Re-opening of libraries highlights their importance in communities

Corinne Peters, branch technician at the O’Leary Public Library, said though all services are once again being offered by all libraries in the province, because summer reading programs are now taking place online, the difference in not having kids in the library all the time has been noticeable.            Jillian Trainor photo

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The branch technician at the Tignish Public Library is excited the library is once again open to the public.

“When people call up and I’m like ‘You can actually come in and browse,’ they’re so excited, because some people didn’t realize we were open for curbside (pickup),” said Jessica Doucette. “I think everyone is very excited that we’re back in action.”

As of July 20, all libraries in the province are open to the public. Prior to this, a curbside service was offered, but it was limited to books only, beginning in early June.

While the curbside pickup had its place, Kelly Gillis, branch technician for the Alberton Public Library, said once again being open to the public is like a breath of fresh air.

“There’s nothing like the experience of coming in and browsing the shelves yourself, and just inquiring about people’s lives,” she said. “We were missing the experience of going to the library. They can be the community hub for information and community news. Being next to the trails, and playground (in Alberton), the families can come to the playground near the library. It’s a whole community centre experience.” 

Public libraries in the province continue to work with the Chief Public Health Office to make sure the appropriate safety measures are in place. This includes screening, physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning, and contact tracing. However, some services aren’t available as a result, including public seating and room rentals, children’s toys, puzzles, and games, and in-person library programming.

For the branch technician at the O’Leary Public Library, because summer reading programs are now taking place online, the difference in not having kids in the library all the time has been noticeable.

“I really miss having the kids around because in the summer, it’s always a really happening place,” said Corinne Peters. “It’s a much slower pace and much fewer people in.”

Having the libraries back open allows many in the public to access tools they don’t necessarily have at their disposal at home, highlighting their importance.

“I have a lot of people that come in to use the computers to print stuff off if they don’t have a computer at home. Some of them are migrant workers that don’t have a printer, so they’re printing off documents and scanning stuff, and emailing,” said Ms Peters. “In some cases, they have computers where they’re living, but if it’s rural, the internet speed is so slow it takes forever for them to download anything. They come in on a regular basis, so for them, I think it’s been kind of hard.”

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