Lincoln, Pelham library merger has brought expanded programming, opportunities

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Since the public libraries in Lincoln and Pelham joined forces and started operating as one system, the public has been enjoying a jump in the number of programs and resources offered.

“The response from the public is that everything is going very smoothly, with no hiccups from when we switch,” said Amy Guilmette, director of Customer Experience at the Lincoln Pelham Public Library. “They get all the same services, if not more.”

In April 2022, the library began sharing staffing and resources between the two municipalities, operating in Beamsville at the Fleming Center and Vineland. Pelham also has two branches: Fonthill and Fenwick.

An expansion of programming options and a growth in use by patrons of different communities between the two locations has been possible since amalgamation, said Guilmette.

“The public is starting to see that there are some increased opportunities that they can participate in as well,” Guilmette said. “We’ve also been able to expand our capacity in regard to the types of programming we’re offering.”

According to the library’s 2022 report, 880 programs were offered, with 26,903 attendees.

Guilmette explained that hiring for new positions, such as fund development co-ordinator, has been possible due to the amalgamation, which will help raise funds for two upcoming capital projects this year.

The projects include the replacement of the building in Vineland and a renovation of the building in Fonthill. “We wouldn’t have been able to hire in a smaller library system,” Guilmette said. “We didn’t have access to that kind of talent or expertise.”

Even though everything seems to be running smoothly now, Guilmette said a lot of work took place to catch up with finances and merging catalogs.

“So, it’s a work in progress, but it’s exciting,” she said.

Last year, 2,155 people signed up for a library card and 287,378 physical items were borrowed.

The finishing touches for summer’s programming and material are almost done, and they should be announced to the public at the beginning of June, said Susan DiBattista, director of community engagement at the Lincoln and Pelham Public Libraries.

Some of the new options for the most anticipated season of the year include summer reading clubs for kids, teens and adults, where the public can register for prizes and other draws.

“For the Vineland Library, we have vegetable gardens and a greenhouse. Last summer, we were able to actually do some programming for kids surrounding food safety and gardening environment. And this summer, Pelham has a small garden as well,” DiBattista said.

The community greenhouse was inaugurated last year at the Rittenhouse branch with an Earth Day celebration.

Makerspace drop-in programs will also be coming to Lincoln this summer, funded by the Wise Guys Charity Fund, with $20,503 toward equipment in Beamsville and Wi-Fi hot spots.

Along with a fair amount of outreach to bring more people to the library, DiBattista is thrilled with the reception of the community over the amalgamated library system.

“We’re really looking forward to being able to provide a lot of great activities for folks this summer to create,” DiBattista said.

Some of the 2022 highlights of the library merger include: the elimination of fines to remove barriers for all and increase access; LPPL branches hanging red dresses on May 5 to bring awareness to Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (2SMMIWG); Truth and Reconciliation Day was marked by art workshops and the announcement of the addition of snowshoes; new C-pens, and CO2 monitors.

Beatriz Baleeiro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

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