(Originally published on the Windscape Book Company blog.)
I live in Cut Knife, a small town of about 600 people in west central Saskatchewan. Stand alone bookstores are few, and far between, out here. We do have the occasional retail outlet, within driving distance, that sells books in, and amongst their other offerings, but for a whole variety of reasons, bricks and mortar bookstores all across the country have been on the decline.
So, what’s a bibliophile to do? Well, the reading part is easy. We travel whatever distance we have to; we buy our books online, or we borrow. Still, that doesn’t replace all the other services a community bookstore will offer – like staff recommendations, or book launches, and author readings, or listings of literary award winners, etc. Fortunately, though, most rural areas have access to the next best thing: The Public Library.
I used my first library card, acquired way back in the 1960s, to borrow books, and books, alone. In fact, the only reason I went to the library was for books, and to access the encyclopedias for class reports. That was it. Today, though, libraries are the hubs of their communities. They’re filled with lending materials like books, and music, and movies, and have online services that include access to newspapers, encyclopedias, music downloads, foreign language and course modules. They also regularly host public events.
Our libraries are now home to holiday celebrations, guest lectures, and writers-in-residence programs; film showings and festivals; open mic nights, and storytelling concerts. They support literacy and ESL services, book clubs, and organize storytimes for children of all ages. So, whether you access your local branch, its regional hub, or every town’s library between the two, be sure to check their monthly calendars. There’s a wealth of regularly scheduled activities happening in most of them.