The Estevan Public Library has traditionally been home to dozens of programs on a weekly basis that appeal to people of all ages.
But since March 16, the library has been closed to the public, and will remain closed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the library’s staff is working from home, and the library’s programmers are doing what they can from their residences.
“We really miss our patrons and our interactions with them,” said Roxy Blackmore, the acting branch manager with the library.
Activities that have been taking place include a virtual Easter egg hunt and Easter crafts organized by children’s programmer Christine Batke, and Easter centerpieces and cooking classes with adult programmer Lois Feaver.
“Christine’s even got a Lego club, a virtual Lego club coming up,” said Blackmore, who stressed they want to still keep things as fun as possible.
Some of the programs have been offered by the library in the past, but others are new and are ideas that the programmers have come up with on their own using the tools they have at home.
People are also encouraged to offer suggestions for programs that they would like to see, as long as they involve supplies that the programmers and the general public can easily access.
“It turns out there are some incredible things that you can do with very little, which I think we’re finding out,” Blackmore said.
Each of the 47 branches within the Southeast Regional Library has programs that it is offering online. The programs can be found on their website. Programs don’t have a pre-registration requirement, and there are no limits on the number of people who can participate.
Feedback for the online programs has been strong, but Blackmore would like to see more. If people like the program, Blackmore encouraged them to promote it.
She would also like to see more people sign up for the programs.
“The most important thing, I think, is just the sense of community, and knowing that those people you care about, whether it’s the patrons to the staff or the staff to the patrons, we’re still very much here and we still very much support you,” she said.
The regional library’s headquarters are still open and working hard, Blackmore said, and holding virtual workshops with staff.
It’s imperative for the Estevan Public Library and other libraries to keep offering the programs. There’s a large percentage of the community that relies on the library and its services and activities, which are free.
Some people come to the library on a daily basis to use computers, but can’t do that now. Others come in to browse the selection of books, magazines and other materials that it offers through loans.
“I think it just shines the light on how important the library really is to our community, and literacy is to our society. But everybody’s being really resourceful and doing what they can with what they have. Most book lovers have a stack of books that they’ve bought but haven’t read yet.”
She pointed out the regional library’s headquarters are still operating and working hard, and holding virtual workshops with staff.
The library is also continuing to offer a wide variety of electronic resources that can be found on its website, so that people can continue to access e-books and audio books, watch movies and TV programs, and enjoy other entertainment options during the pandemic.
Blackmore encourages people to visit the Southeast Regional Library’s website for their upcoming programs and electronic resources.