Over 185,000 items borrowed in 2021

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

On Feb. 8, County of Prince Edward Public Library & Archives CEO Barbara Sweet presented the 2021 annual report to County Council. The report is a look back at 2021 including a quantitative count of circulation and program attendance as well as an overview of new initiatives and achievements.

Sweet took a moment to remember longtime Friend of the Picton Library Doug Sloane. He was a dedicated and creative volunteer whose projects include mystery night dinners, art shows, book sales and more, and his efforts supported a wide array of projects at the Picton Branch Library as well as the Wellington Branch expansion of 2006. The hard work of both Doug and Evelyn Sloane made a meaningful impact to every corner of the Picton Library. The annual report includes an overview of highlights from 2021. One highlight was the groundbreaking for the Picton Branch Library, which had small attendance for COVID reasons.

“Although it was not the grand event we imagined it could be, we heard from many library supporters that it was a welcome piece of good news at a difficult time,” explained Sweet at the presentation.

Thanks to Alexandra Bake and her committee for their dedication to fundraising work.

In 2021 the library achieved accreditation with a 99.16 per cent score. Accreditation includes meeting a high standard for policies, spaces and procedures with an audit conducted by a representative of the Ontario Library Service and a CEO from another Ontario library.

Through special funding from the County the library was able to host a series of Indigenous author talks in 2021 that would have been “financially impossible for the library.”

The library also launched a new program for early learners in 2021. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program encourages families to read 1000 books before they start school. This program is led by Nancy Puddy. In 2021, library members borrowed 185,378 books DVDs and other library items, an increase from 173,560 in 2020. 971 people became library members in 2021, and 804 programs were held with 11,518 attendees. Some programs have translated well to an online format, including school class visits, author talks and Functional Fitness, but others – for example chess and Scrabble – have not.

“We also know online access and technology is not equally available to everyone, and that a fully-virtual series of programs leaves some people out” said Sweet.

One of the challenges Sweet identified for 2021 was the changing COVID-19 rules for safe library service. All branches of the library have now returned to regular open hours and everyone is welcome to come in and browse, and curbside service continues to be available for those who want it.

-Liz Zylstra