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Last Modified: March 13, 2023
Graphic for Alberta Library Profile: Pincher Creek— The exterior of the Pincher Creek Library. At the bottom of the image is the text, "Alberta Library Profile: Pincher Creek Municipal Library" in white font on a green background.
Alberta Library Profile: Pincher Creek

by Jessie Bach

This month, it’s time to take our online tour of Alberta libraries to the province’s deep south. The Town of Pincher Creek is nestled close to the beautiful Rocky Mountains and has a long and storied (pun intended!) library history.

While often billed as “an adventurer’s paradise” due to the easy access to skiing, hiking, and wilderness parks, Pincher Creek is also a vibrant, tight-knit, and family-oriented community. There are many service groups and organizations, including the library, that offer great services to all people of all generations—you’ll often find more than one of these organizations working together to provide community events for all ages.

Headshot of Kayla LorenzenThe Pincher Creek Municipal Library has been an important part of the community for well over a century. Library Manager Kayla Lorenzen, however, is new to the gig. After seven years working in Alberta libraries, most recently at the Banff Public Library, she took on the role in Pincher Creek in October 2022. I connected with Kayla to learn more about the history of the library, the wide range of programming that they offer—from the Dungeons & Dragons clubs to watercolour painting classes—and the space challenges that they are currently facing.

Jessie Bach: Tell me about the Pincher Creek Municipal Library … what makes it a special place?

Kayla Lorenzen: There has been a reading room in Pincher Creek where people could bring their own books, mail, or newspapers to read since before 1900, but it was only in 1949 that the municipal library was opened under the Provincial Libraries Act.

In 1963 the MD of Pincher Creek and the Village of Cowley joined together with the Town of Pincher Creek to help fund the library, and it was renamed to the Pincher Creek & District Municipal Library. This gives our library the unique distinction of being the only joint library board in Alberta to be made up of three separate municipalities.

The library moved into its current location in the Pincher Creek Multi-Purpose Facility in 1999. The library has gone through many stages to go from its simple beginnings as a reading room to becoming an integral part of our town’s modern public services.

JB: What is the biggest challenge you face at your library?

KL: I would say that the biggest challenge that the library faces is space. We have outgrown our current space and are currently trying to find a way to expand.

JB: How are you tackling that challenge? Are there any roadblocks in your way?

KL: The library has been working on getting an expansion happening for several years. It was a goal for us in our last Plan of Service, but like a lot of things, it was delayed because of Covid. We’re currently in the process of putting together a Request for Proposal and will hopefully get the ball rolling on our expansion this year.

JB: There’s so many great programs going on at the Pincher Creek Library—tell me about your approach to programming.

KL: Our Outreach Co-ordinator is great at coming up with programs that really resonate in our community. I’ve asked her what her approach to programming is and she said that “when it comes to developing a library program, I really draw from five sources: the community we serve; other libraries’ successful programs; library training and conferences; my fellow staff members; and a mix of research and my own imagination.”

“Some of the annual programs, such as our Winter Speaker Series, Summer Reading Club, and Halloween at the Library, have been staple programs that the library has offered for years. Programs like these have an established formula to follow, which is helpful during the planning process. New or unique programs such as the addition of monthly passive programming, craft club kits, or Comicon take a lot more time, collaboration, research, and imagination. Sometimes great programs can fall into our laps as well, such as a patron wanting to teach a watercolour class, or a local author wanting to promote their new book.”

JB: What exciting events or programs are coming up at the library?

KL: We have so many reoccurring programs that people love. Our Dungeons & Dragons program is very popular, with three groups that meet here on a weekly basis. We also have a weekly watercolour painting class that was so popular that we added a second class for all the individuals on the waitlist. It was supposed to be a four-week program for the month of January, but we’ve decided to continue it on Mondays because there has been such a great response.

The Library Listening Room series is coming up in February. Every Tuesday for four weeks we will be hosting a speaker on the theme “Outdoor Adventure.” Two of the sessions will be held exclusively on Zoom and the other two will be held in person; however, we will stream them live from the library so people will be able to come and enjoy the talks from anywhere.

Our Summer Reading Club is so popular that this year we thought that we would get started early by giving a preview of our weekly summer programming during reading week. Hopefully the kids who participate will be excited to come back once summer starts.

School classes also regularly come and visit us at the library. There are currently Grade One and Grade Two classes joining us for a four-week program on library learning and how to use the online catalogue. Individual classes have also come in for an introduction to the library, and recently the whole elementary section from one school came to the library for a Field Trip Day with story-time and crafts.

JB: I saw that your library held a Generational Story Hour event throughout January. How did you come up with the idea for the program? Have you heard any feedback about the experience from your patrons?

a promo graphic for Generational Story HourKL: Before I started here, the previous Library Manager had applied for a grant to get some recording and video equipment for the library to hold a program for seniors. The equipment was here, and we were brainstorming what to do with it when we stumbled upon this great idea. Every Saturday in January, people were able to book a fully equipped recording studio to make digital recordings of their elders’ stories and family history.

The Generational Story Hour is still very much an ongoing project. The initial sessions held in January demonstrated that there was interest in our community, and we’ve gotten great feedback from the participants. Going forward, we hope to create a database of these recordings so that other individuals in the area can listen and learn about the history of people growing up in the area. We’ve also thought about transcribing the recordings and creating a book filled with everyone’s history.

JB: What do you love most about your job?

KL: I’ve only been working at the Pincher Creek Library for four months, but it feels like I’ve been here so much longer. Everyone has been so amazing, welcoming, helpful.

I think what I really love most about my job is the people that I get to interact with everyday, whether it’s staff or patrons, being able to help them find what they are looking for, and learning all about their lives and holding their babies. This job really allows me to get to know the community that we serve.

JB: I’d like to extend a big thank you to Kayla for answering my questions about what’s going on at the Pincher Creek Municipal Library!

Beyond the Stacks is a column about libraries in Alberta and the useful and necessary services they provide.

Photo of Jessie Bach, author of this articleJessie Bach grew up on a family farm in Southern Alberta, and is a life-long library user and book lover. She has a degree in history from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. Jessie has worked in archives, academic libraries, corporate records management, and now public libraries. Her current role is Bibliographic Services Manager at Marigold Library System where she manages the team that does acquisitions, cataloguing and processing of library material for Marigold’s thirty-six member libraries. She currently lives in Calgary with her partner and, in true librarian fashion, four cats. Jessie likes to read (of course), knit, consume way too many true crime podcasts, and lift weights in the gym.