Why are the Olympics good for public libraries?
Canadian public library customers have a long and glorious tradition of watching the summer and winter Olympics at their neighborhood library. This tradition just may have started at the mighty Calgary Public Library during the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games . The whole city was Olympic crazy for the year leading up to their games and it just felt appropriate to stay connected during the games. CPL put televisions in their living rooms and Calgarians didn’t miss a second of the action. It was a huge hit with the community and with the staff.
The tradition continued this winter at the Guelph Public Library where all branches shared the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with their customers and we created a “pop up” portal of Olympic resources for our online customers. We watched folks stop for a few minutes to catch up on events, and others who specifically came to the library to sit in our living rooms and watch the events unfold. I asked these folks why they came to the library and was surprised by their comments. Some customers didn’t have a television at home, by choice or due to finances but the vast majority said they came to the library because it was more fun watching the Olympics with a group of people. We had our largest gatherings naturally for hockey games but also for curling, sliding, figure skating and boarding. Was it noisy? Yes a bit, but customers didn’t seem to mind and staff made a special effort to accommodate those looking for quiet space.
GPL turned on the Olympics in our living rooms and on our website for:
► Our customers because it’s an easy way to say we are all about access to information regardless of format; we are relevant and we are fun!
►The staff because it connects us directly to the community we serve and makes our work more interesting and engaging. And it will be the public library that will provide Guelphites with the opportunity to welcome home and meet their Olympic heroes.
The Olympics bring the entire community together and it’s a win win opportunity for Canadian public libraries.
We will have our televisions on in our library living rooms for the 2016 summer Olympics 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, August 5-21 2016 and we are already planning for the 2018 winter Olympics in PyeongChang South Korea, February 9-25 2018.
The Olympics are good for public libraries!
Kitty Pope #9 March 2014