Library looking for room to keep growing

City council heard that the current location of the Trail Library in the Trail Memorial Centre doesn’t suit its future needs.

While the Trail library continues to expand its services and attract more visitors, city council heard that the current location in the Trail Memorial Centre doesn’t suit its future needs.

Library director Belinda Wilkinson and library board chair Barbara Gibson reviewed the facility’s accomplishments from January to September of this year in comparison to the year prior in council chambers Monday night.

Among its achievements, the Trail and District Public Library has recorded an increase of 66 per cent in visits – that’s about 166 of its 4,524 members stopping in per day.

While this is notable foot traffic, Gibson feels that the current location does not encourage its 26 per cent of BC OneCard holders outside of Trail, Warfield and Area B to check out what the downtown has to offer nor does it provide room for the facility’s growing services.

“We definitely need more space,” she said, adding the current 5,000-square-foot facility lacks a lunchroom for its staff, is about half the suggested size needed to serve its members and has little room to host programming.

“We see the future of the Trail and District Public Library as being the hub of 21st century learning in our community,” said Gibson. “A modern library is a place where you can sit, have a cup of coffee, look out the window, browse the collection, read a newspaper or magazine and we just do not have the opportunity to provide that environment right now.”

The city awaits a plan from the Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee (DOAC), which could very well include the possibility of a new library, museum, Teck interpretive centre and river interpretive centre all under one roof.

“From city council’s perspective, we are waiting for the plan from DOAC for consideration,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs. “We do know that the library is probably an integral part of any plan they come forward with.”

The library has come along way since reduced hours and drastic job cuts in 2009. The facility had its hours chopped in half and 10 employees were laid off then in an attempt to balance a budget that was cut when Greater Trail communities could not all agree on funding the regional service.

Beyond $55,000 from the province, the library’s $530,000 budget is now funded by Trail, Warfield and Area B and the library is now up to 61.5 hours of operation per week thanks to a new scheduling structure that was implemented.

Children’s programming rebounded strongly this year with 2,420 young ones taking part in activities at the library, which hosted three weekly programs for infants to five-year-olds and six summer reading programs for infants to 12-year-olds.

The library will continue to expand on materials that run parallel to programs offered, said Wilkinson, pointing to a 58 per cent leap in the circulation of children’s books alone.

“We see an unbelievable opportunity to affect the long-term growth of our community in this area,” she said. “Research shows that development at this age has a major impact on success later in life.”

The library is no longer just about books, according to Wilkinson, who touched on the library’s focus on virtual service that has expanded with the addition of 12 public access computers.

Computer usage has jumped up by 175 per cent this year along with the circulation of electronic materials increasing by 63 per cent.

Among its future plans, the Trail library will expand on its pre-teen programming as well as its online programs for seniors via the development of a new website.