Okanagan library celebrates 75 years

Okanagan Regional Library is getting ready to celebrate.

The valley wide organization is celebrating its 75th anniversary in March.

“This will be a special year at ORL as we celebrate our history and move forward with a strategic plan to keep library services relevant to our customers,” said Lesley Dieno, who has been executive director for 25 years.

“It’s mind-boggling to think of how the ORL has changed in the past several decades.”

When it began in 1936, ORL was comprised of a collection of less than 18,000 materials serving a resident base of about 25,000 people.

Compare that with 2010 numbers which include 29 branches spanning almost 60,000-square-kilometres of geography and serving a population base of 360,000 people.

The ORL’s employees number 240 managing a collection of more than 750,000 physical resources plus web and digital resources, computer terminals and wireless Internet, and a website that got 1.36 million hits last year.

“The Internet has vastly changed the way we deliver services, and that’s why we are doing a strategic plan to make informed decisions about where ORL goes in future,” said Dieno.

Research for the strategic plan included a random telephone survey of 1,000 residents within the ORL’s region, which spans from Golden south to Osoyoos.

Responses indicate that 74 per cent of residents use ORL, with 45 per cent of households reporting they have two or more library cards and 35 per cent saying they visit their local branch once a week.

Dieno hopes the 75th anniversary will be an opportunity to showcase all that ORL has to offer.

“A special blog has been created highlighting “75 years of stories at ORL that can be read at,” she said.

“And a system-wide open house happening simultaneously at all 29 branches is planned for March. Other contests, special events and information will occur throughout the year. Check for ongoing details.”

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