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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The new director at the Fort St. John Library is still in his first week on the job, but Matthew Rankin hopes to continue providing quality programs and services to residents.

Of particular interest to Rankin is the tech programming for kids. Full STEAM ahead is a program that focuses on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Rankin sees this as a way to bridge the identity of the library from just a place for books.

“I’ve taken a look at what Morgan [Peltier] has done, and I really enjoyed the tech programming for kids. It’s more like a collection of programs, but I really found that interesting in our outreach programs as well,” says Rankin.

The days of paper books seemed to be numbered when e-readers burst onto the scene. Despite predictions, Rankin says there is still a desire for physical paper books.

“Books are kind of a weird circumstance because the assumption was as soon as e-books came out, paper books were going to go away. Really what’s happened, according to a few sources, usage of physical books has actually gone up in recent years.”

Addressing the concern of books being handled by the public during the pandemic, Rankin says there are protocols in place.

“From my understanding, we were doing book quarantining at one point, but now it’s just books are being returned.”

While there will always be a place for physical books, libraries are evolving to introduce more technology.

Rankin replaced the previous director, Karlene Duncan who held the position since 2018. Rankin started Monday in Fort St. John after spending two and a half years directing the library in Weyburn Saskatchewan.

When asked what it is about small towns that he’s attracted to, Rankin says the small-town vibe is one he’s grown up with.

“It’s familiar. I was born in a tiny township in Ontario. I grew up in Midland, and I consider my hometown to be Penetanguishene, Ontario. So basically I grew up, went to school, and spent most of my life in central and southern Ontario.”

Rankin is excited to put his stamp on the Fort St. John Public Library even though he’s still in his first week.

“This is one of the best starts to a job I’ve had.”

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