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New librarian at Norquay Public Library brings creativity and passion

After working part-time at both the Pelly and Norquay public libraries, Karen Crawford said she has landed her dream job as a full-time librarian in Norquay

NORQUAY - Now that Parkland Regional libraries have lifted many of their restrictions, the newest librarian at the Norquay branch is excited to launch some inspiring new programs and encourage people to access the many resources the public library has to offer. While those with any symptoms of illness are asked to stay at home, the public library is now open to all, and will continue to offer hand sanitizer and wipe down surfaces daily. At this point, masks are optional.

It was around four years ago when Karen, her husband, and two young children moved from Lloydminster, Alberta to settle in at a small farm between Pelly and Norquay.

“We are loving our new life out here,” shared Crawford. “The community of Norquay has been so welcoming.”

No matter where her life has taken her, Karen says she always manages to find a local library and has been an avid reader and true fan of public library culture since she was a young child. She became the full-time librarian at the Norquay Branch on June 22.

Crawford explained, “It’s really a dream come true. I read a lot and I have always been passionate about libraries. I have used the public library system my entire life. I would study there after high school or do my homework. I have visited a number of different libraries over the years, and I plan to use that past experience to promote this one.”

Crawford said she believes people may have some preconceive notions about the current state of public libraries, and there are a few things she would like to let people know.

“First of all – some people think libraries are becoming obsolete because of the Internet. But I disagree. In fact, research has shown that reading to babies and toddlers will not only increase their vocabulary, but will improve listening skills and promote family bonding. The library offers a quiet space for families to focus on practicing being calm, reading, and bonding without the common distractions of a busy family home life.”

Crawford has planned a number of upcoming Storytime events which will take place at the library and include a story and a craft appropriate for preschool children. Children of all ages are welcome to attend.

“For adults who have not visited their local library in a long time, there are so many new (and free) resources that can be ordered straight through your phone or home computer,” explained Crawford. “The Parkland Library has both a website and an app that allows people to order books and media via the inter-library loan request system. E-books, video games, and movies can be ordered through the Hoopla App and registration is completely free for those with a library card.”

Crawford said that materials can be borrowed for up to three weeks at a time and many people may be relieved to know the library will no longer be charging overdue fees. However, if a book is lost or damaged, the borrower will simply be required to pay the replacement fee.

While at the library, patrons with library cards are also invited to use the library computer and access free internet and WiFi. Crawford is happy to assist those who need a little extra guidance when it comes to technology.

Although she is still settling into her new role, Crawford has already launched a number of initiatives and monthly themes to promote the idea that libraries have plenty to offer people with different interests. This month, Crawford is focusing on the harvest season with Canning and Preserving Month – a collection of educational resources aimed at making the most of summer’s bounty all year long. Upcoming monthly themes will include topics like pet care, gardening, local history, and more.

“I hope to create a space that feels inclusive and welcoming – and I am requesting ideas from the community. If anyone has suggestions of what they would love to see out of their local library, I am open to ideas. It could be anything from groups to activities to a reading club. Most importantly, I would like to challenge people to revisit their local library to see if they can find something that interests them.”

All area residents are invited to “like” or “follow” Norquay Library’s Facebook page to get information about Story Time, summer reading programs, and other events happening at the library.

The Norquay branch is open Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.