Thursday February 10, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated 3:35 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The wait is almost over for library lovers in Sooke and Juan de Fuca area.
The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) says that “for months” the community has watched with interest as the building on Wadams Way has taken on its eye-catching circular form on a previously undeveloped parcel of land known as Lot A.
But the long wait has actually been over a decade. Meetings about designing and building a new library in Sooke began as far back as 2009. There was a development hurdle in June 2019, and finally construction got underway in October 2020 during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
A construction tour was conducted by VIRL and the District of Sooke back in June 2021, to show off the construction progress. That was attended by VIRL and District of Sooke Mayor and some councilors and staff as well as media.
VIRL leadership spearheaded this accomplishment through many hurdles over the years, much of it under the direction of then-executive director Rosemary Bonanno. New executive director Ben Hyman started in the job in August 2021.
The library is owned and operated by VIRL. The municipality donated the land after many years of debate about doing such a thing. The VIRL model in all the VIRL host communities around Vancouver Island is that the host municipality provides the land and VIRL undertakes the building design, construction and operational management.
Family Day season:
Now with construction nearly complete and most of the interior work in place, Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is targeting the week of February 21 to open the doors of the new Sooke Library to the public.
BC Family Day is on February 21 this year. It seems an appropriate time of year to welcome the community into their new community space.
“This project has been a priority for successive Boards and to see it so close to completion speaks to the commitment and dedication of many passionate people,” says Gaby Wickstrom, Chair of the VIRL Board of Trustees.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped get us here today, including Trustees past and present, Sooke Mayor and Council, District staff, and the entire community. I cannot wait to join the smiling faces of people experiencing their new library for the first time,” Wickstrom is quoted in a VIRL news release today.
Collection size has doubled:
The final collection size of approximately 35,000 items is double that of the old branch and will include thousands of opening day titles specifically curated for the community. With a total surface area of almost 13,500 square feet, library users will have plenty of space and amenities to pursue their passions and interests, conduct meetings, study, socialize, read, research, and explore.
Within a growing community:
“As anyone who has visited the Sooke region in recent years can attest, the community is developing quickly and is only poised to continue its growth,” says Sooke Mayor Maja Tait in VIRL’s release today.
The existing long-time Sooke Library location on Anna Marie Road was in leased space. “Beloved though it was, the old library simply did not have enough space to meet community expectations any longer,” Sooke’s mayor is quoted as saying.
Vibrant, well-used libraries are important component of healthy communities.
Features of the new library:
Some key features and amenities of the library include:
- Increased staffing
- Expanded hours of operation and program schedule
- Vibrant children’s area
- Fireplace lounge
- Laptop bar
- Study space
- Bookable rooms
- Makerspace with a 3D printer and other exciting technologies
The library also boasts several sustainability enhancements to help ensure its operations minimize environmental impacts. The branch has been built in alignment with the Wood First Initiative, which sources local, sustainably procured wood.
The parking area includes three electric vehicle charging stations for public use and one for staff, in addition to high-capacity underground bicycle parking.
To maintain a comfortable interior climate, the branch contains a solar shading device to prevent solar heat in the summer and allow heat gains in the winter.
The building’s roof is designed to capture rainwater and divert it to an absorbent rock pit and bioswale.
The building also includes provisions for future solar energy integration.
Grand opening in March:
Grand opening celebrations, including speeches, entertainment, and library tours, are being planned for later in March.
Further details will be provided as they become available, as will a firm date for the soft opening.
Additional details about all the features of the library are available on the project webpage.
Sooke Library construction gets underway mid-October (Oct 19, 2020)
Survey about new Sooke Library open to Nov 30 (Oct 8, 2020)
New day for Sooke: library construction to begin (Sept 22, 2020)
Sooke Library programs in January 2020 (Jan 1, 2020)
Sooke Library development dealing with permit hurdle (June 15, 2019)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been following the development of the Sooke Library since 2009. She attended many community open houses hosted by the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) over the years, as well as the on-site construction tour in June 2021.
Island Social Trends was previously West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and before that Sooke Voice News (2011-2013) and MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010).