By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As winter continues to drag on through the new year the Taber Public Library continues to see heavy use of their skate rental program.
With this success, Jamie Stevens, one of the team leads at the Taber Public Library, provided details behind the program, as well as providing a quick rundown on its origin.
“It was more for the parents,” said Stevens. “When you can’t afford to buy new skates every year. Kids outgrow them, they only go once or twice for school during the year for activities and stuff. So it’s open for everybody with a library card. They can come and rent them with their library card just like a book. They can keep them for a week and then they can just bring them back. It is just first come, first serve. They started it in 2020 right before COVID started. It’s really popular now. We did get a $1,000 at the beginning to start the program. I think it was the Alberta Hockey Association who gave us a grant. We run it by ourselves (now), and people are also welcome to bring donations of good condition skates, too, plus people have been donating the ones they don’t use anymore and then we can catalogue those as well.”
Following this Stevens then discussed the period of time when the skates are almost always rented out.
“The winter hockey season starts. I think that is probably right before the winter break till now. Because they’re still going out pretty quickly right now, too. Usually ours are all gone. During the week I would say probably at least 10 to 20 people come and rent out the skates, a week at least.”
From here Stevens also went into detail about how most people go about renting their skates.
“They can phone down and they can ask, but usually they can put them on reserve – not during the busy time. During the winter season it’s usually just first come, first serve and they’ll come stop by and see if their size is in, or they could phone the day of and we can put them aside for them.”
Finally Stevens discussed the future plans for this program.
“There is definitely plans to get more quantity of skates for everybody to enjoy because it is so popular, and we do have the guards, we have helmets that go with them, there’s hockey and figure skates, and we do other winter stuff, too, like snowshoes and stuff,” said Stevens. “I believe we are looking into getting toboggans and sleds for kids to use. Then we have a lot more outdoor activities for summertime.”