The year 2019 proved to finally be a return to normalcy for the staff of the Cariboo Regional District Library and their clientele.
After two straight years of being disrupted and impacted by wildfires and smoke, the CRD Library was finally able to breathe easy and right itself. Now with 2019 behind them, area librarian Anton Dounts is looking back on 2019 while preparing for 2020.
Dounts has held the position for the last four years, first as a temporary replacement but now, officially, as a full-time employee who is looking forward to working in the Cariboo for many more years to come. This past year, the main issues they had to deal with at the library were typical of businesses and organizations located in the downtown, he said, and mostly consisted of safety concerns related to loitering. A few simple measures, however, like removing a picnic table and removing other ‘hot spots’ Dounts said fixed the issue surprisingly well.
In more positive avenues, he said they introduced and implemented a few successful new library programs, like the popular Paws 4 Stories where they’ve had Karen Wright and her therapy dog Molly come in and spend some time with children, who get to cuddle her and read a book with her. Wright and Molly are certified through St. John Ambulance and Anton said he’s found it very pleasant and enjoyable to watch children read with a therapy dog in a nice environment.
“I’d say (2019) was pretty standard, I’d imagine, there were no major upsets, I’d say we were pretty steady. We had a pretty mild fire season compared to 2018 or 2017 when the library services were disrupted quite a bit so our circulation and attendance numbers also suffered as a result,” Dounts said.
In 2019 he said their circulation numbers ranged from anywhere between 7,000 to 10,00 to as high as 12,000 on a good month, including books, magazines and video materials. Dounts found it interesting that, when looking at the top 10 most circulated items of 2019, the most circulated item was a Japanese manga called Fullmetal Alchemist by a huge margin. A lot of audiobooks, children’s novels and DVDs also appeared on that list, he said, which is to be expected for a library these days. The most surprising item for him though was The Great Courses Plus which was a pleasant shock for him.
The top 10 most popular books of 2019 are as follows.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.
2. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles by CLAMP.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
4. I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems.
5. Great Ideas of Philosophy of the Great Courses Plus.
6. Practising Mindfulness by Mark Muesse.
7. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny.
8. Listen To My Trumpet! by Mo Willems.
9. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny.
10. Shugo Chara! by Peach-pit Group.
Meanwhile, the top 10 most circulated items of 2019 included:
1. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.
2. The Wire (season two).
3. Monarch of the Glen.
4. Heartland (season seven).
5. The Affair (season one).
6. Murdoch Mysteries (season one).
8. Wind River.
10. Heartland (season three).
Dounts himself meanwhile came up with a list of the most interesting books of 2019 he read or is planning on reading and they include a wide range of books on a variety of topics.
1. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny.
2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
3. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.
4. Inland by Tea Obreht.
5. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham, with the HBO miniseries Chernobyl advised to compliment it. Growing up in the then Soviet Union in the 80s, Dounts said he found this title particularly captivating and greatly recommends both the movie and the book.
6. She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
7. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
8. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
9. Trick Mirror: Reflection on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino.
10. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.
Dounts added that he noticed their magazine collection was particularly popular in 2019 and that evidence suggests that more and more people are discovering and making is of their graphic novel collection, especially teenagers, young adults and adults. On the DVD side of things, the library will be increasing its Blueray collection to “keep up with the developing technology” by purchasing more combo packs.
Looking to 2020, Dounts said in February the Paws 4 Stories program will start back up, depending on Wright’s availability and that he encourages people interested in taking part in it to register beforehand by giving the library a call. Lego Club will also be making a return, this time on Thursdays rather than Fridays, starting at 4:30 p.m. each time and running for an hour. Various family programs will be making a return a well, Dounts said, including Baby Time and Story Time and Family Film Matinee, with more information on each available online via the CRD Library’s Facebook page.
Programming aside, Dounts said the strategic plan for the year is still being worked on as they’re still going through the results of a survey they conducted in 2019 about ways to improve the library as a whole.
“There was just an innumerable amount of suggestions from the community. Obviously people wanted longer opening hours, a larger collection of books and film, a larger space for meetings or study spaces. We kind of have to judge what things we can do at the expense of some of the other things,” Dounts said.
Personally, Dounts would like to see more participation from the general community in library-based and led programs in 2020 and overall would like to see more people active within the community. Williams Lake has so many great non-profits and services in the downtown area and he’d just like to see them utilized more.
“2019 was pretty much getting back to normalcy whereas 2020, depending on how the year goes, we’ll keep busy regardless (of fire or flood),” Dounts said.