Houston Public Library is seeking to play a part in bridging the gap between unemployed people and the business needs.
Toni McKilligan, Houston Public Library Director, and Sue Jones, Library Treasurer, spoke to Houston council last week Tuesday about the Library programs and goals.
Jones said the Library sees an opportunity in Houston to play a role in meeting the community needs.
There are a large amount of people on financial assistance coming to Houston and local industries are facing challenges to find trades workers to fill needed jobs, Jones said.
“We see this not as much as a threat, but as a reality and also as an opportunity. We want to help link the two,” she said.
She says they’ve already taken steps in that, with many of those moving to town coming to the Library, knowing there are resources such as computers, wifi internet, and books.
Jones says the Library Board believes one of the key strengths of the Library is it’s ability to do a lot of different things under one roof.
They see themselves as a community leader in developing the literacy of people coming to town, she said.
The Chamber of Commerce presented the Library with the Innovated Business Award this year, said McKilligan.
“We think that this shows that Houston Public Library is valued and a valuable institution in the community. And we’re very, very grateful for all the support that we get,” she said.
Jones said they rely on provincial grants and funding support from the District of Houston and other organizations.
“Without the District of Houston, who is our key funder, we would be going downhill and we couldn’t really deliver what we deliver,” she said.
She says they are forecasting a deficit budget this year if they continue to maintain their programs and services, and the board has committed to seek other funding in the upcoming year.
McKilligan says they run a large variety of programs in the Library, including after school games and lego club, which average 20 kids, and have been very successful new programs this year.
They also host birthday parties which McKilligan says are starting to take off, with more and more children’s birthday parties being held at the Library.
Technology services at the Library are one thing they strive to keep up to date and relevant, offering scan to email services and kobo readers for people to borrow and learn on, which Mckilligan says are very popular.
The Library offers free online resources, including free music downloads, thousands of e-books and audio books, and close to 400 free online magazines.
They have a large physical collection of reading material, audio-visual, DVDs, audio books, etc. and they have knowledgeable and welcoming staff, McKilligan said.
McKilligan says they also have a lot of partners in the community and around the province, and one program they’re developing is a more efficient inter-library loan system.
Sitting on that committee with the Province, McKilligan says they are working to promote the program to other library federations.
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m really thrilled to see it growing,” she said.
McKilligan says another thing growing at the Library is the number of user groups.
“We have more than ever before and all of these groups use our Canfor room regularly,” she said.
She says it’s exciting because more things are happening at the Library, bringing more people in to discover all that the Library offers.
McKilligan says they heavily depend on volunteers, including Evelyn Jaarsma, who has volunteered processing books for 40 years, Kathy Poirier who has volunteered processing books and doing other things for 30 years, and 15-year-old Rowan Vanden Heuvel, who is in her third year volunteering as a page.
“All in all, we’re really proud of our little Library,” Jones said, extending thanks to the Houston council for all their support.