These days, the Brantford Public Library is much more than just a hub for people looking to check out books and DVDs or to read periodicals.
Maybe you need to borrow a sewing machine or a GoPro camera, or just spend an afternoon out with your family? If so, the library provides something for residents of all ages.
While being a source for books and information has always been central to the services Brantford Public Library provides, the community’s needs are changing. The library is keeping up with these changes by expanding its services to meet those needs, says CEO and chief librarian Rae-Lynne Aramburo.
For example, the library now has a number of digital services that provide free access to thousands of downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, online learning courses, and full digital editions of magazines and newspapers.
Libraries have a crucial role to play in every community, providing access to a wide range of information and items that people need. Rae-Lynne adds that some libraries even lend kayaks and fishing equipment.
“Whatever makes sense for their community, they acquire those things and find a way to get them in the hands of their community. We’re doing the same with items in demand for our community, from parks passes to WiFi hotspots,” she says, adding Brantfordians can check out the library’s website to learn what’s available to them.
“I think it’s important for people to know who’s in their community and build a better understanding and feel connected to them, … And that can happen within the library space.”
Of course, people wishing to search the old-fashioned way — by visiting the library and speaking with staff — are encouraged to do so, Rae-Lynne adds. People often spend hours in the library just to use the free WiFi as a way to feel connected to the community.
“Our staff are already an amazing resource, (and) recently we’ve been focusing on improving how we onboard customers to show people all that we offer,” Rae-Lynne says.
“When they first come in, we try to spend a little more time asking them what brought them into the library and what their interests are and … (we try) to introduce them to a range of services and resources that are a good match for them.”
As the Brantford Public Library evolves, patrons are noticing the changes and taking “pride” in what the library offers as a community hub, Rae-Lynne says.
“I love that they feel like this is a place that Brantford can be proud of because we do try to continually improve, meet the needs of the community, adapt, and work with partners and individuals to keep being better and better,” she says.
Another big change Brantford Public Library has made to embrace the community is forgiving fines for overdue items, Rae-Lynne notes.
This is an important measure the library has undertaken to remove a barrier. As Rae-Lynne points out, people may avoid walking through the doors if they have unpaid fines or fees, and the library wants everyone to feel welcome.
Last year, the library forgave old fines on people’s library cards, and there are no more late fines being tacked on for overdue items.
Looking ahead, Rae-Lynne says she wants to reach out to more people in the community. The way to do that, she says, is by spreading the word about all the great things the library offers.
And she says she wants Brantfordians to know the library is open to everyone and it’s a place everyone can build connections.
“I think it’s important for people to know who’s in their community and build a better understanding and feel connected to them,” she says. “And that can happen within the library space.”
Lead photo cutline: Brantford Public Library CEO and chief librarian, Rae-Lynne Aramburo.
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