Nakusp’s library director can tell you exactly how good the town’s air quality is these days.
“It’s ‘2’ today, which is really low,” Claire Paradis said during a recent interview. “That’s good.”
Paradis can be confident since the library installed an air quality monitoring device on its building in downtown Nakusp a few weeks ago.
“We’re all about public service, and this is information, so it’s a perfect fit,” she says.
Paradis says the board decided to use funding earmarked for technical upgrades for the library computer system to purchase the $500 piece of equipment instead, given the poor air quality caused by forest fire smoke this summer. The plug-and-play device, powered by a company called Purple Air, uses a laser to test the air quality accurately, giving residents real-time local air quality data.
“We had originally earmarked the money for in-house software, but it was like ‘that doesn’t sound like a good investment at this point, and this sure seems like a good one,’” she says.
She says it’s proven a popular hit for local weather-watchers and people concerned about health impacts from poor air quality.
“People are thrilled. We put it up and people were on it immediately. I think they find it really useful,” she says. “People are really paying attention – I know I do every day.”
And while providing a service for weather junkies, it also allows the library to fulfill an important public duty, she says.
“Libraries are all about access to information, and being able to make good decisions. So this clearly fits into our mandate,” she told the Valley Voice. “We are making this information available to everybody everywhere, and it lets them make decisions.
“We had a volunteer who had to leave the area because she’s allergic to smoke. So people can decide, ‘Okay, maybe I won’t go for that long hike, or walk, or maybe I should stay inside or have to plan some time away.’”
It will also come in handy during the winter, she thinks, when temperature inversions and smoke from wood fireplaces can significantly lower the local air quality quickly.
You can view today’s air quality in Nakusp by visiting the library’s Facebook page, or going directly to https://bit.ly/3Eg4cEf.
Meanwhile, the library is gearing up for its big fall fundraising event. Pandemic concerns have hit the library’s team of volunteers, and she’d love to hear from anyone who might be able to help come out to support the event.
Paradis she’s hoping for clear air at the library’s annual book sale, being held on September 25.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice