Joan Richoz is synonymous with the Whistler Public Library. A Whistler resident since 1974, she was a member of the arts council when people began talking about the need for a library in 1984, after the former Keg building had become municipal hall and there was empty space available in the basement. A public library association was formed and a board of trustees, including Richoz, was elected. In the spring of 1986 Joan was hired as librarian, in charge of purchasing materials and meeting the growing community?s demands for library services. She?s been doing that ever since. On Sept. 1, at 2 p.m., the Whistler Public Library celebrates its 15 th anniversary.
When did the library open?
We opened in August, 1986 which, when I think about it, is absolutely astonishing that we did it so fast. Because the whole basement of municipal hall where we were had to be finished. And it was the Rotary Club that did all that work. Those people were amazing.
We had sort of our official opening in July because the Socred convention was here. There were all these politicians and some of our trustees thought this would be a good idea, get the politicians involved. So John Reynolds, who was our MLA, and Grace McCarthy came and officially opened it ? and then we had to close the doors for another month because we really weren?t ready to open. And then we opened on Aug. 27, 1986.
Is starting a library from nothing?
Scary. It was very scary, because there?s no list of books that you?re supposed to purchase. The most they had was a recommended list of reference titles that every library shouldn?t be without. But they?re pretty obvious anyway. So the library services branch? every public library association has a consultant, and so our consultant was Jim Looney, who?s now the assistant director of library services. He was a fabulous help. He just sort of said, what you need to do is start purchasing all the latest titles, and you can always purchase, you know, do a retrospective selection for classics and things like that. But the majority of people really want to read what?s just been published, and so that?s what we did.
And at that time the library services branch offered a great service, they subscribed to about 15, 20 selection sources and they then culled from that the reviews that they thought all public libraries should look at. And then if we wanted to order books we just ordered them through them? They ordered them, they received them, they covered all the books, they processed them. We had to catalogue them, and that was a huge job because we weren?t automated. So it meant typing every one of those little cards. And we had volunteers to help, but you?ve got to make sure it?s correct.