Whistler Public Library numbers on the rise 

As tech trends evolve, library keeps one eye on the future

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - Community hub Whistler Public Library director Elizabeth Tracy presents at the Sept. 20 Committee of the Whole meeting.
  • photo by Braden Dupuis
  • Community hub Whistler Public Library director Elizabeth Tracy presents at the Sept. 20 Committee of the Whole meeting.

After a big year at the Whistler Public Library (WPL), the community hub is looking to the future — and there are a lot of possibilities on the horizon.

"Some of the things that we're seeing coming online with libraries are the creation of business incubators — so taking some sort of space and moving in small business technology (like) copying, printing — things like video editing, creation stations, places for producing music, graphic design, and centralizing that all into one place," said library director Elizabeth Tracy, in presenting the WPL's 2015 Annual Report to the Committee of the Whole on Sept. 20.

"So it's not necessarily a traditional library, it's more of a space for entrepreneurs, small business owners and even larger businesses to engage in collective work and maximize resources."

Let's just say this ain't the library you remember from your childhood.

"That's something that actually has been emerging in libraries for quite awhile — that we are not just about the dispensing of information anymore, but the opportunity for people to create things from the ground up," Tracy said.

The WPL's numbers were trending upwards across the board last year, though Tracy said that might be due to increased hours and services.

"When we are able to give the community something that it wants or needs we always see little spikes in our numbers at the library," she said, pointing to an eight-per-cent increase in total hours open in 2015.

"I don't believe that will always be the case, although I like the trajectory that we're on in terms of the number of people through the door."

Most notably, the WPL saw more in-person visits (256,511 — an increase of 4.5 per cent), reference transactions (29,210 — 14 per cent) and total programs (1,315 —26 per cent) in 2015 than it did the year before.

The library has been growing patron numbers by supporting Whistler's immigrant population, broadening its program offerings and partnering with local employers and schools, Tracy said.

The WPL is seeing roughly 10 per cent of all visitors to the resort, the report stated — and the library is dealing with the same volume as communities of approximately 30,000 residents.

Other numbers trending upwards: Program attendees (22,713 — up 10 per cent), total items loaned (203,676 — up seven per cent), total active cardholders (15,340 — up two per cent) and hours open (2,702 — up eight per cent).

Perhaps the only numbers that fell compared to their 2014 counterparts were total expenditures, which dropped to $1,142,99 from $1,184,141 (the WPL received $972,240 in municipal funding in 2015, along with $170,682 generated from revenues and grants).

After the presentation, Coun. Jack Crompton said he's excited about the direction Tracy and her team are taking the library.

"It's so fascinating for me how libraries are really a leader in the world of technology and embracing it in different ways, and it's cool to have you here for that reason," he said. "I think the way you have been leading our library is encouraging to me."


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