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Last Modified: November 15, 2021
Library Profile: Standard Municipal Library feature image
Alberta Library Profile: Standard Municipal Library

by Jessie Bach

This is the first post in a new series profiling libraries, and the people who run them, in communities across Alberta. First up is the Standard Municipal Library in the Village of Standard, Alberta. This is a library that holds a special place in my heart. I grew up on a farm just a few miles from Standard and visited this library frequently as a child. I have great memories of summer reading programs, using the microfiche catalogue to order books, and winning the December 1996 gingerbread house contest! 

About the Village:

The Village of Standard is a farming community about ninety kilometers east of Calgary, with a population of 353 according to the 2016 census.

Standard was settled by Danish immigrants early in the twentieth century. They must have been passionate about reading and literature even then as many of the street names are distinctly Shakespearean—there is Elsinore Avenue, Frederick Avenue, Hamlet Avenue, and Yorick Avenue.

About the Library:

Photo of Standard Municipal Library
Standard Municipal Library. Photo provided courtesy of Adreena Duffala, Library Manager.

The Standard Municipal Library is governed by a volunteer Board, and the Chair is ten-year Board veteran Lori Bach (that’s right, my mom)! Originally, the library was housed in the tiny, old Alberta Government Telephones (AGT) Building. In 1992, they built and moved into their current building.  Over the past six years, and thanks to massive community support, over $100,000 was raised to refurbish much of the building.

In non-pandemic times, the Standard Library holds several fundraisers every year. The Golf Tournament Fundraiser is held at the Bassano Golf Course in July. Each October, they hold that staple event of many prairie towns, the Ham and Oyster Supper. In the spring, the library puts on a Mother’s Day Market at the Standard Community Hall. Lori told me this event is a great way for the library to give back to the community by providing a place for local artists and businesses to sell their work. The library also receives support from community groups like the Lions and Lionettes, and Wheatland Family and Community Support Services (WFCSS).

The library is well known for its popular programs for kids and youth, and the Standard Playschool operates out of the building as well. Lori notes that the library is “just about the only place in town for kids to go!”

About the Library Manager

Photo of Adreena Duffala
Adreena Duffala, Library Manager and Director of Funology, Standard Municipal Library. Photo from and provided courtesy of Adreena Duffala.

Adreena Duffala has held the role of Library Manager and Director of Funology for nearly ten years. I chatted with her about her work, why she loves it, and the challenges she faces in her job. 

Jessie Bach: What makes the Standard Library special?

Adreena Duffala: The patrons who come in and share not only their love of books, but also their lives. It’s a place where kids stop by after school or on the weekend just to do a scavenger hunt, win a prize, or grab a lollipop. Our library is a positive environment, a safe haven, and overall fun place to be for all ages.

JB: What’s a typical day like at the Standard Library?

AD: In one word, BUSY! As the library’s only staff member, in a typical day I will take care of the patrons and their requests, provide a listening ear, fill incoming requests for other libraries, perform administrative duties and research, so the cleaning, and play the occasional game of Super Mario with my Library Kids, pre-covid and restrictions of course.

JB: What do you love most about your job?

AD: The patrons, especially my Library Kids! I have gotten to know several families through the years and have been able to share in the kids growth. Seeing some of them go from little people to adulthood.

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

AD: I think it will come as no surprise that funding is always the biggest challenge, and I know our library is not alone in that matter. Fortunately, I have an amazing Library Board and Friends group that work hard to see that we have what we need.

JB: Looking back at the past eighteen months, how has the COVID-19 pandemic changed how your library delivers service?

AD: It has definitely been challenging, especially to provide service during the closures. With the curb-side pickup option we were still able to maintain some of the functions for our patrons. It is such a blessing that we are under the Marigold Library System umbrella. The team there really stepped in and stepped up. They ensured that patrons memberships were renewed at no cost, took care of the website for updated information on different eResources available, and were always available for any questions that I had. 

The biggest loss to was in-house programming. Not being able to offer that has been heartbreaking. When I took on care of the library, my mission was to make it a place for the children and teens to have a safe space to visit, play, and create. It was a way to have both home-school and public-school kids interact and get to know each other. For me personally, that has been the biggest change and downfall during the pandemic.

JB: In 2019, your library won the Marigold Library System Making a Difference Award for Innovation, for your Tipi Stay Field Trip program. Can you tell us more about this program?

AD: Anyone who knows me and how I create programs for our library knows that I am always trying to take it to the next level, and this for sure was another level. The field trip was funded through a grant provided by Wheatland Family & Community Support Services (WFCSS) which offers funding to non-profit and community groups for social programs for County of Wheatland rural residents. Before I even applied, I brought the idea to my husband, Brandon, and he agreed to be my partner in this endeavour. Brandon and his family have a strong background in all things outdoors, from starting a fire to catching fish, to crafting their own family tipi. 

We took thirteen children and two parent volunteers on an adventure to Blackfoot Crossing on Siksika Nation. We all enjoyed a full day in the museum learning about Siksika and their “TLC” (Tradition, Language, and Culture). We were treated to a guided tour and drumming session with traditional songs, complete with a round dance by Cultural Program Coordinator, Clinton Turningrobe. Highlights of the adventure included Bannock cheeseburgers for dinner, a nature walk to the river, and sleeping in Tipis.

JB: What other exciting programs and opportunities are on offer at the Standard Library? 

AD: Recently, I have created what I call the “Rec Room”. It’s a space for kids ages ten to seventeen, where they can hang out. As many of us in the library world know, kids often lose interest as they become teens. I wanted to entice them with a space of their own. Through community donations I was able to purchase a couple arcade games, Pac Man and The Avengers, and an air hockey table. We already had a ping pong table, a foosball table, and many board games too. We held a grand opening day in the summer with treats and door prizes and it was a big hit!

JB: Anything else you’d like to share about the Standard Library or your experience as Manager? 

AD: I do speak a lot about programming, it’s what keeps me inspired at the library. I’ll tell you the story of my very first library program. Our activity consisted of an I-Spy game that I printed off and gave the children markers to use. Not just any markers, I gave the permanent Sharpies. What I didn’t know was that one family who had planned on attending had just come down with chicken pox. So, the other kids didn’t want to be left out and decided to cover themselves in sharpie marker chicken pox. Fortunately, the parents were very easy going, and understanding about the permanently dotted children. I cringed after the program, thinking “what have I gotten myself into?” But now, almost ten years later, I laugh every time I think about my very first attempt at programming!

The next year will hopefully bring a further return to normalcy to the Standard Municipal Library, as they anticipate the resumption of their usual programming and fundraising efforts. Until then they will continue to find creative, online ways to engage their patrons and community. 

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Adreena for answering my questions about the Standard Municipal Library, and to Lori for all the great information about the library building and fundraisers. I’m looking forward to continuing my virtual tour of Alberta’s public libraries next month!

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. 

Feature image credit: Photo of Standard Municipal Library provided courtesy of Adreena Duffala, Library Manager.