Island libraries offer new toys and experiences in effort to reach clients old and new

Island libraries are expanding their collections — and working on rebranding.

'They are much more social hubs and community hubs now, places of interaction'

A young library patron in Montague, P.E.I., tries out one of the new ukuleles available to borrow. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC News )

Island libraries are expanding their collections — and working on rebranding.

This week a wide variety of non-traditional items became available to borrow: fitness kits for toddlers that include foam dice, a foam Frisbee, and sensory balls, and fitness kits for adults, that include a skipping rope, resistance band and yoga mat.

Also on offer are toys that help kids of all ages learn about coding, and ukuleles.

It's all part of an effort to change the way people view libraries, moving away from the image of a stuffy, solitary place where one might get shushed.

Grace Dawson, regional librarian with the P.E.I. Public Library Service, says the new offerings are intended to help kids and adults give new things a try, without the cost of purchasing these items. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"There's definitely been a shift in the last couple of years where libraries were traditionally repositories of books and knowledge," said Grace Dawson, a regional librarian with the P.E.I. Public Library Service.

"But they are much more social hubs and community hubs now, places of interaction, places of activity, and that's where I've seen the biggest rise, especially in P.E.I., having them as places that offer innovative programming."

Attracting new clients

She said over the past several years, libraries have started to add more new, non-traditional items that help people learn and play.

"For sure books are important and we'll always carry books and other textual items," said Dawson. "But seeing as people learn in different ways and interact with information in different ways, offering different types of resources is a great option as well."

Librarian Grace Dawson hopes the new items will invite people to get back into the habit of visiting their public library. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

The new offerings are available at all Island library locations, free of charge to anyone with a library card. Dawson hopes this will help bring new people into the library — and bring people back who haven't visited one in years, or even decades.

"It's nice to see that and reach those individuals so they get back into using their public library and see what a wide variety of resources they can access here."

More P.E.I. news