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Olds pandemic library programs may continue

Library manager warns eventually a facility expansion needed to accommodate demand
MVT Lesley Winfield-1 cr
Olds Municipal Library manager Lesley Winfield addresses council during a Zoom meeting. Screenshot

OLDS — So far, Olds Municipal Library has come through the COVID-era pretty well, library manager Lesley Winfield says.

"We are starting to pick up more and more as people become more comfortable,” she told town council during a presentation last month.

Winfield said due to pandemic restrictions, library staff and volunteers pivoted to offer several different services such as curbside pickup of materials. 

She said that service has proven so popular that it will likely continue to be offered in some form "long into the future.”

"That’s a good example of an opportunity that came to us through the pandemic that has helped us to expand our service a little more, so that’s been great to see,” she said.

Another very popular idea was a story walk. A picture book was placed in various locations in Uptowne Olds. Residents were encouraged to walk through Uptowne and read the story.

Councillors loved that idea and encouraged Winfield to offer that program again. Winfield said the library likely would.

She said volunteers helped keep the library running and costs down. She said the library saved about $7,482 in staffing by using volunteers.

Winfield noted the population using the library remains strong as the community and surrounding area grows.

As a result, she said, eventually the library will have to be expanded to meet demand.

Winfield said the library currently serves about 12,402 people, including Olds and county residents. That doesn’t include people from other communities who utilize the library while in Olds for shopping or appointments.

Coun. Mary Jane Harper asked if there’s a way for the library to get a more precise handle on exactly where people who use the library’s services are from. Winfield said she’d look into that.

Coun. Mitch Thomson congratulated Winfield for the way the library dealt with the challenges posed by COVID restrictions.

“I think the money spent or sent to the library is some of the best money we spend as a municipality,” he said.

“Kudos to you and the team for printing 3D facemasks and continuing to program and all of the innovative things that you do at the library.”