Library to begin planning for new facility For the Whistler Public Library, the numbers tell the whole story: In 1999, there were more than 114,000 visitors. Over 7,000 residents and second-home owners are regular library card users, checking out more than 90,000 books, CDs, videos and magazines. Some 2,194 people came in to use the computers, and 1,708 people attended the 93 library programs that were presented. All in a cramped 2,800 square foot area. A study conducted by the B.C. Building Corporation last summer indicated not only that a new library facility would be required in the next few years to meet the growing population, but that the facility was already too small to handle the current needs of the community. "As far as the municipality is concerned, getting a new library is a priority," says Library Director Joan Richoz, who announced that the go-ahead has been given for a new library at the library's annual AGM on Jan. 29. In the next few months, the municipality will choose a site for a new library and museum, and architects can begin tendering plans. Richoz would like to see the construction underway by spring of 2001 and the facility completed by spring of 2002. "It's soon but it's not soon enough. It's getting a little too crowded in the present facility," says Richoz, who has had to pull books out of circulation and place them into storage to create room for new acquisitions. She has even had to "weed out" and sell the books that were seldom used. The B.C. Buildings Corporation, took Richoz and the current library trustees on a tour of seven libraries to give them an idea of how to build and organize a new facility. "It was an exhausting tour, but it gave us a lot of new ideas that we're excited to put into action," says Richoz. Richoz's "dream" library would have more than 13,000 sq. ft. of space, which would include more tables and study areas for library visitors and a large common room to conduct library programs. "At all the libraries we visited, we asked them what works and what doesn't work. This is going to be a huge project for us and for the town, and we want it to be perfect. We want it to be useful, and to continue to be useful for a long time." The size of the new facility will be enough to accommodate the population for the next 20 years, if the current population growth continues. With those specifications, Richoz estimates that the cost of the new facility could be in excess of $3 million. At present, the library only has $120,000 set aside for the new facility, funds which were set aside from operating costs. The library expects the municipality to pick up part of the tab for construction. Other funds will come through sponsorship from local corporations and money earned by fund-raising programs. The new library will also qualify for private and government grants. Once the site is picked, which could mean rebuilding on the library’s current site or building into Lots 1 and 9 opposite the Health Centre, the municipality will tender the project to architectural designers. Given the exotic nature of the town and its high-visibility worldwide, Richoz expects architects to go all out in their designs. "I'm sure a lot of prominent architects would be thrilled to have their name attached to this building," she says. "It's going to look like it belongs in Whistler."