Crews work on the exterior of the new library in Vernon Friday. The building is expected to be finished by May 5

Crews work on the exterior of the new library in Vernon Friday. The building is expected to be finished by May 5

Greater Vernon library opens new chapter in May

Greater Vernon's new 30,000 square foot library on 30th Avenue will officially open to the public on May 5...

The date’s been set for the unveiling of Greater Vernon’s new library.

The 30,000-square-foot branch on 30th Avenue  will be officially opened to the public May 5.

“It was exciting and satisfying (to select a date) after all of these years,” said Lesley Dieno, Okanagan Regional Library executive director, of planning and locating a site.

“It’s taken a long time to get to this point.”

The opening will coincide with the Friends of the Library book sale at the curling club May 3 to 6, and other special activities are being considered.

“We want to have a really good party,” said Dieno.

“This will be everyone’s first chance to look inside.”

The new branch will replace the existing facility, which is about 13,000-square-feet in size, and Dieno says it will reflect evolving activities in libraries.

“The book collection isn’t getting bigger but other areas are getting larger — meeting spaces, reading areas and space for computers,” she said.

Dieno’s experience is that people don’t just quickly drop into a library to find something to read. They may be there for hours.

“It’s become the living room and office for more people.”

There were 252,507 visits to the current 32nd Avenue branch in 2010 (2011 figures are not available yet) or just under 5,000 a week.

In 2010, 572,988 items were circulated at the branch, up four per cent from the year before. That was the highest circulation rate within ORL.

Computer workstations and wireless access were used more than 28,000 times (they are capped at one hour per customer per day).

Statistics also show that 14,607 people attended 722 programs in 2010, including story times, class visits, author readings and supervised exams.

The goal is to attract more residents into the new facility on 30th Avenue.

“We will be able to do more programming in this branch,” said Dieno.

It’s anticipated that ORL will get occupancy of the new building from the contractor during the first week of April.

That will then launch the process of shifting over staff, books and other materials.

“We’re thinking April 25 may possibly be the last day of operations at the existing branch but that’s not finalized yet because we’re still working on the moving plan,” said Dieno.

ORL reports that construction of the new facility is currently within its $13.6 million budget.