Home Sections Literacy & Libraries New VIRL executive director now 4-months-in

New VIRL executive director now 4-months-in

Sunday January 2, 2022 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


The new executive director of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL), Ben Hyman, has now been on the job for four months, arriving during the Delta wave of the pandemic and managing the library system now into the Omicron wave.

Lending of collections (books, audio, e-books) has shifted significant to digital/online during the pandemic, and the role of libraries as a community hub is a challenge at a time of public health physical distancing requirements. Mandatory vaccination is required of all VIRL staff, effective February 11, 2022.

VIRL, logo
Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is headquartered in Nanaimo.

Hyman’s appointment was announced last summer on July 8, and he started in the position by summer’s end on August 25, 2021.

He was previously the Chief Librarian at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo for four years. The VIRL head office and main branch are in Nanaimo.

Board chair welcome:

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to welcome Ben Hyman as our new Executive Director,” said Gaby Wickstrom, Chair of the VIRL Board of Trustees (representative from the Town of Port McNeill since 2019), last summer. The board said they looked forward to his ideas as they “set a path for VIRL’s future”.

gaby wickstrom, virl, chair
Gaby Wickstrom, VIRL Board Chair.

The VIRL board is comprised of elected officials (mayor or councillor) from each of the municipalities or electoral areas where VIRL has a branch in the community. From the south Vancouver Island and west shore region, board members include Mike Hicks (CRD) since 2009, Jeff Bateman (District of Sooke) since 2019, Duncan McMaster (Tofino) since 2019, and Mike Wilson (Cowichan Valley) since 2021.

Skill set:

The board not only chose someone with a librarian’s skill set but said they feel Hyman’s career-long working relationships will be of great benefit to the VIRL organization, which includes from having worked at the Ministry of Education (2006 to 2011), moving from a management position to Director of Strategic Alignment.

Hyman was the founding Executive Director of the BC Libraries Cooperative (2011-2017). During his career, he has delivered responsive public services and infrastructure projects across coastal BC, including many of the rural, remote, and Indigenous communities in VIRL’s service area.

“I see a tremendous opportunity to build on VIRL’s history and successes to develop its full potential as a purpose-driven organization,” Hyman said. He notes “the unique character of the region” and is driven by a sense of collaboration.

In making their decision, the Board was particularly impressed by Hyman’s depth and scope of experience and his track record of success in executing complex, multi-stakeholder initiatives across the public and not-for-profit sectors, combined with a passion for public service.

monk office

Ben Hyman takes over as the Executive Director from Rosemary Bonanno, who held the position from 2007 to 2021, ushering VIRL through a significant series of changes.

===== RELATED:

VIRL operational vaccination policy kicks in Feb 11 (January 2, 2022)

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Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends.

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