Highlighting the importance of public libraries

Raissa Tetanish
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AMHERST - Keeping the importance of public libraries in the minds of everyone is never a bad thing, especially during election time.

Kicking off a new awareness campaign, the Library Boards Association of Nova Scotia is hoping the public will take the message, 'public libraries are important to me, my family, my community', to their political candidates.

Claire Detheridge, president of the association, says the campaign will allow the public to come forward and show their support for the library and its services.

"The simple act of hanging a bright yellow door hanger or poster will not only make candidates aware of the importance of libraries, but the general public as well," she said.

Beth Clinton, chief librarian for Cumberland Regional Library, agrees.

"As we always mention, especially in hard economic times, public libraries become more important. People can come to us seeking job information, books and DVDs," she said. "For those that can't afford to purchase new books or rent movies, we're here for free."

The decision to pursue the campaign was made at a recent meeting of board chairs and chief librarians of the nine provincial regional libraries, including Cumberland Regional Library.

Detheridge wants the candidates to realize the public libraries are important to constituents, meaning they should also be important to them.

During tough economic times library use is actually increasing, making them a smart, effective investment for the Province, she says. Recent studies and surveys done throughout Canada and the United States have shown that more and more people rely on public libraries during a recession.

"Libraries are so quietly efficient in the way they provide services that they operate below most people's radar," she added.

According to the association, more than one-third of Nova Scotia residents are active library users.

In Cumberland County, residents have access to seven different branches, and can also take advantage of the Books by Mail Service.

For every four county residents, Clinton says one has a library card, giving them access to over 80,000 items on the shelves, with access to millions more through Interlibrary Loan. Residents in the county used their cards to borrow over 125,000 items last year, which approximates to three items for every person in the county.

Last year, Cumberland Regional Library held 486 programs for children, teens and adults, attracting more than 6,100 people.

With free access to 35 computers across the county, residents used the services for over 24,000 hours last year.

The bright yellow door hangers and posters are available at the circulations desks of most regional library branches.

rtetanish@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Cumberland Regional Library, Library Boards Association of Nova Scotia, Mail Service

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Nova Scotia Cumberland County

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Recent comments

  • Mom
    January 18, 2010 - 10:43

    I have been an avid user of public libraries over the years and will always support their efforts to promote themselves.
    It's a sad state of affairs though when people stoop to stealing books and the library has to install an anti-theft device taking much needed funds away from purchasing books, magazines and related items.
    Keep up the good work Beth and staff!

  • Barbara
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    I haven't rented a movie in years... I borrow from the library. In fact, I have one of the 'public libraries are important to me' papers in the movie I picked up a couple days ago.

    I rarely buy books, too. I check them out (or order from another library), and if I really, really like the book, then I'll head to the bookstore to add it to my collection.

    My kids have had library cards for over five years (since they were 3 and 2 respectively), and sign up for all the event, and love the summer reading program. The library even has board games that people can use at one of the tables.

    I stop in to the library every couple says, and it's a busy place... and important to a lot of people in Amherst.