The Rossland Public Library (RPL), along with 70 other public libraries in the province, received much needed funding from the NDP government earlier this month.
The RPL will receive more than $114,000 from a fund that will oversee $45 million in grants distributed to 71 libraries throughout the province.
“We are so thrilled to be receiving a one time grant from the provincial government due to a surplus in the overall budget for British Columbia,” said RPL director Stacey Boden. “We will keep fighting for the provincial government to unfreeze library funding so that we can continue to innovate and make sure that we are meeting the needs of our community.”
The one-time compensatory gesture is appreciated, says Boden, but still does not address the freeze on annual funding. The province provides $14 million in annual operational funding to B.C. libraries. That number has not changed since 2010, while library expenses continue to rise and resources suffer.
The RPL director gives a big thank you to the City of Rossland and the residents for their continued support. Many libraries across the province struggle to maintain adequate staff and hours, yet continue to provide excellent and essential service to their residents through creative programming, new materials and databases.
“When libraries were deemed essential services during the pandemic, it became quickly apparent that we are often the hearts of our communities,” Boden said.
Incredibly, nearly 50 per cent of the Rossland community has a library card, and those card holders are active and vocal participants when it comes to letting the RPL know what they would like to see now and in the future.
“We have heard the response from our users that they wanted more programming, access to computers, printing services, free WiFi, and a safe space to gather with friends and family, inside or outside.”
The RPL membership and facility use has increased substantally over the past few years with no signs of slowing, so the current funding will make an impact.
“It can mean the difference between having summer programming or not, being open four days a week or five, having a working printer/scanner, or even being able to bring in new books and films,” said Boden.
The funds help local library users benefit from modernized technology, enhanced programs and services, and have better access to information.
Boden says that most of the funding will be used for behind the scenes upgrades, but patrons may have noticed that its long-time program, Books & Babies, now has a beautiful story-time chair and a rug for families to sit and play on.
“Launching off from the Books & Babies upgrade, our children’s section will be getting a fun, playful update that we hope will entice more families to come in and use the space.”
The funds will also go toward the RPL hosting more one-time events like the fall Escape Room, Friend Speed Dating, Dehydration workshops, Art Nights, and its Positive Mindset Speaker Series that goes April 20, at 5 p.m.
“We are always trying to find new ways to engage with our adult community and to teach everyone something new through partnerships with local artisans and organizations,” added Boden. “This one-time grant is invaluable to libraries like RPL that rely so heavily on their community.”
The Trail and District Public Library received more than $170,000, while the Beaver Valley Public Library close to $125,000. Castlegar and District Public Library received over $196,000 and the Nakusp Public Library more than $101,000.