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Budget revealed for Powell River Public Library

Chief librarian makes presentations to qathet Regional District board and city council
PEOPLE RETURNING: Powell River Public Library chief librarian Rebecca Burbank made presentations to qathet Regional District's board and City of Powell River council, highlighting activities in the past year and making budgetary requests.

Powell River Public Library is proposing a budget of $1,675,147 for 2024, which is a 5.9 per cent increase from the 2023 library budget. 

Chief librarian Rebecca Burbank made presentations to City of Powell River and qathet Regional District (qRD) regarding the planned appropriations from both governments for the coming year. The request increases for both are slated at 4.5 per cent.

Burbank made her first presentation to qRD’s finance committee meeting on November 1.

“Following the flood and closure we had in 2021, and the pandemic restrictions, people are coming back to the library, which we are thrilled to see,” said Burbank. “We’ve seen a 28.4 per cent increase in traffic since last year. Another indicator of the increase is 8,552 sessions on public computers, an important service that we offer, which is an increase of 33.5 per cent.”

Burbank said in terms of services, the library provides collections, such as books, plus a gorgeous facility, meeting rooms and space for people to connect, as well as a variety of programs. There have been 81,588 visits to the library through to the end of September.

“We’re happy to have people back,” added Burbank. “The library helps to keep people connected. We help make our patrons’ lives more affordable.”

Burbank said use of the library’s collection, especially the children’s collection, is up, with a 25 per cent rise since 2019, which is “fantastic.” Total circulation is up 3.3 per cent over 2022 and 55.7 per cent over 2020, according to Burbank.

In terms of library card distribution, city residents hold 5,195 cards, or 68 per cent of the total. Regional district residents hold 1,993, or 26 per cent. There are 106 card holders in Tla’amin Nation, for one per cent, and five per cent are categorized as other.

In terms of the 2024 proposed budget, Burbank said the library receives funding from a variety of areas in addition to the local grants received from the city, qRD and Tla’amin. She said the local government allocation is based on population, with approximately 70 per cent from the city, and 30 per cent from qRD. The province provides about $56,000 per year, which has been fixed since 2009.

“Local governments do take on the larger share,” said Burbank.

The requested qRD allocation for 2024 is $453,549, with $11,927 of that being capital costs. The primary expense in the total budget is labour, proposed to be $1,020,581 in the 2024 budget. There will be an expected nine per cent increase in the lease from the city for the library building, valued at $353,338, according to Burbank.

The city contribution is slated to be $983,945 in operating expenses and $26,573 in capital, for a total of $1,010,518 in total. Increases in the capital budget are largely due to information technology infrastructure, with 2024 involving the replacement of staff computers.

“I would like to reiterate my thanks for the ongoing support from qRD,” said Burbank.

qRD Electoral Area C director and board chair Clay Brander said he is the regional district’s representative on the library board. Brander mentioned a quote he had seen that stated bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services and great libraries build communities.

“I just want to say that from my experience on the Powell River Public Library board, we are building community,” said Brander. “The library is doing a fantastic job with the limited resources it has. I encourage everybody to get down there and I encourage everybody to support the library.”

Burbank made a similar presentation to city council at its November 2 meeting.

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