We Are Back!

Wow – January to October is a very long hiatus and I apologize for such a long delay in returning to our blog. Thank you to those of you emailed and said you were wondering where we were because it meant people were reading our blog – and that is encouraging.

We have come through our return to the new and improved Library. Because we are a close-knit staff we supported each other through the tragedy of losing a well loved member of the Library staff. Erin is still missed.

We put our best smiles on and pushed through our very successful Summer Reading Club. Many thanks go to Tracey, our new programs coordinator, she did a fabulous job. Once the summer activities were over, we were able to backtrack and look after some tasks that had to be shelved due to our delayed opening. It was probably almost the end of September before we felt we had really “caught up”.

One of the new things we are very excited about is a brand new collection called Story Sacks. These sacks are a marvelous tool that parents can use to enhance literacy activities in the home. Because these sacks are quite expensive and we want to teach parents how to use them, we are holding Story Sack training sessions. These sessions are held at no cost, and as soon as we have a few patrons who are requesting information we will set a date for another training session. Once you have attended a session you are given the permissions necessary to check the Story Sacks out for home use.

Story Sacks are filled with many interesting and fun activities that go beyond simply reading a book. The theme of each sack is centered around a storybook and then progresses from there. There is usually an audio CD to accompany the book, so children can enjoy listening to the stories with sound effects as they follow along with the book. There are often puppets included so they can perform the story with family members. You will also find a non-fiction book that will provide a learning opportunity. And then there are often games or other activities for fun and learning. If you are interested please come in and talk to us. Below is a picture showing the contents of one Story Sack.

I am so happy to be back having a conversation with you – and I look forward to many of our patrons making it a two-way conversation.

Itchy Bear Story Sack

A Work in Progress

When you start a long-term project you know what the desired end result is supposed to look like. If you start to bake a cake, the end result is going to be a lovely and delectible concoction designed for gastronomical delight.

If you begin to create or re-create a backyard, you first envision how the space is going to be used by your family. Then you decide what plants and bushes or trees you need to enhance the desired effect, and provide privacy and shade. Then you decide what your deck should look like, how big you want it and how it will be balanced by the remainder of the yard. Next steps involve making a budget and drawing your plans. Then you remove everything you don't want and things that will get in the way. At this stage, if someone were to visit, they would think your back yard was an absolute disaster. And they would be right. But you would calmly say, "Don't worry, this is just a work in progress. It is going to look great when it's done. Just wait and see!"

And right now the Library building is "a work in progress". Now - as the pictures show - it is dirty, messy, and dust is everywhere. Lumber is stacked here, drywall there, equipment and tools are all over the place. Construction workers are plastering, cutting wood for installation, putting up walls and partitions, finishing off electrical things and more. But as we walk through the building we can envision the plans overtop the mess we see and we are getting excited as we see the plans become reality, bit by bit.

The work in progress sometimes hits little snags and it requires a little extra time to do it right. And that is where we are at. A few little snags have been encountered, and it requires a bit of extra time. But things are still progressing well.

Yes - a work in progress. But the important word is - PROGRESS.


Packing is finished. Everything has been stored off site. Shelves have all been dismantled and are waiting to be reassembled.

A temporary office has been set up and we continue to receive new material. We are busy cataloguing and processing the newest books so they are ready for you to check out as soon as we re-open the doors. I bet you can hardly wait! We are also looking after other ongoing business such as keeping this blog updated.

As of today demolition is under way. The Head Librarian's office is bare and will be relocated. The circulation desk and staff workstations have been torn out. These will also be relocated and there will be a fresh new look - about time after 15 years of service. We will keep you up to speed with what is happening here on the blog. Enjoy the pictures below.

Jake Epp Library is Closed

It is a strange feeling to say that the Library doors are closed. The last time this occurred was in 1997. There are three of us on staff that were present when we closed the doors in the old library on May 7th, in preparation for the move to our present location. We opened the doors in the "new" library on June 16th, and held our Grand Opening on June 21st. That was 14 years ago.

