There was no shortage of things to see and do at the Moose Jaw Public Library over the past year. 

Library board chair Jaimie Atkins presented the 2023 annual report to Moose Jaw City Council on Monday evening. 

The library held everything from early literacy programs for children to resources for seniors. This included book clubs, story times, youth programs, makerspaces and Magic: The Gathering meet ups. 

Last year kicked off with the Regina Symphony Orchestra giving a free concert to 150 people in attendance. The library also introduced a new chess club for chess enthusiasts of all ages free of charge. 

In April of 2023, the library teamed up with Journey to Hope, the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre and Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association to deliver a collaborative community conversation looking at the root causes of systemic racism and explored solutions to the challenges our most marginalized face. 

The library and the Moose Jaw Literacy Network partnered last May to launch the first ever Books and Bikes event that included a bike parade and story time in the park. The event helped encourage physical activity in Crescent Park along with literacy. 

In the spring, the Moose Jaw Public Library were recipients of a $50,000 STEAM youth initiative grant from the Canadian Space Agency. With the grant, the summer reading club centered around space and science.  

The grant also allowed the library to hire two summer students who visited the city’s Parks Program with the Canadian Space Agency’s Young Astronaut curriculum. They presented to 572 children attending the Parks Program over the summer. 

“We love it when people visit the library building. However, we recognize that not every child has caregivers who can bring them (to the library). So, we are very proud to bring out science and literacy-based programs to more kids through partnerships like this one with the City of Moose Jaw’s Parks Program,” Atkins said. 

The grant also allowed the library to purchase new laptops, telescopes and robotics equipment. The telescopes are now available to be checked out with your library card. 

The library offered its Story Time in the Park over the summer with stories and games on the front lawn of the library to 443 attendees. 

Last November, the library took part in a North America-wide library initiative for Climate Action Week. The highlight was guest speaker David Sauchyn, Director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative, who spoke about what farmers can do to ensure they remain resilient during drought and changing climate conditions. 

Last year, the library underwent a bit of a rebrand as the board wrapped up its strategic plan. A “brand playbook” was developed along with a new logo and a new website was designed. 

"Our aim with the brand playbook, new logo, and website, was to increase customer satisfaction, improve our communication with the community and improve our capacity as library workers and board members to tell a compelling story about the library,” Atkins said. 

The library staff dug deep into reviewing the library’s collection and equipment last year. The first inventory of book and audio/visual collections was done since at least 2012. The team worked to ensure a clutter-free environment to make new use of space where possible. For example, the library downsized an extensive reference collection last year to make space to partner with the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery for a public display of their collections. 

With help from the Friends of the Library, new audio/visual equipment was installed in the theatre to enhance movie night experiences. 

Atkins said there is still a lot of work left to be done to freshen up the library. She said residents can join the conversation through a survey on the library’s website related to the library’s physical space and services. 

Statistically, the library presented 287 kids programs last year with 7,259 attendees and hosted 311 programs for adults and all ages with 2,240 participants. 

Total circulation increased 8.3 per cent with 327,196 items checked out. The children’s collection circulation increased 11 per cent compared to 2019. Internet use was up 14 per cent over 2022 and the visitor count was up 36 per cent over 2022. 

"Our library is probably one of the busiest assets we have in our city and we certainly saw that over COVID and the digital resources that we have are second to none,” remarked Coun. Crystal Froese. 

Cardholders grew by 2.8 per cent to 15,989 members and 8,896 items were delivered to patrons who are unable to visit the library. 

You can find out more about the Moose Jaw Public Library’s programs on its website