Community members pleased to have space to browse and enjoy

By Brianna Welch

Winnipeg public libraries reopened to the public on September 21 after being closed for six months./BRIANNA WELCH

Winnipeg’s public libraries reopened on September 21, allowing physical access to their locations for the first time since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, the Manitoba Library Association recommended library doors close to the public but urged locations to continue internal operations if they could practice suitable safety measures.

Since reopening, the Millennium Library has also suspended its controversial front entrance security screening.

Darlene Dubeck — a 54-year-old retiree who’s an active book club member — said she’s very glad the libraries have reopened because it was challenging to find a book when she couldn’t browse collections.

Dubeck said she thinks libraries are important and essential to a healthy community because people are able to use libraries no matter their status in society.

“When the libraries were closed, some people could read ebooks, but many don’t have that option such as seniors, children, and people who don’t have appropriate devices,” said Dubeck.

Dubeck says during her childhood she went to the library with her mother and siblings to check out as many books as the library would allow.

“We didn’t have a lot of money back then, and that was the only way we had access to books, which helped us learn to read and develop a love for reading,” said Dubeck.

A library visitor browses the collections at the Millennium Library on Wednesday, October 7, after its reopening in late September./BRIANNE WELCH

Before the pandemic, Anna Gossen, a recent graduate from the Canadian Mennonite University, visited public libraries often while she was in school.

Gossen said she would stop by the library on a weekly basis in order to pick up and return books.

Sometimes she’d visit just to browse and enjoy the environment.

“I still love the feeling of being in a library,” she said.

Winnipeg’s public libraries offer a variety of content and services including books clubs, reading programs, music, and video games for major consoles.

Gossen said libraries are an important resource for communities. They offer access to computers, which are essential in today’s technologically-dependent world and are not always available at home.

“Most importantly, libraries give people the chance to read,” Gossen said. “Reading is incredibly valuable for people of all ages.”