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Volume X, Issue IV - December 2022

What's new at HQ?

It's been a busy fall at Shortgrass! We hosted the first system-wide PD Day since 2017; our Bookkeeper, Bernadette, departed for her maternity leave; and we awarded eight Shorty Awards to member libraries for their outstanding services and innovations over the past several years.

We are also preparing to say goodbye to Chris Field (Manager, Systems and Technical Services), who leaves us on January 13th after eight years with Shortgrass. Good luck and congratulations on your new role at Prince George Public Library, Chris!

These staffing changes mean that response times for some services may take longer than usual. Your patience and cooperation is appreciated during this transition, as we hire and onboard new staff.

In This Issue


Five Fun Facts about our departing Manager, Systems and Technical Services, Chris!

1. I have worked at all three major library operations in Medicine Hat: MHPL, MHC Library Services, and Shortgrass Library System.

2. Cycling is one of my favourite things to do. I cycle to the office as much as possible in the summer, have traversed the Medicine Hat/Redcliff trail systems in their entirety more times than I can count, participated in the Medicine Hat Gran Fondo, and have bicycle toured all over Southern/Coastal BC and Washington State.

3. I developed an interest in birdwatching after some falcons took up residence in my backyard early on in the pandemic. Their shrill cries kept my windows shut for a few days and I borrowed Chris Fisher’s excellent Birds of Alberta to learn when they might leave. They were Merlins and didn’t stay long, but I have kept up the hobby ever since.

4. My spouse and I have two dogs: our Labrador Retriever, Dash, and our Golden Retriever, Rover. They both love their off-leash runs and we spend a lot of time each week exercising them at the local dog parks.

5. I love camping, hiking, and paddling in the Alberta Rocky Mountain Parks, and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is my go-to spot for all of the above!

After eight years as Shortgrass' Manager of Systems and Technical Services, Chris is headed to Prince George Public Library in BC. Chris will be missed by all his colleagues and we wish him all the best!


Shortgrass Christmas Party 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 2022 Christmas Party- the first in three years! It was an evening of delicious food, great company, and a fun (and very competitive) trivia game!

We were also pleased to celebrate seven Shortgrass employees for their milestone years of service. As this is the first time we have been able to gather since 2019, we are celebrating milestones achieved during the past three years. Congratulations to the following!

  • Larry Dye, 20 years as of 2021.
  • Val Ogden, 15 years as of 2021.
  • Blaine Heglund, 10 years as of 2020.
  • Petra Mauerhoff, 10 years as of 2021.
  • Rod Thurlow, 10 years as of 2021.
  • Keltie Turner, 10 years as of 2022.
  • Shelley Grisonich, 5 years as of 2022.

Thank you to all who joined us!


ReConnecting: The First Shortgrass PD Day Since 2017!

Thanks to the 50+ staff and trustees from across the system who joined us for our first PD Day since 2017! We had a wonderful time reconnecting with you all- and finally putting some faces to names!

A feedback form was sent out following the event. The Planning Committee was very grateful to hear your feedback, be it glowingly positive or more on the constructive side! All feedback will be taken on board when we plan our next event.

Shortgrass would like to thank our fantastic speakers:

  • Our amazing keynote speaker, Linh Huynh, whose story is nothing short of inspiring;
  • Dr. Sinela Jurkova, who led a thought-provoking discussion and inclusion and belonging;
  • Ken and Jordan from PLSB, who made a session on library legislation fun by turning it into a chocolate-fuelled trivia game;
  • The wonderful folks at St. John Ambulance, who led us through a workshop on administering Naloxone.

We would also like to give a huge thanks to Brooks Public Library for hosting us! BPL Manager Lisa was an essential part of our planning committee (you can thank her for finding the amazing caterers!), and her staff did a fantastic job organizing the space.

We cannot wait to see you next time!

The welcome &
desk

Shortgrass CEO Petra addressing the audience

Overhead shot of the Brooks Public Library


The 2022 Shorty Awards

A huge congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Shorty Awards! After a pandemic hiatus, we were thrilled to be able to honour eight member libraries with awards for their outstanding work, innovation, and creativity.

Library Manager of the Year - Stefanie Schranz (Graham Community Library)

Local Leadership - Johnene Amulung (Rolling Hills Public Library)

Breaking Barriers - Medicine Hat Public Library

Most Creative Little Free Library - Duchess & District Public Library

Pandemic Service Excellence - Redcliff Public Library

Pandemic Programming Excellence - Irvine Community Library

Outstanding Fundraiser - Foremost Municipal Library

Excellence in Youth Services - Bassano Memorial Library


Join Our Team!

Shortgrass is hiring! You can find more information on our website

Upcoming Events

December 7: Christmas Dinner and Social

December 23: Last day that SLS is open for 2022

December 24 - January 2 2023: Shortgrass Library System closed; missed deliveries will be made up following our reopening on January 3rd.

January 3: Shortgrass reopens for 2023

January 16: Library Managers Meeting

January 18: SLS Board Meeting

February 15: SLS Board Meeting

February 20: Family Day (Shortgrass Library System closed; missed deliveries will be made up on the following business day).

