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Pop-up libraries give residents partial access to library services

While plans for a permanent library in Breslau have stalled, and Hawkesville still remains without one, residents of both villages need not travel very far, or even cross municipal lines, to get their books.

Starting this year, the Region of Waterloo Library (RWL) is running pop-up libraries within the communities to provide some basic services.

Once a week, the libraries will roll out to the Breslau and Hawkesville community centres, letting people browse the small collection of books, print their library cards, and pick up whatever materials they’ve requested from the branches.

“The pop-up service is our way of bringing library services out into the community in spots other than our physical branches,” explained Kelly Bernstein, RWL’s library services manager.

Beyond the basics, the mobile libraries are planning to roll out more of the programming and services available at the larger physical branches. Right now, there’s the pop-up family storytime available at all locations, promising an evening of reading, song and other fun activities for the whole clan. The Cambridge location, meanwhile, at the Clyde & Scotts Women’s Institute, is starting a book club for adults – and more is likely on the way.

“We’ve been talking amongst ourselves – our staff – about bringing our other library services out to the pop-up,” says Bernstein.

“We have a computer trainer who might come out to do computer lessons with people onsite at the pop-up. We have a large local history digital collection now and we have a staff member who specializes in that, so we might send her out to talk about local history.”

The services on offer are a bit sparse at the moment, but the pop-up library program is still very much in its early stages. There are four locations at the moment, with the Hawkesville and Breslau pop-ups starting in April and May of this year. The plan, says Bernstein is to gauge people’s interest and usage of the services before deciding to expand or discontinue the service in December.

However, Bernstein is optimistic.

“We have had inquiries from other communities out in the townships to bring public service out to them, or maybe go out to the arenas or other community groups. There seems to be a demand, and we seem to have hit on something that people are asking for.”

The pop-up libraries are available from 4-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Hawkesville Community Centre, and Wednesday at the Breslau Community Centre. The family storytime follows the library hours at each location, running from 6:30-7 p.m.

“We really think this is a great service, and I’m curious to see where it goes from here.”

A permanent library for Breslau is still being discussed at this point. A permanent facility was part of a proposed new school, but was put on hold when Woolwich turned down the bid from the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to buy four acres of Breslau Memorial Park.

Now, the township is looking at other options, says director of recreation and facilities Ann McArthur.

“Certainly it’s still on the table. Staff have met with the regional library staff to see if it’s feasible, what we would need to see, is it something we would have to build, is there existing space that we could partner on to put in a library, or would we have to build a stand-alone? So that’s really just getting started at this point,” she explained. “Certainly the region would like to see a branch in that location based on the population and the expected population growth in that area, and we’re certainly here to help augment their services and help facilitate that if at all possible.

“So certainly it is back on the table and discussions have started. We’ll see where that goes in the next six months.”

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