BC Government Invests $3 million in Public Libraries to Enhance Digital Services
April 9, 2020
The Government of British Columbia yesterday announced a one-time $3-million investment in public libraries to enhance digital services and resources.
“Part of these funds, $1.8 million, will be allocated through the BC Libraries Co-operative to support electronic resource licensing and help expand online common collections for all B.C. public libraries. The additional $1.2 million will be distributed directly to libraries.”
News Release – Families throughout B.C. to benefit from enhanced digital library services
Book lovers of all ages will soon have greater access to online learning and reading resources, thanks to a one-time $3-million government investment in public libraries.
“It’s important that people have access to digital literacy programs, ebooks and online learning,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “I am proud to see the innovative ways our libraries continue to support and connect people who want to learn, explore and be entertained through digital resources. This funding will help bring libraries into the homes of families throughout the province.”
Libraries can use this new funding to provide enhanced digital and connectivity services by expanding Wi-Fi capabilities, offering community digital literacy training, enhancing online library programs and purchasing technology, such as scanners, tablets, microphones and cameras. Libraries will work together to deliver a provincewide collection of ebooks, magazines and other online services that people will be able to access with their library card.
Part of these funds, $1.8 million, will be allocated through the BC Libraries Co-operative to support electronic resource licensing and help expand online common collections for all B.C. public libraries. The additional $1.2 million will be distributed directly to libraries.
The ministry has released a new strategic plan for provincial public library services in British Columbia. The plan was developed with library partners and focuses on making sure British Columbians experience library services that are engaging, accessible and responsive to their needs.
“Public libraries are an important part our government’s plan to make life better and more affordable for British Columbians of all ages,” Fleming said. “Libraries improve the services people count on and help provide them with the skills they need to succeed as we work together to build a strong, sustainable economy throughout our province.”
Libraries provide vital services to British Columbians of all ages so they can have free, equitable access to quality sources of information. Libraries increase opportunities for people to contribute to their communities, reducing inequality to information access, helping close the divide between poverty and opportunity, while helping remove barriers that can hold people back. Public libraries are an important part of the B.C. government’s vision for a province that works for everyone.
Dana McFarland, chair, BC Libraries Co-operative –
“The BC Libraries Co-operative was built to help libraries help people. This funding means British Columbians will have access to more digital content and will enable us to invest in longer-term projects that benefit our communities. We thank the Province and look forward to working together with our members to support people by improving access to public libraries’ online collections and internet through connectivity initiatives.”
Scott Hargrove, chair, Association of BC Public Library Directors, and CEO, Fraser Valley Regional Library –
“Public libraries play a key role in helping our communities connect to the digital world. This funding is very welcome, especially given the ever-increasing demand on library digital resources. We look forward to supporting innovation in our communities while continuing to work with the ministry on its strategic plan for libraries.”
Mike Gagel, president, BC Library Trustees Association, and chair, Prince George Public Library Board –
“The Ministry of Education’s new Strategic Plan for BC Public Libraries, along with a $3-million one-time grant, demonstrates the government’s understanding of the important and unique role that public libraries play in building resilient communities. The plan and the one-time funding to support digital services and infrastructure indicate that the ministry has heard and taken to heart the message from the BC Public Library Partners and our supporters that investing in B.C.’s public libraries is investing in B.C. communities for everyone.”
- Government provides $14 million in annual funding toward operating costs at B.C.’s public libraries.
- There are 71 public libraries with 249 branches throughout B.C., serving 99% of B.C.’s population.
- Over 2 million people have library cards and access the services offered through 249 locations in British Columbia.
- There are 700 library trustees, 3,900 library employees and 2,400 volunteers in B.C.’s public libraries.
- B.C.’s public libraries hold almost 6 million volumes and 3.75 million titles in ebook/e-audiobook collections, plus many other digital resources including magazines, music, learning tools and films.
- People used digital resources from B.C. public libraries over 9.5 million times in 2018, including 5 million ebook/e-audiobook circulations and 4.5 million uses of other digital resources.
BC Public Library Partners Response to Provincial Funding Announcement
We hope that this message finds you all navigating this time as well as can be, and that each of you has the support that you need to navigate this time of uncertainty.
We wanted to share some good news with you all, and extend a heartfelt thank you.
As you may have already heard, the Provincial Government has announced one-time increased funding of $3 Million for Public Libraries in BC. This funding, which will be allocated by the province in the coming weeks, is welcome news, and is a direct result of the advocacy work undertaken by the Library community and our allies across BC throughout 2019 and early 2020.
On Wednesday March 25th, the BC Public Library Partners had a call with Minister Rob Fleming and Ministry staff. On that call, the Minister shared the news of the one-time funding allocation with us, and thanked us for our collective advocacy efforts on behalf of Public Libraries. It was clear from that meeting and the Minister’s remarks that the work put in by library patrons, staff, board members and community members, as well as the many motions passed by city councils across British Columbia in support of more funding for Public Libraries, had a direct impact on the Provincial Government.
Your work and creativity helped shine a light, through personal stories and images, of the many important roles that our public libraries play in each of your communities.
We know that Minister Fleming loves libraries and has been championing the sector within government. Your advocacy efforts, coupled with the Minister’s work, has resulted in the first additional investment in Public Libraries in over 10 years, a remarkable achievement, long overdue. We want to thank the Provincial Government and Minister Fleming for this one-time investment.
The Partners are continuing to discuss ways we can best support the sector during this period, and how best to advocate on behalf of libraries acknowledging the economic landscape that we know will be vastly changed. One thing is certain that the current challenge presents opportunities for libraries to play a critical role in the social and economic recovery of communities; the stories of which could be key to advocacy in the future.
We will be back in touch with you in May with more details for upcoming provincial advocacy initiatives including messaging and letter templates for the 2021 provincial budget consultations that will take place this summer.
Until then, take good care all,
The BC Public Library Partners:
- Association of BC Public Library Directors (ABCPLD)
- BC Library Association (BCLA)
- BC Libraries Cooperative (BCLC)
- BC Library Trustees’ Association (BCLTA)
(Via BC Public Library Partners)