SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The Summerside Rotary Library is hitting its stride as it finishes up its second full year in its new location on Central Street.
The previous location was one large room in the old train station on Water Street.
The new, three-storey facility allows much more to happen, said Rebecca Boulter, regional librarian .
Staff has worked on making the library a community gathering place.
“That’s one or our main focusses,” explained Boulter. “If there is a subject that the community’s interested in, we do our best to form a group and provide the space. It allows people to connect with other people in the community that they might not otherwise get the chance to meet with.”
Last year’s goal was to get more people to come to the library to borrow books and resources. This year they were able to grow programs and outreach.
People are coming more often and staying longer.
Dave Johnston visits the library about three times a week. He said he enjoys the lighting in the adult fiction and nonfiction stacks, made to look like a summer sky, complete with leafy branches.
“Any time I come here and read, I leave feeling uplifted,” said Johnston.
There’s also more space to accommodate students. Adam Cousins was working recently on his computer in a study pod.
“It’s a good, quiet place to study,” said Cousins, who is preparing for upcoming exams.
More families are lingering on the top floor to take advantage of the library activities, too.
“This is our children’s and teens floor, so we know there’s going to be noise up here. We know there’s going to be kids crawling around and they’re going to be playing and that’s what’s its designed for. People feel more comfortable,” said Boulter.
The strongest area of growth in 2018 was public computer use. The library logged an increase of 1,000 hours from 2017.
“That really demonstrates not everybody really has computers and internet access at home. I think a lot of people forget that,” said Boulter.
LIBRARY OF THINGS
The library was also able to grow its “Library of Things,” where library users can borrow items like snowshoes, coding kits, ukuleles and – new this year – a telescope.
Boulter says the “Things” are pretty popular.
One of the new opportunities was a suicide awareness training session. The library partnered with the mental health association and accessed some extra funds raised in the Moo Let’s Talk Day campaign. The association was able to host a free session for 30 people at the library.
“I think it was really important for the community. We all know how important mental health is on P.E.I.” said Boulter.
In addition to the usual lending to community care facilities, the library extended its outreach to the Prince County Correctional Centre, the jail in the nearby courthouse building.
It’s a pilot project, to find out how best to work with organizations across P.E.I.
Each month, library staff switch up offerings on the shelves for those serving time there.
“They have a small library there, but we worked with them to kind of supplement that and keep a new fresh collection coming in for them,” said Boulter.
In 2019, watch for events with Brilliant Labs to offer tech-based programs targeted at school-aged children.
“It’s not necessarily training kids so that they’ll all become computer coders when they grow up. But it helps them develop their problem-solving skills and decision- making and take new and creative approaches to things which they can use in all of their schooling and the rest of their lives.”
The library will also grow the collection of physical resources for mental health, work with the home-school community to host sessions during school hours and grow the summer reading program to continue throughout the school year.
“We’re here to facilitate for the community, to help people connect and provide them with the entertainment and learning they’re looking for.”
2018 at the Summerside Rotary Library
- Almost 135,000 visits
- Over 100,000 item loans
- Over 9,000 hours of public computer use (up over 1,000 from 2017)