Vancouver Island Regional Library received approximately $181,000 out of the B.C. government’s $8 million in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding to libraries announced this May.
The one-time payment is being distributed amongst 71 public libraries, six library federations and three library service partners. The funding can be used for enhancing services and filling gaps created by the pandemic, the province says, such as adapting their physical spaces, delivering computer and virtual technology training, program development and expanding digital collections.
VIRL says $135,000 of funding received will go to COVID-19 relief and recovery and $45,000 will go to emergency preparedness, but did not have specifics at this time.
“Our leadership team is reviewing grant-aligned priority funding across the region, and we will report back once decisions on how to deploy the funding have been finalized,” David Carson, VIRL’s communications director, said.
The province also provided libraries $3 million in relief funding in 2020. In that year, digital resources from B.C. public libraries were accessed 16 million times, a 47 per cent increase over the previous year, according to the province.
In 2021, VIRL spent an average of $22 per print item and $30 per ebook. Sixty-five per cent of the $3 million collection budget last year went to print materials while 35 per cent was spent on digital content, which includes ebooks and audiobooks. The library system acquired 85,000 new print items and over 9,000 ebooks and audiobooks last year.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder