The Estevan Public Library is greeting its new branch manager.
Jason Radshaw drove to the Energy City from the Niagara region in Ontario in early August. He’s spent over 20 years in the public library field and saw a management position running a library in Estevan as a unique opportunity.
“It was a great opportunity to take. I had some friends that have worked down in Saskatchewan, and they said, ‘You are going to love it out here,’” said Radshaw in the interview with the Mercury.
Radshaw took some time to explore the neighbourhoods and city parks. The houses and the way people decorate their front yards impressed him.
“It’s a very pretty town … it’s a very picturesque background and landscape. I got into town and explored it a bit. It’s very similar to the type of town I am (from),” said Radshaw. “It’s a pretty exciting time being here for myself.”
The number of pumpjacks he saw on the way to Estevan also impressed Radshaw and reminded him of Texas. He complimented the leisure centre and other amenities Estevan has.
As for work, Radshaw praised the Saskatchewan library system, in which with one card, patrons can get any book from any other library in the province, which isn't the case in Ontario.
The new branch manager also got from the shipboard straight into a ball as the library proceeded with some renovations.
“We changed the paint scheme. It was a lot of the blues, very light fluorescent blues, a very early 90s look. Part of what the city wanted to do was to create a more modern look,” said Radshaw.
The colour scheme was changed to grey. As part of the project, the original carpets that were placed there when the library was built in the early 1990s and tiles will be replaced. Some windows will be tinted as well.
“We’ll have a bit more open space as you enter the library. And we are looking at possibly making a maker space out of it. So you come in and you have the 3D printer, we’ll see a lot of these things happening,” said Radshaw.
He added that down the road he hopes to attract more people to the library to open public space.
“We have a great collection of books, and that’s always been a key part of the public libraries. But another key part of public libraries that’s now getting so important is public space,” said Radshaw, adding that all services the library provides are free, an advantage which not too many places can offer.
“Someone once mentioned to me, ‘A good public library is like a living room of the community.’ I thought it was a very cool statement and very much it is.”
Electronic resources are another area that Radshaw plans to focus on in the near future in association with the Southeast Regional Library system.
“We have a great collection of electronic resources, e-books. And over the upcoming years, we want to make sure that this continues and to make sure access improves,” said Radshaw.
“I myself haven’t checked out a book for a while, but I do use a lot of e-books, specifically audiobooks ... And we have a lot of people in their 30s and 40s that just don’t have time to read, but they might have time to listen to audiobooks.”
Right now, the library is only doing curbside pickup. New registrations can be made online.
Radshaw has already met the staff at the library and said that he was looking forward to getting to know the community better.
“When we do finally open after the renovations I’m looking forward to meeting more people,” said Radshaw.
Some library workers were already back to work, while others will be called back as the library opens up more.
As soon as the renovations are completed, and as long as there are no new restrictions due to the pandemic, they plan to get back to seeing patrons in person, bring back the programming as well as other features the Estevan Public Library has to offer.
“We are in the process of reopening programming. Some of it will be virtual, and some of it will eventually be in-person. As we do programming, public safety comes first,” said Radshaw. “But we are going to reopen programming and that’s definitely an agenda and priority to me.”
Radshaw spent a lot of time in programming, specifically in adult programming, and believes that his experience will be of use here.
“Programming works as a good service, and programming, too, helps bring in people that might have not come in or they haven’t been to the library for a while.”
He added that the community will more likely see programming brought back gradually starting sometime in the fall. Patrons can expect to see some of the most popular programs coming back as well as some new projects happening.
Be sure to follow the Mercury and www.estevanmercury.ca for more updates from the library.