October is Canadian Library Month, with the week beginning Oct. 18 designated as Ontario Public Library Week.
Debbie Krause, community engagement coordinator at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library, says the occasion is usually a time for customer appreciation events.
The usual coffee and doughnuts are out of the question under current COVID rules, but in honour of the special week, library staff are holding an open house this Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. to celebrate the reopening of the Makery, the library’s makerspace full of 3-D printers and other devices for members to use for their own creations.
IT staff and Makery assistant Christie Reganti is excited to welcome the public back into the expansive, well-outfitted room for the hands-on experience Thursday.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come in and use machines that they may not have access to in their homes,” Reganti told The Local Friday. “That’s really what the Makery is all about. It’s a space where people come in and let their creative minds wander.”
Reganti is also looking forward to welcoming more users into the makerspace for the library’s special programs, which have been running in limited form since September. A session for kids is held on the first Tuesday of each month.
The second Tuesday of the month is adult Makery night, where she fires up the 3-D printer or other equipment and works with the group to make a project together. These hands-on sessions are designed to allow participants to take something home with them at the end of the evening, while they learn how to operate the high-tech equipment for their next visit.
And the learning should happen faster than in the past.
“Our new 3-D printer is a lot more reliable than our (old) ones,” Reganti explained. “They kept messing up the prints, so we got a new one and it works really well. We’ve already printed a lot of things for the public during the lockdown for curbside pickup.”
The addition of a new glowforge machine to the Makery has Reganti imagining some new possibilities, too.
“It’s a laser cutter-slash-printer and it uses a laser to cut and engrave on wood,” Reganti said. “You can do glass etching, certain metals you can etch on, acrylics as well. Virtually anything, as long as it’s laser-compatible.”
At a recent session, Reganti worked with the participants to make tea light lanterns with the glowforge. Another session focused on using the cricut machine, a computer-controlled cutting machine used to cut paper, felt, vinyl, fabric, leather, and matboard. The kids cut out their own designs to use for pumpkin decorating, just in time for Halloween.
Also on Friday, three long-time library boosters gathered to discuss the library’s planned giving program.
Peter Gill and his wife have been supporters of the library since they moved to town 20 years ago. Now, thanks to the planned giving program, they will continue to contribute for years to come.
Gill met at the Anderson Lane location with friends and board members Daryl Novak (chair) and Dave Hunter (vice-chair) to discuss their decisions to name the library in their wills.
“We have supported various fundraisers that they’ve done,” Gill, a self-confessed mystery-lover, said of the library. “These two are both friends of mine and I got happily dragged into it.”
Both he and his wife Judy have named the library in their wills. “We’re both readers, we’re both supporters, and we’re delighted to support the library any way we can. This seemed like a good way. Hopefully they won’t get the money for a long time, but there you go,” Gill laughed.
Besides being the library board’s vice-chair, Hunter is also the chair of its planned giving committee. The board decided to use Public Library Week to launch its campaign.
“Planned giving bolsters several focus areas of the library by raising private funds,” Hunter says. The money ends up in the NOTL Public Library endowment fund. That was created to make sure we have library services for future generations.”
Hunter is quick to stress that planned giving is not about the here-and-now, but instead about some time down the road.
“The three of us have decided to make an impact not now, but in the future,” Hunter added. “That’s what planned giving is all about. That private support is needed. At some point you have to put your money where your mouth is. That’s what we decided to do.”
Novak, in his third year as chair of the library board, adds that the board does not manage the giving program. Instead, it works with the Niagara Community Foundation to manage donations.
“They manage the funds,” Novak explained. “What I did, I worked with the Niagara Community Foundation. My will says the balance of the estate goes to the Foundation, and I have an agreement with them about where the money would go. Nobody gets cash, they all get income.”
In his will, Novak has also designated posthumous gifts to some animal welfare organizations and a number of local arts groups, including the Shaw Festival.
Besides nailing down a specific amount, the planned giving program can include life insurance proceeds, publicly traded stocks and securities and assets from RRSPs.
“We want to take people through the thinking process,” Hunter said of the planned giving campaign. “I bet at some point someone is going to say to Cathy (Simpson, chief librarian) ‘what’s my money going to be used for?’ Well, that’s maybe 10 years down the road. What we can promise is that how we think about that is a reflection of the values I see embedded in the library and the community.”
Simpson added that the library is considering ways to recognize its donors moving forward.
“All donations matter, and we welcome all and we are grateful for them all,” Simpson said. “We want to rethink the whole levels and the plaques and all those things. We thank our donors and we will recognize them, as what we agree to with them and what they are comfortable with.”
Information about the NOTL Public Library’s planned giving program, and about services and equipment available in the Makery, can be found at