It may not be obvious from the street, but the Salmo Public Library is nearing the end of a $250,000 renovation made possible by fundraising and grants — local taxpayers won’t have to pay a red cent.
“That really shows the commitment this community has and how they’ve stood behind this project. That’s what kept us going,” said library director Taylor Caron. “We’ve doubled in size, we’re completely accessible now. It’s much brighter, lighter — and this is going with the changes where it’s not just about books anymore.”
What is it about, then?
“It’s about creating a beautiful space, a community hub where we can provide access to the Internet and offer top-quality programming. We’re stepping into the future of what libraries are.”
She said libraries across North America are going through this shift, and she noted Halifax, Nelson, Creston and Kaslo have all invested in upgrades.
“We’re not a thing of the past anymore.”
One quirk of the new space, formerly a new and used clothing store next door, is a bank vault that was too heavy to move anywhere, so they’ve transformed it into a “history vault” in partnership with the Salmo Valley Local History Interest Group. It’s not far from a semi-private youth space, where kids can play on the computer, listen to music and chill.
“Our children’s area is also much bigger, because we’ve got a lot of babies and kids in this community,” said Caron. “We figure hook, line and sinker — if you can get a young kid in here and provide for them throughout the years, then you’ve got a library user for life.”
The library is hosting a grand opening on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be presentations, food and music.
Speakers will include Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall, former Nelson city councillor Donna Macdonald, Salmo Mayor Stephen White, regional director Hans Cunningham, chief Nelson librarian (and former Salmo librarian) June Stockdale and long-time Salmo library manager Kay Hohn.
“Throughout everything this place has been run by volunteers,” said Caron. “They’re the ones working behind the counter, who really give people a sense that this is a community space. That hasn’t changed.”
And she’s thrilled they have more room.
“The staff may be the same, but what’s shifted is a lot of people who didn’t access the library before will be able to now, and they’ll see it’s more welcoming and all-inclusive.”