Should Sidney switch library systems?
The question now hangs in the air after Sidney council is asking Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) to bring forward local statistics for the Sidney/North Saanich branch after receiving a letter that called on Sidney to join the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL).
“Why is GVPL out-performing VIRL by so much, considering that the tax levy, the funding for them, is somewhat comparable?” asked Coun. Peter Wainwright after citing a set of general statistics that compared the two systems. “VIRL has a lot of rural branches, and honestly I don’t care how well Tahsis [on northern Vancouver Island] is performing,” he said later. “What I care about is the value our community is getting for the amount we pay relative to what GVPL might provide.”
The 2019 budget shows a budget of just over $880,000 for the library.
The issue came up after Coun. Barbara Fallot moved a letter about the library system onto the agenda.
“I would like the Town of Sidney to consider changing library service from VIRL to GVPL,” said Robyn Quaintance, a Sidney resident. “We promote Sidney as the ‘Book Town’, yet our library is third rate,” she said later. “We deserve better for the money we pay.”
Fallot said she has heard concerns from others as well and hopes that the letter will spark further discussions.
The Sidney/North branch re-opened in May after it had undergone renovations worth $2 million. While Quaintance acknowledged this work, she said it was insufficient. “The bíggest problem is their lack of selection of books (new and old),” she said. “Over the years, I have suggested titles, never to have been bought. When I go with my friend to the Brentwood library, who has already changed systems to the GVPL, I am amazed at the selection and the variety of contemporary books.”
VIRL describes itself as the fifth largest library system in British Columbia, serving over 430,000 people on Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and the Central Coast (Bella Coola) through 39 branch libraries, an eLibrary, and a books-by-mail service.
GVPL serves 380,000 residents through 12 branches in 10 municipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD).