Barbara Curry Mulcahy reported:
Our library has had another very busy year. Last year our volunteers worked a total of 3,180 hours. The library was open 784 hours and was used 2762 times. 6,181 books and other materials were checked out. Our volunteers come week-in and week-out. If they are sick or snowed-in they make sure someone else will fill in on their shift. They check books in and check books out, they put books away, and straighten up the shelves. They choose books to display. They choose, buy and catalogue new books, then put protective covers on. And when books are outdated, worn, or unpopular the volunteers undo all their previous work and put the books out in the hall for sale. They work endlessly, with great energy and enthusiasm.
A library isn’t only a place to borrow books and media. It is a community hub. People come here because they feel welcome. They come to warm up on cold winter days, to cool off on hot summer days, to attend our events and our programs, to give their young children the pleasure of hearing stories and doing crafts. They come to meet other parents, to talk with their neighbors or newcomers. They come to use our WiFi to connect to the outer world, and to ask for information. Our volunteers help patrons find information in the library and also share information about the rest of the community. We are very lucky our volunteers know so much and have such a warm and caring way of guiding others.
Now to talk about the programs we provide for young and old:
Last year we had 3 author readings. Lois Lawrence has been in charge of this program since it’s inception 8 years ago. We offer the only author readings at a library in the Valley and they showcase Valley talent and visiting authors. Lois has done an incredible job. At Monday’s Village Council meeting where Community Initiatives grant applicants spoke on their group’s grant requests, Tom Wayman, the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival representative, spoke about how excellent our author readings are. He said they were helping to create a Valley community of writers and readers. His remarks really supported our library and, incidentally, our CIP grant application. Tom was right: Lois has a phenomenal ability to choose just the right people and her publicity releases attract the community in droves. Not only that, she organizes the other volunteers in setting up the library, providing snacks, author introductions, and then cleaning up after the event. There are so many special touches that make the event, flowers, homemade goodies, beautiful tablecloths… Authors and community members are eager to attend our event because it is so well run.
Di Lindal has taken over our weekly Storytime for young children. Di is also in charge of our new partnership with WE Graham School. We have started lending non-fiction books to the school to use in their classrooms. The school has listed subjects they will be studying. Every month or so Di fills and delivers a tub filled with books on those subjects. The books are lent for a month. Another successful partnership just begun with the school is with their Community Service Program. Three Grade 5 and 6 students are coming to volunteer at the library every Friday until June. The students are enthusiastic and hard-working. This week they will be making posters to put up around town. Di has given younger school children a tour of the library.
Sometimes we also have special one-time events. We had a very well attended exhibit of photographs by Valley photographers last summer. Donna Gole had been in charge of the competition and overseeing the committee that chose the winning photographs. We are very lucky to have such beautiful pictures of life in our Valley. The pictures are rotated each season.
On the Labour Day weekend, the Library decorated and entered a float in the Family Fair Day parade. Ruby Powers, our former Storytime coordinator, designed and built games that our volunteers set up and operated after the parade.
We have not only contributed our skills and enthusiasm to the community, we also shared our space with 7 other groups who needed a place to hold meetings or workshops. Phyllis Del Puppo has taken charge of bookings. She makes sure someone is there to open the door and show the guests where to find additional chairs if they are needed. The next day, if the guests have forgotten to put the displays back then volunteers have to restore order.
Our library members and our community as a whole have supported our vision with repeated grants and donations. We try to keep our collection of books up-to-date and this has only been possible because so many people donate new books, sometimes ones they buy specially for the library. Of course, we have actual expenses, too. We were lucky last year to have received grants from the Community Initiatives Program, the Slocan Valley Legion, and Canada Post.
The thing about grants…is that someone has to apply for them. Michelle Morelli has very quietly and for very many years had this duty. As in so much else that she does, she has been very successful. She is the reason we were able to afford all our purchases.
Last year we used these grants to make a number of improvements. Dick Kelly, former long-time Library Board Chair designed, built, and installed the new book drop in our front door. Ron Smith and Matt Mills built our beautiful bicycle stand. It is very popular with young and old cyclists. We bought 2 new computers with faster speed. They have reduced down times for circulation and cataloguing. Partnering with the Fitness Centre, we bought a defibrillator. It is in the hall. Quite a few of our volunteers attended a workshop at the Fire Hall to learn how to use it. The Village installed a baby change table in one of the Wellness Centre bathrooms after the library, the Medical Clinic, and the Fitness Centre banded together to request this equipment.
In the coming year, the board has decided to continue our focus on improving the children’s section. The $1,500 Canada Post grant that we received for our children’s section has inspired us to think big. We plan to buy a much more attractive and useful children’s picture book display unit, hopefully very soon. We also are planning to expand our programming for children. Di Lindal has agreed to operate Storytime year-round instead of shutting it down for the summer. One of our patrons has asked if we could run some summer programming. She suggested a book club for kids about 12 years old but reading at a high level and a weekly drop-in chess and checkers program. Di immediately agreed to run the Summer Book Club if the library can find funding. We are thinking there would be about 6 kids in the club so we’d have to find or buy a copy of each book on the club reading list. We are thinking the club would run for 6 weeks and meet every two weeks. We’re still working out the details on that. None of us play chess or checkers so we are looking for someone who does to supervise the drop-in program. (NOTE: After the AGM, Jonathan Reynolds agreed to supervise. We are still working out program details.) We want to buy more children’s books, especially non-fiction, graphic novels, and books for young children.
We also plan to work on getting the word out about all the wonders of the library.
I would like to thank all the volunteers I mentioned earlier and Theresa Thicket who cleans the library, Yuval Hager our computer guy, Dianne Smith who handles our finances & paperwork, and is a stickler for keeping meetings on track. Other volunteers who help keep the library open include Claudia Toma, Dora Bilton, Katie Dyck, Kathy Crawford, Ellen Chambers, Anne Dallas, Tia Leschke, and Adriana Burton. I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone. You all are the lifeblood of our library. Thank you for all your contributions and support.
Let’s give our volunteers a hand.