Thursday May 19, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
People will see improvements at their local public libraries, including expanded digital collections, upgraded, barrier-free spaces, enhanced programming, improved air circulation and 24-hour access to the internet.
This is due to a one-time investment of $8 million in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding, announced May 17 by the BC NDP caucus.
“B.C.’s public libraries have been on the forefront of supporting people during the pandemic through print and digital resources, barrier-free community spaces and reliable internet access,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs.
“I’ve spoken with libraries right across B.C., from cities to our smallest towns, and this funding from the Province will have an enormous impact on their capacity to keep doing what they do: keep us all connected through a love of learning,” says Cullen.
Recovery funding to 71 libraries:
A total of $8 million in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding is being distributed between 71 public libraries, six library federations and three library service partners in BC.
The COVID-19 relief and recovery funding is being distributed between 71 public libraries, six library federations and three library service partners. This funding addresses costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, supports emergency response and planning, and adapts services for recovery.
Every public library system receives at least one form of local government funding, while some libraries may receive funding from both a regional district and a municipality.
Greater Victoria & Vancouver Island libraries:
Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) is receiving $164,517.79 in funding.
GVPL libraries include three branches in the west shore: Goudy Branch (downtown Langford), Heritage Branch (in Westhills), and the Juan de Fuca branch (in Colwood).
The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) system received $180,195.79. There are over 35 VIRL branches, including in Nanaimo, the Cowichan Valley, Sooke and Tofino.
“I’m very grateful to our local libraries for so quickly shifting how they provided services to ensure that members of our community could still access books, materials and information they needed,” said Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin).
“This funding will help cover pandemic related costs and support libraries to continue to offer such valuable services,” says Dean.
“This one-time boost in funding will have a significant, positive impact on the ability of public libraries to improve access to all types of library resources, services and programs, with the goal of building resilient communities,” said Mike Gagel, president, British Columbia Library Trustees Association. “With extra funding, public libraries can provide services that put people first, enabling B.C. citizens to build skills that help build economies and make life more affordable.”
Libraries can use this new funding to enhance services and fill gaps created by the pandemic. This may include adapting their physical spaces, delivering computer and virtual technology training, and developing programs that help people build deeper social and community connections.
Enhancing inclusion and accessibility:
“As we move into the next stages of pandemic recovery, this provincial investment will go a long way to enhancing inclusion, accessibility and will help to tackle the digital divide in B.C.,” said Kevin Millsip, executive director, BC Libraries Cooperative. “We’re excited to work with the Province to help libraries help people.”
Libraries support local and province-wide initiatives, working together to increase the province-wide collection of ebooks, magazines and other online services that people can access using their library cards.
“People are accessing books and magazines digitally, more than ever before. This investment will go a long way towards ensuring people can connect and learn through our libraries, in ways that reflect this day and age,” says Lana Popham, MLA (Saanich South).
===== Quick Facts:
- Government provides $14 million in annual funding toward operating costs at B.C.’s public libraries.
- In 2020, the Province provided a one-time $3-million investment to public libraries for digital services, online collections, public computer access and internet connectivity, to expand people’s access to library services.
- People used digital resources from B.C. public libraries almost 16 million times in 2020, a 47% increase over the previous year.