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Where are all the books going?

By Joan Richoz, Whistler Public Library

If you have been in the library lately, you will have noticed that while some of the shelves are overflowing with books, the others have lots of room. The reason for this is that we simply do not have enough space for the number of items in our collection and we have begun the process of removing about 30 per cent of our collection and putting it into storage for the next two years. If you can’t find a book you are looking for, be sure to ask the staff about it. Until we have our new library software system online in January 2003, only staff can see when a book has been put into storage.

As of December 2001, we had almost 32,000 items in our collection. This is a valuable collection that was started in 1986 when we opened and has grown and been thinned every year since. Each year we add almost 4,000 items and remove between 500 and 1,000 items. The items removed are those with poor content, poor physical condition and those no longer useful. Even with such a rigorous "weeding" system, we have outgrown our shelves. We must provide space for new additions as well as for the most popular and most recent titles which we are keeping. We will be in our current location for another 2 to 2 1/2 years until the new library is complete.

At present, the library provides .26 square feet of space per capita or 2,800 square feet. This is almost 50 per cent less than the provincial average of .5 square feet per capita. Here is a comparison with neighbouring libraries:

Pemberton .43 square feet per capita

Squamish .67 square feet per capita

West Van 1.27 square feet per capita

North Van District .54 square feet per capita

Vancouver .75 square feet per capita

New Whistler Library .46 square feet per capita

The recommended area in planning for new facilities is .6 square feet per capita. The plans for the new library show a total area of 8,912 square feet. The library serves local residents, second-home owners, seasonal workers and visitors and the new facility must provide enough space for at least 15-20 years of operations.

As you may remember, our "Typical Library Week" survey showed that an average of 438 people use the library every day. That’s a lot of people for such a small library. However, we are in the design stages of the planning of the new Library/Museum/Arts Council building. Our Capital Campaign Committee is hard at work soliciting donations for the new facility. If you would like more information on the fundraising campaign, go to www.whistlerlibrarymuseum.org or call Campaign Manager Alan Dudley at 604-932-2222 or Campaign Chair Anne Fenwick at 604-932-3403.

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