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Region working on series of pop-up libraries

The Region of Waterloo Library (RWL) wants to generate more readers in the townships.

With its rural pop-up library project approved by the library board, small libraries will be popping up in places where residents may not have regular access to a brick and mortar branch.

RWL manager of library services Kelly Bernstein says bringing books to small towns and villages in the region isn’t a new idea.

“It is something that we have been working on for a couple of years now,” she said, explaining that after a library reorganization, the opportunity opened up. “We knew there were areas of the townships that we weren’t reaching with our existing branches so it seemed like the natural extension to take what we do to our communities that need it.”

The pop-up libraries will set up shop in community centres, churches or wherever the library can find to put their books on display. Some communities are proving to be a challenge to plan, however.

“We haven’t quite finalized all of the locations yet, so we may end up in whatever resource the community has,” she said. “We are trying to put something in Branchton in North Dumfries Townships, but they don’t have much in Branchton. We may end up being anywhere that has space, or even somewhere nearby. It depends.”

In Woolwich, the Region of Waterloo Library already has a plan.

“We are looking at Breslau for a branch. There is a population that needs the service, and we are definitely going to be in the Breslau Community Centre,” said Bernstein.

Plans for what is going into the pop-up branches around the region haven’t been set in stone yet. There is still some planning to work through, but Bernstein says each branch will be customized to the area it is in.

“Every pop-up is going to offer a program of some type, depending on the age group that we are trying to target. Breslau is a great example. There are a ton of kids living there, so we will definitely be doing children’s programs there as well,” she explained.

In other areas of the region, Bernstein says there could be programs more geared to grown-ups who love a good novel.

“We might expand into an adult book club or something similar, but there will definitely be some kind of programs geared towards the community,” she said.

The pop-up branches won’t just be offering special programming. The sites will also act as a pick-up point for the region’s full library collection.

“People will be able to put books on hold, and we can deliver them to the pop-ups, and we can also deliver from other branches,” she said, adding that it isn’t just about the hardcovers and the paperbacks. “We are also going to be offering help with e-readers and things like our database and research.”

There will even be librarians on hand to recommend the next big read.

“We love readers and we like to make more readers whenever and wherever we can,” said Bernstein. “The library is still so relevant.”

The pop-up branches are expected to open their doors in spring 2017.

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