To showcase the interesting and important work being done by libraries across the province, MLA interviews one library worker each month about the unique work they do in order to deliver library services to Manitobans.
This month we’ve talked with Krista Law, Library Administrator from Lakeland Regional Library. In addition to serving Killarny and Cartwright, Krista is a volunteer with MLA’s Prison Libraries Committee, and can be seen below with her new best friend Bindi being held by Alex Froese of the Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program (Krista is sadly not the one holding the owl).
Can you tell us a bit about your library system or branch? Is there anything unique or unusual about it?
Our library system consists of two branches, Killarney and Cartwright. We’re in southwestern Manitoba about two and a half hours from Winnipeg and an hour from Brandon. Killarney is our main branch and administrative hub. Our municipalities border some RMs that don’t have library systems, so we do have a few non-resident members as well. We serve around 4800 people between the two branches, and we were one of the areas that saw a slight increase in population with the last census. We are fortunate to have very supportive municipalities as well as community foundations. These small communities really appreciate their libraries, and we are very grateful and humbled to serve them.
I came to the library world in a fairly roundabout way. I started my career in book selling for various bookstores and for the CD Plus music chain where I was their book buyer (remember music stores?). I then worked in social service and non-profit administration for a few years at a couple different places. When I decided to move to the Cartwright area from Winnipeg to be closer to family, I really wondered what kind of job I might do. It turns out that the library is a perfect fit combining my book industry knowledge with social services.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about your library?
I think people are coming around to understanding that libraries are more than books. We provide so much community support in the form of programming, casual IT supports, and a public space where anyone can come regardless of who they are and not spend a dime. At our library I try really hard to make sure everything we offer is free. If I can find funding to offer a program at no cost, that is my ideal. We do have a seriously excellent used book sale in our basement, but even that is the best deal in town. We want everyone to feel welcome here and get exactly what they need out of the space.
I also volunteer with the MLA’s Prison Libraries Committee. Because I’m not in Winnipeg, I monitor the donation email address remotely. The PLC is a project I really believe in, so supporting them in the small way I can is really important to me. Access to books and information should be for all, and the Prison Libraries Committee does some really amazing work with incarcerated folks around the province. Making my library a welcoming space, plus helping out with the PLC are the best ways I can facilitate this. Small plug time, if you are interested in the PLC but don’t live near Winnipeg there are still lots of volunteer opportunities that can be done remotely.
What is something happening at your library that you’re excited about?
We partnered with the Services for Seniors group here to fund and buy some new electronics. We bought some Victor Readers, Envoy Connects and iPad minis that I’ve set up as eReaders. The new program is all about accessibility. We have a lot of older patrons who need larger print than even large print books offer, or who are transitioning to audio books. We wanted to ensure we could help folks with these transitions by having devices to lend out. We also got radon detectors last year and a new projector and screen people can borrow at no cost. Broadening what we have available to borrow is important to us. In a small town especially, I think it’s important to offer as much as we can.
We are also about to do a renovation at our Cartwright Branch. This little branch is on an older building that has not seen much love in a long time. We’re doing some cosmetic stuff, but we are also improving accessibility with a new public washroom and new doors. We’re just starting on this, but it’s pretty exciting.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing?
Our biggest challenge at this point is space. Our Killarney branch is just too small for us to offer everything we’d like to. We have increased programming in the last few years, but struggle with our space. We have had to turn down partnerships because of lack of space. We have maxed out our shelf space even though I love weeding. We have started talking about a new space in Killarney and are planning a feasibility assessment to see if there is community support for this. We feel that there is, and we’re excited to see if it’s a possibility.
What are you reading/watching/playing right now?
I have a half hour drive each way to work, something I actually love when it’s not icy. I listen to a LOT of podcasts and audio books on my drive. I have really fallen in love with the audio memoir read by the author. Right now I’m listening to Eat a Peach by David Chang which compliments my deep love of TV about food and cooking. Also, if you are not listening to the Handsome Podcast you are missing out. As for reading with my eyes, I just finished Moon of the Turning Leaves and cannot recommend it and its predecessor Moon of the Crusted Snow enough.
We’re always looking for more library workers to feature each month! Are you doing something interesting at your library that you want to share, or you know someone in the province that is? Reach out to us at email@example.com.