For this closure, our last day was Saturday, January 7th and we started the packing process on January 9th. It is safe to say that we are in a state of organized confusion – with organization winning over confusion. The majority of our shelves are empty and the books have been packed. The movers are in the process of taking our full boxes, and furniture, to our storage location. It was a daunting task, but now that we are well past the half way mark, we are feeling quite pleased with how process is moving along.

What is next? Well, we finish the packing of the books of course, then the shelves are dismantled and stored. We will spend the last couple of days making sure all the supplies have been gathered up, things are removed from the walls, and then double check that we haven’t missed anything. We will be setting up a temporary office, where the Head and Assistant librarians will continue to receive and process books that have been pre-ordered. We have several year-end projects that will need to be completed as well. We can be reached at our normal phone number and email address.

The construction crew will be tearing down the wall between the existing building and the new expansion. In the existing space, there will be some demolition in preparation for renovations.

As soon as we have a solid date for opening, we will advertise on Steinbach-on-line, in The Carillon, on our website (www.jakeepplibrary.com), and on our local radio stations.

Empty Shelves

It is Friday, January 6th, as I write, and we will be open tomorrow as our last day before our expansion / renovation hiatus.

We were shocked to be told that we would have to vacate the building almost 3 months earlier than planned. Once we picked up our jaws from the floor, we were quite pleased, as it meant the project was ahead of schedule. Since we announced the early closure on December 15th, we have had a feeling like there is a tidal wave coming behind us, and we are racing to get everything in the boat so we can stay afloat! But Librarians are a hardy breed.

We invited, you, our patrons, to come in and check out all the books you would like to read until we re-open. You responded, and checked out bags and boxes of books. I think our record for a family is about 320 books. For all of you who are temporarily storing our books for us, so we don’t have to pack all 76,000, we say THANK YOU!!! We hope that you will enjoy them all, and not feel too dismayed that we have had to close our doors for a spell.

After January 7th, we have two weeks, during which we will pack all the remaining books, audio books, magazines, and everything else on our shelves. We will also be packing up all our supplies, computers, and…….well, EVERYTHING!

We look forward to seeing you all again, in our expanded and renovated space when construction is completed. At this point there is not a firm date, but we will advertise in The Carillon, on Steinbach-on-line, and on our webpage as soon as we have that information. We plan on having the book drop open during the time that we unpack, so you can return books prior to the actual open date.

Thank you so much for your understanding and for your assistance.

Merry Christmas to All and Happy New Year!

The Jake Epp Library must have the best patrons in library history. You are the reason our statistics have been the highest in Manitoba, per capita, for many years. And you have been so very supportive since we had to announce our temporary closure much earlier than anticipated, and with only three weeks notice. We are so appreciative of your kind words and your willingness to choose to be positive in the situation. We face a very daunting time ahead and it is made easier by your encouragement.

The Library staff would like to offer our best wishes to all our patrons. We hope that your Christmas will be very special and that time spent with family and friends will bring joy. Thank you for using the library, and for bringing us your requests and ideas. Thank you for all the compliments we receive and the appreciation you express – we treasure those words like gems.

2012 will be an exciting year at the library! When we open our doors we know you will be very pleased with the expanded space and facilities and with the new look of the renovations that will be completed. There will be room for our collection to grow, comfortable reading and study areas, a brand new Teen space, a very cool children’s area, better access to our public internet computers, and work areas for those who bring laptops and access our WiFi.

You can keep checking our web site (www.jakeepplibrary.com) for any updates regarding the opening date, and we will also advertise on the radio and in our local newspaper.

From all of us to all of you – Heartfelt wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Measuring Progress

The Library expansion is moving ahead at a great pace! Each day we look out the windows, eager to see what has been accomplished to date. With each new thing we see we are assured that things are progressing and bit by bit the expansion is taking shape. This week as we watched them begin working with the roof rafters we were excited! We know that that there are still months of work ahead and thousands of details to be worked out, but we can observe the progress. A few weeks ago as we watched the crew working in the crawl space and things related to the floor, it seemed like there was much doing but not so much being accomplished. However, not being builders, we didn’t understand how much work was required below to make sure the foundation and setup for the floor was secure.

