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Vancouver Island Regional Library budget reflects economy, demand for services

‘Staff can continue to travel to each library on a… regular basis’ — Campbell River mgr. Joëlle Samson
The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) announced that many branches will be re-opening in the coming week. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL)’s recently-passed budget will help maintain service levels for libraries in Campbell River and the rest of the Strathcona Regional District.

The budget, which was adopted at the Sept. 24 meeting of the VIRL board of trustees, reflects both the state of the economy and the demand for services felt throughout the region. VIRL’s budget for the year is $33,140,504, of which municipal and regional levies will contribute $27,501,775. Over 2022, it is an average increase of 8.10 per cent. Support came from 86 per cent of trustees in attendance at the meeting.

“With costs rising everywhere, these are challenging times for organizations, governments, families, and individuals in every corner of VIRL’s service area,” says Gaby Wickstrom, Chair of the VIRL Board of Trustees. “I truly believe now more than ever is the time to commit to investing in our libraries. After all, libraries ensure equitable access to technology, educational materials, children’s resources, and so much more, no matter your circumstances or challenges. As always, I am proud to lead a Board that was able to deliver a budget that will not compromise on service, and that affirms our confidence in and commitment to our world-class library system.”

Joëlle Samson, who is library manager for the Campbell River branch as well as other branches throughout the Strathcona region, says that the budget will help maintain current levels of service through the large service area she manages.

“The passing of this budget means that all VIRL branches, including Campbell River, will be able to maintain the service levels that folks expect from their library, including no fines on materials,” she said. “For libraries located in the Strathcona Regional District, which are supported by the Campbell River Branch, it means that staff can continue to travel to each library on a semi-regular basis to provide programming and outreach to communities. Branches supported by Campbell River include Quadra Island, Cortes Island, Tahsis, Gold River and Sayward libraries.”

In all, VIRL works with 38 local governments across a 42,000 square kilometre service area. The library offers accessible, cost-free spaces in 39 communities, and access to downloadable content, books, movies, music, technology and regular events. The 2023 budget helps with VIRL’s commitment to going permanently fine-free, to ensure the broadest community access to the library’s collections and services.

“Like so many other sectors, libraries have seen significant increases in the costs to deliver our critical services,” says Joel Adams, VIRL’s Director of Finance. “With 97 per cent of our costs fixed, there is little room for us to shave our budget without negatively impacting our services.”

The cost of adding to VIRL’s collections is subject to annual increases driven by real and market inflation. In 2023, VIRL will maintain collections expenditures at 13 per cent of its total operating budget — the same as in previous years. VIRL intends to balance the tension of historically high demand for our digital collections and relatively sustained physical collections usage, with rising collections costs.

“Budget 2023 reflects VIRL’s projected economic operating conditions, including high inflation, increasing demand for services, supply chain challenges, regulatory pressures and the increasingly complex operating realities in the communities we serve,” says a release from VIRL.

The library will also be working on implementing a new strategic plan, which is addressed in the budget. Visit for more information.

For more information about the 2023– 2027 Financial Plan, including the full budget package, visit

RELATED: New Campbell River library on hold for at least 12 months

The story of the Campbell River Library

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