By Justin Seward
Between book sales and people wanting to sign-out books for delivery, the Redcliff library staff has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the library closed in mid-March due to COVID-19, a virtual book sale was ongoing for the month of May where over $1,000 was raised, which according to manager Tracy Weinrauch was lower than their physical sale.
“We’re hoping we can find some donors out there to match what we’ve raised,” said Weinrauch.
The library has been able to keep its entire staff on reduced hours as the world health crisis has prolonged and they have been steady keeping up to the readers’ requests.
“They’ve been running like crazy to try and fill the orders for (book) hold pick ups, deliveries (and) the book sale. We were quite happy to see that people haven’t forgot about us and we’re still checking items out like crazy,” said Weinrauch.
“We were delivering in Medicine Hat and Redcliff for anybody that wanted. In the beginning, there was more demand for that. As people got used to coming out here and picking up their items, then there was only about two or three regulars that need their items delivered now. Everybody else is coming to the library to pick up their items.”
People can continue to place their holds for their books online and the library will call them to pick up their books outside.
“We’re scheduling pick ups every 15 minutes, so that we don’t have an overlap outside the library,” she said.
The library did experience a drop in April checkouts, but made up for that loss in getting other resources out to patrons.
“Although we have seen a drop in check-outs, we are still getting those items to patrons at a rate of 75 per cent of what we were doing at this time last year and a 40 per cent increase in eBooks and downloadable audio book checkouts in April,” she said.
She says that steady stream is thanks to the patrons in the local area not forgetting the library is still here for them and ready to get items into their hands.
While libraries fall under Phase 2 reopening (scheduled for June 19) of the province’s economic relaunch, the Redcliff library does not have a set date when they will open to readers again.
However, staff will spend this month prepping for when the doors can open again.
“The month of June will be focusing on getting ready to open with all the proper signage, all that kind of stuff, and starting to prepare for the virtual summer reading program,” she said.
“That will be entirely online this year instead of in the building. We’re working in connection will other Alberta libraries and the TD Summer Reading Program for all of our virtual content.”
The TD Summer Reading Club celebrates Canadian authors, illustrators and stories and inspires kids to have fun exploring reading their way.
Kids can create their own notebook, read eBooks, vote in the Battle of the Books and write stories to name a few.
Registration will begin on June 15 and there will be a Redcliff Public Library option on the Shortgrass Library Systems’ website in the coming weeks.
Summer programs will run from July 2 to Aug. 20.
“You don’t want to people to forget about you just because your doors are closed,” she said.
“This is a way that we can keep connecting with kids, letting them know we’re still here. We’re definitely thinking of them (and) trying to encourage them to keep learning and to have some fun with it while doing it.”
The library is waiving the summer programming fee this year.
There will be summer students that will be facilitating the programming that will be happening such as crafts ,games and having local celebrity readers come in for entertainment.
The Redcliff Public Library Bike Lending program that started in 2019 will not go ahead this summer.
Weinrauch says she still wants to get more documentation on the sharing aspect of the program before it could start up again.
Library cardholders could use one of the bikes with the swipe of their cards.
People can call the library at (403) 548-3335 for more information.