It was a festive atmosphere at the Nooaitch Indian Band reserve last Saturday, as dignitaries, band leaders, members and guests celebrated the opening of the Nooaitch library.

The guest of honour was B.C.’s Leitenant Governor Judith Guichon, a retired Nicola Valley rancher whose family has been ranching in the area since the 1800s.

“I love the Internet, I use it a lot, but I love holding a book,” she told the crowd of about 100 people gathered for the event. “There’s something special. You kind of form a friendship with a book.”

This is the eleventh library that the Government House has installed around the province through the Write to Read program.

Chief Marcell Shackelly spoke about his own impoverished upbringing, and how he was shielded from the negative affects of that to a large degree by his community. “My faith in my community and my faith in our membership, in what we can become, and what we can persue and attain is limitless,” he said, adding that the library was a tool for them to use to build towards a vision of what they want for their band.

“I believe what we can do with [the library] is keep on building on top of it, and envision a better future, not just . . . blind faith, but actually structured tools to help attain that,” he said.

The previous Chief, Joyce Sam, started the project under her tenure. She said she was excited to see how the band used the new building. “I think it’ll get us together,” she said. “It’s some place for the kids to go and read quietly, or if you are doing an exam and you want to study, it’s a good place fo you — all the tools are there, the resources are there.”

Guichon said this was her eighth library opening. “They become more than just a library, they become so much more,” she said. “They become places where elders get together with children, to read together. In some palces there’s a teapot or a coffee pot . . . they become a whole community centre for connecting, not just for connecting with the world at large, which this one will be, but for connecting within the community.”

Sponsors of the library included the Government House Foundation, Britco, Telus, London Drugs, the Merritt-Daybreak Rotary Club, the Merritt Rotary Club and the Merritt Interact Club.

The total cost of the project -— including the building, the building transportation, donated books, computers, wood for the deck and labour — government house estimated at $42,000. The portable alone, donated by Britco, was estimated to have cost $25,000.