Tough times lead to increase in usage at Red Deer Public Library

Libraries offer a low-cost welcoming space

Red Deer Public Library saw an almost seven per cent increase in use in 2016 over the previous year, partly due to the Fort McMurray wildfire and the downturn in the economy, CEO Christina Wilson said Thursday.

In total, the library had a circulation of 922,816 in 2016 compared with 863,176 — a 6.9 per cent increase. This includes all items checked out at the Downtown, Dawe and Timberlands branches.

Wilson said they saw an increase in library use last May, when thousands of people were displaced by the Fort McMurray fire. Some ended up in Red Deer and used the library Internet and other resources, for connecting with authorities and insurers, for example.

The increased trend continued the rest of the year, and Wilson believes that in part was due to people who went “off the grid” or cut back on spending for economic reasons. There is no question that public libraries are reporting increased usage tied to the downturn in the economy, she said.

Libraries across Alberta noticed similar increases in usage in 2016, she said. Public libraries offer a low-cost service, and besides books, there are also audio-visual, CD, newspaper, eBook and other resources available.

Adults checked out 434,868 items in 2015 at RDPL branches. That jumped to 469,770 in 2016.

Looking ahead to the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Wilson expects to see increased use of the Downtown Branch by visitors here during the Games.

She said RDPL realized during major sporting events, usage jumps. The library offers robust and fast free wifi, and a welcoming space. When journalists from around the world were in Red Deer covering the first Tour of Alberta in 2013, many didn’t have a lot of equipment with them and used the service to file their stories. “It was very eye-opening.”

RDPL also saw programs attendance “go through the roof” in 2016, up 22 per cent form 2015, Wilson said. Programs drew 61,981 attendees in 2016 compared with 50,654 in 2015.

Meanwhile, Red Deer Public Library renovations to Level 2 in the Downtown Branch’s Centennial wing are well underway.

Wilson said that the new ceiling, lighting and paint are proceeding on time and within the budget of $270,850. A new water fountain is also being installed.

During the work, it was learned that none of the building — built in 1967 — has any asbestos in it, she said.

Construction began in December. The project is expected to be complete sometime in early April.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

Rent subsidies for Asooahum Crossing tenants sought from Red Deer city council

Coun. Lee feels the city should be ‘last resort’ for housing subsidy requests

Castor murderer denies he’s a killer

Jason Klaus tells courtroom he loved his family who were murdered in December 2013

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month