Local News

Library pivots through COVID mandates to remain the backbone of the community in 2021

Library pivots through COVID mandates to remain the backbone of the community in 2021 pic 1

The library worked with residents to make living in the pandemic a little easier 

Through 2021, the Chestermere Public Library navigated through mandated closures and public health orders with a focus on ensuring residents had access to resources and materials.

The library was busy with a home delivery service, curbside service when mandated to close, facilitating programs such as the annual summer reading program, fall programs, mental health strategies, and developing a five-year strategic plan.

The library also launched two new collections, the Inclusivity Collection sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chestermere and the Parenting2Go Collection sponsored by the Human Services Advisory Board of the City of Chestermere. 

Last year residents enjoyed a free library membership that was provided by the former city council.

“We would like to say thank you for that decision, as the library used this initiative to engage new and ongoing members many with tears and appreciation,” library executive director Miranda Johnson said.

The library was excited to bring back the summer reading program in 2021. With the support of government of Canada funding, the library was able to hire three temporary summer students to facilitate the program and get youth in the community ready for school.

“Summer reading programs support school readiness, brain development, and head off the summer slide of skills and knowledge for elementary school students,” Johnson said. “This is especially important in COVID years.”

In 2021, one goal of the libraries was to support student and new grad employment. 

The library achieved that goal by hiring a community librarian in June to work with the community, and support community action through local organizations. 

For 2022, the library is focused on upgrading the children’s space and is hopeful they can reveal a new look for the space in the spring. 

The library presented a budget to city council in December and outlined three issues that need to be addressed in the new year, including a post-COVID service delivery, an aging library space, and pay inequity for staff. 

“For our part, in 2021, the library worked tirelessly to create efficiencies, with a focus on evidence-based decision making. We are hopeful that when city council approves the final 2022 budget, that we receive the added funding that we need,” Johnson said. “Our funding remains below average for our population.”

 Many community members expressed their gratitude for the efforts the library staff make each day.

“One individual commented that they had been in hospital with COVID-19, suffering some memory loss, and reading library books was working to help regain her memory, and others spoke to us of feeling isolated,” Johnson said.

Going forward, the library team is encouraging residents to write to the City of Chestermere and the province of Alberta to let them know how important the library is to the community.

As the library has been in the community for 15 years, Johnson and the team want to recognize the community members, government funders, staff, and volunteers who work to ensure the sustainability of the library. 

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