The “Force” of the Library

October 8, 2019

Eyes wide open, Stacey would walk into the ‘Big Library’ delighting in the seemingly endless choices. As a child her school library was limited, so she counted the days between those visits to the larger public library.

When starting her own family, library memberships were a top priority. She chuckles as she recalls “all the girls had their own Library cards at around eight weeks old!”. It has always been a family tradition, starting years ago with weekly storytime, everyone snuggled into the children’s area sharing stories and songs. They always left with a rounded bag packed with new books for the week, over the years the bag has grown into a large bin as all five family members are now voracious readers.

One of the best things that they have used regularly is VIRL’s digital offerings. When the kids were younger they were huge TumbleBooks fans. All of the kids have very different taste, not only in genres of books but also format. Through the years they have all used hoopla, tried audiobooks and downloaded movies and documentaries, depending on their comfort and skill level. Sometimes it can be so frustrating for younger siblings to struggle with reading, they can experience their own success with the help of these materials!

For their family, the library is not just about the resources, it is their favourite Family Pit Stop. When they travel up and down the Island, they use the clean restrooms, stretch their legs and replenish their reading material too. “We will stop at a library before they ask us to stop for a chocolate bar and a new book is often enough of a distraction.” It’s a win-win!

Stacey shared a great idea that has become a fun family tradition over the years. Each Spring break, they all head to the library with a “theme” in mind. Each person will pick an activity that they want to learn more about and take out a number of books including something for an experiment or art project. They do their own little deep-dive for the week off school, anything from needlepoint to gardening.

When asked about what she recommends as a ‘pro-tip’, she immediately said: “Use the holds!”. Keep an eye on the website for what is up and coming and get your name on that hold list right away! That way you always have something to look forward to. She also feels very passionate about their family eco-footprint. “The library has been the best resource for zero-waste entertainment! As a family we read so much, we have not only saved a lot of cash but also a lot of space.”

In contrast, our other Superuser was NOT a young library fan. A very scary twist of fate brought her through the library doors. A devastating fall from the top of a ladder on to the cement below left her living in a wheelchair for many years. She credits her home support worker for introducing her to the power of reading. One day she said “are you a reader?” and started bringing her the Little Red Harlequin books.  Looking back she sees that as a pivotal point in her healing. She had been struggling from severe short term memory loss, this meant simply-worded, romantic suspense fiction novels were best for her healing brain.

At first, the simple exercise of reading exhausted her. She managed to get through five lines. But she continued, stretching out her time each day. Her home support worker (now one of her best friends) describes her as a miracle. Turns out the quiet time, minimal stimulation and one-way communication of reading were exactly what the doctor ordered and she made incredible strides in her healing. To the point where she no longer requires home care and can get out of her wheelchair to go to – you guessed it – the library!

She now visits once a week, almost without fail “The library was a huge part of my healing- it was like food to me.” She credits the staff at the Parksville branch as well. “they are always so very helpful and understanding, I still have a hard time using technology and they are the first to offer to help look something up related to my health or to find something I need.”

And what has she learned through all of her experiences? “Just be happy with the way you are now- just like with anything the reading has been step-by-step and a part of the success. Just do it and don’t put pressure on yourself. It will come, I went from only reading five lines to over a thousand words! If I can do that, you can do anything.”