Demand continues to be strong at Okanagan Regional Library branches from Princeton to Golden.

Library branches experience steady growth

There was a 19 per cent increase in program attendance at Okanagan Regional Library

Demand remains strong at local library branches.

Okanagan Regional Library held its annual general meeting recently and directors heard that there was a 19 per cent increase in program attendance in the past year.

“System-wide, online and in-person visits were up by 5.5 per cent over the previous year, and active members increased by 2.4 per cent,” said Catherine Lord, board chairperson

“Circulation of physical and electronic materials increased by 2.6 per cent, with the introduction of free online access to Lynda.com, PressReader, and Rosetta Stone also proving very popular.”

Planning for a new service location in West Kelowna and a relocation of the Armstrong Branch also got underway in 2016.

The new Armstrong location will be 20 per cent larger and feature a teen study space and group meeting room.  The grand opening will be April 1.

The board also discussed a recent uptick in security incidents in branches, including two overdoses at the Vernon branch. The range of approaches include staff training, foot patrols and co-ordinated community responses.

As part of the annual meeting, directors toured the downtown Kelowna branch, where phase one renovations are almost completed. The work includes flooring and a re-purposed 3,000-square-foot area, which now offers classroom spaces and a reading lounge.

“Coming soon will be links to the Okanagan Centre for Innovation and new group study spaces, as the library continues its transformation into a learning and community partnership space,” said Stephanie Hall, chief executive officer.

“Phase two of the renovation will involve a significant fundraising campaign, and will include a public recording studio, makerspace, new children’s play elements and a business centre.”

Board elections for 2017 were held, with Vernon’s Catherine Lord returning as chairperson and Naramata’s Karla Kozakevitch taking on the role of vice-chairperson.