Happy birthday Whistler Public Library 

By Trustee Alix Nicoll

It’s hard to believe but the "Little Library That Could" is about to turn 19! For all of us the last of the teenage years is usually one of change and the Whistler library is no exception. We are about to make the dramatic and long awaited move to a new building, but a little of where we came from is in order so as to better understand the enormity of where we are going in 2006.

Whistler Public Library started life in the basement of municipal hall in 1986. The population of Whistler at that time was approx 1,307 hardy souls and there were 2,500 books in the collection. The library was open for 16 hours a week with one employee. It should be noted that Joan Richoz, the one employee, will celebrate her 19 th year with the library at the same time! Congratulations to Joan and all she has achieved for the library.

In 1994 the library moved to its "temporary" quarters in a trailer on lot 20/21 and started what turned out to be the long wait for a new building, the need for which had been recognized in the community development plan following a needs assessment report done in 1992.

In June 2005 the shovel at last went into the ground and the official groundbreaking took place. The building is under way and anyone wishing to look at the plans for the completed building should drop by the library, which is still open despite the surrounding chaos.

The library is now open 51 hours a week and serves a growing population of approx 10,000. The collection stands at close to 40,000 books and visits are on an average 550 per day – that’s 163,000 visits per year! In fact just last month, while in the midst of earth removal and soil compaction the circulation figures were up 18 per cent.

At present the services offered to our customers in addition to the latest bestsellers, classics and research data are books in large print, talking books, magazines, newspapers, videos, DVDs, CDs and a selection of books in French and Japanese. Our base of five computers, which are constantly in use, offer access to the Internet, word-processing and of course e-mail.

Visit the library website for in house and remote access to online magazine and newspaper databases: www.whistlerlibrary.ca

For those of you not familiar with InterLINK, it is a federation of 17 libraries in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Sea-to-Sky corridor that ensures access to those collections, along with pick up and drop off of library materials. In other words, borrow your copy of Harry Potter in Whistler and drop it off in Sechelt and it will make its way back to us!

You can also borrow books from all the automated libraries in the province as a Whistler Public Library member via OUTLOOK, the interlibrary loan network.

All these services together with the many programs that run throughout the year show the amazing growth over the years. Truly a Little Library That Could!

We are now looking forward to the change in our status and the expansion of space that will allow the books in storage (approx 7,000) to be unpacked and the whole collection to be expanded – the new 12,000 square foot area will incorporate a new children’s area, a fireside reading area, a meeting room and an enlarged computer lab. An outside garden area will be a wonderful additional area for summer reading. And finally, the location could not be more in tune with our coming of age – slap bang in the centre of town, accessible to all, locals and visitors alike, a true hub of the community and in line with our mission statement: "We believe the library is a vital element in the establishment of a sustainable community."

In recognition of the Whistler Public Library’s birthday please join us at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 rd for a celebration of 19 years of service to the community of Whistler. Cake will be served along with the knowledge that dreams of a new and expanded library are no longer a dream but a reality. See you there!

Sunday Storytime is back

Sunday storytime took a summer holiday but will recommence on Sunday Sept. 4. The story time runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and includes books, songs, rhymes and lots of fun for 3-5 year olds and a caregiver. Contact Children’s Librarian Jo Seidl for more information – jseidl@whistlerlibrary.ca – or 604-932-5564.

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