This past Friday, the Portage la Prairie Regional Library celebrated 20 years since first becoming a regional organization. The celebration included some cake and honoured those who have been instrumental in seeing the current situation come to fruition. 

Former chair of the Portage la Prairie City Library and the Portage la Prairie Regional Library Evelyn Braun says 20 years seems like a long time, but it, "just vanished."

"I think the library just does a fantastic job of providing for the needs of the citizens both in the City and in the RM, and also, there's usually a fair number of people from out of the area who buy memberships. The library has such a good collection. Knowing that we're meeting the needs of those people, too, makes it extra special. At least while I was around, the RM paid a certain amount for each of their citizens who bought a library membership. The RM kicked in a certain amount extra per capita."

She notes more changes occurred when, more recently, the video section that was filled with movies had been converted to an area for people to use computers. Their number of movies has decreased significantly due to a decrease in demand.

"They always seem to be looking at how the times are, how things are developing, and what people need or no longer need, or maybe only a small segment of what the population needs. You cut that down and then you spend your time, money, and resources on something else."

Braun comments on the change of late fees to submitting non-perishable food items for the food bank. 

"Even things like Koats for kids, the library was a place where you could drop them off in the fall, but, also, now in the spring. So, people who wanted to clear out the things that their kids knew they wouldn't be able to wear in the fall, drop them off now. It's less of a rush in the fall. That's just one small example of how the library becomes part of the community; an important part, and just does things well."

Former Mayor Irvine Ferris also attended and had photos of his son Quinn on hand who is seen shredding the original documents for the City Library to make way for the new.

"Twenty years ago, when we became a regional Library, the library put on a celebration and a ceremony. I was on the board at the time. So, I came and I brought my youngest son with me. I think he was about seven years old. A part of the ceremony saw the mayor at the time, Mayor Ian McKenzie, and my son shredding the old document, and we got a few photos of that."

Ferris adds the library has accomplished a tremendous service to our community for many, many years. 

"They have a really dedicated staff and board, and there are lots of citizens -- myself included -- who use it on a regular basis, and we're very pleased that we have it. Becoming a Regional Library gave us some advantages. Prior to that, residents outside the City of Portage had to pay for library cards. They now had access free access to the library. The library could access different levels of funding provincially and federally. So there were some advantages that way, also."

Library Director Jen Kendall says she wanted to commemorate this milestone that's seen many changes in their 55 years as a library. 

"I do think that 20 years of a shared partnership is something to celebrate," says Kendall. "We're having some cake and we have some lovely door prizes that we're offering to people. We're going to have just a little evening to celebrate the library, and everyone's going to get together to talk, have some cake and cookies, and then just have a little party."

Kendall has been at the library for three years now, and adds the big event coming up next is the annual Book Sale that starts on June 25th.