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The Barrie Public Library is still here and stronger than ever (7 photos)

This week's Mid-Week Mugging features a place that is definitely not a thing of the past
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Those who feel that the public library is becoming a thing of the past probably haven’t been to one in a long time.

The Barrie Public Library (BPL) continues to be the city’s hub of activity as everyday hundreds walk through the doors of the two locations in town, the Downtown and Painswick branches, to research and enjoy the information that is on-hand. Genevieve Chittenden, the BPL’s manager of literacy programming and community, says that with many people switching to the online world for everything, the BPL has made the transition smoothly and hasn’t seen a decline in usage.

“Lots of people are still reading books, they are just sometimes reading them in different ways,” said Chittenden. “E-books are becoming more and more popular and you can download them for free here; that said we still have a pretty good circulation of our print books despite some saying that no one reads books that way anymore. We are constantly refreshing our stock and keeping up-to-date with the newest releases. There are also magazines, newspapers and multi-lingual material for those new to the area who may not speak English; print may not be as popular as it was in years gone by, but it certainly isn’t dead.”

The Barrie Public Library is just as busy as ever with two locations in town and a possible two more popping up as the city looks to build two all-purpose recreational facilities in the next few years. As the population of Barrie grows, so does the need for places to go and works and play.

“There are two rec centres being planned and the idea is to have a library in each one with one branch about the size of the Painswick location and the other being slightly larger than that,” said Chittenden. “Many municipalities the size of Barrie has about four or five branches so we are actually underserved in that regard. It really is nice to know that the city is dedicated to helping us reach more people with our services.”

Chittenden has been with the BPL since 2015 but has worked within the public library system for approximately 11 years. The Barrie resident loves that her city has such a sense of community and that the places she loves to be the most has been a part of that for so long.

“Libraries have historically been the centre of a town or city,” said Chittenden. “That continues now too as classes still have day trips here, students of all ages will come here to study on their own when looking for a place to concentrate and parents bring their kids to our daily events that are aimed at getting people to incorporate learning more into their day to day life.”

While the library used to be as simple as pick a book and sign it out, there are events of all sizes happening there now to keep the calendar busy for some time. The BPL has organized the Annual Barrie Dragon Boat Festival since it began 14 years ago with the next event set for Aug. 25, 2018. There are

“A branch will take on the personality of its local community,” said Chittenden. “It’s almost like Play-Doh as it molds and suits the needs of the community; so the folks who use the branch kind of dictate how we tailor our services. At Painswick we find there are a lot of families and children who visit the building so we have a larger children’s section and more programming geared towards them. The Downtown branch we noticed we have specialized collections here like local history so we do some genealogy programs and technology-based programs as well as we have a large amount of people checking out that genre.”

With so much constantly going on at the BPL, Chittenden believes that every event and special day has caught on with the community and can now only grow further to more and more people. The second annual BPL Comic Con this past September saw 2,000 people come to the library, while the newly offered Learn To Fish program not only helps kids learn the basics of fishing, but also allows for rods and reels along with different tackle to be checked out much like a book (fishing license not included).

“These special attractions for us have reminded people that the library is fun and it always has been,” said. “We’ll be involved with programs for February’s Winterfest next year and I’m super excited as we have just booked a ventriloquist for March Break. The Ontario Planetarium is also coming this winter and they will be setting up a big dome where kids can come in and have a little mini planetarium show. All in all, we are getting people in here and they are in turn then getting a book on what they saw here or even as they pass by something and it catches their eye; reading is fun and it is still happening with our younger generation.”

With the disappearance of video rental stores, the BPL has a large selection of movies and video games as well.

For information on all that the BPL has to offer including their calendar of events, check out the website.