By Sue Tiffin
I am grateful for everything that has been available to me during the pandemic that has helped make a difficult time even slightly more comfortable where possible – technology, curbside service, kind and thoughtful gestures and grace from friends and family and teachers and neighbours and strangers, copious amounts of dark chocolate and strong coffee.
When I look back on this time one day, as we all will, one of the strongest memories of consistent support will be that which was offered through our local libraries. My family now actually squeals when they see the recognizable purple bag carried through the front door, loaded with fresh books. They voraciously read through those selections, revisiting those they deem their favourites, while I panic read (with delight) those that are nearing their due date or perhaps just on the other side of it. The monotony of the lockdowns finally made library users of other family members, too, who associated libraries more with only academic texts and not copious amounts of Louis L’Amour books and Virgin River novels that helped fill the gap between Netflix seasons.
But libraries are more than books. They offer wi-fi to people even in the parking lot who can’t get a great signal at home or need a break from the living room office. Avoid paying for a streaming service by renting your movies from your local branch. With your library card, you can access ancestry databases, full daily newspapers, language lessons, in the comfort of your own home. Need your vaccine passport printed, or downloaded on your phone? Get that done there while you’re picking up seeds for your garden, while your grandchildren or spouse make a craft, and then flip through a magazine in a way you just can’t do in the grocery line. Don’t have time for books? Listen to one in the car, in bed or on vacation with free audiobooks.
This week is Ontario Public Library Week, and while libraries play an extremely valuable and essential role in our communities both collectively and personally for all of us, and we are grateful for them and hope they can be accessible to everyone in our county, we also thank those who make them work.
Librarians try to help in some way every person – including the most vulnerable and marginalized – who comes through the doors, either through finding information and refuting misinformation, helping with pesky computer files, acting as a town ambassador pointing the way to businesses and hotspots, recommending great reads suited to you and your personal tastes, reminding you of that time a UFO sighting in Carnarvon was in the newspaper, ordering resources that will fill a gap, renewing your books before you remember to, or simply listening as you share about your day. Appreciate your library, make use of it, and thank the librarian that helps you out.
They’re even better than dark chocolate and strong coffee.