Cortes library to open in November

Cortes Islanders who have been waiting for more than a year for their library to re-open will have to wait just one month longer

Cortes Islanders who have been waiting for more than a year for their library to re-open will have to wait just one month longer.

Vancouver Island Regional Library says the re-located library is expected to open in mid-November on Cortes which has been without a library building for nearly a year and a half.

Since that time, islanders wanting to use the library have had to settle for a temporary holds location to return and pick up materials requested online through Vancouver Island Regional Library’s online system.

Natasha Bartlett, marking and communications director for Vancouver Island Regional Library, said the new library will be more than just a simple re-location.

“This new branch offers customers a designated children’s computer filled with educational and fun-filled software that promotes literacy, study tables, a new and enhanced collection, public access to computers and comfortable lounge seating,” Bartlett said.

“While the branch will be open to the public November 2013, an official opening celebration is planned for early-mid year 2014.”

Vancouver Island Regional Library is still waiting on some internal changes to be complete inside the new location – the former Linnaea Farm school building – that are necessary to accommodate the library before the doors can open.

For Cortes Islanders, the new facility has been a long-time coming since the regional library unexpectedly shut down the original Cortes branch in May 2012 due to concerns the floor may collapse.

Regional library closed the branch, which was operating out of the community hall in Manson’s Landing, after a safety inspector found the mezzanine floor was not strong enough to bear the weight of the library books.

Linnaea Farm stepped up to the plate and offered to house the library in the Twinflower wing – built in 2006 – of the alternative school which was closed in 2010 due to declining enrolment.

Brenda Leigh, Area D director and vice-chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library board, said Cortes is just one of eight new libraries opening this fall and municipalities and regional districts should be taking the opportunity to invest in new libraries.

“We should be jumping on the opportunities because the libraries are re-vitalizing communities,” Leigh said.

“It really moves your community forward so I’m really encouraging everyone to keep moving forward with these library plans.”

Quadra Island has recently seen such a success story. Since re-locating the library to Quathiaski Cove just more than a year ago, the number of visitors to the library has almost doubled, library membership has risen 24 per cent, participation rates in programs have nearly tripled and computer usage has gone up 175 per cent.

Jim Abram, director representing Quadra Island, said since the move from Heriot Bay there’s been “phenomenal use” of the library and he’s asking Vancouver Island Regional Library to consider opening the library one extra day a week, possibly on Mondays.

Campbell River is fourth on a priority list for new libraries but the city has looked into bumping itself up if it can provide the land.