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Chinook Arch Regional Library System

2902 7 Ave N Lethbridge T1H 5C6

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Latest News
READ Awards recognize outstanding library service

May 01, 2024
Chinook Arch celebrates success stories as libraries look to increase in-library patron visits.

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READ Awards recognize outstanding library service

Date: May 01, 2024

Throughout southwestern Alberta libraries serve an important role in their communities. They listen to community needs and interests and create amazing programs, events, and opportunities to meet those needs. It is in recognition of this work that the READ Awards were created.

 

Presented annually, the READ Awards are judged by the Chinook Arch Marketing and Communications Committee based on excellence in library service, collaboration, innovation, community benefit, and transferability to other libraries. This year’s awards were focused on the criteria of how libraries are attracting patrons back into their buildings.

 

The committee was impressed by the 14 submissions received and would like to congratulate the award winners below.

 

The READ Awards were celebrated on Friday, April 26 during the Southern Alberta Library Conference.

 

$500 READ Awards

Glenwood Municipal Library: Art Show and Competition

In January, a community member generously donated cash prizes for an all-ages library art show and competition. Free canvases were offered to participants. Out of 36 canvases distributed, 32 were returned with unique artistic expressions. These were exhibited in the library for two weeks, during which 78 people voted for their favorite pieces. The top four artists received cash prizes, and every participant received a small prize. The event attracted participants aged 4 to 65 and significantly boosted library attendance through canvas pickup, art display, and voting. Overall, the Art Show and Competition was a resounding success, thanks to strong community support.

 

“Our library was absolutely thrilled to receive a READ Award this year,” says Glenwood Municipal Library manager, Nikki Francis. “We appreciate our community for supporting us in our programming events, and we’re especially grateful to the Chinook Arch Staff and Board for all the continued support they provide that helps us be successful. We’re looking forward to putting this $500 gift toward more programming, or possibly using it to build our book collection!”

 

Magrath Public Library: Local Author Signing at Hometown Christmas 

Every year, Magrath hosts a hometown Christmas event. It usually features family crafts and photo booth. In 2023, the library opted to add an author signing, featuring five local authors, only one of whom had prior signing experience. With author bios and marketing materials, the community was invited to buy books for Christmas presents and support local authors. Over 400 attendees visited, delighting both authors and the community. The event successfully promoted literacy, supported local authors, and encouraged aspiring writers to prepare for future opportunities. 

 

Raymond Public Library & Archives: Young Entrepreneur Training and Tradeshow 

In 2023, the Raymond Public Library and Archives secured funding from the one-time Public Library Grant for Skill Development in Rural Alberta, initiating the Young Entrepreneur Training and Tradeshow. The community witnessed a surge in Kidpreneur markets, but lacked resources for young business owners. Partnering with the Raymond Chamber of Commerce, the library hosted 8 sessions led by experienced business owners, attracting 191 participants. Following the workshops, a Tradeshow organized by the library and the Chamber of Commerce drew 241 attendees and featured 30 tables, including 19 businesses founded by workshop graduates. This endeavor aimed to position the library as a hub for business education and support, bridging generations and fostering entrepreneurship.

 

“We were very honored to receive this READ award,” says Raymond Public Library manager, Faye Geddes. “It is a wonderful feeling knowing that our peers appreciate the work that we do. We plan to use the money that we won to help put on the Young Entrepreneur Training and Tradeshow again this year. Being recognized for this program helps us remind our partners that this program is worth sustaining.”

  

$200 Recognition Awards

Claresholm Public Library: The Harry Potter Experience

Since 2022, the Claresholm Library has hosted the Harry Potter Experience on the Saturday nearest Halloween, which coincides with other community events and creates a vibrant town night. Attendance saw 250 people in the inaugural year and reached 174 in 2023. The event features photo ops against a Hogwarts Dining Room backdrop and an oversized cardboard image of the enchanted car, offering the illusion of flying with Hedwig. Activities included wand-making, Bertie Botts Beans, a talking sorting hat, and clip-on ties in house colors. Staff transformed the library shelves with fake brick sheets to resemble Hogwarts and demonstrated magic tricks. In the second year, attendees received feather pens, Golden Snitch lapel pins, and chocolate frogs. It also saw a costume contest with themed prizes. The event has garnered community enthusiasm, with volunteers eager to participate in future, and has left attendees enchanted. In 2024, the library will introduce the Ghostbusters experience.

 

“It feels great to be recognized for a program that was nine months in the making,” says Claresholm Public Library manager, Jay Sawatzky.

