Even since the grand opening in July, about another 1,000 patrons have been welcomed at the library, said librarian Jessica Prince at the library board’s annual meeting Tuesday evening.
Marc Thackray, the board’s chair, attributes the increase in circulation, registrations, and program attendance in 2012 to the new surroundings. While the lure of the new facility may have attracted new users, he also believes the numbers will be maintained.
“It has a much better profile than the other building up in the Sir Richard Squires building,” he said. “This location is a much nicer place to visit and spend time in — the open air and natural light all really contribute to people using this as a community place they can gather in.”
He also said there has been a spike in tourist traffic, especially during cruise ship visits.
One of the essential services the library has offered over the years is the Community Access Program (CAP). Providing public access to the Internet has become a staple service of libraries, something which continues to be threatened following the funding cuts to the federal government program last year.
The program received temporary reprieve through provincial government, but that funding was only to bridge the gap, according to Thackray.
“There are a number of people in our community who do not have home computers and do not have access to computers,” he said. “They were depending on that service.”
The board will continue to lobby governments for funding to continue the program, if that does not happen they will find themselves in a somewhat precarious situation.
“If the funding disappears, the responsibility may fall on local boards to try to maintain some level of funding so that it might continue a little longer,” Thackray said. “We would be willing to do that I guess, but only in a pinch. We are a volunteer board, a group of people who are really interested in taking part in library services in the community, but there is a responsibility that comes with that.”
Thackray said the board does not want to take on too many financial aspects of running a library, something he believes is a responsibility of government.
But the board has committed to finding a way to repair or replace the library’s microfilm reader and printer. The service has been unavailable for a number of months, and there is concern about the number of patrons who have been turned away or redirected for the services available through this machine.
A resolve — to repair or replace the machine — is a very costly one, as is digitizing the information on the microfilm, but one deemed essential enough for the board to look into. It may become a public fundraising initiative.