of in-person programming, however, so she can turn the library into a true community hub.
“I think we’ve got lots of potential and a lot of projects we’re talking about we want to bring to the public,” Davis said. “We have some really good staffing now in our libraries, so I think we’ll move ahead pretty well in a lot of things we haven’t done before.”
One of these projects is an overhaul of the CRD library’s website to make it more user-friendly, which Davis hopes to see started by the end of 2022.