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Celebrating Canadian Library Month in British Columbia

October 3, 2017

Rob Fleming, British Columbia’s Minister of Education, and members of the BC Legislative Assembly—NDP MLA Anne Kang (Burnaby-Deer Lake) and Liberal MLA Dan Davies (Peace River North)—recognized Canadian Library Month and the value libraries deliver to BC communities.

News Release – A visit will get you thinking: October is Library Month


Victoria – Sunday, October 1, 2017 9:00 AM

The Province has declared October as Library Month ― a chance to recognize and celebrate the value libraries deliver to communities throughout B.C.

Learn a language, attend a speaker series, test out new technology, access free internet, borrow early literacy kits or family recreation, museum or art gallery passes; these are just a few of the varied programs and services that public libraries can offer.

During this month, libraries and library partners raise awareness of the valuable role libraries play in our lives.

Libraries ensure that all British Columbians have free access to trusted sources of information, workspace, interactive experiences, expertise and learning opportunities. Beyond borrowing books, libraries are where people go to explore an idea, test a theory, make community connections, find information and share knowledge. Libraries are increasingly offering a wider range of digital services such as coding workshops, 3-D printers, technology labs and robotics kits.

Libraries help people discover the joy of reading, develop new skills, form deep community ties, find a job, become entrepreneurs and participate in recreation and cultural experiences.  Last year in B.C., libraries hosted over 73,000 programs, provided 3,500 computers for public use and circulated over 59 million items.

School Library Day, also known as Drop Everything and Read (DEAR), will be Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.  On that day, British Columbians are invited to put down their work and turn off computer screens so they can read a book, magazine or newspaper for 20 minutes.

Libraries: go check one out.  A visit will get you thinking!


Rob Fleming, Minister of Education –

“I am a passionate supporter of literacy and libraries, and Library Month is a great way to support and reinforce the role of B.C. libraries in information-seeking, literacy, exploration and lifelong learning.  Libraries enhance our quality of life and contribute to strong, resilient and inclusive communities.”

Anne Olsen, president, British Columbia Library Association –

“All libraries are cornerstones of their communities and society. They ensure that every British Columbian has equitable access to information, ideas and works of the imagination.”

Quick Facts:

  • Library access is free to British Columbians.
  • Everyone has a chance to learn new skills.
  • 99% of B.C.’s population has access to a public library.
  • Since 1999, B.C. has joined other provinces in celebrating Library Month to promote the many services provided by public, school, post-secondary and special libraries.
  • Government provides annual funding of $14 million to B.C. libraries.
  • Each year, the Ministry of Education provides $500,000 to Postmedia’s Raise-A-Reader campaign. Working with Decoda Literacy Solutions ― the only provincewide literacy organization in British Columbia ― the campaign supports community-based literacy organizations throughout B.C.

Debates of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

Private Members Statements

Monday, October 2, 2017



A. Kang: Through the character of his book, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin, said: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

I am proud of our Education Minister for inviting thousands of British Columbians to explore thousands of lives by designating October 2017 as Library Month. On the second day of Library Month, I am thrilled to join the Education Minister’s effort in encouraging reading, promoting the services provided by libraries and recognizing the hard work of our library administrative staff and volunteers.

Since 1999, B.C. has joined other provinces in celebrating Library Month. We may not notice sometimes, but libraries have accompanied us through most of our lives, most of the stages of our lives. We have elementary school libraries, we have secondary school libraries, we have post-secondary school libraries, and we have public libraries and special libraries. Some of us even have our own libraries at home. Regardless of what kind of library we frequent, we discover the joy of reading, develop new skills, form deep community roots and ties with each other and invent innovative ideas that make our society better.

These can all happen in libraries, and what’s even better: it’s free. Library access is free to all British Columbians. We have 71 public library systems in B.C. — 247 library branch locations, serving more than 360 B.C. communities. This means access to digital newspapers, e-books and free Internet. Libraries ensure that all British Columbians have free, equitable access to in-trust sources, information, ideas and works of imagination. Beyond the simple lending of books, libraries are places where people go to explore an idea, to test a theory, to create new content, to find community connections and information, and to share knowledge with others. These are all important to our overall growth.

If you’re still not convinced, here are more of some services that libraries offer. Libraries provide on-line learning platforms; coding workshops for families; and classes on how to use computers, a smartphone or a tablet. The learning is not limited to libraries, as libraries also provide technology that you can take home and learn to use.


Libraries continue to diversify their services and collections to support changing user and community needs. The world is changing, and so are our libraries. I’m glad that British Columbia recognizes the benefits of our libraries.

In 2016, there were 61.6 million visits to libraries and 59 million items borrowed. That is an average of 13 items per person. Out of the visits, 1.7 million people attended a library program in 2016, representing an 8.6 percent increase. The number of Wi-Fi sessions used in libraries also increased by 6.7 percent since 2015. This means that people who cannot afford computers or Internet at home can still be connected to their library and to the on-line world. Last but not least, 9,000 children registered for summer reading club programs in 2016. Among them are my children, who proudly wear their medals.

With the dedication of our librarians, teacher-librarians, other staff and volunteers, our libraries are constantly improving, becoming better and better. I would like to take a moment to recognize their hard work in helping British Columbians improve their literacy skills and their lives every day. Library staff and volunteers are essential to the strong, resilient and inclusive communities we all can call libraries. Their patience plays a key role in supporting students in personal reading. Without them, we may not know what to do with the abundance of knowledge that we have.

