We’re not usually morning people, but we both agree that we never find working at the Horton Farmer’s Market a chore. The smell of fresh baking and coffee coupled with the hustle and bustle of vendors setting up their booths is always invigorating. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious and it’s hard to contain the excitement that springs from a new market day because every Saturday at the market is different.
This is the second summer that St. Thomas Public Library has had a presence at the market. At first, we were a bit like a round peg in a square hole as we worked to find our place. Now, we fit in just as well as any of the other vendors, from the fruit and vegetable sellers to the artists and jewellery makers. We’ve become part of the market family, a unique community within St. Thomas. There are new faces each week; however, there are regulars too who stop to chat and catch up on what’s been happening at STPL in the week that’s passed. It’s fun to be able to step out of the physical library, to move outside that comfort zone and become part of the community at large.
So, what do we do at the market? Well, first and foremost we raise awareness of STPL as an integral part of the city of St. Thomas. Our booth, located inside the market building and sandwiched between two bakeries, is bright, friendly and filled with books and information about programming and events at STPL. Plus, there are the smiling faces of two library staff members who are always ready to answer questions (when we’re not munching on a doughnut or dutch apple fritters!). People seem to find it a very comfortable environment in which to make suggestions or ask questions about the library. In addition to this, we also happily provide a free internet hub for market vendors and customers: next time you’re there bring your laptop, iPhone or BlackBerry and tap into the Wi-Fi while you enjoy your coffee and pastry.
Not only do we provide information about the library and its services, but we also offer a number of those services on the spot. We can check out material, selected from a pre-selected collection of library materials available at our booth, and provide new library users with cards. We also have a huge selection of used books and magazines for sale at extremely reasonable prices. In fact, there was a woman last week who thought the prices couldn’t be for real – when she realized that they were she quickly grabbed several more books. I think it’s safe to say that we made her day.
Another great thing about being at the market is that people don’t just drop by the booth to see what we can offer them: many people have come by to see if they can donate their used books and magazines to help raise funds for our upcoming revitalization. This kind of thoughtfulness and community spirit not only makes our work at the market even more rewarding, but also makes it possible for STPL to blaze ahead with new and varied services and to create revitalized and renewed spaces here at 153 Curtis Street and out in the community. We want to make sure that everyone knows that their help is very much appreciated.
Finally, being at the market is a terrific way to remind ourselves about the wonderfully varied community we live in. There are couples out for a morning walk, families with strollers, friends meeting for a coffee. From the dedicated seamstress across the way to the bakers who have been up since 4am to the farmers selling their carefully cultivated produce outdoors, there is so much to admire here. We hope the library is going to be part of the market family for years to come.
– DV & HM