A one-time investment by the province of $8 million in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding will help see improvements to local public libraries across BC.

According to a release by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, the funding will help expand digital collections, create upgraded, barrier-free spaces, enhance programming, improve air circulation and introduce 24-hour access to the internet.

The funding builds on the province’s $3 million dollar investment in 2020, which assisted with digital services, online collections, public computer access and internet connectivity in order to expand the public’s access to library services. 

“B.C.’s public libraries have been on the forefront of supporting people during the pandemic through print and digital resources, barrier-free community spaces and reliable internet access,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs. 

“I’ve spoken with libraries right across B.C., from cities to our smallest towns, and this funding from the Province will have an enormous impact on their capacity to keep doing what they do: keep us all connected through a love of learning.”

The funding, which will address costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, will be spread among 71 libraries. 

Libraries will be able to use this funding to enhance services and fill gaps created by the pandemic, including adapting their physical space, delivering computer and virtual technology training and more. 

“This one-time boost in funding will have a significant, positive impact on the ability of public libraries to improve access to all types of library resources, services and programs, with the goal of building resilient communities,” said Mike Gagel, president, British Columbia Library Trustees Association. 

“With extra funding, public libraries can provide services that put people first, enabling B.C. citizens to build skills that help build economies and make life more affordable.”

According to the province, people used digital resources at BC libraries almost 16 million times in 2020, a 47 per cent increase from the year prior.

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