The Chestermere Public Library continued to fulfill its vision of maintaining relationships, agility, and inclusion throughout 2020.
“Like a lot of organizations, and businesses, there have been some significant challenges, but we haven’t let any constraints keep us from fulfilling our mission, our vision, and our values which are relationships, agility, and inclusion,” said the Chestermere Public Library Executive Director, Miranda Johnson.
“We have not wavered in those pursuits, we’ve kept going, and I’m very proud of us,” she said.
Typically, the Chestermere Public Library Board would take the summer and December off, however, they met every month and continued to work on ways to ensure the library has able to serve patrons.
“Not only do I feel that our staff and our services have kept going, but the library board has also kept going, we had continuing support from the City of Chestermere, and other funders and stakeholders,” Johnson said.
Throughout 2020, the Chestermere Public Library has had to overcome challenges including facility closures.
“We completely understood why the closures needed to be in place. We’ve been very agile in looking to other ways to serve the community while we’ve been closed. We’ve done curbside service, we checked in with seniors, and we’ve done a lot of online programming,” Johnson said.
Adding, “Being closed was a challenge, but we’ve done everything we can to continue our services during those times.”
Johnson and the Chestermere Public Library team have received a lot of positive feedback from residents regarding the curbside service when the library reopened.
“The residents were thrilled about the curbside pickup, when we reopened there were tears. The residents of Chestermere really appreciate the library, and we really appreciate our patrons,” Johnson said.
“We’ve done a lot, one of the things we’ve done for people is we’ve continued to be a source of comfort in a very isolating time.
We’ve maintained relationships with our patrons, our patrons know the staff and get a lot of comforts from those relationships, that’s been a real highlight in a time that’s been dark and isolating for people,” she said.
The Chestermere Public Library continued to provide recreational and educational library materials to residents, while referring patrons to other community services, running spring and summer reading programs, offering an online science program, providing a space for seniors yoga, a study space for students, while also offering early literacy programs to promote school readiness and brain development.
“We felt that was an absolute priority,” Johnson said.
“We provided computer technology and access to business support for individuals seeking employment and needed to connect with their family online. With the whole world moving online, not everybody has access to computers, or know how to use them. That’s a key outcome for us, not only do we provide access to that type of technology, but we support the community to be able to use it,” she said.
Adding, “We did as much as we possibly could with the limitations that we had. We didn’t let any constraints keep us from doing as much as we possibly could.”
Going forward, the Chestermere Public Library team will continue to reach out to members of the community, limit barriers, work with partners, and connect with residents.
“We’re creating a project called Library To You, it’s a project that consists of delivery service. We’re connecting with residents in the community, so we make sure nobody is being missed and everybody has access to us. We’re really excited about it,” Johnson said.
Through a grant from the City of Chestermere, the Chestermere Public Library is able to expand its collections and create a Parenting To Go collection in 2021.
“It’s a collection of backpacks that will support caregivers to have difficult conversations with children ages three to 10 on different topics. Some of the backpacks we’re preparing right now are on vaccines, and how to talk to a child about vaccines, how to talk to a child about COVID-19, and how to talk to a child about divorce,” Johnson said.
“The backpacks will have adult non-fiction books on how to chat with a child about the topics, then we’ll have some picture books, and either an activity or a toy to facilitate conversations. We don’t advocate for any particular way to talk to your child, there just meant to be conversation starters and to support that conversation,” she said.
Through a donation from the Rotary Club of Chestermere, the Chestermere Public Library will be creating an inclusivity collection to support understanding about diversity and inclusion.
“We’re looking at other kinds of collections that could support other kinds of understanding and we’re really excited about that,” Johnson said.
The Chestermere Public Library Board will continue community consultation to create an updated strategic plan, and utilize the feedback collected to create a new strategic plan that meets community needs.
“We have some really good things coming up. I feel really positive about what we did in 2020, and where we’re going. There have been some challenges, but we’ve kept going, and we feel really positive about 2021,” Johnson said.
Adding, “Thank you to our funders, the City of Chestermere, the province of Alberta, and Rocky View County who have continued to support us, for sure we couldn’t do what we do without their support and encouragement.”