SHEET HARBOUR – The Halifax Public Library system has 15 libraries and the Sheet Harbour Library was recognized as its library of the month in December.
Staffing received a letter from Mark Tambal, Halifax Library Association (HLA) executive, stating that special libraries around Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are featured and members receive the opportunity to virtually tour the spaces, collections and services they offer, while temporarily inaccessible to the public.
Tambal said, “HLA has decided that for the month of December we would like to feature one of Halifax Public Libraries’ rural branches … Sheet Harbour Public Library for this month in Halifax Library Association’s Facebook page. Since this is the only branch that remained open after the Nova Scotia government and Dr. Strang announced the closure of businesses including the majority of the library branches, we think that they can be a good point of interest for our members.”
“During the COVID-19 shutdown we were able to provide a curbside pickup option where borrowers called us. We discussed what they like to read and staff chose material that we hoped would be to their liking, then a pickup date and time was arranged,” explained Sheet Harbour branch Operations Supervisor Vickie Josey.
During the second closure due to COVID, the branch was able to remain open and serve the public as usual because they are located east of Porters Lake – the cut-off location in HRM on the Eastern Shore in the shutdown area.
“Our borrowers come from many areas – Musquodoboit Valley, Dartmouth, Halifax, Sherbrooke, New Glasgow,” said Josey. “When our borders were open – pre-COVID – we had many summer residents … some who stay at East River Campground … and from other provinces and countries who stay and use our branch.”
The Sheet Harbour branch has four staff members, as well as a community librarian and a branch manager, who visit as often as time allows.
The library system offers juvenile, young adult and adult books, large print books, magazines, books on CD, music CDs and DVDs. Prior to COVID, programs for adults and children were offered at the branch including a PS4 PlayStation. A photocopier with the ability to print in color and save documents to a USB drive; a fax machine; three iPads to use in-branch and five public computers – one with a scanner – are available on site.
“The library has a light therapy lamp that borrowers can come in and use, and there are also portable ones that you can borrow like a book,” added Josey.
The library website offers options and borrowers can request material online and have it delivered to their branch of choice.
“There are a number of programs available such as LIBBY – downloadable material to your device – like a laptop, phone or tablets; Hoopla for streaming movies; musical instruments for borrowing; an energy efficiency reader and a radon detector to borrow. Lynda.com is also available online for technology and business courses,” she said.
Josey has been with the Sheet Harbour Library for 38 years.
“I started with the library doing children's programming four hours a week and the rest is, as they say, history. I have been the branch operations supervisor for many years now.”
As the branch is relatively small and in a rural community, the staff gets to know their clients.
“We are able to assist them with their needs but also make suggestions for reading material we know they will like. We help with cashing in their Aeroplan miles to gift cards – things you might not want someone you don't know to do,” said Josey.
“We have also set up their new email with an address and password. Our community members trust and respect us and we love each and every one of them in return.”
Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal