Residents say the Oyama Library is more than books in a nine-minute and eight-second long video that looks to persuade decision-makers to keep the library open.
The small community library is set to close, but Okanagan Regional Library will continue serving the Oyama community from its main Lake Country branch and through local programming.
The decision to close the branch was made after learning the building was put up for sale by the Oyama Community Association.
A sale would mean the library, which is only open eight hours a week, would need to renegotiate an agreement with the new owners. This potential sale triggered an internal review of the library’s effectiveness of services provided and the associated costs.
Based on findings, the board agreed resources would better serve the entire District of Lake Country if they were relocated to the main branch.
“Although we were expecting some kind of decision, I don’t think this was the decision we were expecting,” resident Alsion Beaumont said.
She turned to social media to call on neighbours and friends to share what the library meant to them and captured it all on video on Sept. 28. She released the final cut on Oct. 3 on YouTube.
Dozens of residents, of all ages, expressed their love for the local library that has been a hub of community building.
New-to-the-area mothers said the Oyama library is where they met new friends for themselves and their families. It’s where their children met their classmates ahead of school’s start.
“This community library puts the ‘community’ into library. I met my neighbours, I got to know all kinds of people in Oyama and it’s the most beautiful location,” another resident said of the site overlooking Wood Lake. “It’s the library with the best view in the whole system.”
“It might only be a tiny library and it might only be open two evenings a week but it really makes a huge difference to this community,” Beaumont said.
The sudden decision to close this location made her fear for other small locations.
“What does this mean for other small branches like Falkland and Cherryville,” she said. “Any of the small ones are under threat.”
She is, however, grateful ORL plans to continue some outreach services.
“The piece that is being taken away is the magic in it,” she said. “The interactions.”
ORL’s Sept. 22 decision says the board and management “empathize with the community and appreciate that changes to local services are difficult, particularly for small communities.”
“It was a difficult decision to make,” marketing and communications director Michal Utko said. “But in the long run, it will benefit more people.”