Literacy will not stop for COVID-19 in Burns Lake

Literacy will not stop for COVID-19 in Burns Lake

The yellow school bus running through the village every Monday to get to the Southside, loaded with books, games and snacks, is still working despite the COVID-19 troubles, albeit with some restrictions.

In 2009, Lakes Literacy procured an old yellow school bus and transformed it into a library on wheels. The bus was called W.O.W. i.e. Words on Wheels. “The reason this bus goes to the Southside, is to help with the transportation barrier,” said Jennifer Peterson, the Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator.

The W.O.W. bus is providing the same service that they were providing before the pandemic, with Mikel, the driver facilitator, driving down on Monday and making stops at Southside Health and Wellness Centre, Danskin and Southside Economic Development Association Building. The W.O.W. has however scaled back on some things like no more snacks, no refreshment and no socializing on the bus.

“So typically, a W.O.W. bus Monday service to the Southside, would have arts and crafts, and games and food, and people could come on board and they could hang out, have a cup of tea and have that type of experience where you are kind of connecting with people, looking at books and the kids have an area to play in the back of the W.O.W. bus – that service isn’t happening right now,” said Peterson.

The bus however, is still providing access to books, from their collection of donated books as well as through the Public Library.

With COVID-19 impacting everyone differently, the library staff has had to become quite innovative in thinking of ways to continue to provide service to the community in a safe and comfortable manner. The library closed its doors to public on March 18, 2020, in order to adhere to the social distancing guidelines. “We are a rural library and we do not have the capacity like our ‘big brothers and sisters’. Many of the large libraries are offering their services online and we are following their lead. However, in small communities like ours, few have access to high-speed internet and are unable to stream many of the resources. This is why the Curbside Service is so essential,” explained Monika Willner, Library Director of the Burns Lake Public Library.

However, not everyone can access even the curbside service, specifically the people from Southside, and that’s where W.O.W. comes into the picture. W.O.W. is still able to take books across from the library for the patrons that have ordered books with the public library.

“Not everybody over there has the ability to get into town. We don’t have bus transportation, we don’t have taxis, we don’t have anything like that so this brings the services to them, as long as they can get to one of the three locations,” said Peterson.

Under Peterson, W.O.W. is also collaborating with the library on the Garden Starter Project under which the library would be providing a package of various starter vegetable seeds and people can pick them up for free. People from the Southside who will call the library to put a hold on a package for them, will get the package delivered to them on the W.O.W. bus on every Monday till the stocks last.

“And we also partner with the LINK, so we are taking out food to the Southside community as well. The public over there is able to stop in and if they are looking for produce and what not, they are able to pick it up,” said Peterson.

With W.O.W. the lack of access to services is being addressed to some extent for the Southside community. There is in fact, a return service for the library books as well. People who want to return the library books, have to put them in a separate bin dedicated for library returns however, there are no rules or restrictions on the other books. “Our books are without rules I guess and you don’t have to pay anything. You don’t have to write anything down. If you return the books great, if you don’t that’s okay. If you bring back different books, that’s fine too,” informed Peterson.

Peterson also talked about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that is also still operational during these COVID times. The program is part of the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which was started by the famous country singer. It sends books to Petersen each month, based on the registered children from the community and bills her for it but the program is completely free for the families. In fact, on May 5th, the program will send its two thousand second book into the community.

“This May is when 133 children are getting the books and I billed $482 for those books. But 2002 books in our community since the start of this program in December 2018, that’s a huge win. It’s inspiring to know that there are so many families with little ones that are sitting around on the couch, tucked in with the books,” said Peterson.

To facilitate the continuity of the program, Peterson has had many donations over the past two years, including a $6000 pledge over three years by the Rotary Club and several private donations as well as. These donations are important for the program to continue because Peterson firmly believes that “there is nothing more important than having books at homes” especially in such difficult times and that too in a community where transportation is a big barrier and there isn’t even a bookstore.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

pinnacle pellet
Three injured at pellet plant fire

Pinnacle Pellet temporarily suspends operations

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read