More Victoria pub­lic li­braries set to re­open

Locations to offer lim­ited ser­vices

Times Colonist - - The Capital / Island - CARLA WILSON cjwil­son@times­

Three more Greater Victoria Pub­lic Li­brary branches will re­open this month, with the goal of hav­ing all 12 branches of­fer­ing lim­ited ser­vice by fall.

The Oak Bay branch, at 1442 Mon­terey Ave., is sched­uled to open Aug. 14, fol­lowed by the Bruce Hutchison branch (4636 Elk Lake Dr.) on Aug. 18, and the James Bay Branch (385 Men­zies St.) on Aug. 25.

Pa­trons will be able to find a spe­cific area fea­tur­ing a brows­ing col­lec­tion with a se­lec­tion of chil­drens and adult books, DVDs, au­dio­books, and video games. These col­lec­tions are up­dated fre­quently, said Mau­reen Sawa, the li­brary’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Li­brary users can also pick up items on hold and upgrade their li­brary cards.

There are 5,700 hold items wait­ing to be picked up by pa­trons, Sawa said.

Since re­open­ing, the sys­tem has seen a big de­mand for books for chil­dren, in­clud­ing pic­ture books. Many young peo­ple are tak­ing part in the sys­tem’s sum­mer read­ing pro­gram.

Cook­books and mys­tery and thrillers are also very pop­u­lar, as are books on racism.

The li­brary sys­tem started to grad­u­ally re­open on June 30. The Cen­tral, Juan de Fuca, Cen­tral Saanich and Saanich Cen­ten­nial branches are open.

Each lo­ca­tion is of­fer­ing sim­i­lar lim­ited ser­vices. They are open Mon­day to Satur­day, from 11 a.m. to noon for se­niors and those with med­i­cal con­di­tions, and from noon to 4 p.m. for the gen­eral pub­lic.

The Lang­ford Her­itage and Emily Carr branches are only ac­cept­ing re­turns.

When­ever another branch opens, there is a surge of in­ter­est, Sawa said. Some are bringing back bags full of books — 168,000 ti­tles were on loan when the li­braries shut their doors in March.

Re­open­ing is a com­pli­cated ef­fort, she said. Re­turned items are held for 72 hours in quar­an­tine, and space is re­quired for that.

At the same time, staff must so­cial dis­tance, with lim­its set out on how many peo­ple can be in a spe­cific area. As a re­sult, tasks take longer.

“We are work­ing very, very hard to en­sure ev­ery­one stays safe,” Sawa said. “It is very ex­act.”

It is not yet know when peo­ple might be able to browse the stacks as they once did, she said.

Online use of li­brary resources has jumped com­pared with last year, with some ar­eas up by 70 per cent, she said.

A new tool, called the Niche Academy, is now avail­able, of­fer­ing how-to videos to take li­brary pa­trons through the online sys­tem. The videos are short and user-friendly, she said.

Tu­to­ri­als cover sub­jects such as stream­ing mu­sic and movies, bor­row­ing and down­load­ing e-books, and tak­ing classes on Online li­brary users can go to

Fund­ing from the Friends of the Li­brary al­lowed for Niche to be of­fered to li­brary card­hold­ers.

Li­brary users can call 250-940-4874 on Mon­day though Satur­day be­tween 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. with ques­tions.

The main branch of the Greater Victoria Pub­lic Li­brary is open, of­fer­ing lim­ited ser­vices.

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