Roxy Blackmore says she will always be fond of libraries.
She loved accessing the library when she was young, because it was a source for books and information. And she still loves it now.
February is National Library Lovers’ Month, and it clearly means a lot to Blackmore, who is the acting branch manager at the Estevan Public Library.
“I believe that everyone should have a library card,” Blackmore said in an interview with Lifestyles. “There is something in here for everybody.”
Books, magazines and an abundance of other information can be found at the library, making it a valuable service and a busy place.
“The way that the information is presented is a little bit different. We’re not just books any more, although I love the books myself. We still have lots of those, but there are other ways to get your information,” said Blackmore, who has been with the library since January 2018.
The library has computers and other electronic resources, coding kits and maker space kits for school-aged children, video resources, video games and more.
In 2019, the library received about 9,000 questions for information for its staff. The questions could be in relation to something at the library, or it could be for something in the community.
Some people visit every day, and some children attend every program they can.
“In those children’s programs, there’s 10 children every time, and that’s five days a week, from the minute we open the doors when toddler time and story time starts with the small children, and then we have adult programs and teen programs daily,” said Blackmore.
All of those programs are free, Blackmore said, and the library card is free, too. They have fines if a material isn’t returned on time, and if somebody loses something, it has to be replaced, so people need to be responsible for something they receive for free.
“You just come in, present your card, and we give you as many materials as you need,” said Blackmore.
They also do a little bit of genealogy work, and they help out with resumé writing.
“I would say easily, no less than two or three resumés go out of here every single day. Not everybody has a computer at home. Certainly not everyone has a printer at home,” said Blackmore.
Not only can they create their resumé and print it off at the library, but the library helps them, too, if they haven’t written such a document before.
Other people use the library to prepare for their general education diploma or other exams.
The library also has an inventory of old newspapers, including copies of the Estevan Mercury that date back more than 100 years.
People can also check out materials from anywhere in the province through the Saskatchewan Information and Library Services program, which has been around for a decade, and is billed as “one library card, one province.”
It’s hard for people to know how much goes on at the library, unless they have worked there, thanks to the number of programs they offer, the time it takes to catalogue books and other materials, and the process for putting them on shelves.
“Once the manager has picked those materials, it goes through a whole different process,” said Blackmore. “It goes through processing at headquarters, and gets its barcode and gets its stamps.”
Once it does arrive in Estevan, it has to be put through their system on their shelves as a new arrival, and it has to be properly labelled to be checked out.
“There are thousands of books in here, so there’s a lot of tidying and straightening. And then when you go look for a book, it’s got to be where you want it to be. So a lot of the time here is spent organizing.”
It helps that the library has dedicated employees. Their experience level ranges from a couple of months to seven years.
Patrons are generally very appreciative of their efforts as well, and they know that the library is more than just books, but Blackmore wants to get the message out about the diversity of their services.
“If you go to any library in Canada or the world, for that matter, you’ll see that over time they have very much changed, even though some of us would be content with them just the way they were. They’ve really grown, and we live in a technology-based world now that’s very different,” said Blackmore.
And the library has introduced other services. Their little free pantry allows patrons to come and grab a can of soup or something else small during a tough time. Their seed library allows people to grow their own food and learn about healthy eating.
And it meets people’s social needs as well, something she saw when she was the adult programmer.
“There would be people who just moved to town, felt very lonely, were quite shy when they started the programs, and next thing you know they’re going for coffee with two of the people they went to the program with.”