Library committed to spreading holiday cheer

Ken Kellar
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun, and with it the Fort Frances Library Technology Centre has come up with a host of fun ideas to help ring in the holiday season.

The idea behind them all, according to Sam Manty, is to help everyone celebrate Christmas in a very unusual year, especially as the pandemic has impacted the way the library interacts with the larger community.

“The library is just really really excited to be offering some programming this Christmas season,” Manty said.

“It’s been really difficult with COVID to be as involved and active in the community as we have been in the past, so it’s been really nice to be able to come up with some fresh ideas and take some of our ideas we do every year and freshen them up a little bit. It’s a fun way to bring some Christmas cheer to the community.”

Scavenger hunt

Kicking things off at the library will be the Christmas Scavenger hunt. Similar to other scavenger hunts that the library has put on in the past, participants in this holiday event will go to the library to pick up their scavenger hunt list and then hit the town in order to check off all the requirements.

“People that have participated in it before know it’s a 14 or 15 item list of different Christmas items you can find in Fort Frances,” Manty explained.

“We decided to completely change up the list this year and put all new items, so those lovely people that have been participating for years might be a little surprised to find that some of the items that they maybe search for every year aren’t on there, but we have some great surprises.”

The scavenger hunt runs from now until December 30 at 3:00 p.m., giving families a bit more than half a month – or two busy weekends – to track down all of the items on their list. The library has also partnered with Dominos Pizza for the hunt this year, meaning that winners of the scavenger hunt will win gift certificates that can go towards a celebratory pizza party. In order to take part in the scavenger hunt, the public can either pick up a list at the library during their operating hours or by going online to the library’s website and Facebook page.

While the library typically asks for photos to be submitted with the scavenger hunt list, Manty said they’ll also allow participants to record the address of the house or business where they found a scavenger hunt item.

Photo contest

Next up on the library’s list of Christmas activities is the Season’s Readings Photo Contest, a new program currently underway, which will run until December 23 at 3:00 p.m. and task participants with taking a creative and festive holiday photo in a number of categories.

“We’re trying to encourage anyone and everyone to participate,” Manty said.

“We have categories for kids, a category for adults and a category for pets, and when we say pets, you can get creative. If you have a pet cow that you want to put a storybook by, we would love to see it.”

In order to take part in the contest, the public simply has to take a creative and festive photo of their child, themselves or their pet reading a Christmas book. Each photo can only be entered into one category, but each category will have a prize for the winner that will be valued at more than $50.

“When we say ‘festive,’ you can get creative with that. It’s kind of a loose term,” Manty said.

“It could be as simple as wearing a pair of Christmas jammies, holding a hot cocoa and your book, to going out in front of a Christmas blow-up and taking your picture in front of a blow-up Santa Claus. As long as there’s a Christmas book and something festive in there, you are good to go.”

Those without a Christmas book handy are also encouraged to visit the library to take one out for reading and photographing. Submissions for the photo contest can be email to with the subject “Season’s Readings.”

Book bundles

While at the library, it’s as good a time as any to get in on some of the non-competitive plans the staff have cooked up for the holidays, including crafting kits and pre-assembled book bundles that will be perfect for keeping the whole family cozy on those long winter nights. The craft bags will be available as supplies last at the library and at Betty’s, with a different craft for kids between the ages of 4 and 8, and older kids between the ages of 8 and 12.

The Christmas Book Bundles are one more item on offer from the library this season, and are also split so they appeal to kids and adults.

“A lot of our parents who come to story time or are active patrons, may be aware we do Story Sacks for children, which are 10 preselected stories we put in a bag that you can take out,” Manty said.

“For Christmas, what we have decided to do is shake it up and make Christmas bundles. What we have done is we have decided to put together nine children’s Christmas books from the library collection with one wrapped Christmas board book that the child can keep along with two candy canes, two hot chocolates, an activity book, a sticker and a tote bag that you get to take home with you to keep.”

“What we are doing for the adult Christmas bundles is we are putting together three Christmas books,” she continued.

“Our choices are one fiction and two non-fiction books, but adults can pick three books out on their own, and they will also get themselves hot chocolate and a candy cane, because who doesn’t like sweets?”
As the custom-designed tote bags are limited, those interested in a Christmas book bundle must call the library and sign up to receive one.

All-in-all, there’s no shortage of things to do at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre this holiday season, and even though it won’t be like a regular year, Manty said the library staff are just excited to be able to help spread a little festive cheer in whatever way they can.

“We’re very excited that there’s just so much we can do,” she said.

“We’re just hoping to bring a little Christmas cheer to the community. We’re so bummed out we can’t do our regular programming like the orchestra and crafts, so we really just wanted to reach out and let the community know ‘we’re here and we care about you.’”

For more information about these holiday programs, contact the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre at 274-9879, or check out their Facebook page or website