Covid provided a book full of challenges, but Callander’s library prevailed

Callander’s library has recently crunched last year’s numbers and the results are more inspiring than a shelf full of self-help books. Despite the many challenges 2021 laid out, the library “managed to break old records,” the library’s CEO Melissa Sones explained.

“The numbers were better than the 2020 numbers by far,” Sones said, pointing out that new memberships increased as 126 new patrons signed up for a card this past year. Of those, 33 per cent were between the ages of 25 to 54.

For 26 weeks the library was only open for curbside service—“half of the year, we were really shocked by that,” Sones said—but that did not stop people from borrowing the goods within. Last year, 17,719 items were circulated.

Sones noted that the community is very supportive of the library, and staff strive to strengthen connections between the library and patrons. During the pandemic staff added a few initiatives to help keep the library’s material accessible.

For instance, if you had a taste for Tolstoy but could not leave your home due to lock-downs or quarantine, the library would deliver the classic take to you. The library also started loaning puzzles and games, both of which became very popular, which also helped to increase the loan numbers.

See: Callander library now delivers

Another initiative the library introduced was lending out mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, which allow people to connect to the internet through Wi-Fi enabled devices they already own, such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, through a cellular network.

These hotspots were meant to encourage local seniors to connect with the online world—the library also lends iPads and Android tablets. The planned worked, as 98 weeks of at home internet access was provided by the library in 2021. On top of that, 203 lessons were provided, both in person and virtually, to help patrons get set up and begin surfing the digital waves.

See: Get your game on at Callander Public Library

Kobo E-Readers, audio book devices, snowshoes, walking poles, are all available for loan, which helped bolster circulation numbers as well. The library also has a Cricut Maker patterns can use on site to help their crafting visions become reality.

The goal and mandate of the library “is to meet the needs of the community” Sones said, and the community has been very involved with the library this past year. In 2021 the library hosted 149 programs that attracted 4,188 participants.

“Some of our programs saw a significant increase” in participation, Sones said, “and we’re really excited about 2022.” With restrictions lifting, staff hope to host more in-person programming “and we’re looking forward to doing all the library things that we haven’t been able to do.”

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