Everyone knows that libraries are quiet places, where you can get comfy and delve into a good book or hunker down and ace that report for school.
But if you’ll indulge us a little and let us make some noise about the Gaynor Family Regional Library, you’ll see the value it has in this community and how, in the midst of a global pandemic, it has been the saving grace for many.
Library offering services throughout pandemic
With the entire province mired in the Critical (Red) Response Level due to the COVID-19 virus, the Gaynor Family Regional Library continues to lend out approximately 250 books a day through its curb side service and eBooks. It’s also offering Zoom programming.
Selkirk counsellor Lorie Fiddler, the city’s representative on the library board, says she’s always impressed with the wonderful work of the library staff and is applauding them even more during COVID-19.
“I love how they morphed to meet community needs and still keep people safe,” Fiddler said.
“They’ve really thought things through and offered in the past curb side pickup when nobody was allowed in and of course now they’re back to offering that again. They’re ensuring people can still get books and materials from the library in a safe way. It’s fantastic and really important at this time.”
Fiddler praised the library’s community spirit as well, pointing out the Halloween display that people could view through the windows.
“That community engagement piece, they keep it going and I love that,” she said.
The library was like a port in a storm for students during the Restricted (Orange) Response Level, when a limited number of people were allowed inside.
“We were getting a lot more students than I expected,” said Ken Kuryliw, Director of Library Services.
“We were getting students studying here, because places for them to study are limited.”
Library an invaluable asset to our communities
The fact so many books are still going out daily during a pandemic is a pretty powerful indication of the library’s standing in the communities it serves.
But Kuryliw also points to its Return On Investment (ROI) as a more rock solid indication that folks in these parts have a deep connection to their library.
“It’s quite amazing when you start looking at the numbers of each tax dollar and the return that we’re getting,” Kuryliw said.
“For example in 2019, the library ROI, just on the value of the items borrowed, not including children’s programming or senior’s services or all those things, was $6.5 million, just on the items that we loaned. The entire library budget during that time is under $800,000. For every dollar spent, the community gets $7 in direct value just on the value of the items that we borrow.”
When you factor in activities that take place in a typical year, like the children’s programming Kuryliw mentioned and the wildly popular senior’s programming, the ROI jumps up significantly.
“If you were to include all the other things, there’s some studies that show that libraries return about 10:1, you start looking that the factors like what’s the value of educating young learners and the long term value of that in terms of literacy, improved marks over a lifetime of learning,” he said.
Library free for many
The library is funded in three ways – 40 per cent from the Province of Manitoba, 45 per cent from the member municipalities (Selkirk, St. Andrews, St. Clements and Dunnottar) and the remaining 15 per cent is raised in the community.
If you live in one of those communities you can access the library for free. The Gaynor Family Regional Library also has a reciprocal agreement with the South Interlake Library, located in Stonewall, whereby residents of either library’s communities can use the other for free.
Anyone who lives outside those areas can pay a yearly fee of $75, and according to Kuryliw, there are those who do.
“There are people from Winnipeg that pay memberships to use our library because they like our library and they like the ability to get materials quicker.”
Kuryliw said they will continue to run ZOOM programming over the winter while restrictions are in place and they’ve started at Storytime group for three to five year-olds as well as virtual crafts, science and Lego challenges for the older kids. Members of the craft club pick up their supplies for their craft curb side at the library and participate through ZOOM.
The Halloween I-Spy was so popular that they have planned a special Holiday Edition I-Spy that will be ready for December 1st!
For up to date information on services being offered throughout the pandemic, please visit the Gaynor Family Regional Library Website