A new tech grant will add exponentially to existing Nelson Public Library offerings such as programmable robots for kids. Photo submitted

CHECK THIS OUT: Techno-optimizing the library

Anne DeGrace writes about the library’s recent grants

Just as the library is poised to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2020, it seems fitting that we should also be poised to unveil a whack of cutting-edge technology — all of it for you, the public.

Thanks to a Columbia Basin Trust grant aimed at techno-optimizing the region, the library is about to become your go-to place for unleashing your creativity. Here’s a little survey of what’s in store at our soon-to-be Creation Stations, coming this fall.

You can re-live your grown children’s toddler years long after the VCR bites the dust by converting them using our Digitization Station, which is also where you can update your Fine Young Cannibals cassette before it cannibalizes itself in your nearly-defunct player. You can also digitize that photo of great-great-grandpapa, and take out the crease across his forehead, too.

You can edit your own movies using our state-of-the-art software. Need a Paris scene? Use our green screen for zero cost, not to mention carbon footprint: all it takes is a drop-in shot of the Eiffel Tower behind your subject (baguette optional). You can fine-tune your music recording with our music editing software, or make your own podcast in our recording station.

We’ll have laptops and iPads to use in the library and also to take home, further expanding our Library of Things. Sphero Rings for kids teach coding by turning colours into music — pretty awesome, plus a nice dose of validation for synaesthetically inclined.

Nobody is expected to know how to use all of this exciting stuff, which is why you’ll also have access to courses and tutorials. Librarians are your navigators: we point you towards the information you need to learn the things you want to learn. Just as we don’t pretend to be lawyers or doctors (rather, we help direct you to the resources you need), we won’t be experts in film editing technology: instead, we’ll be there to point you to learning opportunities using the library’s access to Gale Courses and Lynda.com. It’s going to be tremendously exciting for everyone.

Libraries have come a long way. Although Nelson did not have an official library until 1920 — one year after the provincial government passed the Public Libraries Act — Nelson’s first reading room was established in 1891 by tobacconist and newsagent Gilbert Stanley. On a street that shares his name, you can find the reading room’s descendant: the Nelson Public Library, just as busy but a whole lot less smoky.

In Frances Welwood’s history of the library to 1985 she includes an excerpt from an 1899 edition of The Daily Miner:

“Yesterday a Miner reporter had considerable difficulty in making his way through the crowd of people gathered in the reading room to the librarian’s office. The library has become very popular and that Nelson needs such an institution has been aptly demonstrated.” Alas, it took more than two more decades for that to happen.

But happen it did, and 120 years later there are times when every nook and cranny is full of storytime toddlers and parents, seniors learning how to download eBooks, teen book clubs, folks writing resumes or accessing online information, kids being tutored, college students studying, and, yes, people reading books.

It will get just a little busier with the addition of all this great new technology, and for us it’s a happy problem. That’s because the library is a people place, where anyone can come to learn, connect, interact — and now, create. So we can celebrate the last hundred years while we look forward, with fresh creativity, to the century ahead.

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

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