West Vancouver, B.C. — On March 16, the West Vancouver Memorial Library closed its doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That same day, staff began thinking of new ways of providing library service and events virtually.
However, the pandemic forced the District of West Vancouver to completely re-think its budget, and some difficult decisions had to be made. The Library’s budgets for programs and physical collections were temporarily reduced, reflecting a planned closure that was predicted to last until September.
Recognizing the rapidly changing landscape, the Library Foundation committed $477,000 in 2020 to enhance a variety of library services and respond to the COVID-19 emergency. This donation supports increased virtual programs, collections, and a variety of other initiatives, including the creation of a temporary rooftop patio to provide physically distanced outdoor seating, and the first-ever WVML Foundation Signature Series, which will include free author talks, concerts, and events for all ages, livestreamed to Facebook and YouTube Live. Featuring Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, singer-songwriter Jill Barber, and authors Esi Edugyan (Washington Black, Half-Blood Blues), Maria Semple (Where’d You Go, Bernadette), Tui T. Sutherland (Wings of Fire), and Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), the series offers something for everyone.
This support started with a one-time fund of $50,000 for the Library’s emergency response to the pandemic. The donation covered licenses for Zoom and RingCentral, making WVML one of the first libraries in Canada to move its public service and programs to a virtual format. While working remotely, WVML staff fielded questions from libraries across Canada about how they made these virtual programs happen. Throughout the pandemic, thousands have attended the online programs, which run the gamut from storytimes and virtual escape rooms, to Excel skills, to Augmented Reality for the Environment, to community dialogues and English conversation circles for newcomers, to author readings, and even a virtual walking tour of Lighthouse Park.
“The WVML Foundation felt strongly that donors would support exceptional funding during this emergency to enable the Library to be nimble and responsive to community needs,” explained Foundation Chair Andreas Thompson.
Another key emergency contribution was to library collections. The Library wanted to restore physical services to the community well before the projected opening date of September 1, but could not expect any additional contribution from the District of West Vancouver in 2020 due to the difficult financial year. One urgent area was the budget for physical collections, which had been cut in half. As a one-time emergency measure, the Foundation provided bridge funding to enable the purchase of bestsellers and public requests.
“So, if you pick up a hold or new book anytime from now until the end of the year, you can thank our Foundation,” explains Library Director Stephanie Hall.
The Foundation also provided a one-time bump to the Library’s digital collections, which have surged in use, and a subscription to Kanopy, a streaming video service.
About the WVML Foundation
The West Vancouver Memorial Library Foundation believes that great libraries help build great communities. Generous community donations to the Foundation have supported projects like The Lab, Booktopia: A Literary Arts Festival for Young People, and through the Robert Leslie Welsh Fund, our Friday Night Concert series, and more. Learn more at wvml.ca/support-us. For more information on the WVML Foundation Signature Series, visit wvml.ca/signature.
Sarah Barton-Bridges | 604.925.7400 | firstname.lastname@example.org