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Public libraries see historic funding boost from Province

CANADA, March 24 - Public library users in communities throughout B.C. will benefit from modernized technology, enhanced programs and services, and better access to information through $45 million in provincial funding.

“We love our local public libraries. They are a vital part of vibrant communities, delivering services we rely on every day,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “From offering regular access to the internet, to delivering programs for families, newcomers, job seekers and seniors, this funding will go a long way to ensure libraries are helping people stay connected, access information and continue their lifelong learning.”

All 71 B.C. public libraries and organizations that help libraries deliver their services will receive one-time grants totalling $45 million in addition to their annual operating funding. This will give libraries flexibility to address local priorities, including longer hours, bigger digital collections and better access to literacy and lifelong learning opportunities. Funds will be distributed to libraries by March 31, 2023.

“Thank you for this generous contribution to the B.C. public library sector,” said Erin Hemmens, chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board of trustees. “This is an important time for our library system with a new strategic plan on the horizon, rapidly increasing demand for our digital resources and a continuing trend towards pre-COVID use of our physical branches and collections. Support from the ministry means VIRL can look at new opportunities to build literacy and learning, continue our journey toward reconciliation and build connections across our service area.” 

With this additional new funding, the Province aims to enhance the provincewide library system with programs, resources and technology infrastructure that benefits people and communities throughout B.C.

“Investing in libraries is an investment in local communities, and we’re so pleased that the Province is recognizing and supporting the important work that happens in public libraries every day throughout B.C.,” said Rina Hadziev, executive director, British Columbia Library Association. “With over 60 million visits per year, public libraries make life more affordable, foster lifelong learning and community connections, and provide vulnerable people with a welcoming space to access services. This funding will help stabilize public libraries, ensuring they are able to meet the evolving needs of their local communities over the next few years.”

There are 250 library service locations provincewide, ensuring virtually everyone in B.C. will have free access to public libraries.

Quick Facts:

  • Government provides $14 million in annual funding to support B.C.'s public libraries.
  • In spring 2022, the Province provided a one-time $8-million investment to help libraries retroactively cover pandemic costs, meet the increased demand for digital content, upgrade physical spaces, deliver computer and virtual technology training, and develop programs for deeper social and community connections.
  • People used digital resources from B.C. public libraries almost 16 million times in 2021, a 47% increase over 2019 levels.

Learn More:

To find your public library, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/arts-culture/public-libraries/find-your-public