Outstanding library service honoured at annual READ Awards
Throughout southwestern Alberta libraries serve an important role in their communities. They listen to community needs and interests and create amazing programs, events, and opportunities to meet those needs. It is in recognition of this work that the READ Awards were created.
The READ Awards are presented annually and are judged by the Chinook Arch Marketing and Communications Committee based on excellence in library service, collaboration, innovation, community benefit, and transferability to other libraries. The committee was again impressed by the 14 submissions received and would like to congratulate the award winners below.
The READ Awards were celebrated on Friday, March 3 during the Southern Alberta Library Conference.
$500 READ Awards
The Jim and Mary Kearl Library of Cardston: Revamped School Library Tours
In the past, Cardston’s library tours were functional, but really lacked fun. This prompted staff to reimagine their approach.
In the revamped tours, students divided into buddy groups to participate in various adventure tours. Adventure tours included storytelling and book truck relay races. Students were also labeled, barcoded, cataloged, and shelved. There was also, of course, reading, and each student came away with a library summer card.
The tours ended with the presentation of the library’s own small dumbwaiter, where two students found the library’s golden treasure chest filled with Freezies for each student to enjoy on their way back to their school. Teachers, educational assistants, library staff, and children all thought it was a success.
“The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates inspired our new Library Adventure Tours, as all are welcome here,” says Cardston Library Manager, Donna Beazer. “We want to encourage a new generation of library users.”
Magrath Public Library: Mini Art Extravaganza
The library hosted their Mini Art Extravaganza last March. People of all ages were invited to come and pick up a 4”x4” canvas. They were to paint or decorate their canvas and return it to the library. Once all the canvases were returned, the library set up a mini art show. Patrons were given ballots where they could vote on their three favourite art pieces and a viewer’s choice prize was awarded. The display was kept up through April. Because April is National Poetry month, patrons were then invited to use the canvases as inspiration to write a poem. A surprising number of patrons participated. Over all, the event was a huge success and was a great way to bring people into the library.
“We were thrilled to win a READ award this year,” says Magrath Library Manager Stephanie Humphreys. “It’s encouraging to have our efforts recognized. We plan to use the prize money to expand future programing at the Magrath Public Library.”
Vulcan Municipal Library: Empowering Young People
After working with a summer student, Library Manager Connie Clement and her board decided there were many advantages to learning about the perspectives of youth in the community. As a result, they decided to create a Student Representative position. The Student Representative assists with the Summer Reading Program, works Saturdays, and is expected to attend Board meetings as a youth consultant for the community. Although they cannot vote at the meeting, they participate in conversations and get the opportunity to experience how a board meeting is run. This program is a great way to connect youth in the community to the library, as well as provide the students themselves with valuable experience.
“The Read Awards Program is a great way for a library to look back and do a self check-in, especially with different topics and criteria every year,” says Connie Clement, Vulcan Library Manager. “For the first time, I am allocating the money we won towards the purchase of Nintendo Switch Games. We have families in our community that order them in all the time and I would like to purchase something that our patrons use. I even asked the kids to make me their top 10 favourite list so I knew what to buy. These games are expensive, but winning the money allows me to start a collection that I hope I can add to once every month or so.”
Town of Fort Macleod Public Library: Historical Graveyard Tour
In the fall of 2022, the library offered a tour through the Union Cemetery. The tour was hosted by local community member and library volunteer Holly Williams, and narrated by Historian George Kush. The evening tour had George speaking about the cemetery’s original location and the number of times it had been moved and why. He told many stories about the lives of many of the early people buried in the cemetery, as well as stories of Fort Macleod’s rich history with the North West Mounted Police, Indigenous people, scouts, guides, and settlers of the area. When the tour was finished, participants were invited to Stronghold Brewery to sample a special brew that was being unveiled that night. Over half of the participants went to the Brewery and enjoyed further historical conversation, stories, and shared some great book recommendations on local history as well as Southern Alberta history. The participants really enjoyed the evening and were left wanting more. It was such a success that the plan is to examine possible expansion by making it into a yearly tour series.
Lethbridge Public Library: Roleplaying Games for Children
With the advent of Dungeons & Dragons, roleplaying games have seen a huge surge in popularity. These games also fit perfectly with libraries due to the skills and relationships they build.
While Dungeons & Dragons has seen explosive growth, many aren’t aware that there are roleplaying models that are specifically targeted for kids and tweens. Upon realizing this (and receiving many comments from kids about how they couldn’t wait until they were old enough to join the library’s teen D&D program), the library decided to run two campaigns: Hero Kids for the younger children, and Magical Kitties for the tweens.
Both programs were very successful. Role-players gained critical thinking skills by solving the problems and puzzles within the campaign. They were also able to flex their creative muscles as they built characters from the ground up, deciding how those characters would act and react to the world around them. Perhaps most importantly, participants also found a sense of community and developed teamwork skills as they met up weekly with their peers to collaboratively form a story together.
Stirling Theodore Brandley Library: Haunted Lego Museum
The Haunted Lego Museum is highly anticipated each year in Stirling. Families are encouraged to tap into their creativity to design an original, themed Lego display for the community to enjoy and to get into the Halloween spirit! This passive program encourages participation and community connection in several ways – from building a Lego display and visiting the library to tour the haunted museum, to participating on social media (viewing the photos and voting for the fan favorite display). People can participate at whichever level is comfortable for them and folks come together across generations to get into the spooky spirit. Participants get the opportunity for their creations to be appreciated by the community at large.
This program is generously supported by local business and the Friends of the Stirling Library group and is a true opportunity for the library to participate in broader community life – bringing in folks who might not normally visit the library, or be aware of what the library offers.