As e-books and downloads of movies and TV shows become more popular during the pandemic, the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library system (TNRL) wants patrons to know that they can make use of free WiFi at local libraries.
“Some people don’t have home internet but have a device, so they can come into a branch and download things over the library’s WiFi,” says Melissa Lowenberg, manager of community libraries and engagement for the TNRL. “Not all rural patrons who use a small branch have internet access, or it could be expensive, so when people are in town they can use the Libby and Hoopla apps to download items.”
Hoopla allows patrons to download movies and TV shows, while Libby lets people search for free electronic content. Both apps are free for TNRL cardholders, and the downloads can be viewed or read at home. Lowenberg says that audiobooks, e-magazines, and e-books have really taken off during the pandemic.
While all library branches in the system are now open, the TNRL’s library takeout service is still proving popular with people who prefer contact-free service. People can use an online form (at www.tnrl.ca) to order what they want, or phone their branch and chat with staff to order items and arrange a pick-up time during branch hours.
“Staff will ask what you’re interested in and how many books you want,” says Lowenberg. “If they’re open to it, people can say ‘Surprise me!’ and ask staff to pick random choices.”
Books, DVDs, and downloads aren’t the only things available. Library branches have the Budding Birder backpacks, which contain binoculars and guidebooks, and which can be checked out by anyone who wants to learn more about our feathered friends.
“They make for great citizen science where families can go out together,”says Lowenberg. “There are a lot of bird bio-diversity areas in the TNRD. Kids love nature anyway, but this helps them understand conservation.
“And it’s a way of getting them outside, especially when kids have been inside and homebound for so long. Getting outside feels like a treat.”
If birds aren’t your thing, the TNRL also has thermal imaging cameras available in Apple and Android formats. They attach to a cellphone and can be borrowed to show where your home is losing heat in winter or cooler air in summer. Lowenberg says that some patrons have used them in more unexpected ways.
“In Kamloops beekeepers have used them on hives to see how much feed they have left in the hive and how the hive has been doing over the winter. And a ghost hunting group borrowed one as well, so they don’t always have the uses we imagine they’d have.”
The Reader’s Home Service will soon be expanding to Clinton and Barriere. Previously only available at the two Kamloops branches, the service connects local volunteers with people who are unable to get to the library. Patrons fill out a form similar to the library takeout one, where they are asked what materials they want and in what format. Local volunteers then take the material to the patron.
“We put out a call for volunteers in Clinton, and I understand that in a couple of weeks the coordinator will be putting a call out to patrons who are interested in the service.” The commitment for volunteers is once a month, and Lowenberg says it’s a way of meeting the needs of more people and providing them with a bit of a connection if they are feeling isolated.
“It’s often happening informally anyway; the type of good neighbour stuff that we tend to do in communities. We’re just going through a more formal process now to bring the library service to people.” The plan is to work out the kinks in Clinton and Barriere before expanding the service to other rural branches in the TNRL.
Readers are encouraged to take part in “Freedom to Read” week, with a contest on the TNRL website encouraging people to read a banned or challenging book and enter a draw. A list of suggested titles is available on the website.
Parents can show how cute their child is through the “Cute as a Button” program. “Because so many kids are wearing masks, we can’t see their cute smiling faces,” says Lowenberg. Parents can send in a picture of their child, and in return will receive a button with their child’s face on it.
Renovations to the Clinton Library should be complete in March. The building needed some work to make it wheelchair and stroller accessible. Renovations to the interior of the Ashcroft Library are still scheduled to go ahead in 2021.
Patrons are reminded that masks must be worn inside all TNRL libraries. For a list of branches, opening hours, and available services, visit the TNRL website.