There is a new face at the Yorkton Public Library with the recent arrival of head librarian Ben Gosling.
Gosling was born in Britain, but his family moved to Canada when he was only four. He grew up in Ontario but said the position in Yorkton interested him after getting a taste of Saskatchewan in 2011 doing a contract project at the provincial Legislature.
“I really liked Saskatchewan from last summer. I had a really good time. I think it’s an interesting province,” he told Yorkton This Week.
In terms of Yorkton Gosling said the city appears to be growing too.
“It seems like it’s right on the cusp of being a bigger city,” he said.
As for the local library, Gosling said like most it is going through something of an evolution.
“My impression is libraries all over Canada and even North America are being forced into a different role,” he offered.
Gosling referred to something he saw recently on CBC television about the debate taking place over the New York Public Library.
“It’s pushing itself to be more of a community space,” he said, adding there are proponents of that effort, and those who are bucking it seeing libraries as book collections only.
There are those who suggest books, at least in paper form, will disappear, following a trend set by CDs and DVD’s and film cameras.
In some respects such changes are opportunities for libraries said Gosling.
For example with the demise of DVD rental stores in the city the public library has moved to fill the void.
“At the library here DVDs are a huge draw for users,” said Gosling.
And as for paper books, Gosling said they are likely to remain just as LPs have.
“I think there’ll always be a market for that, but it depends on the market size,” he said, adding he is pretty sure some people will always seek out traditional mediums.
Even if books go digital Gosling said libraries remain relevant, as they have already moved into lending ebooks.
Certainly the lending of books is central to a library being a library, said Gosling.
“That’s what attracted me to a library first,” he said. “… It is one place to trust you enough to lend you something, and to give you enough respect that’ll you’ll bring it back.”
While only in the city a few weeks Gosling said he is becoming familiar with local library users.
“It’s definitely a diverse group,” he said, noting people might be looking to learn about horses, or how to set up email accounts.
In that respect Gosling said it’s important to understand community needs, and to adapt the library services to meet those needs where possible.
“It’s trying to facilitate the needs of users,” he said. “… We’re a public service. We’re supposed to address needs, not dictate what those needs are.”
Gosling said to meet the broadest cross section of needs in a community a library needs to attract the broadest base of users possible. He said one of his immediate efforts is to connect with the community more. To that end he said the library has established a Twitter account, and is working to make its Facebook page more active, recognizing the importance of social media as an avenue to direct correspondence with the public.
“It’s meeting the community where the community is,” he said.
Gosling would also like to make the library more of a place for the community ‘to be’.
“I’d like to get more community events that represent the community,” he said, noting they already have groups such as the Boys and Girls Club, an anime club, and board game group, and Parkland Writer’s Alliance meeting at the library. “I’d like more of a diverse cross section of the community using the library.”
Gosling said the range of events the library could be involved in is large, citing for example taking on more of a role in the Yorkton Film Festival in the future, something he realized this year arriving just before the Festival.
“I’m pretty game to try whatever people want to do. It’s a public space,” he said.