When we think of libraries, usually books, newspapers attached to sticks and silence come to mind.
But it’s important to remember the value of libraries as a place for connection, not only to information, but to the past, our community and to each other.
I was reminded of this when I read Royal Roads University library’s announcement last week that they had eliminated the charge for community borrower cards, making it free for members of the public to access their print collection. According to the university, the move was inspired by a similar decision by the University of Victoria and is part of a local movement to provide increased public access to library resources in Greater Victoria.
“Our print collection could be more used than it is, and opening it up to more people could perhaps give it more life,” says Rosie Croft, head librarian at RRU.
Croft tells me that aside from a niche collection of information on subjects the university instructs in, the library also boasts a modest collection of material from Royal Roads’ days as a military college, often of interest to local history buffs. She also recommends two recently published books on local issues that new patrons may want to take for a spin: Ferry Tales: Mobility, Place, and Time on Canada’s West Coast, by RRU’s own Prof. Phillip Vannini; and The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea, by Lissa K. Wadewitz.
For those more interested in activities, programming at West Shore branches of the Greater Victoria Public Library not only includes children’s events (such as the upcoming, already-full Christmas Storytime), but also opportunities for other members of the community to connect and learn.
For instance, the Juan de Fuca branch beside the recreation centre in Colwood plays host to a monthly meeting of West Shore writers. It’s open to writers of any genre or experience level who want to discuss the craft with fellow wordsmiths. Or if music is more your thing, the branch is again hosting local harpist Philipp Gawthrop on Dec. 14 for a free hour-long holiday concert which has seen a large turnout in years past.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to get social and give back, the library is hosting Holiday Open Houses at all its branches on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.
“These open houses are a time to celebrate with our patrons. We invite everybody to come in for festive treats and we’ll have a craft table set up as well,” says Alyssa Polinsky, director of communications and community development with the Greater Victoria Public Library.
The open house features a Food for Fines campaign, which makes it possible to eliminate up to $5 in overdue fines in exchange for non-perishable food donations.
Check out gvpl.ca to learn more about these and other events happening on the West Shore.
Johanna Henderson is an executive member with the West Shore Arts Council and principal with Shelter Creative Services. Find her at email@example.com.