We’ve come a long way! 

Library celebrates 16 years Saturday

On Aug. 27, 1986, the Whistler Public Library opened its doors to the community. Construction on the facility in the basement of municipal hall had started in January and the Rotary Club volunteers finished the 1,400 square feet in record time.

The first Board of Trustees was comprised of the following residents:

Chairman - Heather Hull

Vice-Chairman - Inge Flanagan

Secretary - Jim Flanagan

Treasurer - Floyd Leclair

Directors - Jane Burrows, Paul Burrows, Vance Hull, Keith Sabey

Most of these trustees have since left Whistler, with the exception of Jim and Inge Flanagan. In those days the library was open just four days a week, four hours per day. I was the only paid staff member and was sometimes assisted by volunteers.

The library’s collection was small but exciting – there were 4,600 brand new books to choose from. All materials were print only – our audio-visual collection started in 1987 with the addition of 22 books on tape. In 1989 13 videos were added and in 1994 56 compact discs were added.

Today our collection includes print materials (28,231 items), compact discs (652), videos (1,433), books on tape (880), books on CD (68), DVDs (87) and online databases (3). We are open six days a week for a total of 51 hours. Our staff now includes Children’s Librarian Linda Neumann, Library Technician Suzanne Thomas, Library Clerk Beverly Newell, Library Assistant Adrienne Leatherdale, on call assistants Jane Clifford and Marilyn Crichton and students Kimberly Fenwick, Jennifer Pringle and Sally Reid.

Our first full year of service was 1987 and we had 525 people join the library and borrow 9,274 items. In 2001 7,906 people joined the library and borrowed 108,122 items. We started keeping track of the number of user visits to the library in 1995 and saw over 49,000 people come to the library that year. In 2001 that number increased to 135,000.

Over the years we have offered many programs to the community, one of the most popular being our author readings. The Public Library Services Branch assists us with grants to bring B.C. writers to our libraries. Here is a short list of some of the award-winning authors we have hosted: George Bowering, William Deverell, Don Dickinson, Laurence Gough, Susan Musgrave, Spider Robinson, Andreas Schroeder, and L.R. Wright. Award-winning children’s authors include Sarah Ellis, Sheree Fitch, Nancy Hartry, Laura Langston, Julie Lawson, Stephane Poulin, Kathy Stinson, Diane Swanson, and Valerie Wyatt. Our children’s Summer Reading Club started in 1987 and is still going strong, with 155 children attending this summer’s sessions.

From the library’s beginnings in 1986, the Board of Trustees has organized many fundraising events in order to raise the necessary funds to operate the library. For the first few years we had bottle drives, car washes, book sales, silent auctions, raffles, dances, and even a used toilet sale! We quickly realized that these were very labour intensive activities which did not raise the amount of money we needed. The trustees decided to move towards bigger but fewer events such as the Chocolate Festival, Adopt-A-Chair, the Read-a-thon (in partnership with Myrtle Philip Community School Library) and the Wine Tasting Festival. We have been fortunate enough to receive funds from the Festival of Lights and the Blackcomb Foundation. Since becoming a municipal library in 1999, our funding is more secure but fundraising is still necessary.

This Saturday, Aug. 31, please join us in celebrating 16 years of service in the community. The Delta Whistler Resort has kindly donated a birthday cake and our trustees will be serving from 2 p.m. on. We are also offering a fun activity for children ages 5 and up as well as adults. You can come to the library and decorate a picture frame with Carol Kornfeld. Space is limited and pre-registration is recommended. Cost for the frames varies with the size. ($5-$8). The net proceeds will be donated to the Library.


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