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Chinook Arch brings library service to Piikani Nation

Piikani Nation residents  will soon enjoy library service in the form of a newly installed book locker.

The Piikani Micro-Library is an automated book lending service that is installed and maintained by Chinook Arch Regional Library System.

Using your valid Chinook Arch card, you can borrow books using the “browse and borrow” feature, or have your library holds delivered there. 

This addition to Piikani Nation was made possible through the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative, a $31-million investment from the government of Canada to transform public spaces in response to COVID-19.

This national project is being implemented by Community Foundations of Canada.

“This project is important because it supports access to books, which will result in increased opportunities for reading,” said Charleen Davidson, executive director of the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta. “We encourage the community to take full advantage of this book locker, and discover the many different worlds that exist in books.”

There has long been a need for library service on Piikani Nation, as evidenced through the work of Lan Ngo, the nurse manager with Aakom-Kiyii Health Services.

Several options have been explored and 12 Free Little Libraries have been established.

The need remained, however, for community access to a wide variety of books and other resources.

Chinook Arch Regional Library System established the Piikani Micro-Library at Brocket.

“Literacy is essential to developing a strong sense of well-being and citizenship,” Ngo said. “Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier self-image. They become life-long learners and sought-after employees.”

“Reading aloud to children at an early age is the most effective way to help them expand their vocabulary and recognize written words. Reading also stimulates a child’s imagination and expands his or her understanding of the world.” 

As the manager of partnerships and community development at Chinook Arch, Lisa Weekes is always looking for ways to broaden Chinook Arch’s services, particularly to under-served communities

Weekes happened to be looking for a contact to discuss the possibility of a micro-library being placed on Piikani Nation and was given Ngo’s information.

“Connecting with communities is what drives our regional library system,” Weekes said. ”This is a key project for Chinook Arch because the book locker is an innovative first step in providing community library service on the Piikani Nation.”

Piikani Nation Chief and Council gave approval for the book locker project to proceed.

“This will provide the people of Piikani Nation easier access to books and other resources, rather than traveling outside of the community,” Ngo said. “Often traveling to a surrounding community is a barrier. Removing this barrier evens the playing field for the children and adults that call Piikani Nation home.”

The artwork for the book locker was designed by Kristy North Peigan, a freelance Piikani artist who resides in Calgary.

The Piikani Micro-Library was installed in mid-November and is at 1605 Highway 786, Brocket.

The building has a sign that says Conference Centre and also houses the Canada Post office. Access is through the centre doors on the north side of the building.

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