Through a new partnership with the city’s Recreation and Leisure department, the Fredericton Public Library will soon have skateboards and related safety equipment available for loan.
You can do a lot with a library card these days. Gone are the times when cardholders could only access books, music and movies. Nowadays, libraries are becoming increasingly embedded in social movements and community building by providing far more than books and internet access.
Fredericton Public Library Director Julia Stewart has been helping lead the charge for change in the capital region. Through partnerships with project funders, community groups and various municipal departments, Stewart and her staff have become regional leaders in developing new ways for libraries to serve their communities. Through the addition of a musical instrument library that allows cardholders to sign out guitars, keyboards and other portable instruments; a seed library to support grow-your-own-food initiatives and a highly successful snowshoe program to support and encourage outdoor activity during the winter months, the continued growth and develop happening at the Fredericton Public Library has become almost as exciting as the programs themselves.
The coming weeks will see the library adding skateboards and related safety equipment to its ever-expanding list of programs.
“We’ve been working with Recreation and Leisure since the opening of the skate park,” said Stewart. “The snowshoes have been such an amazing success that we figured we could do this just as effectively. So, the City contacted East Side Board Supply and that’s how we got this going.
“People can try before the buy which is what we love about the snowshoes and our musical instruments as well. Try it before you buy it. Figure out what you want. It’s a great experience for everybody that way.”
Since the opening last fall of the Garrison Skate Park, the city’s all-wheel sports plaza, Stewart says she’s been looking for a way to partner in support of this new facility, expanding what she calls community literacy.
“It’s such a cool thing to look at,” she said. “Seeing all the kids over there enjoying the space and having a great time. I think because the skateboard community worked so hard to get that park, they really have a sense of ownership with the park and as a result, they respect it. That’s the key to so many projects in the community. If people are invested in something, they develop a different relationship with it.”
Brian Muir, owner of East Side Board Supply, has been involved with various groups over the past 20 years lobbying the city to create a top quality facility for skateboarding in the city’s downtown.
“Since I started this business 25 years ago, I’ve been working with the city and it’s been baby steps to finally get a significant investment,” he said. “They had to close the park a few weeks ago because it was too busy. To me that says, OK. How fast can we build another one?”
While the development of a second all-wheel plaza is not currently on the books, Muir is always up for finding new ways to support skateboarding in the city and sees the library’s new initiative as a great step forward.
“I have a lovely relationship with the recreation department and it’s amazing to see the library working so hard. It’s such a great thing for the community,” he said.
Stewart says the library’s new skateboard loan program will be supported by new programming beginning in June with a maintenance workshop. The afternoon learning session will be hosted by Craig Vezina who founded the group Skate-It-Forward Fredericton as a way to repurpose and donate skateboards and equipment to various school programs.
“Like with all of our collections, we like to have programming that supports the collection,” said Stewart. “With our seed library for instance, we do lots of programming with the NB Community Harvest Gardens so there’s lots of coloration between the two. We make it fit.
“Once we knew we were getting the skateboards we started thinking about programs to support them,” she said. “We wanted to make sure it would be COVID friendly, meaning it would take place outside. Craig is going to team up with us to offer a maintenance workshop to teach kids who are new to skateboarding how to look after their equipment. He’s not teaching tricks or how to skateboard or anything like that. It’s just maintenance and we thought that was a good fit for us.”
Skateboard Maintenance Workshop | June 5 | 12-5 p.m. | (506) 460-2800