How much have you saved borrowing books? P.E.I. libraries can tell you

·2 min read
Library users will now see what it would have cost to purchase their books on the bottom of their printout. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)
Library users will now see what it would have cost to purchase their books on the bottom of their printout. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I.'s library service has added an addition to the checkout receipts: your total savings by using the library instead of purchasing the book.

Systems Librarian Liam O'Hare says the feature has been in place for about a week.

"Public libraries are very good at showing how they contribute to Islanders' lives, you know, through things like promoting lifelong learning and being community centers," he said.

"I hope that this change really shows the value of library collections and services in a new way, maybe a slightly different way."

O'Hare said P.E.I. is not the only library to do this and that it highlights the accessibility of library services.

"I think the reality is that not everybody has the means or the inclination to buy all the books that they want to read or to purchase all the movies and TV shows that they want to watch," he said.

"That's really where libraries have a part to play by making those things available and maybe helping people to save a little bit in the process."

Numbers rising since pandemic drop

Staff said the library service had really slowed down during the pandemic, closing from mid-March, 2020, until they re-opened in June with curbside pickup. Eventually all 26 provincial Island libraries reopened their physical space in July.

Now O'Hare said they're back to 80 to 85 per cent of their pre-pandemic numbers.

"We've seen a drop in terms of the in-person borrowing," he said. "Things like books and DVDs and CDs and so on. We've seen obviously a big jump in online use, so people are borrowing e-books and audiobooks like you wouldn't believe."

Another change during the past year was the elimination of all late fees for overdue books.

The P.E.I. Public Library also eliminated their late fees during the pandemic, a change that is here to stay.
The P.E.I. Public Library also eliminated their late fees during the pandemic, a change that is here to stay.(Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

Although O'Hare said the numbers around that policy change can be hard to track because of the pandemic, it was another step toward making the library more accessible to everyone.

"There's really kind of a recognition that overdue charges really don't do what libraries thought they did, namely, get people to return things," he said.

"In a lot of cases it was actually a barrier to people using the library, because either they accrue so many fines that they couldn't use the library anymore or they would be embarrassed about coming to the library because of money that they owed."

The library has also launched an online magazine service, which includes back issues.

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