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Books bounce back


In an age of cellphones, digital cameras, mp3 players and a seemingly endless list of video games, it's refreshing to know libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador aren't being forgotten. And three libraries in this region stand out among the rest. When most of Carmanville School Complex was destroyed by fire in May 2004, the town and surrounding communities also lost their own public library, which doubled as the school library, and its 18,000 titles.

In an age of cellphones, digital cameras, mp3 players and a seemingly endless list of video games, it's refreshing to know libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador aren't being forgotten.

And three libraries in this region stand out among the rest.

When most of Carmanville School Complex was destroyed by fire in May 2004, the town and surrounding communities also lost their own public library, which doubled as the school library, and its 18,000 titles.

Not to let a big fire keep some small communities down, the towns rebounded, the school rose from the ashes and, with it, came a brand a new and improved library with an adult reading section, couches and a coffee table, where visitors can read newspapers and magazines.

Just a few months after it reopened, the school was filled with 9,700 titles, or just over half of what was lost in the fire, with plans to add another 5,000 titles over the next five years.

Meanwhile, in Gander, staff at the public library are establishing a baby book club, of sorts, in the new year that will introduce infants to books, and programs and services at the library.

Once the program begins, babies will receive their first library cards, while parents will receive information about what the library has to offer.

The end goal is a new generation of children hooked on reading.

Finally, residents on the Eastport Peninsula have started their own library.

For three days a week, residents who call the peninsula home have a library of their own to visit. Run by volunteers, the growing library is fed by used books.

Local people have dropped by with old books collecting dust they have no need for anymore, and visitors from across the country have mailed some of their own old and new books.

And since it opened in September, the collection has grown to more than 4,000 titles.

These days, it sometimes seems like libraries are a thing of the past. It seems more people talk of buying books, browsing Web sites for new releases and checking newspapers for lists of best sellers.

But in Gander, Eastport, Carmanville, and the communities that surround them, it's nice to see libraries are not being replaced.

That's not to say other communities are making libraries a thing of the past. It's simply a message of three libraries, two of which were dealt a hard blow and bounced back, and another that moved forward with an idea to bring in infants as soon as possible.

In all three communities, it's the children who benefit the most. Students in and around Carmanville have their library back, young children in Gander get easy access to a valuable learning resource at an early age, and children on the Eastport Peninsula, who get a second library - aside from the one at their school - also get the opportunity to help run the library and learn another valuable life skill - volunteering.

So, while the tendency for some people may be to forget about libraries by buying their own books, reading them once and storing them away, luckily, not everyone has forgotten.

And most importantly, libraries haven't forgotten about them.

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