Saturday, May 9, 2015

Aurora Banner: Northern York Region libraries encourage patrons to make some noise

By Teresa Latchford
April 23, 2015

The modern library is encouraging patrons to make some noise.

Gone are the days of a librarian peering over her glasses from behind a large wooden desk and wagging her finger because you broke the silence in the sanctuary of the library. Now, you are more likely to be invited to participate in the noisy excitement of a children’s activities, community performances and programs that encourage conversation with other participants as the institutions strive to brand themselves community hubs.

Aurora Public Library welcomes members to its living room complete with mood lighting and comfy couches located in the centre of the main floor. The space has been host to a number of events including the One Book, One Aurora program, which brings readers and authors together to discuss works, pop-up musical performances by local bands and youth and even theatrical performances by Theatre Aurora.

“We offer a lot of culture and many experiences that keep people coming into the library,” community collaboration manager Reccia Mandelcorn said. “By offering a lot of different opportunities, people continue to use the library.”

The library has an art gallery and complements it with special events such as Colour Aurora, when nine artists set up easels throughout the library and work while interacting with patrons who can become part of the creative process.

From celebrations and open houses to hosting special events like Canada’s birthday party, card carriers find the library has much more to offer than just the traditional bound book.

While the Newmarket Public Library is constrained by physical space, it hasn’t stopped focusing on the use of technology to continue to bring people into the library.

“There is this outdated vision that people still have about libraries,” CEO Todd Kyle said. “Our real goal is to capture the imagination and make learning enjoyable.”

Embracing the technological age, the library hosts the digital shift drop-in program every Friday to allow members to ask “techies” questions about their electronic devices, free online courses in a multitude of subjects and a new focus on children’s programs like robotics and Lego.

In May the library will have a 3D printer up and running and is working to put together an audio-visual editing suite; both are expected to bring more physical bodies into the library and generate more group projects, meaning more conversation.

Monthly Market, a discussion bringing experts and members of the public into the library and encouraging dialogue on topics including homelessness, prostitution, assisted suicide and citizen journalism has been very popular.

“Our library is not a quiet place,” East Gwillimbury Public Library CEO Michelle Alleyne said. “We encourage social interaction throughout the library and we want learning to be fun.”

With the addition of a mobile computer lab, the library has been able to broaden its programing and offer fun events like its Mine Craft server party, which has a number of pre-teens interacting in person as they play the digital game together.

“I have had so many parents tell me they bring their children for the social aspect so they are talking to people in person as well as through the game,” she explained.

The library’s maker clubs get quite loud as children work together to create things with their own hands and develop problem-solving skills.

Story time and other children’s programs that combine learning and physical movement also create a lively atmosphere within the walls of the library.

While libraries continue to offer quiet spaces for those who need them, they have been evolving with the community’s needs and ultimately want to be an activity hub for learners of all ages.

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