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HomeNewsBracebridge Public Library sees bump in membership during COVID-19 pandemic

Bracebridge Public Library sees bump in membership during COVID-19 pandemic

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As a move to the future Muskoka Lumber Community Centre (MLCC) approaches, the Bracebridge Public Library is preparing for a rebrand.

In the library’s 2021 annual report submitted to Bracebridge’s General Committee on April 19, Crystal Bergstrome, the CEO and Chief Librarian, notes membership between 2020 and 2021 grew by nearly 2,000 to now sit at 9,043.

Bergstrome attributes that increase to people working remotely. “We have a lot of cottagers who perhaps came up and stuck around and realized they can work remotely,” she says. “So instead of popping in and out, they got a membership.”

She adds more families have signed up in recent months as well.

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“We think the increase in library membership is a great sign that we’re actually doing a better job reaching our community,” Bergstrome boasts.

According to her, the library has also bolstered its ebook collection, now having roughly 130,000. The library’s website was used over 34,000 in 2021. “There should be something for everybody in the community of all levels and all interests,” she says.

As they prepare to move to their new space in the MLCC, she believes membership and how much the library is used will continue to increase. 

It was announced Tuesday that a groundbreaking ceremony for the MLCC is happening Thursday with construction officially starting May 1. The latest projection from the Town of Bracebridge is that the community centre will be open to the public in the summer of 2024. 

“On one hand, that might sound like a long time, when we kind of think about prepping this library and getting ready for the new facility, it’s actually going to go by a lot quicker than we thought,” Bergstrome says.

Ahead of that move, she says they want the library to evolve. “It’s about how we look at library services and how we interact with our community and really having a fresh mindset on making sure we’re engaging the community,” she explains, adding that includes existing members and people who don’t have a library card yet. “It’s about finding that gap that’s not being delivered to the community. If there’s something missing in the community, we can help fill that need.”

“We’re not just that stuffy old book depository,” Bergstrome says. “We’re a community service.”

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