A new micro-library has been installed on the Piikani Nation. Residents will now be able to access books from a singular book locker. The library was made possible by the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative. This micro-library is part of a $31 million initiative from Ottawa to transform public spaces during the pandemic. Robin Hepher, the CEO of Chinook Arch Regional Library Systems, says this new book locker is a vital piece of literacy for the Piikani Nation.
“Basically there are two aspects to the service. One is the holds pickup service. Once you have a card you can go onto the Chinook Arch website and place a hold on any of the items at any of the participating Chinook Arch libraries. Which is almost 1 million items that people would have access to. We have delivery vans that will deliver those materials once a week to the book locker. Once it has been placed in the locker, you get either a text or email notification. Just go down and collect the item in the locker. Some of the lockers have a clear front so you can see which book is in there. Just put your card under the scanner and you can borrow that item. As soon as the locker opens and you take the item, it’s checked out automatically.”
This national project is being implemented by Community Foundations of Canada.
“We are proud to participate in the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative,” says Charleen Davidson, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. “This project is important because it supports access to books, which will result in increased opportunities for reading. We encourage the community to take full advantage of this book locker, and discover the many different worlds that exist in books.”
There has long been a need for library service on Piikani Nation. Lan Ngo, the Nurse Manager with Aakom-Kiyii Health Services says several options have been explored and 12 Free Little Libraries have been established. The need remained, however, for community access to a wide variety of books and other resources. “Literacy is essential to developing a strong sense of well-being and citizenship,” says Ngo. “Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier self-image. They become lifelong learners and sought-after employees. Reading aloud to children at an early age is the most effective way to help them expand their vocabulary and recognize written words. Reading also stimulates a child’s imagination and expands his or her understanding of the world.”
The Piikani Nation Chief and Council gave its full approval for the book locker project to proceed.
The Piikani Micro-Library was installed in mid-November and is located at 1605 Hwy 786, Brocket. The building has a sign that says Conference Centre and also houses the Canada Post office. Access is through the centre doors on the north side of the building.