Summer Book Blast heralded

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

The Peace River Municipal Library received great accolades in September, after receiving the Minister’s Award for Municipal and Public Library Excellence.

The Peace River Library Board submitted their entry for the Summer Book Blast Initiative, an initiative that promotes reading through summer months.

“Summer Book Blast is a program that takes children’s books and activities out into local parks during the summer months,” says library director Channing MacDonald.

“The program is supported by the Friends of the Library Society and offers new, free books to local children who might not be able to otherwise access the library,” she adds.

The library was selected as one of the library boards serving a population under 10,000. MacDonald says it was a great opportunity to showcase the work they are doing in the community.

“The Town of Peace River Library Board chose to submit this program as the board wanted to highlight the work we are doing good to reduce and eliminate barriers to library access,” she says.

“Peace River is very spread out geographically and not everyone owns a vehicle. We wanted to address this barrier to accessing service, especially for children. In highlighting this success, we hope we can inspire other communities who are facing similar issues to do the same.”

MacDonald explains the initiative was the effort of a lot of people and groups who worked together to accomplish their goal. She says highlighting their efforts via applying and winning the award is a way to show what can be done when community members work together.

“First the library team had to come up with the concept and figure out how it could address the barriers,” MacDonald says. “The program requires several staff members to be offsite, but the library still also needs sufficient staff to be open, so we had to figure out how to make that happen. To create sufficient staff density to allow those members to be offsite, we had to close on Saturdays for the summer, which is where our library board came in; they had to imagine the possibilities and approve the changes needed to run the program.”

She says the Friends of the Library Society helped to provide funds for the books that were supplied to the children and it was truly a collaborative effort to ensure the Summer Book Blast could run smoothly.

“We are hopeful that winning the award might inspire other libraries to find their own solutions to their own barriers to access,” says MacDonald.

“We also hope that this will show some of the folks who measure our services that it’s about more just the hours we are open, it’s about the services and connections we are able to provide. We think it shows that we are in touch with the needs of our community and that we are willing to go the extra mile to meet those needs.”

She adds there are many goals the library is still trying to attain, but their vision is that the lives of community members are enriched by the services, programs, collections, and opportunities for connection at their facility.

“I think the library is realizing our vision,” she says.

“It is a hub for connection and belonging and offers essential services for many people. Whether it’s access to a computer or Wi-Fi, saving money by checking out books for your family, taking in classes for kids, teens, or adults, visiting the art gallery, or finding connection with others in one of our many book clubs, the library’s services, space, and staff are a real treasure for the people of Peace River and the broader Peace Region,” she concludes.

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