Top News

TRACY WILSON: Welcome back to the library

Kenzie Fjarlie likes his Beedazzle a Bee Hive craft-to-go. The craft-to-go program has been on offer while in-person programming is on hold at all branches of Cape Breton Regional Library, due to COVID-19 health protocols. CONTRIBUTED
Kenzie Fjarlie likes his Beedazzle a Bee Hive craft-to-go. The craft-to-go program has been on offer while in-person programming is on hold at all branches of Cape Breton Regional Library, due to COVID-19 health protocols. CONTRIBUTED

Welcome back everyone!

Cape Breton Regional Library staff hope you are doing well and continuing to navigate the new normal. It has been a tumultuous few months for all of us and we are thrilled to have you back inside our library branches.

We have to admit, however, that this excitement is coupled with some caution as we need to be smart about living, working and playing together with COVID-19’s presence in the world.

Tracy Wilson
Tracy Wilson

 

Doctors and scientists are telling us that like most viruses, we will likely experience a second wave this fall, and although the current relaxed restrictions make us want to return to large gatherings and big hugs, we need to remain informed and exercise caution when in public.

The health and well-being of library staff, patrons and the entire Cape Breton Island community is important to us and library resources and services will need to be offered and enjoyed safely.

As we all know, change can be challenging and adopting new practices can be frustrating. Often, however, we discover more thoughtful, creative and efficient ways of doing things. Think of the things you have learned or done over the last several months that you may not have accomplished otherwise.

Maybe you finally had time to read books that have been on your reading list for ages. Perhaps you learned how to use some new technology that helps keep you and your loved ones connected. Many of you have been spending quality time with your children, grandchildren and close family members or have formed closer relationships with those in your neighbourhood who sometimes need a helping hand.

In many ways our communities have become more cohesive and we are more understanding, caring and patient with each other.

NEW PROCEDURES

Some things have changed at the Cape Breton Regional Library as well, as we have opened the doors and returned to most in-person services.

The biggest news and something that brings libraries another step closer to barrier-free service is that all branches are no longer charging overdue fines. You will continue to receive overdue notices to help keep you on track with getting your materials back to the library and charges are still incurred when items are lost or damaged.

Branches also continue to provide quality collections and resources with safety in mind, therefore, capacity limits have been set under the direction of the province and Public Health officials in order to maintain social distancing.

Hygiene stations at branch entryways are available and hand sanitizing is required. As of July 31, under direction from chief public health officer Dr. Robert Strang, people are required to wear masks when indoors in public places.

Books can be checked out in-person, but patrons can continue to use book drops for returns or place them at the designated area inside the branch. All returns are quarantined for three days, so people can expect some delays in processing these books. Computers are available for public access, but there may be fewer of them at your branch and the amount of time at a computer has been reduced to 50-minute bookings to allow for proper cleaning of terminals between users.

In order to reduce the spread of COVID 19, libraries are no longer providing earphones to patrons — we encourage people to bring their own. Branches will have earphones available for purchase for $1 if needed.

SOME SERVICE PAUSED

The biggest change currently is that in-person programming and room bookings are still on pause at all library branches as these have a direct effect on capacity limits.

We hope to resume in-person programming soon but are pleased to continue programs online at cbrl.ca. Story times and puppet shows continue and CBRL Seed Library Facebook page is active as gardeners are sharing planting tips, recipes and photos of their yummy edibles.

Many of our book clubs are meeting outdoors and practising social distancing while chatting about their latest title. Some clubs even pack picnic lunches and cold drinks to bring along with them.

The TD Summer Reading Program started on June 20 and children, teens and adults can register online at cbrl.ca. Also, this summer feel free to follow us on Facebook each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10:30 for a regularly scheduled online program.

For seniors who are looking for one-on-one technology training support, call McConnell Library in Sydney for an appointment with Emily, this year’s summer student. Masks are required for this service, as the instructor may not be able to be six feet apart from the senior at all times during the training session. Hand sanitizer will be available.

Rexxie follows safety protocols in place at Cape Breton Regional Library. CONTRIBUTED
Rexxie follows safety protocols in place at Cape Breton Regional Library. CONTRIBUTED

 

FUNDRAISING CHANGES

Cape Breton Regional Library, a charitable non-profit entity, relies on provincial and municipal funding in order to serve more than 105,000 people in Cape Breton and Victoria counties.

We also look to businesses and other organizations to contribute what they can towards raffles and door prizes at library fundraising events.

Here is where things get challenging: large in-person gatherings are not currently permitted due to COVID-19, therefore traditional event-style fundraising is not an option. We are taking steps to create online fundraisers, but although a source of revenue, online events can lack the human connectivity and emotion of a shared live experience.

The joy and excitement of musicians playing for us at McConnell coffee houses or actors on stage for Baddeck Library’s Christmas play or Living Mannequins event will be missed, should we find ourselves in a second wave of the coronavirus. The annual Escape Room Challenge at Sydney’s library branch may not take place this fall. These are just a few examples of fundraising projects put on hold within our region.

Currently, there are still ways to give to your public library: book sales and donation boxes at branches are available; adopt-a-book and memorial book programs are options for people wanting to help add new books to library collections, which include book plates acknowledging the donor’s gifts and loved ones to be memorialized.

Library Legacy Book Fund is a unique way for an individual or organization to make a lasting contribution to the Cape Breton community. With your gift of $500, the library will designate one new book for the collection every year, forever. Cape Breton Regional Library is most grateful for your support, as together we can build a public library system that is second to none.

MAKE AN IMPACT

Now, more than ever, the personal connection and services that are offered in public library spaces are an essential piece of infrastructure in successful municipalities.

We have heard from many patrons of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds that they have missed their libraries during the pandemic. For many, this is the place where they can access reading materials, computers, scanners, photocopiers, Wi-Fi, information about community agencies and services and in normal circumstances, programs, study spaces and meeting places, all for free.

Libraries have the potential to be “the great equalizers” in society by welcoming, serving and inspiring all populations to learn and grow as individuals and informed citizens. In the words of Ward Beecher, “A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”

This brings us to an update on the possibility of a new central library in Sydney.

Following a public tendering process, Cape Breton Regional Library is now undergoing an operational study under the direction of TCI Management Consultants. Beth Ross & Associates, cultural and library planning specialists and Trifos Design Consultants have been retained by TCI to further inform this study.

Many of you may recall a previous feasibility study in 2016 which focused more on facility requirements rather than programs and services offered to patrons. The current study, which is expected to be completed any day, will not only look at existing programs and operations, but will also make recommendations to ensure that the new central library provides relevant and forward-looking services for all residents of Cape Breton and Victoria counties as well as visitors to our region.

The Cape Breton Regional Library is happy to serve you and very glad to see you all again. Let’s be safe, grab a few good books and enjoy the rest of the summer on our beautiful island.

Tracy Wilson is the co-ordinator of community support with the Cape Breton Regional Library.

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories