The Port Alberni branch of Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is attached to Port Alberni’s Echo Centre on Wallace Street. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

The Port Alberni branch of Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is attached to Port Alberni’s Echo Centre on Wallace Street. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District discusses the possibility of a second library

Topic will come to future board meeting

Is the Alberni Valley big enough to have more than one library? Directors with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District think so.

Directors last week discussed the possibility of adding another library branch to the Alberni Valley.

Beaver Creek director John McNabb brought up the possibility during a Thursday, Nov. 12 board meeting, referencing the fact that Sayward—a small community on North Vancouver Island—recently opened a new library.

“We’ve got one library, it’s in the City of Port Alberni,” said McNabb. “When you look at some of these other communities, they’ve got libraries all over the place. I’m thinking about the logistics of actually putting one on the Beaufort, Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek border somewhere. I don’t know what the demand for that would be.”

He pointed out that the ACRD is already contributing money to Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) for the Port Alberni branch.

Sproat Lake director Penny Cote, who sits on the VIRL board, said the use of libraries has been going up.

“With COVID, we heard the outcry from communities to open up the library again,” she said. “It seems that there’s a lot more people that love it than don’t have a use for it. Students are relying on it, with COVID. Seniors use it for social and to use internet.”

Mayor Sharie Minions pointed out that the city pays between $700,000 to $800,000 a year towards the library under the provincial government’s Library Act. “It is a significant cost that we are paying to have one library,” she said. “I think there is a very reasonable discussion to be had about do we have the population base, in this Valley, for a second library, and if so, where that library should be.”

Minions added that she has had conversations with Rosemary Bonanno, VIRL’s executive director, about contributing land or a building site for a second branch.

“We’ve paused those conversations during COVID,” she said. “I would be happy to have those conversations on a regional basis…to see if there’s a more suitable location in the regional district. If so, we could push together.”

ACRD board chair John Jack suggested putting something on an agenda at a future meeting in order to have a larger discussion about Port Alberni’s library.

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