Providing food, teaching seniors TikTok part of Oakville Library’s evolving community outreach


Published March 2, 2022 at 3:26 pm

The Oakville Public Library's strategic plan will also includes expanding the food and pet shelves beyond the three current locations at the Central, Glen Abbey and Clearview. OPL PHOTO

From celebrating Indigenous culture to expanding food shelves and helping seniors with TikTok, the Oakville Public Library’s (OPL) vision ahead includes something for everyone.

The local public library laid out its new 2022-24 Strategic Plan to Oakville Town Council on Monday and its one, says Jeff Knoll, Chair of the OPL, that reflects the ongoing evolution of libraries.

“Gone are the days of it being simply a repository of books and magazines and newspapers,” said the Ward 5 Regional and Town Councillor. “It’s gone to the point that libraries are not just about consuming information, but about producing content.

“It’s about providing community services and activity to people within the community, so we’ve really scene the evolution of libraries.”

Knoll said they wanted to make sure the strategic plan for the next three years would carefully reflect the desires of the community, but also the evolution of library services.

Looking to get feedback from the community, they came up with a wide-reaching survey that included over 2,600 participants.

“We’re very grateful for that (feedback), because we really wanted to make sure we incorporated the public’s interests and dreams for their library system,” he said.

That feedback not only helped the OPL update its vision connecting people to what inspires them, but it was used to help them construct four strategic pillars (Expanding Our Reach, Promoting Digital Discovery, Investing in Staff, Enriching Lives And Building Health Communities).

In an effort to expand its reach, the public library will be creating a customer retention plan as well as introducing baby welcome kits in partnership with Halton Healthcare.

The new kits will be handed to every newborn in Oakville beginning in June of this year.

“Get them on early literacy right from the get-go,” said Tara Wong, Chief Executive Officer of the OPL.

They will also be expanding their OPL Express locations to other areas that are underserved by a community branch.

Current locations includes Queen Elizabeth Park, St. Luke’s Community Centre and the 16 Mile Sports Complex.

These locations, which are not staffed, make it easy to pick-up holds, return library items and browse collections.

A second pill is looking to Promote Digital Discovery by expanding digital literacy programs as well as helping seniors get involved in TikTok and other programs.

The will also be expanding Wi-Fi hotspot and connection programs as well as continuing to enhance the new website it launched last June.

“We knew the role that the library played in bridging the digital divide prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic definitely showed us where our gaps were,” said Wong.

A third pillar is investing in staff to ensure they deliver exception customer service.

“Make sure our staff are reading willing and able to answer those questions with the knowledge of the latest trends and technology,” said Wong.

The fourth and final pillar, Wong explained, is Enriching Lives and Building Health Communities.

“Which is essentially what libraries have been doing, but how do we bring that to the next level?,” said Wong.

The OPL will do that by encouraging the understanding of Truth and Reconciliation and celebrating Indigenous cultures through programs and events.

“This is the one I’m really excited and passionate about,” said Wong.

The library will also be looking to develop partnerships with community-based organizations to connect with vulnerable populations to impactful materials and services, engaging and celebrating the diverse cultures and languages of Oakville and continuing to work to reduce discrimination and misinformation.

The OPL will also be looking to expand the food and pet shelves beyond the three current locations at Central, Glen Abbey and Clearview.

That includes looking at the addition of freezers with frozen food.

The library hands out free food like fruits, vegetables, non-perishables and pet food to those in need. Food insecurity continues to be an issue in the community.

“They are extremely well used,” said Wong of the food shelves. “It is not unusual for us to refill our food shelf at Central multiple times a day.

“We know that we’re supporting between 30 and 60 families in the Oakville community who are facing extreme food poverty.”

The local public library is also looking at introducing an elder program, in partnership with the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre, later this year.

“You’ve made a great investment in the library. Thank you for always remembering us,” Knoll said to Council. “Library services are important and they will remain important.”



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