The library staff and volunteers become our best friends quickly. They help us foster lifelong learning and play a vital role in helping British Columbians of all ages have access to information and tools they need to live, learn and work. They are also our teachers, and support us in acquiring the skills necessary to find and evaluate information in order to adapt and succeed in British Columbia’s diverse, innovative economy. Their commitment and dedication allow culture to continue to flourish and thrive.

Families can spend their weekends in libraries, as I do with my family. Libraries are where past, present and future intersect. We find our past in collections and archives that piece together our history and collective memory. We find our present in the workshops and recreational activities that bring our communities together. We find our future in the creative and innovative minds stimulated by the enriched environment.

Starting today, I encourage everyone to go out to your local library, chat with a friendly staff or volunteer there, utilize the resources there, and immerse yourself in the learning environment. We can all pick up a book at home, because reading every word counts.

D. Davies: It is my pleasure to rise today in reply to these institutions that are staples of our communities across our province as well as across this country. No, as we’ve heard, these aren’t Starbucks or McDonald’s. They are our public libraries — very specifically, our public libraries. It is interesting, as a little note, that south of the border there are actually more public libraries than there are McDonald’s. I think this is certainly showing that there is a desire for knowledge.

These are institutions that are very important here in Canada as well. Just this past week, I was very happy to see that the B.C. public libraries were represented at the UBCM. I enjoyed chatting with the people that were working the booths, and I’m very confident that B.C. libraries have a bright future for all of us.

Libraries are where I learned enjoying to read as a youngster. Standing in the aisles in Fort St. John, shelf after shelf of books before me, I knew that I could easily lose myself there for hours. This experience within our public libraries taught me the love of reading as well as my desire to build my imagination. They showed me a curiosity for science, an imagination for fiction, or later on in life I could find an academic inquiry. All of these happened within this one institution.

This is key. Libraries provide a vital public service for so many British Columbians that may not have access to computers or Internet. In small and rural communities, they can be a true hub for our communities, but they’re vital in urban areas as well.


B.C.’s first public library opened in 1891. Since then, in British Columbia, they have grown to 247 service points across this province — a vital public service. Libraries are often an unrecognized, fundamental part of our province. Libraries are meeting places. They hold classes for young and old. Staff will help people find jobs, write resumés and get access to much-needed government services — much more than just reading.

The Fort St. John Public Library is in my riding. It is a hub, such as this, and I’m proud to be a past board member of our Fort St. John library. They have programs that range from Mother Goose storytime, adult literacy programs, outreach for local daycares and free book delivery to homebound patrons. They have a queer-straight alliance, which provides community groups and LGBTQ teens and their friends and families a safe place to be. They provide amazing science classes and give meeting times to our home-schooled children.

The library is a hub. It is key and fundamental to the safety and growth of so many parts of our community. I’ll read the mission statement. “The Fort St. John and area public library is a community cornerstone, providing a variety of information and support for lifelong learning in a welcoming, entertaining and safe environment. The library hosts creative, community-oriented programs and delivers top-notch customer service” — which I see every time I go into our library.

All of this is delivered with a budget of under $1 million in our community. Those are very tall orders for a community library that services such a large area.

As a teacher, I often found myself needing ways to fuel imaginations, connect people and knowledge, and energize our youth in our world. But I have to admit — and I’m sure that the hon. member across the way who is an educator, as well, will agree —that our efforts have certainly been aided by having public libraries in our communities.

I relied on libraries for my own personal reading and enjoyment, but as a teacher I continued to rely on libraries in many different ways. I had students that shared the same love of reading that I had and ones who used the library for solitude, for studying and for resources that they may have lacked at home. Libraries have given students somewhere to go and learn — to absorb new information or just a place to go and do some quiet research.

Libraries are important to our communities, as are many other institutions. They have existed as long as we have gathered to read. They are key educating tools for generations, and libraries, after all, are an important, vital part of our province.

A. Kang: I want to thank the member for Peace River North for his comments.

As a teacher myself, I love libraries. A popular Canadian artist of our time famously states that communication saves relations. It’s true, and the foundation on which communication stands is literacy. Our ability to express and articulate our ideas shapes the communication we have with others, whether it’s through speaking, writing or typing — or maybe, nowadays, texting.

Our libraries provide such valuable resources to improve our province’s literacy, and I would like to thank the Education Minister again for promoting these resources and helping us build a strong community through communication. As a past library board member myself, in the Burnaby Public Library system, I am very proud to be able to talk about libraries in every way possible today.

Burnaby Public Library is a crown jewel of my riding, Burnaby–Deer Lake. It has brought my family closer than ever. Speaking from personal experience, I participated in Burnaby Public Library’s summer reading program with my children this summer. Not only did the program stimulate my children’s interest in reading but also allowed kids to develop relationships with librarians.

I have to be honest. Parenting is a tough job. Some may even call it a career, because to us parents, our children never seem to grow up.


Fortunately, we have amazing library staff and volunteers who treat our children like their own, providing them with a safe learning environment or just a safe environment for them to hang out. This makes our life as parents so much easier.

Not only do librarians help us polish literacy and communication skills, but they also provide the space and forum for us to utilize those skills. Libraries share their space with community. They often host community forums to provide unique support programs for newcomers. A library is not just a place for studying; a library is a place for learning. It’s also a place for civic engagement and community building.

A library, a strong library system, is a cornerstone of a strong community. There isn’t a right way to read a book. There isn’t a left way to read a book. I invite all members in this chamber, both on this side and on the other side of the aisle, to read a book, and together we will celebrate Library Month.

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