Q&A with Bevonna Livingston, Library Manager, Saddle Hills County Municipal Library Board

Today’s municipal libraries have so much more to offer than they once did, within the province of Alberta. According to Alberta Municipal Affairs, Albertans need and request a broad range of library resources for their information, education and recreational needs and no single municipal library has the resources to meet their needs. The combined resource strength of all libraries in the province goes a long way toward meeting these needs.

We sat down with Bevonna Livingston, Library Manager at the Woking Municipal Library, to find out what this means for residents who possess a library card from any of the public libraries within the Central Peace.

Q: How are the Central Peace libraries connected?
A: We are all under the Peace Library System (PLS) umbrella and they have partnered with Northern Lights, Yellowhead and Marigold Library Systems. So we benefit from that.

What does that mean?
It basically opens us up to accessing items from libraries all over the province. So, you can virtually request an item from any library or go to any library.

What are libraries doing to stay viable in the digital world that we find ourselves in?
They’re going beyond books. There are so many resources online now that you can access through your library’s website that are free, if you have a library card. There is Lynda.com, which offers hundreds of free courses and training, and some are even certified; Overdrive, where you can borrow eBooks and audiobooks; Hoopla, which has TV series, music and movies, as well as audiobooks; RB Digital, which has hundreds of magazines and audiobooks. So, everything’s gone digital.

All those things I’ve mentioned you can download onto your phone or tablet and access from anywhere. There are also encyclopedias that are really cool because the verbiage is for each age group – same subject, same information, but suited for age group that is looking. All you have to do is go to any library’s website, click on eResources and you’ll find a long list of all the things we offer.
There’s Law Central and Canadian Lawyers, there are newspapers online from all over the world, Consumer Reports and Reader’s Digest. The list just goes on. We have access to Ancestry.ca.
However, that is only available in the library, so you can come in and search your ancestry on the public computer. There is also Pronunciator, which teaches languages and we’ve recently added on Transparent Language Online because it includes Indigenous languages, such as Cree, which can be found within RB Digital.

Can anything be downloaded, so to speak, to be accessible offline?
Yes, things like Lynda.com, Overdrive and RB Digital allow you to download and use offline.

How does it work when checking out eBooks, audiobooks and such?
Well, for example, with Overdrive you can have it set up to return in 1 week, 2 weeks or 3 weeks and then the item will automatically return itself. So, there’s never a concern that it’ll be overdue.

What if a patron is not certain how to navigate the eResources?
Well, they can certainly come into the library and ask the library manager for assistance. PLS staff are also available to libraries to have them come out and hold training sessions in the library, if there’s enough interest.

What else do the Central Peace libraries offer besides hard copy books, DVDs and online resources that help keep them an important institution within their communities?
Libraries are always actively looking for activities, workshops and events that are of interest to their patrons. Throughout the Central Peace, there have been many things brought into the communities by their respective libraries, such as Hula Hoop Circus in Savanna, Drumming Circle in Woking and monthly movies in Rycroft. The libraries also sometimes partner with other organizations like CPECC (Central Peace Early Childhood Coalition) or the local schools. So, while hard copy books are still very much utilized and are not, in my opinion, ever going to go away because there’s something personal about holding a book in your hand, public libraries are so much more than books and are very valuable to the communities they serve.

And, remember, everything they offer is free.