Tuesday, May 17, 2016

393 Nipigon, ON Public Library

This was a very special visit. You may have noticed that the name of the blog is "Every Library I Can." This acknowledges that first, I will never be able to visit the 16,000 or so libraries in the USA and the many libraries in Canada, to say nothing of the rest of the world. I will visit every library I can. Second, sometimes a library's open hours and my itinerary simply don't mesh. That was the case with Nipigon--I thought. This library is closed on Monday, the day I arrived, and doesn't open until 2 pm on Tuesday, by which time I needed to be far down the road. But the equation changed when the librarian in Red Rock IM'd the librarian in Nipigon, Sumiye, and arranged for for us to meet at the library at 8:30 am. Aren't librarians wonderful people?

The Nipigon library is a good size, with a decent-looking collection. But the striking thing about this visit, and about Sumiye, was learning how she collaborates, connects, and creates opportunities. I probably will miss some that she told me about, but here are the ones for which I took notes:

  • She had some money available for a rug for the children's area--and those items are not cheap! At a regional library conference, she saw the rug she wanted and got the price down to her budget on a cash and carry basis. But she had flown to the conference, and this is not a small rug! She talked to the airline, worked out a way for it to fly home with her, and started to leave the conference with it. At this point, the salesman told her that his boss admired her spunk, and would ship the rug home for her, for free, and give her an even better discount!
  • It sounds as if a large proportion of the library users have donated items or talents. Kid-sized easy chairs, adult size chairs, many of the stock of DVDs, all donated. Owe fines? Donate something that the library needs: craft supplies or copier paper, for example. Or present a program on sword fighting (for the kids) or micro greens (salad greens grown inside in winter).
  • If the librarian wants wheels under some very heavy shelves, so they can be moved out of the way for programs, and if you happen to be a welder...thank you very much!
  • A local business is getting new desks? The old ones will be an upgrade for the library.
Food programs are important. "Books are for Eating" introduces kids to healthy foods. A program that provides boxes of produce each month (sorry, I didn't get the name written down) is run through the library, and recipes are demonstrated with suggestions for how to use that month's bounty.

Other partnerships are important, too. Hospital staff are recruited to offer programs. The local thrift shop participates. What would you do if you learned that the thrift shop had received a large donation of bras? You'd put on a program for girls in which they could try on various styles (over their clothes, of course) and learn from a physical therapist why good posture now will help them as they develop. A program called Biz Kids teaches kids about marketing, with comparison studies of razors, the difference in price and type of men's and women's shaving creams, and even the properties of various women's hygiene products. Biz Kids also did a project on advertising, preparing their own ads which were posted in the library windows, then going outside to look at them and discuss which worked best and why. Another partnership allows Sumiye to lend fishing gear to kids. And the library has a formal arrangement with Rotary through which the library manages a program for lending home medical equipment. We walked a block or so down the street so that I could see the collection of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and so much more--an amazing warehouse.

Behind the library is a playground dedicated to "Paddle to the Sea," which started its journey here in Nipigon. The library can lend you outdoor toys to use in this playground. Side note: This year, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of "Paddle to the Sea," and the 50th anniversary of the movie. I understand that the movie is available free on line from the CBC.

The Nipigon library, with its sole staff person (and one standby helper), offers everything one expects from a library. But I don't think I've visited any library that goes so much further to offer everything possible. It's a great combination of the creativity to see possibilities, and the willingness to ask for what is needed/wanted.

And a quick shout-out to Jim, the town greeter on his bicycle. It was fun to talk to you, and I did walk down by the marina later in the day. Thanks for the walking tips.


Start here to learn more about the library and the town:  http://www.nipigon.net/residents/nipigon-public-library/

The "new" library is designed to reflect the former railroad station,

It Takes A Library to Raise a Community, a donation from another library.

Heading east on Rte. 17, I had to take a couple of pictures at a scenic overlook
 to show folks why they might want to come to this corner of Ontario!

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