COLUMN: Thar she blows! Changes in the wind

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan used the term “wind of change” in his speech to the South African parliament in 1960.

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan first used the term “wind of change” in his speech to the South African parliament in 1960 prior to decolonization.

He said: “The wind of change is blowing through this continent.”

He was discussing African decolonization specifically, but he could easily have been referring to the recent shift in British policy with regard to apartheid, in the interest of freedom for all people. It was a soft beginning, but a beginning nonetheless.

Since then the wind (or winds) of change have become embedded in our popular lexicon, spawning songs and albums of that title by everyone from the Bee Gees to Eric Bourdon and the Animals, novels by authors such as Mercedes Lackey and Isaac Asimov, and a film or two.

The coming of a new year is all about winds of change, reviewing those that have passed and anticipating those blustery moments to come.

Newspapers everywhere — including this one — take a look back at the year in review.

It’s no different in the world of your library, where all things literary merit special note.

Alice Munro was the first Canadian author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, a hurricane-sized triumph for Munro, Canada, and the short story.

Winds of change include, naturally, the passing of notable people. In the reading world, we’ve lost fiction giants Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard, while the world said goodbye to Irish poet and Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney.

Of course, the beauty of writing is that their words live on, at least those who manage to avoid the remainder bin, as these surely will.

Sylvia Browne, author of books on All Things Psychic, died just last month, leaving some of us to wonder: how on earth will we know what winds — gentle or blustery — are coming down the pike?

As for the library, I can offer a sneak peek (oh, prescience!) into some things coming down our pike.

To recap, this year we’ve had fun moving things from one side of the library to the other (the French section, a little like the French themselves, has been particularly migratory) while we created new seating and began getting ready for two enclosed quiet study areas, on the wishlist for 2014.

We added $80,000 in new materials and databases for kids, teens, and adults to our collection, and you responded by giving us among the highest per capita circulation stats in BC.

And we continued offering one-on-one de-fuddlement sessions on your various devices (this will continue until the end of March).

Further de-fuddling is in the works with our Technology Petting Zoo coming next year, with iPads, Kobo Arcs, Nexus and more (because the winds of change are friendly, and our pets don’t bite).

It’s a warm wind blowing that will see changes to subscription fees for folks outside of our service area (residents of Area E, for example, opted out of tax-based library service in 2010).

Beginning January 2, a family living in the same household can get a card for every family member for one fee of $90 (down from $120), and for folks living alone, a new $45 non-transferable five-item card is available.

There’s a proverb that says “when the winds of change blow, some people build walls; others build windmills.”

Libraries aim to be windmills by embracing change, and by providing the tools by which metaphorical windmills are built.

Blow on, fair wind.

Finally, our winds of change must surely note the passing of anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, who wasn’t a mere observer of those winds — as most of us are — but actually was the change. As we can all hope to be, in some small way, in 2014. Because every wind of change must surely start with a breeze.

 

— Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to www.nelsonlibrary.ca.

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