When Donna Alberts started working at Red Deer Public Library about 28 years ago, people searched for book titles alphabetically through drawers of cards.
Now they press a computer button.
And there were no such things as e-books.
But the long-time children’s librarian, said the importance of parents reading to their children is the same.
“There is still nothing like a parent sitting with a child, whether it’s on an e-reader or whether it’s with a book. It’s the one-on-one time together. I don’t think the format matters as much as the voice, and the reading, and the interaction between the parent and the child,” said Alberts, 53, who is retiring at the end of April.
The youth/circulation services librarian, who spends a lot of time answering questions and helping parents and children at the counter in the children’s library, said people have been spending a lot more time in the library since the mid-90s when food and drink were first allowed inside the library.
“(Before) people would come in, get their books, maybe attend a story time or program, and then head home. Now people will stay all day. There are families that will come and bring their lunch and they’re here for the better part of the day.”
People continue to discover the library, said Alberts recalling a woman who just started using children’s library last week and came back every day with her son, about two-years old.
“She said everyday he says — books, books — he wants to come back to the library.” Alberts said the library now has more to offer children, particularly boys.
“When I started it was hard to find books for boys. Now a lot of publishers have really taken to heart the importance of ensuring books there are books that appeal to both boys and girls.”
Authors like J. K. Rowling are popular with boys and girls, and books made into movies has broadened readership, she said.
Alberts started at RDPL when the children’s department was still located in the basement, before it moved into the renovated firehall.
“It was a real change. (The basement) was very separate from the adult area. We did our own check out for kids books.”
Preschool story time currently attracts 20 to 30 children and their parents, plus there is computer access, as well as library books, e-books, toys, movies, and music for young library users to borrow.
The library is also a source of information for parents when families are facing challenges like a divorce or the death of a family pet.
Sometimes a doctor or psychologist will suggest people visit the library for books, Alberts said.
“There are so many wonderful things that books can do, they can help with growth in so many ways with kids.”
Library membership is free for children age 12 and under, teens age 13 to 17, and 18-year-olds who are still in high school.