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The era of cards has arrived at Mattawa’s library

A new system, more books, and online services all part of library’s upgrades
Mattawa Library Card~supplied ~April 6 2022~cropped
Clear some space in your wallet, because library cards have arrived in Mattawa / Photo supplied

Mattawa’s library is going through some changes, the most notable may be the arrival of new library cards for patrons. Gabrielle Lahaie is the library’s CEO, and since taking the position this past September, has been working hard to usher the library “into the modern century.”

So, what did a Mattawa book lover do before this new era? How did one check out the latest title on horticulture or renew that well-thumbed copy of War and Peace without a library card?

Mattawa’s library is housed within the F.J. McElligott Secondary School, and until a few days ago, have used the school board’s internal library system. When books were checked out, staff would input the patron’s name and number for their internal records and remove the paper slip from the envelope affixed to the book’s back inner cover (remember those?) and write down the date to remind the patron of when the material was due.

Although very grateful for the use of the system, Lahaie mentioned it was time to move on and provide a new system for patrons. The new system is called JASI, which stands for the Joint Automated Server Initiative.

This system, promoted by the Ontario Library Service, “is pretty much used across every public library in Northern Ontario,” she said. The system will help library staff “track everything a little bit better,” and once the system is up and running, “patrons can view our collection online.”

“And we now have library cards.”

Part of getting things up and running is adding the library’s entire collection into the system, one item at a time. Staff will scan the barcode of each book, enter the ISBN, then label it with a call number before returning it to the stacks.

See: Mattawa library is unleashing the dragons, prepare your dice

And there are more books than ever to scan. Lahaie mentioned they recently received a large donation from the Bradford West Gwillimbury library that added about 400 titles to the shelf. Already, the library has 11,000 English language books and around 700 in French.

Plus, the library recently acquired around 4,000 new books for the collection, so staff will be putting that scanning machine to use in the upcoming months. They hope to have all titles catalogued by mid-summer, with a website updated within a couple of months.

The new additions are part of Lahaie’s goal to revitalize the stacks with more modern selections that are more inclusive and reflect the interests of diverse readers. Overall, the goal of these upgrades is to make the library “as accessible as possible” to all Mattawa residents.

Just don’t forget your library card.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.