Weather is seasonal, but reading is year-round for Northern Lights Library System

Northern Alberta network of 47 libraries aims to improve literacy during chilly winter months

This winter, Alberta’s Northern Lights Library System isn’t getting you out of the house to ski, toboggan, or snowshoe—but, rather, to read.

“During winter, it’s especially important that people don’t remain sedentary,” says Kayla Lorenzen, public services consultant with the Northern Lights Library System.

“Our goal is to keep up literacy and bring more people out to their local library, even when they may not want to do much else outside.”

This year, the winter program theme is called Get Your Mitts on a Good Book.

Since 2011, NLLS has curated a winter reading program for all 47 libraries in its network, including those in Lac La Biche, Cold Lake and Vegreville, to take part in if they so choose. The response has been positive, and libraries are given free rein on how they’d like to implement the program.

“We provide grand prizes for readers and also send smaller prizes to each library,” says Lorenzen. “Participants earn a prize draw for every certain amount of reading hours they log, depending on their age.”

Starting on New Year’s Day, participants have until the end of February to log hours; in 2018, nearly 1,000 participants in the program read an impressive 23,000 hours collectively.

Turning ‘screen time’ into a positive in the far North with an online library app
Sahtu educational council counters geographical challenges through digital library services
Enbridge's economic impact on Alberta
Learn more about the ongoing tax revenue, local and regional economic stimulation, community investments, and workforce salary provided by Enbridge in your area.

“The manual provided by Northern Lights Library doesn’t just include reading guidelines, but also has games, recipes and coloring—so there is always something new that aligns with the year’s theme,” says Lorenzen.

As part of Enbridge’s commitment to improving quality of life in the communities near our operations, we donated $1,500 to NLLS for the 2019 winter reading program. The support will assist in purchasing grand prizes as reading incentives for library participants.

In 2014, adults were introduced to the reading program, which was initially exclusive to children and teens. Lorenzen says it’s been a successful, high-interest addition that furthers the Northern Lights Library System’s goal of reaching more readers or readers-to-be.

In fact, half of the participants in the 2018 winter reading program were adults.

“We’ve actually started seeing families start to participate in logging reading hours, which has been really fun to watch unfold,” says Lorenzen.

As for what NLLS expects in the future, Lorenzen is simply set on one goal.

“We really just want to continue increasing readership, and these seasonal programs are one great way of doing that.”