When I first arrived in Summerland a few years ago, the first thing I did was make a bee line for the library. I did this partially because I needed a quiet place to work until we got settled into our house, but also because I’m drawn to libraries and always have been.
It probably has a lot to do with why I became a writer in the first place.
The Summerland library won me over immediately.
Partially because I was impressed by what I saw—the selection of books, while not huge, was excellent—but also because it reminded me a lot of the library in the little town of Gore Bay, where I grew up in Ontario.
It was a great little library filled with helpful people and was full of not only the books you’d expect to find, best sellers and the like, but lots of books you’d never expect to find, those hidden gems that makes libraries truly wonderful places — it didn’t hurt that one of my own books was in the stacks as well, something I’d never had the pleasure of seeing before.
Not only do libraries do an excellent job of inspiring those who are looking for something different and educating those who are looking for a bit more knowledge, they’re also great at bringing communities together.
This past Saturday, Sept. 26, was the last day the Summerland library was open in its old location.
After they closed the doors for the last time, the most amazing thing happened. People from the community descended on the library and organized themselves in a line of people from the old location to the new one to form what they were calling a “Paperback brigade.”
Box after box filled with books made its way down the line of people, moving effortlessly from their old home to the new one.
The pictures I saw of the event were, to say the least, just great. I wish I had been able to see it in person, as it must have been quite an impressive sight to behold.
In an era when people are bemoaning the ever-increasing reach of technology into the realm of traditional media like books and magazines, and at a time when more and more people are slowly digitizing their collections to help cut down on the amount of space their own personal libraries take up, the people of Summerland should be commended for going out there and helping move so many boxes of books the way they did.
I think it speaks volumes not only to the impact the Summerland library has had on the community, but also to the importance of books.
The new branch of the Summerland library opens on Oct. 3 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and refreshments afterwards.
I can’t wait to explore the new experiences the new branch has to offer.
Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician.