PNLS adds the Northern Active Living Library to its repertoire

Valerie G. Barnes Connell/Northern Advocate. James Hope Howard works to organize the equipment for the Northern Active Living Library.

The Pahkisimon Nuye?áh Library System (PNLS) partnered with Northern Sport Culture and Recreation District (NSCRD)to bring the Northern Active Living Library (NALL) to life, ensuring that northern families will be able to borrow equipment for sporting and games family and community events at their local library.

NSCRD purchased the equipment for the initiative and engaged with PNLS for it to be transported and available in northern communities.

“We have been trying to get capacity in our northern communities regarding being more physically active. We thought the idea of working with PNLS because they have such a great outreach to with their lending system.

“We thought, why not do physical activity items. Games that games that the families can come and borrow and use, and be out physically active – fun, family activities together,” Tonia Logan, Program manager for NSCRD said in an interview with the Northern Advocate.

NSCRD purchased the equipment for the Library and donated it to PNLS to put into their system, she said.

The equipment includes yoga mats, bocce sets, ladder ball sets, active fun bucket kits and games.

There are complete games such as Board Ball, which is “like a volleyball game that you can play in your backyard. You can use it on a beach, you know,it folds up and you can take it wherever you need to take it to,” Logan said.

PNSL also has the capacity to “keep track of how much its used, where it’s used, … that information we can used back to our funders” which are Sask Sport, Sask Culture and Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation.

“It’s just another avenue we’ve got in place to get people more active,” Logan said.

NSCRD plans to build on the Library.

“We know that things will get used, and broken as time goes on, but we plan to keep building on this program a little bit every year and maybe even expand it into more recreational activities,” she said.

It was important to sit down with the PNLS staff in working out the program, Logan said.

“They had ideas and it’s amazing, you kinda come together and start partnerships, how much more can come out of it.”

When NSCRD had the equipment purchased it mean PNLS could offer to partner using “our distribution methods to the entirety of northern Saskatchewan,” James Hope Howard, noting PNLS ships through Canada Post because of the lack of road systems across the north, which is a benefit for this program.

Anything, such as the horseshoe games equipment, which is heavier, would need to be transported in an alternative way, such as stationing it at a particular library, but otherwise, “if someone in Uranium City wants a yoga mat, we can pop it in and send it off to them,” he said.

PNLS has 10 member public libraries across the north, but there are two, Creighton and Air Ronge libraries that have boards, but Creighton contracts with Flin Flon and Air Ronge with the Alex Robertson Public Library in La Ronge. All the libraries, except the Alex Robertson Public Library, are called joint venture libraries, as they are housed in schools, he said.

They are, La Loche, Buffalo Narrows, Beauval, Ile-a-la-Crosse, Pinehouse Lake, Stanley Mission, Montreal Lake, Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay.

In the far north, such as Hatchet Lake or Fond du Lac, they default as member libraries. They order from PNLS and it is mailed to them from PNLS with a self-addressed envelope and they then, use the envelope to mail the items back to PNLS, Hope Howard said.

“Because we’re one-province-one-card, it can come from anywhere in the province,” Hope Howard said.

There are about 45 school libraries across the north, which means PNLS works to provide resources to schools in the three northern school divisions, Northern Lights School Division (NLSD), Ile a La Crosse School Division  and Creighton School division. They also work with all the First Nation school authorities with schools that are within the Northern Administrative District (NAD).

Both PNLS AND NSCRD work within the NAD.

With the living Library, if there’s a school or community planning a bigger event, like a physical literacy day or an activity day in the gym, “if they let us know ahead of time when they’re scheduling that, we can put the kits together them and get them all there in one shot,” Hope Howard said.

He also said, PNLS would welcome any feedback on the program.

“This is the first time we’re doing this, obviously. It just came together, so we’re excited for any feedback we can get. We’ll look forward to seeing what kind of numbers we get for participation and, if people have ideas for equipment or games or things like that would be a good fit, they can let us know and we’ll see if it makes sense.

A listing of the games available is available on the PNLS website at