Library services in small communities are under scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean closures.
An Okanagan Regional Library committee will assess how services are provided outside of Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna and Salmon Arm, and examine whether alternative methods exist.
“This doesn’t mean a reduction of branches,” said director Mike Macnabb.
Lesley Dieno, ORL executive director, believes the agency must review its activities if it’s going to be responsible to taxpayers and library users.
“We’re testing ourselves against our own standards,” she said.
“What’s the most effective way to look at providing a whole bundle of services? Could we provide services in a bookmobile? What if we provided a kiosk in a community?”
Dieno doesn’t believe residents in small communities should fear existing branches will close.
“Why do they figure they will lose their branch? The system is doing well and it’s busy,” she said.
“There is no goal here but to review our model.”
As part of the process, Macnabb hopes the committee will consider areas that currently don’t have easy access to library services.
“They pay taxes and we’re obligated to provide a service,” he said.
Among the areas are the North Westside (Fintry-Killiney Beach) and Malakwa.
However, Macnabb doesn’t believe residents in those communities should expect ORL to be opening new branches.
“We’re not talking about bricks and mortars. We could work with community associations to provide the service,” he said, adding that there is already a community-run library on the North Westside.
“Maybe we can provide a grant to assist these people.”
Director Noreen Guenther is also interested in looking at ways to meet the needs of residents in areas that currently don’t have a library branch.
“Do we provide the bookmobile again? Is there an opportunity to provide a service?” she said.
The committee should complete its review some time in 2012.
Now that summer vacation is over and students are back in school, demand is growing for increased access to the library.
Therefore starting this Sunday, the Vernon branch of the Okanagan Regional Library will once again open its doors to serve the public on Sundays.
During this time of year, demand at the Vernon location, at 3001 32nd Avenue, increases on weekends. The branch will be open on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. and will continue until the end of March 2012.