Building community connections
Through Information Oakville, the library provides information on a range of government and community resources and services available to Oakville residents. Information Oakville is the lead agency of the Halton Information Providers (HIP), who are responsible for maintaining the Halton Community Services Directory (HCSD).
OPL x The Lighthouse for Grieving Children for Children's Grief Awareness Month in November
In November, OPL partnered with The Lighthouse for Grieving Children to feature a special edition of our StoryWalks, featuring the book, “He’ll Always be my Dad” by Chrissy Lilly. The book shares the story of two children who lost their father. November is recognized as Children's Grief Awareness Month and the Tannery Park spire was lit up all month to raise awareness.
OPL’s Food Shelves adds pet food options
In partnership with the Oakville Milton Humane Society (OMHS), OPL’s Community Food Shelves expanded its offerings with free pet food. Due to the many challenges being faced during the pandemic, and the overwhelming responsibilities of taking care of pets, providing the community with access to pet food was in support of trying to keep pets and families together wherever possible. OPL continues to offer dog and cat food, as well as cat litter, through the Food Shelves.
OPL’s Community Food Shelves is a partnership with Food for Life Canada, and are available at three OPL branches, on a take-what-you-need basis. Selection and quantity of items available varies, based on donations received from the public and weekly Food for Life deliveries. When items are available, shelves are stocked daily with items such as fruits, vegetables, breads, baked goods, non-perishable food, pet food and occasional hygiene items. In 2021, through Food for Life deliveries alone, OPL’s Food Shelves provided over 30,000 lbs of food to our community’s most vulnerable residents.
Thank you to our Donors!
We are grateful for the empathy, compassion and generosity of our donors who showed OPL their library love. Every gift to OPL makes an immediate and meaningful difference in people’s lives, ensuring that those in the community are able to stay connected and engaged. Donations give OPL the ability to be innovative and adapt our services to accommodate our growing and evolving Oakville community. This year we expanded our contactless services so the community could safely access OPL public spaces and enjoy books, movies, music and all the things they love about OPL. Our donors are a big part of the progress we’re making as we welcomed the community back to our branches. Together, with the help of our generous donors, we enriched, improved and strengthened our community as we helped them to discover, learn and connect.
Grab and Go – OPL launched and continues to sustain this new service offering: loanable mystery book and DVD bags with over 15 categories curated by library staff. Launched in October 2020, demand for this service increased by 29% in 2021, and donations helped give us the ability to continue to offer this service and address demand.
Library Takeout – A contactless hold pickup service for library materials, developed in May 2020 in response to pandemic restrictions. This service continues to be available because of donor generosity.
Early Literacy Programs – Because of the commitments of our donors, we continued to increase early literacy by pivoting many of our popular Babytime and Family Storytime, virtually. In spring-summer 2021, we offered a new outdoor version of a special story/activity time called Morning Movers, aimed to provide caregivers and young children a welcoming and familiar experience in the safest way possible.
Digital Materials – Donor gifts allowed us to expand our digital offerings, giving all members of our community, in particular, isolated seniors, the ability to remain connected by accessing a wide variety of virtual eBooks and eAudiobooks.
OPL Connection Kits – To support older adults in isolation, OPL offered a bundle of tablets and Wi-Fi hotspots that could be borrowed from the library. The Kits provided accessible library resources, communication tools and internet access, and closed a key gap in the continually growing digital divide; especially access to technology for those most in need. Donor support made an immediate and meaningful difference in people’s lives, ensuring that those in the community were able to stay connected and engaged.
Friends of the Oakville Public Library – Reimagined in 2021
In late 2021, the Friends of the Oakville Public Library (FOL) reimagined their committee and restarted their Friendly Finds program, a popular way to purchase gently loved books at designated Friendly Finds sections located at our branches and select community centres. Gently-used books and audio-visual materials for folks of all ages are available to purchase and enjoy by making a donation on the spot using cash or tiptap. All donations go towards supporting library programs and services.
The new committee also started planning to relaunch book sales where thousands of donated titles spanning all genres are offered for purchase. These sales, run entirely by volunteers, have generated thousands of dollars that have supported numerous library programs and services. It’s very gratifying to see their hard work come together, for the community come back out and support OPL and to be able to welcome volunteers back in person again.
Diversity in our community: Spark Circle Art Sale
Thanks to our Spark Circle friends who adapted to the pandemic in 2020 and shifted their Annual Spark Circle Art Sale to a virtual format and raised funds to expand the Chinese language collection. In 2021, they once again held a successful virtual sale which made it possible for the library to expand our Chinese language collection and for children, teens and adults to enjoy our multi-lingual collections. Since 2018, the annual art sale, which features artwork from local youth, the group has raised over $10,000 and added 500 new Chinese language children’s books to the library.
OPL Seed Library
The OPL Seed Library was established in 2017 and continues to operate because of generous donations made by avid Oakville Public Library supporters, Richard and Barbara Birkett. We are grateful for their commitment to building and strengthening a culture of sharing and sustainability within the Oakville community
Thanks to the Birkett Family, our OPL seed library keeps on growing! Since the program start in 2017, we’re distributed thousands of seed packets to the Oakville community.
We are also grateful to partners from OakPark Neighbourhood Centre, Film.ca Cinemas, Oakville Green, and Ball Seed Co. and local community growers who provided seeds and distribution points.
In March 2021, the program expanded to include early grab and go seed kits, which provided a selection of seeds, peat pots, soil and advice on growing early-start seeds. Thanks to our partners Miinikaan Innovation and Design, we delivered live virtual gardening programs to the community.
Gardeners of all ages “borrowed” over 1,835 seed packages from the library in 2021 for their spring plantings. The pickup program was so popular that locations had to be replenished many times! At the end of the growing season, they will share their harvested seeds by returning a portion back to the seed library.
Feedback from the virtual sessions:
I loved the presenter’s personalities, they were very knowledgeable and easy to understand. Great and very useful information presented.
That how in indigenous culture plants are respected, which is similar to my culture back home.
The OPL Seed Library continues to run on support with donated seeds from Ball Seed, a Chicago-based company, and the Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society.