If you suddenly found yourself in a brand new place, without knowing anyone in the community, where would you go first to find out information about:
- local services
- social programs
- free wi-fi until yours is set up
- activities for you and your children
- job opportunities
…all for FREE?
The public library, of course! You can’t these things at your local big box store, that’s for sure.
In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission in the US (the FCC), estimated that nearly 46% of Americans living in rural communities do not have regular access to high speed internet. The number would be similar here in Canada. And while high speed internet might not be seen as an essential service, it means that these people might be able to surf the web at home, but they won’t be able to stream content such as movies, or download websites that have a great deal of active content on their sites. And for those that can stream the odd bit of content pay much more for their internet fees than those in high population urban areas.
What does that mean for people? It’s about much more than just not being able to binge-watch Netflix. It means children won’t have access to some school activities or homework. It means that children (not to mention adults) will be missing out on important cultural references that their peers are taking for granted. It also means that families don’t have regular access to things that they might need to use, such as government websites, weather and news sites, and health information. When it takes too long for something to download, or a person knows the time they spend waiting will cost them extra that month, they’re reluctant to use it.
That’s where public libraries come in. It’s hard to believe, but not everyone has a cell phone or mobile device. That means people need reliable high-speed access from a free source that they can use regularly. And they need it at convenient times. Our community is a perfect example of this, with Beckwith and Mississippi Mills making up a large majority of the rural population. We have regular users, drop ins, and seasonal users of our computers, as well as people who come by just to use the free WiFi. We’re definitely an important part of the rural community.
If you didn’t have access to high speed internet, would you miss it?
It’s true–space is always at a premium for libraries. We can’t keep every old book, but we also need space for new books. And now with digital content becoming more prevalent everywhere, we also need storage space online. And space equals money.
But space is not just about the building. It’s also about content. Books take us on journeys, and libraries provide those books. We can sit in a library and be whisked away to places we might never visit, to adventures we might never take part in, and meet people we might never encounter.
Libraries are also about real life, however. They are places that teach children to read. They help people find jobs and shelter and education. They are places where you can meet people, engage with others, and create long-lasting friendships. People often come to the library as a community landing spot, or jumping-off point. It’s a safe zone for children, and a quiet space for adults. It’s an entertainer, a teacher, and a respected community member.
Libraries are centers of learning, training, updating, forging, creating, establishing, and continuing. Money can’t solve every issue that libraries face these days, but it certainly needs to be part of the community discussion.
What kind of journey are you on?
Next week is Ontario Public Library Week! Once again, we’re doing some low-key celebrations at the library, but you’ll certainly have some fun if you drop by. From library trivia, to a crazy iSpy, to some silly fun for the kids, we’ll have lots going on.
You can also drop by our Facebook page for daily activities, public interest stories and more! Ontario Public Libraries—a visit gets you thinking! #OPLW
My name is Meriah, and I am the Manager of Library Services at the Carleton Place Public Library. One of the things I love about my job is that while I have general tasks to do each week, every day is different for me. As a public librarian, I find I wear many hats- I could be involved in facilities management, ordering supplies, tech support, human resource management, and program coordinating, all in one day. I am certainly never bored!
A typical Tuesday could look like this:
- Paying bills (one hour). Dry but necessary!
- Receiving the shipment of new library books. This takes about 45 minutes, and is one of my favourite jobs at the library. Opening the box is like Christmas morning, because you never know what treasures could be inside. This is also a very practical task for me, because it allows me to touch every book that comes into our library. By going through each title, I have a better idea of what items are in our collection.
- Tuesday mornings I tend to have some uninterrupted quiet time, and I try to spend it on any special projects I am currently working on. Recently I have been spending time on gathering information for the creation of our library’s first Strategic Plan. This means I might be making a survey, creating meeting minutes, or information gathering.
- Afternoons are a bit of a free-for all, and are when things get interesting! Once we open at 1:30, I could be preparing for a Library Board meeting, which includes compiling monthly statistics, preparing financial statements, creating agendas, and information gathering. However, I often find myself doing two or more things at once. For example, while I’m working on Board meeting prep, a patron may come in with a question about setting up OverDrive, which could take anywhere from 5 to 50 minutes to troubleshoot. Then a staff member may have a question about a strange thing they are noticing with our library catalogue. This may require me to get in touch with our tech support to find out what’s going on. Hopefully I get the Board meeting documents done, because I will usually spend the last 45 minutes to an hour of the day on the Circulation desk, helping patrons find books and answering questions.
- When I have a few minutes, I like to look at book blogs and our OverDrive site to find out about upcoming releases or new eBooks we have in our collection.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read about another staff member!
As part of our Ontario Public Library Week celebrations, we thought we’d introduce you to our staff and what they do each day. We’ll be posting some info each day next week here, as well as on our Carleton Place Public Library Facebook page, to help you become familiar with what goes on in our library each day, the jobs we perform, and maybe even a few unexpected tidbits about us!
We’re excited…it’s almost Ontario Public Library Week! A visit will get you thinking!