DIGBY, N.S. - A learning facility in Digby continues to be a community centrepiece despite a change in how people gather information.
With increasingly prevalent technology in people’s workplace and homes, reading habits have changed but that doesn’t mean the community library has lost its place.
At the Isaiah W. Wilson Memorial Library in Digby, various services and programs are offered to keep people engaged.
“It kind of opens up a few more doors for people to see what else the library has to offer,”said Joanna Jarvis, senior library clerk.
“It gives you access to computers, it gives you access to books, magazines, movies, you can do research here and it opens the doors for a lot more. It opens the doors to knowledge and adventure and we need that in our life.”
One of the programs the library undertakes on a regular basis is having book sales. For example, a selection of books went on sale Nov. 21 for a minimal price.
Jarvis said sometimes people will buy books from the library sale just to support the facility, but more often than not, people are looking for an inexpensive way to get their hands on physical reading material.
“It’s 50 cents for a paperback so you can’t beat the price,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis said the book sales generate a small amount of funds back into the library. But more than revenue, the library is interested in getting books into the hands of local readers and also drawing them to the library to see the diversified products and services available.
“It brings people in and then they see what we do have here. Even if they come for the book sale alone…they realize, ‘Oh, you can take out movies, they’ve got magazines and audio books’.”
Jarvis has been a librarian since 2008 and in that time she’s see quite a few changes. One of the biggest has been adjusting with technology.
“There is a decline in some areas for some people because they say, ‘hey, I can put three books on my e-reader and I don’t have to carry this pile around with me’.
“I suppose there probably is a bit of a decline in people taking out actual physical books but there’s still a lot of people coming in because they like the book. Only so many books are available online unless you pay a subscription to something…Whereas the paper copies, we can tend to find it. If it’s not here, out of the region or not in Halifax, we can expand our search to beyond.”
And of course, the other advantage Jarvis says of getting books through a public library is the accessibility to everyone, no matter your income.
“It creates access for research for reading to everybody,” she said. “There are a lot of people who may not be able to go out there and buy books or movies. A library gives access to everyone. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what your status is in life – you have access to a library.”
Jarvis said paper books have many advantages over reading something electronically. She noted that books are portable in any environment, don’t have to be plugged in or charged, and can be easier to navigate.
“I know for myself…when you’re reading a book and something comes up an you think, ‘Wait a minute, there’s a reference to that’, you can flip back the pages of a book a whole lot easier than you can flip back pages on an e-reader.”
Another concern that has some switching habits and reaching more often for paper books is the realization that reading electronically can be taxing on the body, especially the eyes.
“You think of what is actually in front of you when you think of computers and the pixilation. If you actually blew that up and saw what was coming at you…our minds are processing that differently. So I do think that creates a greater strain on your eyes,” said Jarvis.
“Even for myself, I have to get away from my computer screen and get up and walk around the library and do stuff in the library because it is hard on your eyes…When we’re looking at the written word, it’s much different because it’s on paper and there’s nothing else moving – it’s solid, it’s there. But a computer screen, although it looks like it’s not moving, it is – it’s constantly in motion so it does effect more than we realize.”
The library book sale continues until Dec. 9. Jarvis encourages local residents to drop by the library and she hopes the stack of books for sale get smaller with each passing day.
“We know when the books go out that somebody’s reading and that’s what libraries are all about.”