Vancouver Island Regional Library: Stronger Than Ever

July 2, 2020


These are exciting times to be in the library business. That may sound counterintuitive based on all the challenges and uncertainties the pandemic has brought to the surface, but bear with me while I explain.

I have no doubt COVID-19 will have long-term, if not permanent, effects on the way libraries everywhere are run. Science and history tell us that a second wave of the virus is a very real possibility we would be wise to prepare for. I have personally learned so much in the past few months — learnings, admittedly, I did not anticipate experiencing in my career. I am committed to applying what I have learned to the future of the Vancouver Island Regional Library system.

As a library system, we have to let our barriers down to encourage and stimulate the imagination. Staff are essential to this process — and we are so fortunate to have hundreds of community experts, compassionate public servants, and creative minds in every community we serve working for VIRL.

By working with our staff, we will develop and implement a service model that will be relevant, accessible, and meaningful to our communities. We will continue to expand the virtual experience, we will continue to make strides to ensure our spaces are safe, and we will continue to evolve, adapt, and anticipate a still uncertain road ahead. Together, we can confront the challenges of tomorrow and emerge as library leaders, innovators, and disrupters.

While it is too soon to delve into specifics, we are working hard, on a branch-by-branch basis, to bring back library services in a safe and strategic manner. Planning is now underway to reimagine what library services will look like in a post-COVID environment.

Here is a snapshot of what is being planned for the very near future:

  • Limited walk-through service to browse the collections in branches with the capacity
  • Self-serve holds and self-checkout where possible
  • Inter-branch delivery of materials
  • Books-by-Mail
  • Fee payments
  • Interlibrary Loans (when the province resumes the service)
  • Virtual programming, from storytimes to author talks, subject matter experts to video game tournaments, and much more

In the early days of the pandemic, libraries everywhere realized that their digital collections were going to be essential in helping people to stay informed, up to date and engaged as the world around them shut down. The digital library experience — whether talking about online programming or accessing materials online — will continue to play a vital role in our reimagined service model. But we also recognize that libraries as physical spaces mean so much to so many. We will never lose sight of this, which is why we are working so hard to safely phase back in the in-branch experience.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, these are exciting times to be in the library business.

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I am confident we will come away stronger than ever.

Rosemary Bonanno, Executive Director, Vancouver Island Regional Library

Media Contact
David Carson
Director, Corporate Communications
c: 250.327.3651