“Here—we—are,” said Rabbit very slowly and carefully, “all—of—us, and then, suddenly, we wake up one morning, and what do we find? We find a Strange Animal among us.”
Rabbit viewed the coming of Kanga to the Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh as suspicious, possibly even dangerous. Here at the library, we’re not getting a Strange Animal in our woods this month, we’re getting a new tree — and even a new forest.
On Monday, August 27 we’ll be closed while we do a little tree planting: to get the new Integrated Library System (ILS) called Evergreen up and running, and for staff to discover the new animals in our forest and get to know them by name.
Some of the forest creatures here at the library are, like Rabbit, a little wary, as maybe some library users will be at first: new things can have that effect. But what’s great about this is that we will be part of the larger Sitka Forest, a consortium of libraries in one seamless woodsy community full of information and opportunity.
Being part of this system will put us in line with other BC libraries: like any good, managed forest, it’s going to help libraries thrive. What springs up from the forest floor are tremendous economies of scale and great efficiencies in management in library resources.
It’s one big forest for you to walk through, mouth agape at the lush and growing world and the strange and wonderful creatures within, your library card in hand, when we re-open August 28. You might feel a bit like an animal in an altogether new forest. But don’t worry: librarians will be equipped with map and compass and the same sort of good humour you might find among the inhabitants of Winnie-the-Pooh’s beloved forest, suspicious rabbits and grumpy donkeys notwithstanding.
I’ve just spent an hour poking amongst the Evergreen branches as I learn how to search the catalogue. It’s exciting: I can narrow my search in new ways, see items in other libraries besides my own, read reviews or excerpts, and even look to see what else is on the shelf nearby. I can see the sunlight coming through the leaves, and it feels good.
There are more than 50 BC libraries in the Sitka community, and the numbers are growing. This BC Libraries Cooperative will only become better — sharing resources, enjoying greater connectivity, communicating with one another in a more integrated manner. In a world where forests are getting smaller and creatures disappearing, this is a happy state of affairs.
It’s important to remember this when, once August 28 rolls around and we re-open with Evergreen, you find yourself in another part of the forest, one that’s unfamiliar.
You could be like Eeyore, who stood by himself in a thistly corner of the woods and thought sadly to himself, “why?” and sometimes “wherefore?” and even “inasmuch as which?”
Or you can be Pooh, who said: “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
Winnie-the-Pooh — poet, philosopher, self-titled Bear-of-Very-Little-Brain who was always so much smarter and wiser than anyone else in the Hundred Acre Wood — was right, of course. Going and finding out things is what libraries are all about, too.
So when you come to the library and find yourself in a whole new forest, you’ll find some animals who aren’t so strange, really. Like Rabbit, you just need to get to know them a little. And then watch your forest grow.
Anne DeGrace is the adult services co-ordinator at the Nelson Public Library