As the current Trail & District Public Library Board chairperson and on behalf of the Library Board members, I wanted to comment on the article in the Trail Times (“Trail addresses politics of the public library,” Trail Times, Nov. 22). There are several issues and statements in this article that are simply not true.

Library board chair addresses BC OneCard concerns

Letter by Colleen Jones, Board Chairperson, Trail & District Public Library

As the current Trail & District Public Library Board chairperson and on behalf of the Library Board members, I wanted to comment on the article in the Trail Times (“Trail addresses politics of the public library,” Trail Times, Nov. 22). There are several issues and statements in this article that are simply not true.

The BC OneCard which allows library users from anywhere in BC to come into the Trail & District Public library and take out books costs the City of Trail absolutely nothing. The cost of the postage to return books back to their home libraries is covered by the BC Government because taxpayers from outside of our area are also benefiting from this resource sharing program.

We could be getting reimbursed for only the number of transactions that are acquired but instead the Library gets the flat rate of $10,250. Having said that, if we don’t use all of that money, we put it back into the library budget in the form of programs or purchasing new books.

There has never been, to this date an overage on this program where the two municipal funders, Warfield and Trail, have had to pay. This BC OneCard doesn’t cost the city or the Village of Warfield any money! We have never had to hire extra staff to process these books and its actually a benefit to the city. If people from out of town are using the Library that means that hopefully they did some shopping or ate at a restaurant while they were in Trail. We have a Regional Hospital in our town so we should expect that while people are here for medical appointments that they and their families would be using the Public Library. We also have a world class hockey facility in our City, when families come to Trail we welcome them to use our Library.

Usage of the BC OneCard is actually below average for areas of our size. I should mention that members of our library can go to any library in B.C. which supports the BC OneCard and take out books as well. The Library Board has previously revisited the policy for usage of the BC OneCard and made substantial changes to accommodate the City of Trail councillors’ concerns. The Trail & District Public Library only allows five items per card.

Library boards are in place to make sure that the legislated Library Act is adhered to and city councils don’t change the board members whenever there is an election. Most importantly it gives the library board continuity and ensures they act independently, without political interference. The province doesn’t provide the training for the library board, the BC Library Trustees Association provides the training and financial support for board members to get the necessary training they require to fulfill their volunteer positions. The library board has very clear roles and responsibilities; the struggle is that the board is not being recognized or valued as it should be.

The library board, the library director and library staff have worked very hard in the library and out in the community to make sure that this new integrated Riverfront Centre is what every member of our region has been looking forward to and is a success to the city. We have been extremely busy fundraising for equipment and furniture, and working with the building committee.

The library board is concerned with the comment “the blurred lines of accountability.” The Library Act makes the lines very clear; the municipality funds the library and the library board administers the library. It’s disappointing that the board’s integrity would be questioned when we are at a very critical point in our fundraising campaign and when we are encouraging new members to join our board.

The board agrees that there is a challenge with the budget for this new facility. We are going into a new building, a new integrated workplace that is now on two levels. There are staffing and safety concerns as well as new duties and responsibilities for those who are working in this building. We are excited to have space for new programs and hoping to extend our hours of operation. Changes to our staffing levels and hours of operation, will affect the level of service and programs we can provide. We will continue to provide the best possible service given the funding supplied by the city.

Minister Fleming is very aware of the demands on Public Libraries. Libraries have been underfunded for many years and I am sure he will be working hard to find a resolve to this provincial problem. People don’t just use libraries to take out books anymore! We offer a safe and welcoming space to read, to learn and to use computers. Children, Seniors and every age group in between gather individually or in groups for activities such as Mother Goose for infants, after schools programs, Summer reading programs, doing genealogy with Ancestry, listening to Author presentations, we supervise student exams, get Gadget instructions to help access technology, receive home delivery of books if you are unable to leave your home and so much more. All of these activities and programs are free to the public. I have heard that the Library should be the living room of the Community and that is what we strive for, to be all inclusive.

The library board will be holding its last meeting of the year on Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. in the City Hall board room. We would like to invite the community to stop by if you have any questions or concerns for the board. We are also looking for volunteers to help with the move of the Library in the New Year. If you feel you have some time to give and would like to be a part of this new and exciting chapter for the Library, please let us know through our Facebook page, phoning the Library (250-364-1731) or email boardchair@traillibrary.com.

In conclusion: the BC One card costs the City nothing and, in fact, contributes much needed cash for the Library; the Library Board is the legal administrator of all library activity; the amount of financial contribution that the City provides demonstrates the value they place on the library and its services.

Colleen Jones

Board Chairperson

Trail & District Public Library

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