 

Coaldale Public Library

During the covid shutdown, Coaldale Library reached out to local day homes to see if they would be interested in online story times. Because of the over-abundance of online programming during that time, it wasn’t something they were interested in. But a year later, when the time came for the library to open back up, one local daycare responded to the email and were interested in partnering. Since then, a wonderful relationship has developed.

 

Every two weeks, caregivers bring 15-20 preschoolers to the library for tours, stories, and songs, eagerly anticipating what “Mr. Morgan” or “Ms. Kindra” will present. Library staff reciprocate with monthly visits to the daycare, bringing puppets, stories, and songs, much to the children's delight. This collaboration has not only fostered excitement for the library among daycare families but also facilitated community connections. The daycare's support extends beyond library visits, as evidenced by their successful food drive during Christmas, doubling the library's donations to the local Food Bank. This partnership has enriched both the library and the daycare, benefiting children and families alike.

 

Town of Fort Macleod Public Library: Pay it Forward Library Card Program

This program was inspired by a devoted patron of the Fort Macleod library, who expressed a desire to cover the cost of a library card for a family in need. After years of informal contributions, the library collaborated with a local FCSS Coordinator, securing funding for 10 library cards for community members facing financial challenges. The initiative evolved into the "Pay it Forward Library Card Program," offering two types of cards: one for individual purchase and gifting, and another sponsored option with logo recognition. This program has created many positive impacts, fostering a sense of community, kindness, and literacy.  As the card says “Today is the best day to… Pay it Forward…One library card at a time!”

 

Granum Public Library: The Room of Requirement

The Granum Library recently reorganized its space to create a versatile community room reminiscent of Hogwarts' Room of Requirement. This dynamic space hosts diverse activities like art classes, Dungeons and Dragons nights, make-up classes, and community meetings. Local artwork adorns the walls, while the windows receive periodic painted treatments. Notably, a family regularly reserves the room for Saturday Dungeons and Dragons sessions to accommodate Grandma's participation without disrupting her dining room table! Another patron occupies the space for day-long art projects, while the FCSS kids' program convenes there monthly. Despite a small-town setting, this initiative fosters connectivity and creativity, positively impacting community perception and bolstering library engagement and growth.

 

“Winning a READ Award for Granum Library was so exciting,” says Granum Public Library manager, Jennifer Fawcett “Entering a story for the READ awards was a wonderful opportunity to show our little community in action, and to allow others to see the joy and creativity experienced in the communal spaces of the library. One of our goals for the upcoming year is to improve the meeting space, and the money awarded will definitely be spent on something special to further this.”

 

Taber Public Library: Block Party

On a warm Wednesday afternoon in late May, the Taber Public Library hosted a vibrant outdoor neighborhood block party, joined by esteemed neighbors such as Family and Community Support Services, Kids Zone, Taber Food Bank, Horizon Victim Services, and Taber Police Services. Invitations were personally delivered to local businesses, schools, and community groups, with the town providing support in road closures, barriers, and waste disposal. The event featured 24 stations showcasing various local service providers and programs, including Shiner the horse from Feather Equine Services and the Gnarly Niblets Bicycle Club, promoting bike safety and trail riding. The Mayor estimated attendance reached 150 individuals. Food trucks and a bouncy castle, provided by a new local business, added to the festivities, while the Youth Do Crew volunteered their assistance. The well-attended gathering fostered community engagement and partnership.

 

“I think winning this award and receiving recognition provides information to the public of how and what the library is doing besides handing out books and movies,” says Taber Public Library program coordinator, Dawn Kondas. “We are moving towards being a central space in the community that is for everyone.”

 

Wrentham Public Library: Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do

The Wrentham Public Library faced unexpected challenges in 2023, enduring not one, but two floods. The second flood caused significant damage, with dirty, sandy water inundating the building, damaging flooring, walls, shelves, furniture, and hundreds of library materials. Despite the adversity, the library team, comprised of two librarians and a volunteer board of seven busy women, rallied together to organize a cleanup and rebuild.

 

The total cost of the flood reached nearly $100,000, resulting in the loss of over 500 titles and displacing the library for seven months. While insurance covered some expenses, the process tested the perseverance of the volunteer board, the librarian, and the community. Community members volunteered to unpack and organize materials, while the librarian and her husband worked tirelessly to secure and organize the space.

 

After months of effort, the library celebrated its grand reopening in October 2023. The renovated space is now ready to host community gatherings, children's activities, learning programs, and reading contests. Despite the challenges, the experience has fostered resilience within the library and its community.