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Story time at this Coquitlam park is packed each week

The Coquitlam Public Library's Library Link van makes its way to Coquitlam parks daily, with story times at Town Centre Park on Thursday nights.

On a warm spring evening, about four dozen families sit on the grass at Town Centre Park to hear a children’s story read aloud.

The Coquitlam Public Library van is parked close to the playground but far enough away so the kids won’t be disturbed for their quiet time.

The stop and story at the City Centre space are new for the Library Link, a mobile service that makes its way to Coquitlam parks each day.

It’s an outreach that began more than a decade ago with the aim to connect with residents and loan out books and other library materials.

This year’s Library Link schedule has two new locations: Mackin Park on Tuesdays and Town Centre Park on Thursdays, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.; and, starting July 6, it will also be in position at Blue Mountain Park from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ann Johannes, the library’s community development liaison for programming and community connections, said the pre-registered story times at Town Centre Park have been nearly full since they began in April; however, due to COVID-19 physical distancing limitations by the province, only 50 people are allowed per reading, she said.

Still, once the health order restrictions are eased, she hopes that more space will open up for families. “People really want to do things in-person, especially with kids,” she said, noting the story times are geared for kids up to age five.

It’s not been the only change during the pandemic.

Access to the book bus is temporarily blocked off to prevent the spread of the virus and, as a result, the collection on board can’t be viewed.

But books, DVDs and video games can be plucked from the shelves by the program assistants and items that have been put on hold — through the main library — can be picked up when the van is in the patron’s neighbourhood.

Johannes said the Library Link vehicle itself isn’t in great shape, and staff are now looking at ways to replace it in the near future. An engine fire destroyed the original Library Link van in May 2014 and, following a big fundraising push — and a $20,000 donation from the developer Wesbild — a second-hand van was purchased.

“[The Library Link] is probably 20 years old now,” Johannes said, adding, “We would like to get a larger vehicle and a wider one to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. Right now, it’s just too narrow to meet our community’s needs.”

• To place a hold for pick-up on the Library Link, browse the catalogue online and select “Library Link” as your pick-up branch. When the material is ready, staff will contact you to arrange a location (returned materials are quarantined for at least three days before getting checked in and before being made available for borrowing). 

WHERE IS THE LIBRARY LINK?

Sunday: Riley Park, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday: Mountain View Park, 2:30 to 5 p.m.

Tuesday: Mackin Park, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday: Place Maillardville, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Hampton Park, 2:30 to 5 p.m.

Thursday: Victoria Park, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Town Centre Park, 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Friday: Galloway Park, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday: Cottonwood Park, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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