library 602 

By Amy Fendley As of Jan. 1 the Whistler Public Library Association became the Whistler Public Library. It’s a political name change which means the library is no longer the province’s responsibility, financial or otherwise, but rather the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s. The change comes as a result of the province weeding out the approximately 50 B.C. Public Library Associations under its control, which operated in communities with populations under 10,000. The province will create no new associations in yet another attempt to hand off financial responsibility to local governments. Public libraries are now solely the responsibility of the municipalities in which they are located. In addition to no per capita grants from the province, trustees are now appointed, rather than elected. Libraries will continue to receive a municipal grant-in-aid. Currently, there are seven library trustees — three new ones — with an eighth position unfilled. Whistler librarian Joan Richoz, says the takeover is a positive one. "The switch is of importance because it symbolizes a vote of confidence as the library is taken into local hands," said Richoz. "It will be better for employees as well because now they will be working as municipal staff. This will also help us get into a new building. Overall, it assures a higher level of service, which is ultimately our goal." For years the library has been forced to deal with cramped quarters, first in the basement of municipal hall and now in a couple of trailers. The library lives in the hope of some day having a new building to house its ever-growing collection and to better meet the needs of the growing user base. "We’ve had a rough time for a few years," says Richoz. "But now we’re very happy and just have to find a way to stay in here for another three years. It’s a long process. "Muni knows what our needs are and they are budgeting for us as they take over operating and costs. We’ve submitted a budget (to the municipality) that may get approval, but it’s all dependent on taxes. Our grant is tied into taxes." Richoz says that statistically, the library had been one of the poorest funded libraries in the province, but that funding was brought up to provincial averages in the last year and a half, before the library became the municipality’s responsibility. "We’re a very busy library," remarks Richoz. "In November our circulation was up 23 per cent. We have a lot of seasonal workers and very high numbers of borrowers and users. We do surveys every so often and the numbers are going to be very high this year." The library has a new on-line magazine database, offering 1,700 different magazines in full text, which they have put on the web site, allowing registered borrowers to place requests from outside locations. The library anticipates that it will be another two years before they move into new facilities. Fund-raising efforts are planned to begin in 2000. "We have a lot of goals," said Richoz. "A lot." The library’s annual general meeting will be held in-house Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.

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