March 13: Library Managers Meeting

March 15: SLS Board Meeting

CEO Update

Petra Mauerhoff, CEO

What a busy fall it has been for us, filled with staffing-related changes. Our Bookkeeper/Executive Assistant left for her maternity leave at the end of October and welcomed her little baby girl in November. I am happy to know they are bundled up warm and cozy at home, but we miss her a lot and can’t wait for her return! And of course, we received news that Chris, our Manager of Systems and Technical Services, will be moving on to a new position in BC. He will be greatly missed and I am so grateful for all the projects and changes he has led at Shortgrass during his eight-year tenure.

Alberta’s Regional Library Systems have been working together as an Alberta Library System Advocacy Committee, in an effort to create a unified advocacy initiative for all seven regional library systems. With a provincial election coming next spring, the timing to request additional public library funding is ideal. You can find more information here in this newsletter.

It was nice to see everyone together again for the Shortgrass Christmas Dinner & Social on December 7th. Congratulations to the Shortgrass staff members who received long-term service awards, many of which were actually achieved during the last two years, when we were unable to hold a presentation of the awards at a group event.

Wishing you all a peaceful and joyous holiday season and all the best for 2023.


Client Services Update

Kait McClary, Client Services Librarian

Programming Kits 101

Did you know that Shortgrass has over 75 unique programming kits? If you haven't borrowed them in a while, it can be hard to know where to start.

I have put together a list of FAQs on programming kits. This is a great refresher for all programming staff, whether you borrow kits every month, or have never requested one before!

Follow the link below to review everything you need to know about programming kits. And as always, don't hesitate to get in touch if you have questions!

Follow this link for a Programming Kits refresher!

Programming Kits Update

Here are some year-end programming kit updates!

Osmo- Eight new games are now available with our Osmo kit! Younger children (3-5) will enjoy ABCs, Squiggle Magic, Costume Party, Stories, Shape Builder, and Counting Town, while older kids (5-12) can now play Pizza Company and Detective Agency.

VR kit- We have some new games available, including Richie's Plank Experience and Space Pirate Trainer! Please remember to supervise children while using the VR kit, and ensure they have plenty of unobstructed space to move.

Fibre Arts- The Fibre Arts kit has experienced an upgrade! In addition to knitting and crocheting, the kit now includes supplies to create friendship bracelets, plastic cross-stitch bookmarks, and felt stuffies.

Perler Beads- This kit now includes glow-in-the-dark beads!

New programming kits are available all the time. Watch your emails for information, and visit our website to view all programming kits.

Contact Kait to book programming kits for your library.

eSkills is Back!

Our latest eSkills Challenge is live, and features Google Workspace! Unlike most challenges, which focus on resources for patrons, this challenge will help you learn a little more about how to use your Google Mail and Google Calendar more effectively.

The challenge will run throughout November and December, closing on January 3rd. Participants will be entered into the draw to win a $25 gift card.

Follow this link to take the challenge and brush up on the eresource.

I Love My Library Because...

October was Canadian Library Month, and libraries across the system celebrated by inviting patrons to share what they loved about their libraries. Thanks to Duchess, Redcliff, and Irvine libraries for sharing pictures of this passive program!

What's New at Shortgrass Member Libaries? 

Fun Facts about Tilley & District Public Library's Manager, Anita!

1. I have one husband, three children, and two grandchildren.

2. We have one pet, Maggie, and she is an Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrennes mix rescue.

3. One of my favourite pastimes, aside from reading, is baking.

4. I'm a member of two bands and play the piano and clarinet.

5. Librarianship is a genetic predisposition in our family!


Edible Christmas Trees

Tilley & District Public Library got into the festive spirit with their edible Christmas trees! Using ice cream cones, icing, and sprinkles, kids created some awesome, edible designs- and they ate every bite!


Have You Seen Marvin?

Patrons who stop by the Irvine Community Library this month can explore the library to find Marvin the Moose- and when he's found, patrons will win a festive treat!


Christmas Cookie Decorating

It's that time of year- time for Redcliff Public Library's annual Christmas Cookie Decorating program! Redcliff staff hosted two programs on December 5th, with nearly 20 children creating some fantastic (and delicious!) designs.


Fall Fun in Irvine

Irvine Community Library had a great time decorating the library for fall- check out their display!


A Delicious Fundraiser

Bassano Memorial Library ran a very successful auction in early December, raising over $3,600! Some of the delicious highlights included a 1kg peanut brittle which sold for $100, and two certificates for four loaves of fresh sourdough that garnered $175!

In Library News...

Alberta Library System Advocacy Committee

Alberta’s seven regional library system directors and chairs have been meeting regularly to create a province-wide advocacy initiative to be deployed early in the new year. With a provincial election scheduled for May 2023, this will allow for plenty of time to get the message out to current and new government officials. The issues on which the committee will focus on are:

  • More consistent funding increases, to allow for longer-term planning.
  • An immediate increase in the per capita rate for funding.
  • Using updated population figures for issuing grants and increase the base (minimum) rate for populations serving smaller populations
  • A special category of funding such as a rural allowance for rural communities.
  • When new population figures are used, we can’t afford to see a drop in funding for libraries in small rural communities where provincial funding often sustains public library service. PLSB has tried to ensure that those communities with smaller populations have not received reduced grants since 2010 (grants remain at 2010 levels).
  • A commitment to looking at a COLA for library grants annually. The Government of British Columbia has recently agreed in principle to do this.

