Ella Shatley, 5, learns how to plant and take care of a bean sprout at the NOTL Public Library pop-up.Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 23, 2022 at 10:54

By Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A library isn’t just a place where you can borrow a book.

And the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library is proving the sentiment as its pop-up libraries become increasingly popular spots for families and children to have fun together.

“We are bringing a mobile library as well as activities and games, story time and all that stuff to a bunch of different locations,” said library employee Kasia Dupuis.

“It’s a great way to outreach for the summer and get people to come and see us again, now that we can safely see each other again in person,” Dupuis said at Centennial Sports Park in Virgil.

The pop-up library was being well used on the breezy morning of July 15.

A group of kids was participating in story time with two library staff. But the real fun began after the storybook was closed and the bubble dispenser was brought out.

Four kids frantically ran up and down the sports park field chasing bubbles as they were caught by the wind. One boy, three-year-old Jack Montgomery, was holding a competition with himself to see how many bubbles he could eat out of the air.

Asked how many he caught, he held up his hand, indicating five.

For longtime NOTL resident Sharon Van Noort, the library is a gift that has been giving to her family for generations.

“I used to take my kids here and now I take my grandkids here. It’s great to have a library like this in the community,” Van Noort said.

“We use it a lot. And when my grandsons come, books are a big part of their visit. So, I’m always taking books out at the Niagara-on-the-Lake library.”

The pop-up library was a great way for her and her granddaughter to enjoy the library’s activities outside.

“This pop-up thing is so fun. When you’re a grandmother and all the nice things we have in this town, it’s great. The library, our pools, this park.”

Her granddaughter, Mayla Van Noort, 6, was visiting from Haldimand.

When she ran over to see Grandma she was fresh from catching bubbles with her mouth.

“They don’t taste good,” Mayla said as she shyly snuggled into Van Noort’s shoulder.

Larry Shatley’s five-year-old daughter Ella was busy engaging with one of the novel activities at the pop-up – learning how to plant a bean sprout with Dupuis.

There are two options for the kids to plant: a bean sprout or a radish.

Unsurprisingly, most of the kids have been going with the bean sprout. A reporter from The Lake Report opted to go with the radish.

“I’m very pleased (with the library’s outreach events),” Shatley said as his daughter packed soil into a small container.

“We feel very lucky. We love the community feel of Niagara-on-the-Lake,” the Virgil resident said.

The pop-up library functions like the regular library, albeit with a smaller collection of books. Visitors can bring their kids down for fun activities or try out the novel experience of signing out a book out under the blue sky.

The pop-up library will be at Sparky’s Park in St. Davids on the morning of July 22, between 10 a.m. and noon.

On Aug. 5 it will be at Niagara-on-the-Green in Glendale and the final stop will be Chautauqua Park on Aug. 12.

This item reprinted with permission from The Lake Report, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario