COVID-19 Updates

April 14, 2020

With many outdoor spaces and fitness centres temporarily closed due to COVID-19, maintaining an active lifestyle can be challenging. Not to worry! We found a few helpful tips and resources to keep you motivated and moving at home.

A quick stretch

The World Health Organization has recommended that just by taking a short 3 to 5 minute break from sitting every 20 to 30 minutes can improve health and wellbeing. Just a simple quick stretch, a short walk around the house or garden, or a trip or two up and down the stairs can be beneficial.

Set a schedule

Some people rely on going to the gym to stay committed to a fitness regime, but setting up a simple schedule can also help. Signing up for regular online fitness classes or hosting your own virtual class with family and friends can help you stay on track.

Take an online class

We may not be able to go to the gym, but social media is making it easy to bring the gym right into our homes. The best part? — no memberships required!

Goodlife Fitness, for example, is posting videos on Instagram of different exercises people can do at home without equipment.

The Nike Training Club app is also offering free workouts — everything from bodyweight-only sessions and yoga classes, to full-equipment home workouts for all fitness levels.

The Kanopy video streaming platform, found in our Read, Watch, Listen section also offers a number of video resources on exercise, activity and health resources. Bonus: Kanopy is offering credit-free streaming right now, so there is no limit to how many videos you can watch.

Mental health & wellness

Along with staying active and eating well, we also need to make sure we are taking care of our emotional wellbeing. A quick online chat with family members, friends and colleagues can make all the difference when it comes to our mental health during these uncertain times. also offers mental health information, including resources on improving mental health in our daily lives.

March 27 Update - Online Services Available

Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) branches remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still have so much to offer VIRL cardholders across our library system. From existing online resources to new and enhanced offerings, VIRL is committed to offering services, amenities and entertainment to help in these challenging times.

Here are some of the newest services and enhancements VIRL has made available:

Online Registration
We are so excited to be able to offer online registration for anyone who wants to take advantage of VIRL’s amazing online resources. A library card is your gateway to ebooks, audiobooks, streaming movies and TV, music, and more.

Sign up here:

24/7 WiFi
To help everyone stay connected, VIRL is now offering 24/7 WiFi outside our branches for as long as we are able to. Those taking advantage of this service are reminded to follow all social distancing protocols as mandated by our Health Authorities.

VIRL has added unlimited copies of ebooks and audiobooks available on a wide selection of popular titles — no holds, no wait lists.

Here some more examples of exciting online resources at VIRL:

Access to thousands of downloadable audiobooks and magazines. offers courses with a focus on skills for business, creative industries, education, information technology, software, and web development. The tutorials are high quality and led by industry experts.

Find in our All Databases section.

Press Reader
The world’s largest online newspaper and magazine kiosk, where you can browse and read hundreds of full-content premium newspapers and magazines from around the globe.

This streaming movie service provides unlimited access to award-winning shorts, feature films, and documentaries from major festivals such as Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes.

Teachers and homeschoolers can find free educational ebooks for students from kindergarten to high school. No library card is required to access Tumblebooks.

Mango Languages
Mango immerses you in real, everyday conversations in 45 different language courses, including Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish.

Access millions of downloadable and streaming music from Freegal Music and the Naxos music library.

“Social distancing can be a lonely experience for our customers, and VIRL staff have been working hard to find new, innovative, and exciting ways to help,” says VIRL’s Executive Director, Rosemary Bonanno. “Your libraries remain as places you can turn to for support, services, and connection. We will continue to innovate in the face of the fluid and unpredictable landscape we find ourselves in as a result of COVID-19.”

We’ve got a lot more to keep you engaged, entertained and informed in these uncertain times. Be sure to follow VIRL on social media, check our website regularly at

or sign up for our monthly eNewsletter for tips, tricks, recommendations, and stories from across our system.

We’re here for you, just like always.

March 26 Update - South Cowichan Alert

A presumptive case of COVID-19 at South Cowichan branch

We recently learned of a presumptive case of COVID-19 at the South Cowichan branch of Vancouver Island Regional Library. Dates of potential exposure include March 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17. The South Cowichan branch is located at 2720 Mill Bay Road in the same complex as the Thriftys, BC Liquor Store, and other establishments.

Because this case is presumptive and not confirmed, Island Health has advised that the level of risk is comparable to visiting an establishment such as a grocery store.

No risk assessment will be completed by Island Health.

If anyone who visited the branch on the affected days experiences the following symptoms, they should call 8-1-1 and self-isolate for 14 days following symptom onset:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing

The BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool will also help determine if further assessment or testing for COVID-19 is needed.  The assessment can be completed by an individual or on behalf of someone else if they are unable to. More information on testing and self-isolation is available at

More information about COVID-19 on Vancouver Island is available on the Vancouver Island Health Authority website at and information specific to VIRL’s response is available at

March 26 Update - 24/7 WiFi Now Available

Stay connected better than ever outside any one of VIRL’s 39 branches.

VIRL now offers 24/7 WiFi outside any of our locations.

