By Debby Farmer
The Blaine Library is a center of learning and a place where people of all ages and backgrounds have found resources that educate, enrich and entertain. The library’s location in the community has allowed it to partner with other organizations and individuals in the delivery of resources, which would otherwise only be accessible by going out of town.
Last year, Whatcom Literacy Council tutors met with adult students to help improve basic reading and English skills; Northwest Computer Literacy Instruction Corps instructor David England conducted classes on computer basics, Word and Excel; successful online businessman Roy Harris taught local business owners how to create a website and Kelle Sunter from Blaine Community Orchards for Resources and Education delivered a wealth of informative gardening programs.
Whatcom Community College acquainted prospective students with the Running Start program. Blaine primary and middle school classes and life skills students toured the library and learned about library resources. Scouting groups used the meeting room to gather, and some scouts helped during children’s. Representatives from local government, businesses and the military provided hundreds of local children with story times and presentations. Community volunteers taught chess, robotics, anime art, crafting and a variety of health and wellness programs that enhanced the library’s scope.
Blaine Library staff was on hand to host English conversation classes, one-on-one tutoring sessions for computers and mobile device operation, U.S. citizenship preparation classes, job search and resume help and early learning opportunities. Teens relished the murder mysteries and Minecraft events and family history buffs enjoyed free access to ancestry.com.
The public library is no longer solely a physical place, but a portal into the vast digital world. As Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) cardholders, Blaine Library users had instant access to eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, downloadable and streaming music, movies and TV shows. Through the online chat service, cardholders could receive information and query librarians at any time. Microsoft IT Academy courses, from basic to IT professional level, were available online for free, as well as classes in everything from language learning to auto repair.
The library system has recently adopted a new strategic plan through 2020. The library and its employees want to continue to promote and celebrate reading. As a result, we are moving forward with our focus on READ:
Reading – Fostering the love of books, reading and sharing stories.
Engagement – Seeking out new users and reconnecting with inactive users.
Access – Making using WCLS intuitive, easy and “frictionless.” Looking at the user experience (online and in-person) and removing barriers to service.
Diligent Stewardship – Making sure WCLS is fiscally sound over the long-term.
Year after year, WCLS Blaine Library remains a vital community center. Over 114,000 people came through the doors in 2015, and the seven public Internet stations provided 13,461 sessions. With the library welcoming 870 new cardholders last year, we will continue to provide a wealth of valuable resources to everyone.