If you're like me you might think fondly of the library as that place of solace where you can confirm things you might already know or find out about things you didn't know before. And at the root of it all were books; stack and stacks of thousands and thousands of books lined up on hundreds of shelves.
Printed words, and photographs, charts, maps and indexes all providing nicely edited, properly spelled, grammatically correct, relevant and factual information.
What more could one possibly want or need?
Well it seems that libraries have become so much more in meeting the needs and demands of citizens and it is especially true for the Greater Sudbury Public Library, which has no less than 13 branches spread out across the municipality.
And if you like to borrow more than the occasional book, you've arrived at the right place. The local library branches in Sudbury are currently in the process of lending out snowshoes. It seems the demand is high.
Now you don't have to be like famous poet Robert Frost, “Stopping by The Woods on a Snowy Evening”, to appreciate this. Even the Bard of the Yukon, Robert W. Service, would get a kick out of borrowing snowshoes and traipsing along while quietly reciting verses of “The Parson’s Son”:
“This is the song of the parson's son,
as he squats in his shack alone,
On the wild, weird nights, when the Northern Lights
shoot up from the frozen zone,
And it's sixty below, and couched in the snow
the hungry huskies moan”
So while that is the kind of stuff you would find in a book, you can also find snowshoes that can be borrowed for up to a week at a time, said Jaime Luck, the Citizen Service Centre lead at the Lively, Garson, Copper Cliff and Coniston branches of the Greater Sudbury Public Library.
She said the program has been in place for several years already.
"So back in 2015 is when it really started," Luck explained. "There was this campaign through Healthy Kids Sudbury and they wanted to try to get organizations in the community to promote healthy living for kids."
Luck said the library was looking for something to meet the need and it was learned that the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area had plans to replace their current inventory of snowshoes. Luck said once it was learned there was a good supply of used snowshoes, the library came up with the plan to create the lending program.
"And then we also got more donations from Rainbow Routes Association. That helped us build bigger kits that we have in stock," Luck said.
There are now enough snowshoe kits set aside in all 13 branches where people can show up, present their library card and borrow the snowshoes.
Luck said it is important to remember that it is all on a first-come, first-served basis. No one can make reservations online or over the phone. One must show up at a local branch.
Luck said the idea of lending out tangible sporting equipment is not that far off from lending out books. It's called the 3D lending program.
"So the thought is, if we can help fill a need in our communities in different ways through our programs and services, and then why not right," Luck said.
"It's something that people can use to try out before they buy their own, or if they just don't have the means to purchase them, themselves, because they're very costly. And it's equipment that's used not all year round. So some people don't want to make that initial investment. But yeah, that's why we're here. We're here to help. Make sure we meet the needs of our communities in different ways.”
Another example, she said, was a program to lend out fishing equipment, which is done in collaboration with a well known fishing tackle store in Sudbury.
"And basically when we bring in these 3D items, we try to have partnerships that can help us with the initial investment and maintenance, and just help cover those kinds of costs," Luck said.
"And yeah, so we have fishing rods, we have the snowshoes, we have outdoor games now that you can have on loan. There are puzzles, board games, we lend Chromebooks and wifi hotspots, CO2 monitors.
"It's pretty amazing and we're always looking at expanding our collection so that we can meet those needs."
She added that it's as simple as getting a library card. There's no fee for borrowing. A family member can borrow a family snowshoeing kit for two adults and two youths. A teacher can borrow a classroom-sized kit for three adults and 27 youths.
"We're not just a book place anymore. It's gone above and beyond that and we're really a community hub," Luck said.
"And we want to encourage people to come visit us not just for their book needs, but you know, there's like social aspects and to be in that community and having that community feeling."
Len Gillis is a reporter at Sudbury.com. Bold is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.