The plan also involves a joint letter to be written by all seven system Board Chairs with their collective request.

  • All seven system Directors and Board Chairs will visit all the MLAs in their respective regions to extend the request in person.
  • The development of a step-by-step advocacy guide for member libraries in systems. Which would include encouraging local boards to write their MLAs, the Premier of Alberta, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs regarding library funding.

Stay tuned for more details on the plan in the new year.

You can also read more in this CBC article.

Farewell to the Legacy Overdrive App...

As you all know, Overdrive has been phasing out the legacy Overdrive app in favour of the new (and much more user-friendly) Libby.

Effective 2023, Overdrive will no longer support the legacy app. Overdrive users will need to switch to the Libby app to avoid difficulties in checking out books.

Please ensure that your patrons are aware of this and be prepared to help them download & get set up with the Libby app. As a reminder, Shortgrass has a "Getting Started with Libby" brochure available- please let Kait know if you need additional copies.

2022 Minister's Awards for Municipal and Public Library Excellence

Three Alberta libraries were awarded 2022 Minister's Awards for Municipal and Public Library Excellence. Winning initiatives included: Edmonton Public Library's literature guide of over 300 titles that reflect the diversity of the Black Canadian experience; Banff Public Library's Library of Things initiative; and Penhold Public Library's innovative community-based Summer Reading Program.

Follow this link to learn more about these initiatives- and perhaps be inspired to submit your own nomination next year!

The Alberta Library Training & Webinar Calendar

The Alberta Library (TAL) has launched a training & webinar calendar. This calendar contains library-related webinars from the internet, TAL vendor webinars, and TAL member webinars.

You can subscribe to this calendar to stay updated as events are added, and can submit webinars to the calendar yourself by emailing Cole Boychuk at

Follow this link to view the calendar and subscribe!

Professional Development & Training

Level Up Your Book Displays

Book displays are more than a simple tool for passive Readers' Advisory. A well-crafted display captures patrons’ attention, sparks imagination, and sends subtle (or not-so-subtle) messages about your library’s values and institutional culture.

In this presentation, Faithe Miller Lakowicz shares practical approaches for maximizing the impact of book and media displays, including low-cost “hacks” for maximizing visual appeal; highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion; honing an institutional voice; using displays to create bridges between library departments; and ensuring that displays are accessible and compelling for a variety of patrons.

Wednesday January 18th, 12pm.

Follow this link to register.

Simple Display Ideas for When You Get Stuck

Not up for a full webinar on displays? Check out this article by SandraRosa from Teen Services Underground, which has some fun display ideas.

Follow this link to access.

Steps to Successful Community Engagement

In this webinar, Kay Cassell offers guidelines for community engagement - or how we can connect people with the library, using examples of successful community engagement.

Learn how to meet people where they are, build relationships, and use local and library data and asset mapping.

Available anytime on-demand.

Follow this link to access.

The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness

Exciting news: our subscription to The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness has been renewed for 2023!

Until December 2023, Shortgrass Library System is providing member libraries with The Librarian's Guide to Homelessness. This is an empathy-based training program aimed at providing frontline library staff with the tools to help them manage problem situations.

Consisting of a three-hour Core Training session and 30+ additional one-hour modules, this training is available to all member library staff/volunteers.

While "Homelessness" may be in the title, the course goes far beyond that one subject. Various modules dive into issues such as dealing with unsupervised children and teenagers; handling sensitive subjects such as body odour; de-escalating fights before they happen; and more.

To access the training, please get in touch with Kait. This training is available until mid-December, 2023.

Southern Alberta Library Conference (SALC)

Registration for the 2023 Southern Alberta Library Conference (SALC) is now open! Geared toward public library stakeholders within Southern Alberta, the 2023 conference theme is Back to Our Future.

Learn how to meet people where they are, build relationships, and use local and library data and asset mapping.

March 3rd, 2023, at the Sandman Signature Lodge in Lethbridge.

Follow this link to register.


Don't forget that our virtual meeting software, GoToMeeting, is available to all Shortgrass member libraries.

Please contact Chris if you would like to book GoToMeeting to host your next virtual program or Library Board Meeting.

Share Your Stories!

Anything new to share? Send us your photos, stories, and updates!

  • Screenshots of a popular online event
  • Photos of what's going on at your library- displays, programs, renovations, weeding projects
  • News about your library

Submit updates to

Shortgrass Library System
Resourceful by Nature

2375 10th Ave SW, Medicine Hat, AB T1A 8G2

Tel. (403) 529-0550 ext 101 Toll Free Number 1-866-529-0550 ext 101

Shortgrass Library System honours and acknowledges that we are situated on Treaty 7 and Treaty 4 territory, traditional lands of the Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Stoney-Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina as well as the Cree, Sioux, and the Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples. We also honor and acknowledge that we are on the homelands of the Metis Nation within Region III.