The Nelson Public Library set up a flip chart, posing questions to be answered on Post-it notes. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

CHECK THIS OUT: Enquiring minds want to know

Anne DeGrace writes about the diverse reasons people use the library

Anne DeGrace

At the library, we answer a lot of questions: “How do I download this eBook?”; “How can I find information on … ?”; and the ever-popular “I’m looking for a book. I can’t remember the title, but it’s blue and it’s written by John Somebody. Do you have it?”

We love answering questions, whether that’s directing folks to online resources such as Click Law, opening doors to digital books for reading and listening, or finding free courses to learn all kinds of new things.

Lately, we’ve also been turning the tables on you. We set up a good old-fashioned flip-chart in the library’s central area, where you can answer the question-of-the-month on a Post-it note. You can also look for the question on our Facebook page, website, newsletter, and by listening to our show on Kootenay Co-op Radio.

Our first question: “What book has moved you?” gave us a great new reading list that you can access through Bibliocommons. A sampling of the top picks include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy, and Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga. There are 99 items on that list, which is a great one to move — and be moved! — through.

We also asked: “What do you come to the library to do?”

Many of you come to use our public computers. Some of you told us you come to study, others to tutor students or write report cards. Some work remotely; one of you comes to the library to “do my paperwork when home is too distracting.” One person comes to “shoplift knowledge” which of course, is impossible. Knowledge is always free at the library.

A few of you are working on manuscripts! I love that the library is a place where books aren’t just found, they’re created.

The award for the most Post-its goes to the readers. While libraries have become social hubs and community gathering places our society needs, it’s clear that books are still important. You told us you browse the staff picks, read the latest magazines, find that book they were just talking about on CBC Radio, research things, look for movies on DVD, and find Playaways for the kids to listen to in the car.

For some folks, the library is a place to relax, perhaps warm up on a cold day or get dry on a wet one. One person told us that being in the library was a calming, grounding experience. Some of the Post-it writers were kids and teens, waiting for the bus home, happy to have a safe place to hang out.

One person “meets people who are often late” at the library, presumably because there’s lots to do besides looking at your watch while experiencing that thing we call “Kootenay Time.” One person “stops by for a pee,” and we’re good for that, too.

Some of you come for kids programs, parent-child drop-ins, family book club meetings, tech training, teen programs, and evening events of all kinds.

When we asked: “How do you use the online library?” we heard: downloading e-books and audiobooks, ordering books from other libraries, sending print jobs from home, finding out about programs and events that are coming up, and taking Gale Courses (you loved the photography course).

Our next question relates to our Library-of-Things (such as ukuleles and exploration backpacks): “What would you like to see in our collection besides books?” What you tell us depends on just how far your imagination will take you (I’m still lobbying for ponies).

As for that blue book written by John Somebody? We’re still looking, but we’ll let you know when we find it.

Anne DeGrace is the adult services co-ordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

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