Editorial: Love for the library

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Salt Spring’s public library has come a long way in 60 years. 

From its origins in a room in Mouat’s store with 1,300 books to its location in an old house when it was Mary Hawkins Memorial Library to the purpose-built structure it is today, the island’s library has served us in an ever-increasing number of ways. 

The library is no longer just a place to borrow books, although that may remain its primary function. 

Patrons can also take home DVDs, musical instruments and pick up free museum passes there. They can get tutoring in computer and tech device use, stream movies, access the internet for free, and hold meetings and other gatherings. All of this activity occurs thanks to dedicated staff, board members, and an army of volunteers and community partners.

The addition of the program room in the structure that opened in December of 2012 lets the facility continue to be a community hub in the evenings and on Sundays as well. 

Perhaps most importantly, the library is a place that brings people from diverse spheres together. It’s easy to remain within one’s own niche on Salt Spring, whether it’s carved out by age, wealth, health or occupation. Just about everybody who lives on the island goes to the library for some reason at some point. Or if they don’t, they easily could. 

Last Thursday night the depth and diversity of the library’s community was in full evidence when appreciation for the library was expressed in poetic form. Shortlisted entries in an Our Library in Poetic Life contest and library love were shared.

As the Salt Spring Public Library enters its seventh decade of existence, it will be exciting to see how it evolves and adapts to new demands.

The 60th anniversary celebration continues at the library with the ongoing Brushstrokes & Bookshelves art show in the program room and the Salt Spring Archives display. It culminates in the Anniversary Gala and Dance on the evening of Feb. 22, after kids have participated in a tile-making workshop for one of two legacy art projects in the works and teens have enjoyed a movie in the program room that day.

It might not be possible for our library to be all things to all people, but it makes a huge effort to do so and largely succeeds. 

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