With a move to replace print with digital technology, the future of libraries remains questionable.
But, for Fort St. James, Head Librarian, Wayne Briscoe, these changes are still developing and so it is difficult to say what the future of libraries holds.
“I remember being in university and some of my colleagues thought that books would be a thing of the past in five years. That was many years ago.”
Briscoe has now been head librarian at the Fort St. James Public Library for the last four years.
“It’s hard to say where things will go especially with e-books today,” Briscoe says.
But in Fort St. James, this is not putting a damper on book borrowing at all.
“Adult fiction is the most popular and we’ve developed a very good selection for such a small community. People are always eager to let me know what they would like to read. And DVD’s are our second most popular item. Both have made a huge difference in the amount of traffic coming in,” Briscoe says.
The public library has also increased its programming.
“We have families coming in looking for a wide range of family entertainment. Kids want videos but they always end up with a few books as well,” Briscoe said.
The library has also been hosting Friday night movie nights and Thursday morning story times for children.
“We still have our challenges,” Briscoe says. “We are always trying to find new ways of organizing our space and meeting the needs of the community. We are fortunate. We’ve had great support from the District, local schools and the provincial library branch. We want to serve as many constituencies as we can. Different groups have different interests. This is what we are always trying to figure out.”
Briscoe hopes to provide further collaborations in the future by forging cultural, arts and health services at the library.
“These are the kind of initiatives that are part of the future,” Briscoe says.
Briscoe definitely shares his love of books and reading with the community and it was always his mission to be a librarian in a small town.
“This is my passion. This is what I do,” he says. “I love this town and I love the outdoors. There were even a couple days here when I actually snow shoed to work.”
But for Briscoe, it’s mostly about getting to know people and being able to measure their needs.
“We continue to get positive feedback from the community and we are working on how to meet the growing demand. It’s a nice problem to have.”