By Sue Tiffin
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Sept. 9 meeting of the Haliburton County Public Library board.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, branch services librarian, said curbside pick-up, while it was offered during branch closures, went well, with “very good uptake.” The library will continue to offer the service by request.
“Now that we have the three branches [Minden, Dysart, Wilberforce] open, they’ll still provide curbside pickup upon request, but it will be a simpler process in that they can just call the branch when they arrive, during operating hours, to come pick up their holds that way,” she said. “With the branches open, that’s definitely simplified that process a little bit.”
“Is it too early to ask about the remaining library branches, as to what their status is going to be, based on the COVID thing? Or are we going to wait to see if there’s a second surge, because they’re talking about a second surge of COVID, so I’m just wondering,” asked Cec Ryall, Highlands East deputy mayor. The Cardiff, Gooderham, Highland Grove and Stanhope branches remain closed to the public while the Dorset Library Depot in the Dorset Rec Centre is temporarily unavailable.
“My recommendation at this point would be for us to continue along with the three branches that we’ve opened, to see how things are going,” said Kernohan-Berning, who noted the branches had only been open for two days at that point. “[I] can certainly put my mind to what we should do next, just given the way the numbers are creeping up in Ontario and school starting, it’s probably good to continue on where we are for a little while yet.”
“We were thinking it would probably be toward the end of the year,” said Ryall. “We don’t know if the second wave is going to hit and if it’s going to hit hard.”
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few months,” said Kernohan-Berning. “But right now, if things continue to go well, we can see about adding services, for sure.”
Circulation and wi-fi numbers reviewed
Circulation numbers at the library show a drop in physical materials being circulated from March to June when the library buildings were closed to the public, but an increase in digital materials during that time and a sharp uptake when curbside pickup began. In Minden, 1,175 and 1,081 materials were borrowed in July and August, with Dysart seeing circulation of 1,151 and 912 materials in those months – down from more than 6,000 materials borrowed those months at those branches in the previous year, but up from less than 40 materials being moved during the branch closures. While almost 3,000 digital materials were borrowed each month up to March this year, those materials surpassed 3,000 borrows beginning in April.
Although libraries have been closed to public access, and so workstations in branches have not been used since closures, wi-fi is accessible to patrons who have sat or parked close to the library. In August, 1,269 sessions occurred in Dysart, 875 in Minden, 525 in Gooderham, 320 in Wilberforce, 218 in Cardiff, 72 in Highland Grove and 21 in Stanhope, or 3,330 sessions in the month, compared to 6,010 during the same period last year.
Board chair Reuben Maughan noted there had been more wi-fi accessed in June this year – 2,216 sessions – compared to 1,777 in the same period last year.
“So we’re still reaching some people even when the libraries aren’t open,” he said.
“I know the numbers are dramatically different than what we would normally see but I was really pleased to see some of the numbers that are in the report,” said Liz Danielsen, warden of Haliburton County. “All things considered, we’ve done pretty darn well.”