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Merritt’s library is not your grandmother’s library.
Gone are the days of the stuffy, dust-caked bookshelves and the eternal shushing — libraries have rarely been more exciting than now, says library manager Deborah Merrick.
Merrick, 52, is nearing retirement from her career in the library system, but all it takes is one conversation with her to realize her passion hasn’t dwindled.
“Libraries are different than they used to be,” Merrick said. “We’re much more diverse places. It used to be that you go in because you want a book. There might even be a puzzle on the shelf for you. As our society gets more complex, so do libraries. It’s a fascinating time to work in libraries.”
The Sechelt-born, Kamloops-raised Merrick moved to Merritt in 1989 for her position with the city’s library, and although the job brought her here, the people of Merritt kept her here.
“The people in this community are really warm,” she said.
Since Merrick’s arrival, the library has begun to offer many new resources, including an Internet database of every current newspaper published around the world, interactive instructional language programs, snowshoes, and video games. The library also runs programs for all ages, from story time for youngsters to ebook and computer classes.
“We had a fellow in here the other day who was 77-years-old, and he had never, ever walked through the doors of a library before. His buddy across the street was 90 when he learned how to use computers. And so he’s going to come in and he’s going to take computer classes.”
Merrick said her goal is to get everybody in town into the library at some point so she can find some material for them.
“From the little kid down the street from you to grandma who lives up the street from you, everybody gets something from the library. And we give it all for free,” she said.
Still, one thing about libraries has remained unchanged since Merrick started her library career at age 24.
“Libraries are the equalizers,” she said. “You get access to free information, which is a really important thing.”