Please ensure you keep a safe distance from one another, so feel free to grab a hot tea and your iPad, laptop or mobile device, and enjoy free WiFi (on us) from the comfort of your vehicle.

While tech support is limited, if you experience any issues with connectivity, contact us at This service will be offered as long as we are able. For updates about this service, and many others, check back to

VIRL branch locations can be found here. 

March 25 Update - Stay in Touch

While we all stay home to keep our families and communities safe, your library is here to support you!

We’ve been adding thousands of new titles to our streaming movies, audiobooks and ebooks, and music downloads.

Feel like learning something new? Whether you’re into learning a new language or picking up a new skill, like photography or using Excel, we’ve got you covered!

Now has never been a better time to dive into the wealth of resources available at your library.

Not sure where to start? How about here:

I don’t have a library card

Sit tight! We’re working on online card registration just for you.

What’s the latest news about Covid and my library?

Visit our Covid Update page here. We’re updating it regularly, so if you have any questions, it’s probably here.

How do I request something from my library?

If there’s anything you’d like to see on our digital shelves, send us a note by using this web form here.

I miss my library’s programs, like Storytime and book clubs…

Don’t worry, we’re working on this! We’re working on something fun for your family and a digital book club to bring us all together and engage on topics we love over a hot cup of tea.


March 19 Update - Future Focused

The term “uncertain times,” for the next while at least, appears to be the new normal. But even through this fog of uncertainty, there are some things we can fall back on.

It’s certain that VIRL staff across our system are just as committed to their communities today as they were last week. We’re seeing this come to life in the ideas that staff have brought forward and the solutions for alternative services; we’re seeing it in the comments from our public expressing sadness that our branches have closed and wishing us well; and we’re seeing it in the strong outpouring of desire from staff wanting to provide ongoing services and supports to our communities.

There are still so many questions and no one can claim to have the answers, but as we move forward and focus on the future, VIRL is firmly committed to developing a strategy that takes into account our staff’s desire to support their communities through these challenging times.

What that strategy looks like is still to be determined, but it is clear that our libraries and staff still have an important role to play, whether it’s providing internet access to someone trying to pay a bill, offering an online storytime for families, opening for one-on-one appointments, or the myriad other ideas that we could consider.

Everything is on the table.

We ask for patience and understanding as we develop these strategies, and we are asking staff for help. We have already received great ideas and look forward to hearing even more.

By working together, we can begin the process of bringing VIRL services and amenities back online and staff back to work.

March 18 Update

The COVID-19 situation is presenting unique challenges for organizations around the world. VIRL is no different. On March 16, we made the difficult decision to close all branches at the end of the day. This was in response to the directives we received from our Prime Minister and Chief Medical Health Officer to do whatever we can to mitigate the spread of this virus in our communities.

As a result of the closures and as per the two Collective Agreements that VIRL staff fall under, we made the decision to issue notices of layoff to the majority of staff.

This is what these notices mean:

  • BCGEU staff are paid their full wages for up to eight weeks, including all benefits
  • CUPE staff are paid their full wages for 30 days, including all benefits
  • Benefits will be extended for all unionized staff for a minimum of an additional 30 days after the layoff period notice comes to an end
  • All Casual (on call) Employees are being paid for every scheduled shift over the course of these notice periods

As we all know, the COVID-19 situation is changing daily, and VIRL is committed to responding as needed in the best interests of our staff. All options are on the table, including extending the length of time that employees continue to receive their wages and benefits. We are also hopeful that, at least in some branches, we may be able to return to offering limited services in the days and weeks ahead and look forward to engaging our employees on their ideas to ensure that our communities can access our services.

We hope to be able to return to more normal working conditions in the very future, but if we do enter a period of protracted closure, we will respond in the best interests of our staff.

This is a stressful time for everyone involved and we are committed to working closely with our employees to ensure they are protected and secure.

We will continue to update the public as more information becomes available.

March 17 Update and FAQs

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and in light of the recommendations put forward today by the BC Chief Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) is closing all branches to the public as of 8 pm on March 16, 2020.

In coming to this difficult decision, we paid particular attention to the Province’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people, and the strong appeal for everyone to stay home during this critical time. In this rapidly changing environment, we believe this is the best decision for our staff, customers, and the larger public.

Please check this page for further updates as they become available.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Will Deliveries Continue during the closure period?


Have due dates been extended?

Yes, VIRL will extend all due dates by six weeks and asks customers not to return any library materials until branches have reopened to the public.

Book returns will not be open during the closure.

Will a holds pick-up service be available?


What services will continue during the closure?

Throughout the closure period, VIRL’s eLibrary — which includes thousands of ebooks and audiobooks, scores of downloadable music, and hours of streaming movies and TV — will remain open for anyone with a VIRL library card.

Can we apply for a library card online?

No, this service will not be available during the closure.

How will Books By Mail be impacted?

Books By Mail will not be available during the closure. Customers are to hold on to their titles until the closure period is over.

How will Interlibrary Loans be impacted?

There will be no Interlibrary Loans during the closure period.

More information