This is a post specifically for my St. Albert friends, and before I get started let me say this: I am aware that I am extremely fortunate to live somewhere that I have access to any sort of library. I am aware and thankful every day that I live in Canada, and a part of Canada where I have free access to a library (among other things).
Ok, now that is said, we recently moved from St. Albert to Kelowna. Kelowna is a larger city than St. Albert, and as a result has a few branches of the Okanagan Regional Library within city limits. ORL is made up of 16 branches in the Okanagan and part of the West Kootenays. St. Albert has one library. All resources are housed within the library located in City Hall (St. Albert Place).
From the time we moved to St. Albert in 2008 (and possibly even before we moved in) there has been talk about opening a second branch of the St. Albert Library. The arguments for this, that I recall, included freeing up more space in the city hall library, providing more access to the books (presumably by having a second set of shelves in a second location, or maybe just speading the current collection between two buildings), allowing more programming options and I guess allowing more desks for students to study at (which aggravated me to no end - why were my tax and library fees providing study spaces?)
All I would like to say to the people pushing for a branch system is this: you might want to go and look at some branch libraries in a location of similar size to St. Albert. Like say, Kelowna, for example. Because, yes, there is more space in the central library for programming.
While there desks for students to use crammed in every nook and cranny (even though Kelowna has several high schools, a university, a college and a number of other post secondary institutes) there is a lot of move to room around in both branches I have been in, but there are also less choices of books on the shelves. I assume this is because resources are limited, and that a couple of copies of books are purchased to be shared between 16 locations. Which means when you are searching for a book you want to take out you may be faced with this problem:
Available at SOME locations.
We lucked out on this day and one of the three copies available was at the branch where we were. Otherwise we would have had to place the book on hold and wait for it to be delivered for pick up later.
So far I have realized that trying to work my way through series of books will be a challenge. I understand that a library isn't going to buy a book for every library, but it's extremely frustrating to know that there are 16 books in the series you are reading and the shelf only holds 3 of the series.
Because books are spread out across the branches, you are looking at almost all of the nonfiction books in the main branch - children, adult, young adult, and large print. All of them. Upstairs in this location were the non fiction and many empty shelves.
Here are some other things to consider:
- Resources are spread out among branches - will programs like the kids reading game be offered at both branches or would it be scaled back to offer identical programing at both locations.
- The main branch here doesn't have self check out or check in. Again, presumably because these things are expensive and resources need to be shared between branches.
- Best Sellers - again shared between branches. The quick reads system here allows only 7 days. 2 weeks in St. Albert was sometimes tough to finish some volumes in.
I'm sure I'll get used to this system, and in a year it won't even phase me, but until then I'm always a little sad when we visit the library. Sad and missing all the selections and choices on had at the St. Albert Library. On a positive vote for the Kelowna system though, membership was free for the entire family. It was nice to not need to pay to use the library.