An expanded “digital literacy” area is being planned for the renovated second-floor of Red Deer’s downtown public library.
Patrons might be able to learn such skills as working a 3-D printer, or creating in Photoshop, InDesign or other computer programs in an open area behind the book stacks, said Briana Ehnes, manager of the library’s adult services.
Community members will likely be questioned about where their technological interests lie once a new digital literacy manager is hired. Ehnes said this position was recently upgraded to permanent, full-time from a contract position in recognition of the additional duties.
The library already has a digital area in which patrons can learn how to use iPads and how to load library ebooks into their readers. “It’s super basic. We’re moving on to more advanced stuff,” said Ehnes.
Once community interest is pinpointed, Ehnes expects government grants will be needed to purchase some new tech equipment.
The library’s second-floor upgrade was officially opened to the public on Monday, with refreshments, balloons, and self-guided tours.
The City of Red Deer provided $380,000 to renew the space that holds DVDs, CDs, audio books and adult fiction, since it hadn’t been improved in decades.
The old coffered ceiling was replaced and slightly raised, lighting was changed to brighter and more energy-efficient fixtures, a fountain and bottle filler were added, and workers removed old wood panelling, cleaned the carpets and painted the walls.
Also, a ceiling track was provided for the wiring and cabling needs for an expanded digital area.
Library CEO Christina Wilson said the provincial government gave an additional $155,000 for the project, part of which will go for new furnishings. She expressed appreciation for this grant — and also for the government maintaining library funding at last year’s levels — to Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner, who was at the opening.
Schreiner said she’s happy the NDP “values the importance of public libraries,” and their role in promoting community literacy. She described the new space as beautiful. “The colours are so warm and inviting… If feels like the kind of space where you want to be.”
Some library patrons were also impressed. “It looks very bright now,” said Christine White, who previously felt the space was rather dark. “It’s very nice,” added her husband Dan White.