Okanagan Regional Library - Vernon Branch. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Okanagan Regional Library - Vernon Branch. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Okanagan Regional Library welcomes new board members

The board is now turning attention to reopening curtailed services when COVID restrictions ease

The Okanagan Regional Library Board of Trustees is welcoming new members, having held elections for vacant positions at its Wednesday (Feb. 17) meeting.

The new trustees joining the ORL board are Louise Wallace Richmond of Salmon Arm, Todd York of Spallumcheen, Doug Findlater of West Kelowna and Subrina Monteith of the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District.

The board then elected its new chair, Sherry Philpott-Adhikary, who is serving her sixth year on the board and is the former ORL vice-chair and personnel committee chair.

In addition to her years on the library board and council, Philpott-Adhikary is retired from a career in education. She replaces outgoing Chair Karla Kozakevich, who had completed her eight-year maximum term on the board.

Findlater was elected as vice-chair while Monteith was tapped as personnel committee chair and liaison to the British Columbia Library Trustees Association. Oliver’s Davids Mattes will serve as finance committee chair and Kelowna’s Loyal Woolridge was elected to the policy and planning committee chair position.

READ MORE: Okanagan Regional Library challenges young readers

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board also received a recommendation to postpone work on a new strategic plan until ORL can recover from the effects of COVID-19 and re-assess communities’ needs in a post-COVID world.

Staff updates to the board outlined an increase in demand for e-Books and e-Audiobooks since the pandemic began, even during the months in which libraries were open for phyiscal lending.

Physical lending also returned to near-normal levels.

“Even with the lack of in-person programming and other COVID-19 restrictions, the physical circulation of books, magazines, and other materials has recovered back to 90 per cent of the previous year, where they totalled about 2.7 million circulations,” marketing director Michael Utko said in an ORL press release.

Physical ORL libraries seem to have been sorely missed by members of the public during COVID-related disruptions, according to Utko.

“There has been a lot of positive feedback librarians have received from patrons upon reopening library doors expressing how they so appreciate being able to visit their branches once again to browse and borrow.”

Other meeting highlights include staff members’ hope to gradually increase seating space and add services that have been curtailed during the pandemic, once COVID-19 restrictions start to ease.

The board also discussed a potential partnership with another non-profit organization to begin a Peer Navigator pilot program, which would place people who have recently transitioned from homelessness, addiction, or other disadvantaged situations to work in the downtown Kelowna Library branch to more easily support members of those disadvantaged communities in finding information and receiving services.

READ MORE: Okanagan reference librarians produce quirky podcast


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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