Staying Relevant

These days, libraries are so much more than just books. Libraries have evolved from simply being a place to borrow books, to a place where people spend time, where they navigate technology, make connections and engage with their community.

The programs and services offered by the New Westminster Public Library (NWPL) are constantly growing and changing with the needs and interest of their patrons–young and old. The mission may be the same, but the way a library informs, shares and gathers looks a little different today. This is a great time to revisit the library (in person or online). There are some really exciting things happening through the library that are worth checking out.

“It can be surprising to people who don’t visit public libraries to see just how many people come through our door on a daily basis,” explains Susan Buss, Deputy Chief Librarian NWPL. “To get a sense of this, I looked at the total hours open in 2015, and on average we had 146 people visit us every hour.”

The library is still alive and well!

AlinaThe library has become a centre of instruction, offering useful tools to help navigate the daunting maze of electronic information. The introduction of is evidence of the library’s changing role and its aim to stay relevant. It’s also awesome because is a really amazing website.

Need to update your tech skills? is an online learning site that hosts over 3,000 courses that include over 130,000 videos. Pump up your Excel capabilities, take a Photoshop course or delve into InDesign. Each course is delivered by expert instructors and features searchable transcripts that make it easy to find quick answers to questions. It really is a super way to pursue personal or professional goals. The site even offers Certificates of Completion that can be uploaded to your LinkedIn profile. Best of all, all this information is free to NWPL patrons.

Of course reading and books are as meaningful as ever–especially when it comes to inspiring and encouraging young readers. The Reading Buddy program is still going strong. Teaming up high school students with elementary aged kids, the Reading Buddies program is a fun way to get young readers excited about books. The library is now looking to use this same format to reach out to newcomers and young refugees who may be settling in New West.

“We are using a successful program and taking it in a new route,” says Buss.

JefferyWithEbookHelpAs New West prepares to welcome Syrian refugees, the NWPL will be a centre point of support. They offer some really beneficial programs on their own and in partnership with other organizations.

“Our conversation circles for new English-speakers is done with Family Services and our weekly drop-in sessions to help learners utilize recently acquired skills in an informal setting.  MOSAIC, ISS, and Success also run programs with us on how to prepare for the Citizenship exams, getting a bank account, job-hunting, and other skills needed by new Canadians,” explains Buss.

The library supports life-long learning in a variety of ways and these examples for newcomers are just one small part of that. The library has become a gathering place. And its role in the community goes beyond a good book.

“Library as ‘Place’ is another concept you’ll hear in discussions about relevancy in the 21st century. The library is often a social gathering place and hive of activity that barely resembles the way people used the library 20 years ago,” explains Buss. “When you think about it, there are very few commercial-free places. At the library everyone is welcome, and there is no one standing at the door checking ones credentials. People come to the library for a wide-assortment of reasons, and sometimes it’s just to be in a different environment. One can go to the library, not talk to anyone, yet also not be alone or solitary.

The NWPL has some really great reasons to visit the library outside of borrowing books. There truly is something for everyone.

3DPrinterHave a strange hobby? My Weird Hobby is looking for locals with a unique interest to share their passion. From extreme running to geo caching and all the paranormal stuff in-between, this new library event is sure to attract a fun group.

If books and strange hobbies aren’t enough, beer is a great way to get people in the door. This year’s Lit Fest event at NWPL is sold out! Royal City Craft Beer Revolution is bringing together local beer experts, makers and authors for a fun night of tasting and Royal City beer history. This event is a great example of how the library is staying current and in touch with the community’s interests.

While the activities happening within and through the library have changed and will continue to change, its purpose stays the same.

So, while you might be heading to the library with the simple intent of finding a book, here’s hoping you leave with a whole lot more.

All of the photos in this article were supplied by NWPL and are from their Tech Day, a special event they held to offer up a chance to use 3D printers, get E Book help, and generally have access to some cool technology and services. The event was a super success, and more are planned for the future.