District co-ordinator Andrea Brimmell stands amongst a custom made interactive art installation at the GVPL’s newest branch on Langford Parkway.

New GVPL branch opens Saturday in Langford

Lots of high tech features for library users of all ages

An interactive art installation spells out the word “read” in big, bright letters.

Inside each letter is a collection of colour-blocked books on display for future patrons to browse and check out. The hope is this custom-made display will encourage residents to do just that at the newest Greater Victoria Public Library branch.

The Langford Heritage Branch officially opens its doors to the public on Saturday (April 30) with a “soft” opening, in advance of the grand opening celebration in the works for May 17.

“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into it, so we’re eager to show it off,” said Eileen Fedderly, branch supervisor. She noted a number of local residents have already stopped by to peer inside the windows and doors to see the branch’s progress. “We’re going to be rocking,” she said with a laugh.

In an effort to better serve West Shore residents, the foyer of this new branch will be open to the public 24-7, and in that space is something a little different. A vending machine filled with assorted materials ranging from books to DVDs will be available at any time, allowing users to “shop” from the titles showing at the front of each row. Library users scan their card, make their selection – just like a traditional vending machine – and pull the item from the slot at the bottom.

Fedderly noted that the selected items don’t register on the card until they land at the bottom, so if an item happens to get stuck, it won’t show up as being checked out.

Also in the foyer is an automated check-in machine that allows library users to return their own items and have them immediately removed from their cards. A conveyer belt system then sorts the returned items into an appropriate bin to be shelved or sent to another branch. With roughly six million items being checked in and out of the GVPL’s system every year, this is a necessary time saver for staff.

Fedderly said after-hours returns are incredibly popular and this system won’t be replacing staff but saving them precious time to put to better use.

Andrea Brimmell, GVPL’s West Shore district co-ordinator, said some branches can’t even use bins under their after-hour return slots. She noted the Juan de Fuca branch has to let items fall onto a mat on the floor otherwise the return slot gets too full and jams or overflows.

The foyer features allow more flexibility for library users, Brimmell added, especially as many West Shore residents don’t work typical shifts. The Langford Heritage Branch, located in the same building as the new YM-YWCA facilities on Langford Parkway amongst the Westhills development, will be the 11th GVPL branch to open, serving 10 municipalities.

Roughly 16,000 items were ordered for the branch, all of which are brand new and will stay put for at least a month or so. After that point, Brimmell said, they will begin to flow through the GVPL’s system to help keep the collection from getting stale.

Over in the adult section, computers offer free access to the Internet. The area includes an adaptive station that can be raised or lowered with a push of a button to accommodate a wheelchair, and also features a touch screen and specialized keyboard. “Every branch has at least one of these,” Fedderly noted.

A special section has been carved out for teens and their specific interests. “It’s one of the larger teen zones,” Fedderly said. “We’re hoping that since we’re so close to Belmont, this area will get a lot of use.”

The branch features a “living room” area with comfy chairs, free wifi, a selection of magazines and a recharging station for electronic devices.

Programming for the branch will kick off with a summer reading program for children in the area, with plans to expand offerings in the following months.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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