Nelson library board chair Christine Deynaka (left) and chief librarian Tracey Therrien presented their proposed budget to city council on Dec. 17. Photo: City of Nelson video screenshot

Nelson library asks city for 2 per cent funding increase

The increase would cover inflation, increased use, stagnant provincial funding, and a negotiated wage increase

For 99 per cent of British Columbians, a public library card is free.

But if you live in rural Area E, which includes Balfour, Harrop-Procter and Blewett, a card at the Nelson library will cost you $45. For a family, it’s $90.

This issue came up at city council on Dec. 17 when the Nelson library asked council for a two per cent budget increase.

In other rural areas near Nelson – the Slocan Valley (Area H) or the region from Six Mile to Bonnington (Area F) – your library card is free and supported by taxation, as is the case within the city.

Why the discrepancy?

In 2010, the RDCK held a referendum in Areas E, F, and H, asking residents if they wanted to be taxed for library services. Areas H and F voted yes, while Area E voted no.

Head librarian Tracey Therrien told the Star that her staff often has to explain this to new residents of Area E.

“People automatically think a library membership is free,” she said. “They don’t normally stop and think that this is through their taxes. There is only one per cent of British Columbians without this, and Area E makes up part of that.”

Students in Area E still get free library cards because the library asks Area E for a grant each year for this purpose. Last year’s grant was $8,500.

That’s a small amount compared to what the library gets through taxes from the other two rural areas: $89,000 from Area H and $63,000 from Area F in 2018.

On Dec. 17 the library board presented budget information to city council and asked for a two per cent funding increase for 2019.

The increase would cover inflation, increased use, no increase in provincial funding since 2009, and a negotiated wage increase.

Library staff are unionized city employees. Wages and benefits constitute about 70 per cent of the library’s expenses.

Nelson contributes 67 per cent of the library’s budget of just under $1 million, and the RDCK contributes about 16 per cent. The rest comes from the province, project grants, donations, and operating income.

Therrien presented a list of library stats to council last month, including:

• Visits to the library went up by two per cent from 2015 to 2017, from 138,079 to 141,470.

• Loans of books decreased four per cent but the number of loans from the online library (audio, e-books, databases, online courses) went up by 21 per cent.

• Inter-library loans were up 28 per cent. (Books can be borrowed through the Nelson library from any library in B.C.)

• Use of public computers was up by seven per cent.

• Program attendance was up by 71 per cent.

The most popular programs, Therrien says, are group storytimes for kids and toddlers.

Also popular are literary programs with local authors, instructional sessions about such things as wills and estates, and an increasing number of programs for teens.

Therrien says that a few decades ago, all you needed to set up a library was a building and some books. But now it’s about access to information across many media and activities.

“You can’t just create an instant library in a community now. Each community is so different in its needs and wants.”

The library’s request for a funding increase will be included in city council’s public discussions this month on the 2019 budget.

Just Posted

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

KAST receives $15,000 for inclusive programs at Nelson Tech Club

‘These programs will be a perfect introduction to using technology’

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read