We have a great library system in Prince Edward Island. There are twenty-three busy libraries around the island, each offering a variety of services to clientele, such as craft classes, book clubs, baby story time, to name a few. Libraries offer computer accessibility to the community; audiobooks and dvds are available and e-books can be downloaded. In Summerside alone, almost 80% of the population holds library cards.
Our community is also fortunate that the Rotary Club sponsors the library and is building a new Community Learning Center which will house a new library as well. The new facility will be more than twice the size of the present library which is housed in the old train station in Summerside.
Book club kits are provided as a library service across the province. Each kit contains ten copies of a book and a study guide. One person, on behalf of the club, checks out the kit for the group. Each group has six weeks to read the book and meet for discussion. There are numerous book clubs around the island, with youth to seniors participating, some belonging to several clubs.
I became involved with book club through Seniors College the first month I arrived on Prince Edward Island. Taking courses was a great way to meet people and learn about the island from my classmates, so I joined the book club associated with the college. There is a thirty year age range among the seniors in the book club, bringing a wealth of life experience and knowledge to the group.
Always an avid reader, over the years I had reduced my reading to mystery novels, which suited my busy work life. Book club introduced me to a variety of genres I would not have read otherwise. Discussions were invigorating, each person bringing her own unique perspective to every book. Friendships formed around the pages.
Our group always takes a circuitous route through each book, sharing life experiences. current events and insights. However, we always come to an understanding of the book and help each other with difficult texts.
One great discovery via book club has been Canadian literature. Not having read much of it before, I've discovered enjoyment in the familiar settings and the Canadian multi-cultural experience, especially the writings of our indigenous people.
In book club this month, we are reading Station Eleven, a dystopian novel by Canadian author, Emily St. John Mandel. This book is not one I would have read before joining the book club. However, I hated for it to end!
Another great service provided by the library is the One Book One Island program. Every year, the organizers bring an author to the island to visit the main libraries in the three counties. We've had a graphic novelist, a short story writer and a mystery novelist, among others. Interacting with the authors is helpful to all readers and one's own writing process.
There are places in the world where libraries are closing due to lack of funding and/or usage. Such is not the case in Prince Edward Island. In fact, our libraries have a firm foothold in the twenty-first century. It will be interesting to see how they evolve in the years to come.