Public libraries in many communities throughout B.C., including Merritt’s Thompson Nicola Regional Library (TNRL) branch, will benefit from $45 million in provincial funding following an announcement by the province. 

All 71 B.C. public libraries and organizations that help libraries to deliver their services, such as the TNRL, will get a one-time grant totalling $45 million. The province said this will give libraries the flexibility to address local priorities, including longer hours of operation, larger digital collections, and better access to learning opportunities. Libraries are slated to receive the funding by March 31. 

“We love our local public libraries. They are a vital part of vibrant communities, delivering services we rely on every day,” said Anne Kang, B.C.’s minister of municipal affairs in a release.  

“From offering regular access to the internet, to delivering programs for families, newcomers, job seekers and seniors, this funding will go a long way to ensure libraries are helping people stay connected, access information and continue their lifelong learning.”

In the spring of 2022, the Province provided a one-time $8-million investment to aid libraries, retroactively cover rising costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meet the increased demand for digital content, deliver training, and facilitate community connections through learning. The province said that people used digital resources from B.C. public libraries almost 16 million times in 2021, a 47 percent increase over 2019 levels.

With the additional funding coming this week, the province said it aims to enhance B.C.’s library system with programs, resources and technology infrastructure that benefits people and communities throughout the province.

“Investing in libraries is an investment in local communities, and we’re so pleased that the Province is recognizing and supporting the important work that happens in public libraries every day throughout B.C.,” said Rina Hadziev, executive director, British Columbia Library Association. 

“With over 60 million visits per year, public libraries make life more affordable, foster lifelong learning and community connections, and provide vulnerable people with a welcoming space to access services. This funding will help stabilize public libraries, ensuring they are able to meet the evolving needs of their local communities over the next few years.”

There are 250 library service locations in B.C., ensuring virtually everyone in B.C. will have free access to public libraries.