Library deals with Covid challenges

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The North Grenville Public Library presented a report to the Municipal Council on June 1, detailing their Library Statistics for 2020 and Update on Activities. Although the report largely consisted of statistics, it painted a very positive picture of how Rachel Brown, CEO, NGPL, and her staff have faced up to the challenges of the pandemic. Given the extreme limitations put on library services during the various periods of lockdown which we experienced throughout 2020 and the first months of this year, it is remarkable how well the NGPL and the local community have maintained their contacts and relationships.

Rachel summarised the successes of the last year in the NGPL: “While there was a decrease in some of the activities and services that the Library provides, the membership remained stable, and the subscription database had a significant increase. In addition, the Library was able to provide creative solutions for service and program delivery.”

The Report showed that the number of active memberships in the library had fallen only slightly during the period under review, although, naturally, actual attendance at the various programs provided by the NGPL had fallen off considerably. However, this was balanced by a very impressive rise in the number of Subscription sessions, on-line activities.

The number of actual books circulated was over half the amount in 2019, with an increase in the number of e-books and audiobooks in circulation. One reason for the larger than expected books being distributed was the success of the curbside pickups that took place. Appointments were made for pickup, and residents collected 1,357 book orders in that manner. Another 1,559 books were delivered to École élémentaire et secondaire Rivière Rideau from September to December of 2020 alone.

But what really underscores the success of the NGPL were the in-house videos and activities produced by library staff and volunteers. A total of 116 original videos were made and posted on Facebook, gathering over 30,000 views from residents. 325 craft kits were produced between August and December of 2020, accompanied by demo videos on Facebook. Library Sue deserves tremendous credit for much of this activity.

When possible, the library held in-person events outdoors during the times lockdown was eased. The Summer Park meetings were attended by over 560 individuals. These efforts by NGPL staff earned them a special award from the Friends of the Library, when staff were given a Star of Library Award for 2020.

Rachel Brown noted in her report to Council that lessons learned during the past year will be integrated into future library activities. The importance of personal connection was clear, but so was also the potential offered by on-line activities. She explained this in her report. “For example, online children’s programming proved to be very popular with the community. This has given us the opportunity to re-evaluate program delivery and the Library will continue to use a combination of online and in-person service models.”

Given the formidable challenges that faced the NGPL, their ability to find creative solutions and to initiate new procedures and approaches to serving the public shows the talent and imagination which our local library possesses. We are fortunate to have them as part of our community.

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