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That was then and this is now



Whistler library celebrates 18 th birthday on Saturday

As our 18 th birthday approaches, I thought I would look back to what the library was when it started life in the basement of municipal hall in 1986. At that time, the library was open for four days/16 hours a week and I was the only staff member – Chief Librarian, Acquisitions Librarian, Technical Services Librarian, Circulation Clerk and Shelver! The collection consisted of 2,500 books and Whistler’s full time population was 1,307 persons.

In 1994, the library moved to a "temporary" home in trailers on Lot 20/21, and in 1999 it became a municipal library.

2004 sees the library in the same "temporary" location, serving a population of approximately 10,000 persons with 550 visits per day on average – that’s 163,000 visits per year! The library is now open 51 hours per week with eight staff members. The collection stands at 39,000 items – 8,000 of which are in storage.

When we opened on Aug. 27, 1986, the collection consisted of books and magazines only. Today, the library also offers books in large print, books on tape or CD, newspapers, videos, DVDs, CDs and a selection of books in French, Japanese and Spanish.

In 1986, computerized library software was starting to appear in the large urban libraries, but in Whistler we used date due cards, date due stamps, filing boxes, and a card catalogue to keep track of the books we had and those we lent.

Today, we have five staff computers for our automated library system operations, two catalogue computers for the public and five free online computers that allow access to the Internet, word processing and, of course, e-mail.

While creating the collection for the library back in 1986, I visited the Pemberton and Squamish Libraries, studied their collections, spoke with their chief librarians and then started the daunting task of buying books for a brand new library. I received a tremendous amount of help from those librarians and others in the Lower Mainland as well as the staff at Public Library Services Branch. Resource sharing of ideas, experience, staff and expertise continues to be a defining characteristic of the library community.

Today the Whistler Public Library is a member of many associations, including Public Library InterLINK. Public Library InterLINK is a federation of 17 libraries in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Sea to Sky corridor and it ensures access to those collections along with borrowing and drop off of library materials. Additional resource sharing is in the form of Outlook, the interlibrary loan network that provides access to titles held in automated libraries in the province. If we do not have a book you need, we will request it from another library and it will arrive in 7-10 days at our library.

With the introduction of the Internet and the creation of our own Web site, we are able to provide the local and international community with access to information about the services, events, and programs the library offers. The Web site also offers in-house and remote access to online magazines and newspaper databases, as well as to the library’s catalogue and useful links.

Check it out at

For the past 10 years we have been planning for a new facility and thanks to council and staff at municipal hall our dream is becoming a reality. The library is going to be moving from our "temporary" trailers at last! A new civic building, on the existing parking lot will incorporate a 12,000 square foot library. Construction is scheduled to start in April 2005 and finish 12 months later.

To help us celebrate our 18 th birthday come to the library on Saturday, Sept. 4. We will have a special story time filled with stories, songs and rhymes about birthdays from 1:30 to 2 p.m. for children aged 3-6 and their caregivers. Everyone is invited to join us at 2 p.m. for birthday cake to finish off the celebration. We would like to thank the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for donating the birthday cake.

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