Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saved from the Fire

Last week we had a truly noteworthy event. We were given the go ahead to return to the inside of our fire damaged library. We had been waiting since the fire to go and salvage and take stock of the damage. Just last Wednesday, it was declared safe enough for us to go in. So here is the damage report and some pictures.

Our work room was a lot better than we expected. We were able to salvage some office supplies as well as some new library stock that had been waiting to be put on the shelves.  

We could view the library from the work room door and from the foyer. There were beams and rubble everywhere. We didn't go into the main library area because it was unsafe, but even if we had been able to get in there appeared to be nothing salvagable. Most of the shelves, and even our circulation desk were totally destroyed. There is one nonfiction bay visible through doors in the back of the library, and some still standing in the fiction section.  However all of these books would be severely fire damaged and/or wet and mouldy from exposure. Some of the items in the work room were mouldy but most were not too damaged as that area still has a roof over it..

We were heartened to see survivors, the big library teddies known as Monty and Blueberry. They were a bit singed but otherwise were ok.

On Friday we had a Christmas Storytime in the park. It was a huge hit, with about 70 kids in attendance. Mrs.Claus (aka Clare Stace) came and delighted children with her humor and storytelling. She illustration one story by using a piece of string, which she streched and folded into different shapes. One little girl shouted, "This is the best day ever." And it was. Even the library staff dressed in Christmas gear and everyone had a fun day. I will post some pictures of this storytime later this week, until then, keep smiling!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back to Basics, Continuing Library Service Without Walls

Things are looking up for us. We are starting to settle into a rhythm of working from the Grove library, who are so generous with their space and their time. Working from this space has allowed us to focus on continuing some of our most needed services.

Books on Wheels is back in business! This is the first time since the fire that we will be able to complete book delivery to the housebound seniors in our community.

Children's programs are running as well. Friday December 10th we have a special treat for the kids. A Christmas Storytime will be held in the Claremont Park starting at 10:30 am.

It feels so great to be able to continue providing these services to the community. We look forward to revitalizing our services more as the weeks progress.

The air has been abuzz this week with excitement over the old station master's house. This building is the one right outside the train station. Many council staff will share an office space there and we will have a customer service point for the library. We are thrilled to be able to move to this central point, and will keep updating on our progress with this.

We have also been busy manning the information desk at Claremont Quarter. If you want to talk to someone about council or library issues, the desk is downstairs between Solstice Sunglasses Boutique and KikiK. The info desk will be staffed every day this week between 9 and 4. You might even catch one of our library staff there.

I have been working on a special project myself. As the end of the year approaches, people begin to think about their New Year's Resolutions. I say, instead of making a resolution, make a commitment. In celebration of the coming "Year of Reading" I am committing to read one book a week, every week next year, and writing a blog about it. I am encouraging others to do the same. Think about the possibilities. Online book club anyone?

With all these fantastic projects, and more to come, we are filled with hope. Hope for a great year next year, in which we will accomplish great things.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Step by step...

These past few days we have been taking the first few baby steps to our recovery. We've had meeting after meeting and have been answering phone calls nonstop.

We have been working on dealing with the tradgedy on a team level. The loss of our library has effected us all differently, but together we are stronger. We talk about all the difficulties, but we also talk about the triumphs. Everyone got out safe, all those fire drills we did paid off. Now we will have an opportunity to rebuild a better, more modern, more technologically oriented library. Focusing on all these positives have helped us. Talking with the people of our community as much as possible has also helped. They feel the loss too.
Our focus the past few days has been keeping as many lines of communication open as possible. Our big event this week was the Claremont Carnival on Thursday. We had staff dressed up and marching in the parade and a good time was had by all. We had a street front booth organized through collaboration with the fantastic ladies of the Claremont Museum. They have been a great help to us this week.

Our booth was a fantastic chance to meet up with a few of our readers who were greatly affected the loss of the library. Many people wrote down touching tributes and comments. We distributed flyers and bookmarks with information about the 'Claremont Library Without Walls'.

The Big Guy in the Red Suit took some time out of his busy schedule to attend the claremont parade. Our of our library ladies rode in the sleigh as 'Santa's Helper'.

Saturday from 10 to 12 the council had a 'Morning Tea in the Park' for the community. Information about the rebuild and recovery of the entire Town of Claremont facilities was discussed. All of our library staff were in attendance and we were happy to meet up and chat with many of our borrowers, all whom are greatly feeling the loss of the library. Everyone was so supportive and very curious about what will happen next.
Today the council is setting up a kiosk in the Claremont Quarter to answer questions and provide basic customer service. The kiosk will be downstairs by the sunglasses hut. A library staff member will be at the booth from 11 to 2pm today. Don't worry if you miss us though. The kiosk will still be there for the next few days.

We have had a lot of generous offers of donations. As far as book donations go, please keep them for now as we have no place to put them. We will be working on a solution to this and will get back to you.

This week we will be working from the Grove Library. They have set aside a space for us and made us very welcome. We enjoyed meeting all the staff members there and look forward to working with them. The next step is to shape our vision for the future of the Claremont Library. Looks like next week will be full of brainstorming. Right now, everything is still in the beginning stages and we have no concrete answers on where we're going next, but we will update when we have more news.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rising from the Ashes

On Thursday November 18, 2010, the Town of Claremont Council building and the attached Claremont Library caught fire.

The next morning, staff rallied together around the empty husk of the great building, grief stricken but still determined to serve the community. That day the Claremont Library Without Walls was born.

The Claremont Library Without Walls concept is about continuing to serve the community, despite the lack of an actual physical library. We are concentrating on how our online resources can best be used, and how we can come to the people since the people can't come to us. We are dealing with the loss of our building, our books, our walls and the daily contact with our readers, but are spirits are high as we dream of the future. 

Working out of the Meals on Wheels building behind the park, we have spent the past few days devising ways to maintain as many of our services as possible. Here are some things we have come up with:
· All Claremont Library items will be accepted for return at Western Suburb libraries.
· All overdue fees and fines are frozen until further notice.
· You will be notified of reserved books that will be available for pickup at other western suburbs libraries.
· We would like to continue our Books on Wheels services, and although we are missing this week’s delivery, we will continue this service and are making it a priority.
· All the Western Suburb libraries have been very generous with offering to share their resources and space. We plan to do some work based from the Grove library in Peppermint Grove within the next few days.

The support and love we have experienced from the community is overwhelming. Thank you for caring.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the Claremont Christmas Carnival.

Please don't hesitate to post further comments below.