Kitchener Public Library joins the Period Project in order to make menstrual products more accessible

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Photo by Kash Patel

Kitchener Public Library’s (KPL) main branch in Downtown Kitchener recently announced that they are joining The Period Project, an initiative designed to make menstrual products more accessible to those who need them.

The library began offering these products in their washrooms for patrons to use on Nov. 4.

“We are trying to provide more inclusive access to menstrual products, which is important to many of us in terms of creating a more equitable world, for women in particular, who are dealing with menstrual issues that can catch us by surprise,” Mary Chevreau, chief executive officer of KPL said.

This is an effort to expand the library’s current services and will cost an estimated $1,700 per year to continue funding it at the current location.

Chevreau recognizes the disparity that currently exists for people who menstruate but may not be able to afford the products they need in order to attend to their monthly cycles.

“It can be an expensive product, and not everyone has the funds to really buy those supplies, so that was the thinking behind it in terms of this period equity and menstrual products. So we are able — through donations frankly — to be able to provide [these] products through all the washrooms at Central to begin with,” Chevreau said.

KPL also plans to expand this service to the other library location in Waterloo Region.

We are trying to provide more inclusive access to menstrual products, which is important to many of us in terms of creating a more equitable world, for women in particular, who are dealing with menstrual issues that can catch us by surprise.

– Mary Chevreau, chief executive officer of Kitchener Public Library

“Yes, we will be [expanding the project]. The reason we started with Central, it’s just us, we own the building, we’re in the building, where many of our other community libraries are co-located, so it just takes a little more discussion and negotiation to ensure that every partner is comfortable with our decision to provide free menstrual products,” Chevreau said.

Recognizing the realities of period poverty and the need to assist the growing number of people who struggle with this difficult reality is a step in the right direction for the improved availability of services that are needed in the region.

Since revealing the initiative to the public, KPL has been met with generous support from the community.

“It’s been great [the public response]. It’s been completely positive. I think that a lot of women are very supportive and applaud us for making this decision and making it possible, and I think there are a lot of people who use our library who are quite grateful for it,” Chevreau said.

As well, the period supplies that are made available at the library are specifically provided in a way that best services the people who may need to use them, and KPL, who is supplying them.

“We decided to offer the supplies in baskets that are free for the taking in all of the washrooms, as opposed to having dispensing units that are on the market right now that provide free products, but the products themselves have to be purchased by that vendor, as opposed to just supplying it through the best price, for instance. So, we decided not to go the dispenser route, and so they’re just in baskets and they’re free to anyone who needs them,” Chevreau said.   

KPL is looking at this new project as just another way to improve and expand what they have to offer to library-goers in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

“Well I think public libraries, and this library, in particular, are all about equal access and equity of all kinds, and so this is just one more way that we can provide an inclusive, welcoming space and ensure that there is equitable access to everybody,” Chevreau said.

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