Library looks to broaden patron base

Published on Thu, Feb 19, 2004 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Library looks to broaden patron base

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf


The Blaine library staff wants the community, as well as those passing through town, to know that the library has something to offer everyone, not just �stuffy people.�

Library manager Debby Farmer, who took over Kathy Richardson�s post late last year, says there are numerous misconceptions about the library, including that librarians are stuffy people and so are the people who go there. And there may be stuffy people browsing the shelves, but overall the offerings benefit everyone.

�We have so many new things that are exciting to everyone,� she said. �It�s important we get out to the community the benefits of the library. I�d like to broaden our patron base.�

In recent months, the library has implemented a significant amount of new informational sources, including databases, DVDs, and books. One item that has sparked interest is the auto manual, a repair guide for both cars and trucks. Not only are these manuals on library shelves, they are also online at the library�s web site www.wcls.org. �This will allow them (users) to not even have to come into the library,� she said. �The year, the make, the model of the car, it�s all there.�

For example, those looking to study the wiring of an 1987 Plymouth, can access the auto manual for the answers. �These are resources that would benefit the non-traditional library user,� she said. �If the manual�s not in the library because it�s been signed out, it is online.�

Truckers are even coming into the library, she said, many of them signing out books on tape and CDs for the road. �Again, the non-traditional users,� she said, adding anyone heading out on a long distance trip can use these items.

As genealogy has become a hot topic of interest for residents across the county and country, the library now offers Heritage Quest, a genealogical database that offers census records from almost anywhere at any time. In addition, the biographical database is a hit with students, as it allows them to search a person more easily and clearly. �That has really helped the kids with their reports,� she said. �And again, that�s something they can access from home.�

Over the next few months, the library plans to upgrade its computer systems, including the implementation of Smart Access Manager (SAM), a program that administers and tracks reservations, usage time and allows users to apply filters when surfing the web. The number of computers available to the public will remain the same, however. Currently, there are two computers with internet access available on a 30-minute basis. �It is very popular. About every time slot is taken,� she said, noting users can call or visit the library a day ahead to reserve a time slot, which is recommended, she said. A word processor is also available for 30-minute sessions, but sees much less action than the online computer systems.

There are now more books, videos and DVDs available at the library - all of which provide a wide range of subject materials. �Everything from Thomas the Tank to the latest winners of the Sundance Film Festival,� she said. �We have a lot of good series, especially with PBS and the History Channel.�

The large print books and books on tape are becoming more popular as well, and a small county history collection sits on the shelves to accommodate the increasing interest in local history. The magazine and newspaper collection is also widely used by patrons. �We have quite a few folks come in and use the reading room,� she said.

The library is the site of various programs for community youth throughout the year, including the increasingly popular Toddler Time, bringing 25 preschool aged children into the meeting room for an hour of reading. School-age programs are also available once a month, and are usually well attended. �We have all sorts of topics,� Farmer said. �Last time they made valentines after school.� And in the summer, the summer reading club is quite popular. As the library sees an increase in information available to the public, so do the usage numbers. Overall, the circulation numbers are going up and in 2003 alone, the items checked out had grown to 15,000. There are currently 30,000 items in circulation at the Blaine library and over 250,000 items throughout the county. �We went up substantially this year. I think there are a lot of folks moving into the area,� she said.

With the community utilizing the library more, Farmer said she is happy she landed in Blaine as the librarian. �I love it. I love the patrons, the staff, the building, the janitor, the mailman, the friends of the library group. Everyone�s just great and I couldn�t ask for a better situation,� she said.

Donations, getting a card
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the library in the form of a book can do so, but �we do ask they be in relatively new and good shape,� Farmer said. �No old textbooks.� In addition, there is an ongoing book sale and a free magazine swap on the table in the community meeting room.

To get a library card, you�ll need photo identification and proof of county residence. Those owning property within the county, or anyone working in county limits, can also get a card. �And it�s free,� she said, adding there is a reciprocal agreement with B.C.�s Fraser Valley library system allowing any cross-boarder travelers to sign out and use materials at both Blaine and Fraser Valley.

The Blaine library, located at 610 3rd Street, is currently open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The library�s reference materials and more can be found online at www.wcls.org.