VIRL Connects Initiative Wins American Library Association Award

June 14, 2021

Vancouver Island, BC – For the second year in a row, Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) has been awarded an American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects. This year, staff will receive this prestigious award for the VIRL Connects initiative, a program staff from all across VIRL’s service area supported to help community members most in need.

“VIRL Connects was touched by all corners of our service area, from the local staff who provided one-to-one assistance for each facility, to our teams working in information technology, library collections and procurement, and with support from VIRL’s Leadership and Executive Leadership Group,” said Anne O’Shea, VIRL’s Deputy Executive Director. “It’s exciting to see VIRL’s role in the broader community evolving, and this was a happy marriage between VIRL’s digital content, technology expertise, and commitment to serving people when and where they need it during a crisis like the pandemic.”

Since its launch in 2020, VIRL Connects has provided digital care packages to people in care homes and other facilities in our service area to combat social isolation and foster increased digital literacy.

The range of services and technologies in the digital care packages include:

  • Chromebooks: simple to use laptops that provide access to important cloud-based apps
  • Chromecasts: devices that allow Smart TVs to cast the screens of tablets and smartphones
  • Smart TVs: flat screen TVs with internet access and the ability to cast from other devices
  • Support: from library staff to set up digital care packages, connect to library services and learn about the hundreds of thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, TV shows, movies, and classes available online through

All told, VIRL provided laptops, streaming devices, TVs and personalized assistance to benefit close to 2,000 vulnerable residents through 27 community organizations. VIRL Connects was made possible thanks to a series of grants from Community Foundations across VIRL’s service area. The funding is part of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, totalling $350 million nationwide.

Initial funding was provided by:

  • Alberni Valley Community Foundation
  • Comox Valley Community Foundation
  • Gwaii Trust
  • Nanaimo Foundation
  • Parksville Qualicum Community Foundation

Additional funding was also provided by the Victoria Foundation and the program is still being rolled out in Sooke and Sidney.

VIRL will receive the award in the coming weeks and an article will be published in the July issue of American Libraries magazine.

In 2020, VIRL received an ALA Award for its Indigenous Voices Program.


For more information
David Carson, Director, Corporate Communications and Strategic Initiatives
Vancouver Island Regional Library