The Perth & District Union Public Library is booming, and CEO/Chief Librarian Erika Heesen shared some glowing numbers with the towns committee of the whole on Aug.1.
Heesen reported over 125,000 visits in the first six months of this year, almost 119,000 items checked out, 1,214 volunteer hours, and over 4,800 program attendees. Heesen also noted that almost 16,000 ebooks have been downloaded, with almost 12,000 computer sessions booked. Perth residents on average check out 19 library items, with almost half of the town’s population holding library cards.
The library’s recent renovations have allowed the facility to become a more welcoming community hub, she noted, explaining the addition of a permanent media lab will allow young people to make films and record music.
As with other libraries, the challenge for Perth going forward will be to ensure the public is aware of the wide range of services and resources it provides, from digital books and magazines to free museum passes in Ottawa. Heesen quoted user feedback that called the library “the heartbeat of our great community,”
Among the many programs offered at the busy space are a “how-to fair” that explores everything from using chopsticks properly to fixing bikes, tax clinics for low-income individuals, French and Spanish conversation groups, and a summer reading club that encompasses all ages. The library is also marking its 27th year of running a summer literacy program for children up to grade 3 who need extra help with their reading skills.
The library’s strategic plan is focused on telling stories about the many resources visitors can enjoy, creating a welcoming space, taking the library out into the community (with pop-up libraries at locations such as the Perth pool and Conlon Farm during baseball games), supporting literacy and lifelong learning, and building resources for the institution’s ever-evolving roles.
Mayor John Fenik noted that the library also serves as a hub for Drummond North Elmsley and Tay Valley residents as well, and enthused that “books open up an unlimited universe.”
Councillor Judy Brown questioned whether the library might save money with increased purchase of ebooks, but Heesen replied that libraries are charged far more for such items than paper books, noting a recent purchase of the latest James Patterson ebook cost $105.
CUTLINE: Perth’s chief librarian Erika Heesen brought a good news report to the town’s committee of the whole, with strong user numbers reflecting the library’s central role as a community hub.