British Columbians 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.
The changes are coming thanks to a one-time, $8-million investment in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding, according to a news release by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
“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.”
The funding will be distributed between 71 public libraries, six library federations and three library service partners. It is aimed at addressing COVID-19 pandemic costs, supporting emergency response and planningand adapting services for recovery, according to the release.
“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,” said Mike Gagel, president, British Columbia Library Trustees Association.
Libraries can use the funds 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.
British Columbians used digital resources from public libraries almost 16 million times in 2020, a 47 per cent increase over the previous year, according to the release.