At the time of this writing we are collectively experiencing our second month of COVID 19 isolation. I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well and healthy. At best this has been an interesting and challenging experience, at worst it is isolating, scary and a roller coaster of emotions.
Public libraries have always served to be a place of shelter and refuge in difficult times and without exception, having to close our physical doors has been one of the hardest decisions we have ever made. We live in such a time however where we were able to pivot very quickly to make access to our digital space available to everyone, with the exception of those who live on the non-accessible side of the digital divide. For those of us who own smart phones, tablets, computers and who have access to WIFI at home, we were able to adjust quickly and for some, without any adjustment. For those with no WIFI or technology, I can only imagine how hard this time has been. In a recent article posted by CBC Parents entitled, “Pandemic Privilege -Do you have it?”, the author discusses access to public libraries and states, “And yes, reading is fundamental. And people through the ages have always found salvation in literature. But: knowledge is free at the library for a reason, because the library is a great unifier. It offers access to people who don’t have access. And right now, that access is limited to people with technology.”
As we move forward at Cochrane Public Library, we are reminded that we when our doors are open, we are free and open to all, but when we are physically closed, we are not. With this in mind the pandemic has given us time to pause and re-evaluate where our focus needs to turn. We are currently looking into a technology lending library where WIFI access along with tablets or laptops will become available and made accessible to those who are more vulnerable during such times as these. Through grants and donations we will be able to make this a reality and continue to serve everyone in our community, on both sides of the digital divide.
Stay well everyone and we hope to see you soon!
Jeri Maitland, CEO/Library Director