Watching the foundation work reminded me that it is rather like raising children. As parents we want the best for our children and we earnestly desire that they will grow into their full potential and become responsible, productive and joyful adults. However, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. For example, when they are very little, we begin the process of teaching them how to be polite and we remind them over and over of the same things. Sometimes we despair and wonder if they are ever going to get it. But suddenly one day as your family visits friends, wonder of wonder, you hear your children say “yes please” and “thank you” and you are very gratified and amazed! But it happened because you took the time and put in all the work underneath and unseen in your home, building that foundation for your child to grow on.

So for all parents, don’t give up! In the end it will be worth it all. Since becoming a grandparent, I have begun to realize that I am now observing the next layer in the process. I now observe my children as parents, and watch as they begin to lay those same foundations for their child. The circle of life.

View from the top Rafters going up

The White Stuff Has Arrived

The arrival of snow brings a variety of emotions to many different people. Most kids are probably excited as they look forward to playing in the snow, building a snowman, going tobogganing, and having a snowball fight. There are some of us who look upon snow and start shivering in expectation of the long cold months ahead of us. There are many hardy individuals whose emotional state at the start of winter seems to be one of enjoyment because winter is part of the changing of seasons. They embrace it by looking forward to skiing, skating, snowmobiling and sleigh rides. In truth, these people are probably the wisest since they prefer to look at the positives and make plans to enjoy the winter season.

The arrival of snow, for most of us, also seems to kick start us into preparations for Christmas. We think about decorating our homes, gift shopping, meal planning, baking traditional Christmas treats, and planning family gatherings and activities for children during their school break.

From the library perspective, we will do our own decorating, and planning for the Christmas season. We order new Christmas books to add to our holiday offerings and we always have some displays of our Christmas items. Another thing that has become a tradition for the library staff is that of sharing what we have with those that have very little. For quite a number of years we have put out an envelope for the staff to place their donations. MCC has a number of suggestions for Christmas giving. It is surprising that such a small amount can achieve so much. Consider the following:

  • $11 can supply a child with books and equipment for a year of schooling
  • $15 provides medical care for a child in Ukraine for one month
  • $10 is the cost of a bag of cement to build a sand dam in Kenya. About 300 bags of cement are needed for a dam (if 10 friends each supply 3 bags you would build a dam)
  • $38 provides materials such as rain gutters to build home cistern systems in Brazil
  • $25 provides two rabbits to a Palestinian farmer
  • $35 is the cost of a female goat for a family in Kenya

These are the most basic of needs that can be provided to improve daily life for a family.

I am not doing a commercial for MCC, there are other ways in which we can share the wealth we have in Canada with people who are trying to exist with almost nothing. Locally, we can all participate in the Community Christmas Hamper program. Surely Christmas, a time when we focus on giving from the heart, is the right time to look beyond our family borders, and teach our children about generosity to those in need – even if it might mean a small amount of sacrifice in what we receive. The joy of giving seems to have lost its true meaning as merchandisers have twisted it into a message that implies giving the right kind of gift will buy us approval from those we choose to gift.

Perhaps this year we can start a new tradition that arrives with the first snowfall – the tradition to plan what we can share that will truly bring something of lasting value to someone who may be very short on hope.

Foundation Work

The Library expansion is moving along in a very timely manner - in fact, we are ahead of schedule at the moment! That is always a wonderful thing to hear.

About the Authors

Hi - my name is Carolyn Graham and I am the Head Librarian and I love my job! One of the best parts of my job is that I am the first one to see all the beautiful new books as they arrive. I have always loved to read and my favorite way to relax is with a good book. I strongly believe that having good reading skills is an integral part of all learning. Being able to share good books and authors that I have enjoyed is great fun. Feel free to come and ask for suggestions.

Hi - I’m Aubrey Walker, Assistant Librarian at the Jake Epp Library. I’m a librarian and coffee guzzler by day, a reader and tea sipper by night. Reading and writing (and talking endlessly about both) are passions of mine, so I’m rather lucky to have a job where those things are relevant and important. I’m also the voice behind our Facebook page, and I love connecting with people about books both online and off.

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