In-person visits down, virtual visits up at Whistler Public Library 

Whistler Public Library annual report presented to committee of the whole

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JUSTA JESKOVA/COURTESY OF THE RESORT MUNICIPALITY OF WHISTLER - WARM WELCOME Re-imagining the library's fireside seating was just one of the Whistler Public Library's stated accomplishments last year.
  • Photo by Justa Jeskova/Courtesy of the Resort Municipality of Whistler
  • WARM WELCOME Re-imagining the library's fireside seating was just one of the Whistler Public Library's stated accomplishments last year.

While the Whistler Public Library (WPL) welcomed 13 per cent fewer in-person visits last year (from 221,317 in 2017 to 195,304 in 2018), virtual visits were up 56 per cent (from 135,460 to 212,364).

"That's not something that is unexpected by me," said library director Elizabeth Tracy in a presentation to Whistler's committee of the whole on Sept. 3.

"I think that some of this fluctuates with visitation to the resort, because we do serve a lot of visitors; it also reflects if there's any changes to our temporary population as well, so temporary workers.

"But I can see from the numbers of the last few years, we pretty much hold steady at around 200,000 people a year, and I think that's working at a pretty good pace. That's about 75 people per hour, which is pretty significant."

Tracy was on hand to present the library's 2018 annual report, detailing the successes and relevant facts and figures of the last year.

The WPL is particularly proud of three initiatives, she said: the Deweyless Project (introducing an easy-to-browse, word-based classification system for the non-fiction section); additional comfortable seating in the fireplace lounge and a new home for the WPL's teen collection; and strengthening the partnership with the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre (SLCC).

"This year, in 2019, we were able to work with the SLCC on partnering over some programs," Tracy said, noting that the SLCC went through some strategic planning last year and identified generating more interest from the community as one of its goals.

"So partnering with us enabled them to do more programming."

Some of that programming included a massive open online course, two film screenings, smudgings and more.

"The partnership with them has gotten really strong and we'll continue to do that going forward," Tracy said.

While information requests, Wi-Fi usage and electronic material use were all up (12 per cent, 28 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively), total programs and total program attendees were both down (four per cent and 13 per cent, respectively).

Total expenditures in 2018 were $1,342,609 (up three per cent from $1,300,256 in 2017), with the Resort Municipality of Whistler contributing $1,218,326.

The WPL also took in $180,192 in revenue and grants last year (excluding donations and fundraising from third parties).

Using figures from the American Library Association, the WPL added values to the different items and resources being used to give people an idea of what the return on investment is at the library.

"If you spent, which was last year, close to $1.5 million on the library, what you're getting out of it is $6 million," Tracy said.

"So that's an estimation of about $3.80 to every dollar, which I think is something that you all, and this community, should be very proud of."

Another point of pride for WPL staff is back-to-back nominations in the service excellence category for large businesses at the Whistler Chamber's annual excellence awards, Tracy said.

"Whether it actually comes to fruition or not, I am extraordinarily proud of this team and their ability to deliver quality customer service," she said. "Particularly with the amount of themselves that they actually put out there when they work with people."

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