Library system is 75!

  • Sep. 12, 2011 4:00 p.m.

The Vancouver Island Regional Library, which runs four library branches on Haida Gwaii, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month. VIRL started in 1936 as a very small library system serving Vancouver Island from headquarters in Nanaimo, thanks to a $6,500 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In those early years, the library system had 12,600 books, six branches and seven van routes through central Vancouver Island. Today, there are 38 branches holding more than 1.1 million items, making it the 13th largest library in Canada. People frequently wonder about the future of libraries. “E-books are huge; the internet is where people find information. Why do we need libraries?” said Rosemary Bonanno, executive director of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. “The answer comes in three parts: Libraries embrace the digital age. Libraries bring technology to everyone. Traditional library materials, services and programs are alive and well.” Here on Haida Gwaii, there are library branches in Masset, Queen Charlotte, Port Clements and Sandspit. Masset, Charlotte and Port all joined VIRL in 1983, and Sandspit, which was previously served by a book mobile/deposit station, joined in 1987.

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