Summerside Rotary Library is a well-used community resource
by Peggy Miles
My typical Saturday might include a few errands—groceries, dropping off recyclables, and leaving my dog eared copies of Style at Home at the magazine exchange table just inside the front doors of the Summerside Rotary Public Library. I’ve used the services of the library on and off since I was a kid. But in the last few years I haven’t made it much past the magazines.
As part of a group representing a number of Summerside community organizations that meets monthly to discuss our respective activities, one of our group members (Susan Harris, Senior Library Technician at the Summerside Library) recently mentioned how her facility is busier than ever.
Which caught my attention and shifted my perspective. I thought I had outgrown the library. I was beginning to think libraries were going the way of the Polaroid camera and rotary telephones.
So I requested a meeting with Susan and her colleague Rebecca Boulter, Literacy and Public Services Librarian, and they quickly set me straight.
Library services have expanded far beyond the facility’s four walls. If you have a valid library card, you can go online to renew and place holds on books. And library staff can access books from across Canada, so if you’re searching for that favourite childhood book and can’t find it on the library shelf, chances are staff can arrange to get it in for you. And students—for times when the library is closed and you’re working on that late night project, check out the library’s Info Track System, which allows access to thousands of books and articles online.
The Summerside Library has a variety of in-house programs as well, including a lap sit program for babies, toddlers and their parents, pre-school story time, and a summer reading program. They also have a book club that meets monthly, and are in the process of starting up a junior book club. Library users can lend out CDs and DVDs, and read newspapers and magazines in the library’s cozy surroundings, which once existed as Summerside’s railway station.
Last year the Summerside Library had an average of 250 people per day through its doors, and circulated over 106,000 items. And in the summer months, the facility sees a significant increase in traffic from tourists.
I asked how the public would be affected if the library wasn’t there. Library staff indicated that it would severely affect its regular users, many of whom use the facility’s computers on a daily basis. For some there would be “no access to books at all,” since library services are free to the public.
Staffers Susan and Rebecca share that the library is a “welcoming community space” where families come for weekly visits, seniors peruse the book shelves and teenagers sprawl out to do their homework. “I have never shushed anyone,” laughs Rebecca.
And what can the public do to show their support for their local library? “Visit often, borrow often, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”