Library consultation meetings hear islanders

  • Dec. 18, 2009 1:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Islanders in four communities had creative ideas for library officials during recent Vancouver Island Regional Library public consultations. The consultations were part of the library system’s strategic planning process and new director Rosemary Bonanno travelled to the islands to take part in three meetings during the week ending Dec. 11. The final meeting took place in Masset on Dec. 17 without her. “Each community was different,” said Lorelee Parker, based on the islands as a community support technician for VIRL. The meeting in Queen Charlotte was the largest and the happiest with 34 people attending on Dec. 9, she said. “They had creative ideas about improving the library without spending too much money,” she said. One idea was to make a reader’s nook with a comfortable chair and corkboard nearby where users could post and exchange ideas about books. Ms Parker said the board could offer a “current obsession corner” where people can learn about books that others love. Library patrons also wanted new books to be in larger more visible displays so they don’t have to scan the shelves. In Sandspit, library patrons were less happy. They wanted better hours and a larger space. Currently the library is only open on Tuesdays from 3- 6:30 pm and Thursdays from 3-8 pm. Patrons would like it open on Saturdays and possibly some mornings. In Port Clements, people also wanted changes to the hours, hoping for more time available to adults on the computers. “They want it open more hours when children are in school,” she said. Other than that, people in Port said they loved the new library and the fact that it is integrated with the school library. They said multi-purpose facilities are a good idea that other communities should consider. People also suggested offering coffee, as Port no longer has a coffee shop. The halls outside the library were built wide to accommodate other usage, says Ms Parker, and the library is considering the idea. “We need to crunch the numbers on that.” The Masset meeting took place on Dec. 17. Around 20 people came and they appreciated management’s attempt to gather input. “They felt listened to,” she said. The building is the biggest concern in Masset. The old log building is owned by the village and is starting to rot. “People said it is difficult to get action from city hall,” said Ms Parker. They also wanted morning hours. Masset Library is open Tuesdays 2-6 pm, Thursdays 2-8 pm and Saturdays 12-5 pm. All in all, the point of the meetings was to consider the future of the library system, she said. VIRL lost 20 percent of its operating budget after funding cuts last summer (a loss of $460,000) and with new management coming in at the same time, changes are afoot. But, said Ms Parker, the new management wants to assure patrons that their strategic ideas include “giving the public what they want instead of getting the public what the library what the library administration thinks they want.” She said they are also committed to ensuring that Haida Gwaii feels less isolated. Part of this strategy was Ms Parker’s new full-time position as community support technician for the islands.