By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Sitting at a large table in the back of the Morinville Public Library with Library Manager Isabelle Cramp, one realizes quite quickly that libraries are far more than a place from which to borrow books. Sure, the place is still full of hard cover and soft cover volumes to help people learn something new or to escape into the world of fiction and fantasy. But like many libraries, the Morinville Public Library has evolved beyond the stereotypical image of a gloomy place with dusty tomes.
En route to our conversation spot to talk about Library Month we passed a collection of photographs, a table with candidate pamphlets, a display advertising an upcoming film night, a rack of local and regional newspapers, people surfing the Internet and a man quietly enjoying one of the many DVDs the library has to offer.
“I like to think of the library as a multi-media centre and as a hub of information for the community,” Cramp said. “We have people coming in that don’t necessarily belong to the library, but they like to come in to stay informed. So we definitely have that role in the community, and I think that is our most important role.”
Cramp said Library Month, which begins Oct. 1, gives libraries an opportunity to promote what they are all about and to clear up that common misconception that libraries are just books.
“It’s important to recognize libraries,” Cramp said. “Libraries should not come up in people’s mind just one month out of the year. But I think that it’s important to recognize all the services that are provided to the population.”
And that roster of services now includes movies, documentaries, audio and electronic books, research data bases, computers, Internet and wireless access, as well as a number of ongoing programs and clubs for adults and youth.
“It’s really a place where you can find just about everything that you’re looking for,” Cramp said.
One of the Morinville library’s popular offerings is their genealogy program which gives people the tools and opportunity to work on their family history or to learn how to begin the process.
“We have lots of resources available for people who are interested in genealogy,” the library manager said. “We like to make it available to the public. It’s a place where you can come in and you can find all the resources that you’re going to need to do things like that.”
In addition to the genealogy program, book club, story time sessions, movie nights and other programs the library runs throughout the year, the Morinville Public Library has become somewhat of a gathering spot for Morinville’s arts and culture scene.
“We just had Alberta Arts Days, and we had young people coming in and sharing their talents,” Cramp said. “Definitely, it’s a gathering place for people of all ages to enjoy the arts, and to share what they can do.”
Cramp and her staff hope people will drop by the Morinville Public Library this October to see what the facility has to offer. But even if people have been avoiding the library because of a long overdue book, Cramp explained the doors are open and welcoming, particularly during Amnesty Week (Oct. 25 – 30) when those late fees will be erased.
“This is the one week if you have books that are overdue or if you have books you have lost and you have found – well, this could be a good week to come back to the library and pay us a visit because we will forgive and forget any fines that are attached,” she said.
To see the line up of what the Morinville Public Library has in store for October see their monthly newsletter at: www.morinvillelibrary.ca.