By Cindy Filipenko
An exhibit at the Pemberton & District Public Library (PPL) proves how much things change, and how much they stay the same.
Pembertonians have been arguing about the pros and cons of development since the late ’70s. At that time, the entire region — Pemberton, Mt. Currie and Area C — had a combined population of 1,100; roughly a fifth the number of people who call the area home today.
At about the same time, the Pemberton Community Library first opened its doors. In addition to becoming the first book-lending service in the northern end of the corridor, the PPL, also became an archive for the community’s social, economic and cultural development.
In celebration of History Month, this Saturday, Feb. 17, the library will look back on Pemberton’s last three decades with a display incorporating news clippings from 1979 onwards.
“It’s fairly low-key, but we’re having a display that focuses on the 28 years the library has been in this building, so I’m calling it a ‘recent history’ as opposed to the pioneering history. There’s newspapers — including the Pemberton Valley News — photo albums of the area… it’s a written and visual history,” said head librarian Jan Naylor.
Laid out literally in black and white, Naylor notes that there are definitely patterns that people will recognize — the most obvious being the impact of development on the small town.
“You look a the boom in the early ’90s and you start to notice there’s essentially the same article every five years and that sort of thing.”
Not surprisingly, even the establishment of the library itself was a cause for concern. While the region’s population was about 1,100 at the time, only about 350 of those people lived in Pemberton and they weren’t sure they wanted to change things, even if having a local library was more convenient.
“Up to that time, people got their books by mail. You were only allowed six at a time,” recalled Naylor.
When the library first opened it was open 12 hours a week, operated with a volunteer staff, an initial budge of $2,700 for the year and a collection of 4,000 books — a collection mostly purchased in used bookstores in Vancouver. An early referendum to fund the library through taxation was defeated.
Today the operating budget is slightly under $170,000 a year, the facility is open six days a week, membership is at 1,700, the collection has quadrupled and a new space is anticipated to open in the new Pemberton Community Centre on Oct. 1, 2007.
However, in the meantime, the library will be vacating its current premises at the end of this month and establishing a temporary location at the existing community centre.
“We expect to be up and running by Monday, March 26,” said Naylor. “That gives us three weeks; if we can be open the week before, we will.”
Luckily for Naylor and her team, local movers Ellis Transport have moved libraries before and will employ such nifty tricks as shrink-wrapping entire shelves of books so the may be moved intact.
“They have all the gear that’s needed,” explained Naylor.
While the library awaits the completion of its new permanent home, the staff and board will be involved in making decisions on furnishings for the new space. Unfortunately, there is no extra money to enhance the collection.
“Last year, we raised $14,000 between the wine and cheese and book sale last fall. All together, I think we will have around $40,000 to spend on the new facility, but we’re going to need it for new furnishings and that kind of thing. So I don’t think we’ll be able to order a whole ton of new books next year, but there’s always 2008.”
As a registered non-profit, the PPL can issue tax receipts for cash donations and donors can ear-tag funds for specifics such as books.