The VIRL serves more than 430,000 people in 39 branches, a virtual branch and a books-by-mail service. — J.R. Rardon photo

Vancouver Island libraries approve budget increase

VIRL 2018-22 financial plan adds focus on First Nations

A stronger working relationship with First Nations is a key initiative in the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s 2018-22 financial plan, the board chair said following Saturday’s board meeting.

The VIRL Board of Trustees adopted its 2018-22 financial plan at the Sept. 16 meeting. The balanced budget of $36,487,912 for 2018 includes investing in innovative programming, collections and resources, digital technologies and innovations and committing to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Municipal and rural levies will contribute $22,092,086 to the library budget, an overall increase of 3.98 per cent or a per capita increase of $1.19.

VIRL board chair and Qualicum Beach Coun. Barry Avis said 24 of its 39 branches will be getting First Nations elders to speak on Aboriginal issues and history. The initiative, Indigenous Voices, is meant to “strengthen our communities’ relationships, advance reconciliation and affirm our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the (Canadian Federation of Library Associations),” according to a VIRL report on the financial plan.

In each quarter an elder would be invited to come to a branch, including Parksville, and share stories, skills and knowledge. Events would include storytelling, talking circles and discussions on Indigenous culture, heritage, protocols, skills, history, residential schools and Truth and Reconciliation. The elder would be paid a $100 honorarium.

The VIRL serves more than 430,000 people in 39 branches (including Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Bowser), a virtual branch and a books-by-mail service. It’s the fifth-largest library system in B.C., circulating more than five million items including books, magazines, CDs and DVDs.

The $1.19 per capita increase is broken down into eight components: wages and benefits ($.049), computer costs ($0.01), debt principal and interest ($0.03), administrative costs ($0.06), library materials ($0.10), projects funded by reserve ($0.11), appropriations ($0.10) and branch facility costs ($0.10).

The City of Parksville, Avis said, is planning to do some upgrades with the floor in its library branch.

“At the same time, we’ve slated through the library (board), to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on upgrades ourselves while they’re doing their upgrades,” Avis said.

Coun. Mary Beil, who represents the city on the library board, reported to city council during its regular meeting Monday evening (Sept. 18) that VIRL has adjusted its schedule for facilities upgrades as part of the financial plan.

“Our library be getting some upgrades this fall, and there are many other libraries in the larger library system that may have air quality issues or be in a poor state,” she said. “So there’s a long-term plan, so that at the end of the time frame all libraries in the system are up to a certain standard. That time frame has been extended out to five years to lessen the burden on taxpayers.”

In the coming years, Avis said, there won’t be any facilities work at the Qualicum Beach branch until at least 2021 and the Bowser branch is relatively new, so he said there won’t be any work for about another four years.

Story tips: lauren.collins@pqbnews.com

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