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Enjoying the view at the Nelson library
This time of year news media is just wrapping up the annual year-in-review. You can bet that Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk across Niagara Falls last summer will be among the news stories of 2012. It makes a great jumping-off point (sorry) for this week’s column.
For me, the transition from one year to the next always feels a little tightropey, poised on a wire between old and new. And in that endlessly malleable manner of running metaphors, I almost always feel that way in my job at the library.
Some days, it’s a bunch of friendly, bookish clowns holding a safety net below, while other days, it feels like a technology-filled Niagara Falls just one mis-step away. But as one technology-based company asserts, the Future is Friendly. And I have to remember that, the e-reading revolution notwithstanding, things are remarkably same-ish in many ways.
In 1959 a Nelson Daily News editorial cited stats for the Nelson library: “The number of book borrowers has risen from 1,828 in 1957 to 1,917 last year … the total number of books circulated was up from 32,042 to 37,088. Compared with other cities in BC, this is a high rate of use.”
It’s January 2013, and indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Nelson Public Library still enjoys one of the highest circulation rates per capita compared to other BC towns of similar size. We circulate almost half our collection each month — that’s 20,000 items! Of those monthly circulations, 400 to 500 are e-books.
It’s true we’re changing the way we read as a society, and if at times it feels precarious, there are great opportunities waiting on the other side. Now, we get more and more of our information online, and the library is responding to that shift with new databases on everything from travel to car repair. But reading is reading, whether it’s an e-book or a literal page-turner. Any way you slice it, Nelson reads.
Nelson Reads is also a Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy initiative as part of Family Literacy Week (January 20 to 27), aimed at encouraging people to nominate a favourite book — e-book or hold-in-your-hands book, it’s all good. Family Literacy Week’s focus on learning — in all ways, shapes, and forms — aims to guide us safely into an exciting future. Go to cbal.org, and watch this space on January 18 for more.
A new year is all about looking back: what we’ve done, where we’ve been, where the rope wobbled and where it held true. In 2012, the library circulated 236,000 items to a membership of more than 10,600. That makes me feel pretty solid on our library highwire.
It’s also about looking forward: where will be in 10 years, or 20?
Anne DeGrace’s library column is featured every other week in the Star.